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Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 Day Two Highlights

June 29, 2024
Corbin Hosler

Nadu, or not?

That was one of the big questions on the mind of every one of the nearly 250 competitors who traveled to Amsterdam for Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3. The Bird was definitely the word, and everyone had a plan either for playing it or playing against it.

After the dust settled on Day One, it was clear that the hype was deserved–Jacob Nagro finished undefeated atop the field with Bant Nadu, Winged Wisdom while the also-hyped Ruby Medallion Storm struggled and everything else failed to topple the Bant masterpiece that managed to cast more spells in a single turn than even the Storm decks.

But it wasn't Nadu that would be the first deck to qualify for the Top 8: that honor belonged to Ma Noah and his Mono-Black Necrodominance deck. Ma's Modern run was dominant, and his Modern Horizons 3 Limited game almost as sharp: he went 5-1 in the Draft rounds with a perfect 7-0 in Modern to pair for the early qualification for the Top 8.

Nadu wasn't far behind, and its players followed soon after. Eli Kassis was the first of the Nadu players to punch his ticket to the Sunday stage with a Round 13 win that moved him to a perfect Modern record, a recurring theme with the Top 8 roster. In all, there would be five Nadu players who made the elimination rounds with the tournament's most dominant brew.

The Sunday Stage is Set

Ma and Kassis would be joined by some of the biggest names in the game right now, all of whom made deep runs propelled by their mastery of Modern.

Here's the full breakdown.

  • Ma Noah (Mono-Black Necrodomiance)
  • Eli Kassis (Bant Nadu)
  • Jason Ye (Bant Nadu)
  • Javier Dominguez (Jeskai Control)
  • Simon Nielsen (Bant Nadu)
  • Sam Pardee (Bant Nadu)
  • Seth Manfield (Mono-Black Necro)
  • Daniel Goetschel (Four-Color Nadu)

There's some huge storylines here. Seth Manfield won Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor, and now, two Pro Tours later, the 2015 Magic World Champion is making his 12th Top Finish. And battling all weekend at the top of the tables on the way to the Top 8, Jason Ye made its second straight Pro Tour Top 8 representing team Sanctum of All.

Then there's Dominguez and Nielsen, respectively a former World Champion who has been putting consistent Top 16 finishes since his last Top 8 at Pro Tour Lord of the Rings last summer, and the reigning Player of the Year who fought his way up from the back of the standings to achieve his fifth Top Finish across six events, an incredible feat. Pardee, too, is looking to add another trophy–the Strixhaven Championship winner is coming off a Top 8 appearance at Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor and now has a second Top Finish this season.

The Engines of Modern Horizons 3

There's been much made of recent Limited formats, especially with the introduction of Play Boosters in Outlaws of Thunder Junction. With Modern Horizons 3 and its unique draft archetypes ranging from small modified creatures to huge world (and board)-devouring Eldrazi, there were massive edges to be gained by teams that could get ahead of the format.

To that end, many players have spent the last week or two in the Netherlands, getting a head start on both Limited and Modern. One of the major findings?

"We called this an engine set, where you want to build a deck that can do powerful things in the late game," Benton Madsen explained. "That's really important, because this is a format where you can get ahead in the midgame but there's a lot of ways for people to come back and grind into the late game. So you want to look to build those engines."

Given a prospective pack and asked to break it down, Madsen downplayed rares like Thief of Existence that look good on rare and rarity but aren't actually building proactively to an endgame. Instead, Madsen said his team (Worldly Counsel) would look to build engines–holistic strategies full of synergistic early-pick cards like Propagator Drone with cards that go quite late like The Hunger Tide Rises. The adapt creatures like Evolution Witness that can be triggered multiple times in the late game with counter-moving were also a high point for drafters, and in a pack loaded with multiple strong cards, Madsen instead pointed out the possibility of recurring Accursed Marauder with Evolution Witness and counter-moving spells; it's even possible to draft Nesting Ground in the format.

662303 Propagator Drone 664081

It's the kind of insight that only comes after dozens of drafts of experience, and the kind that helped the best drafters rise above the rest.

Draft is of course the first and sometimes most important step toward the Top 8–the three Draft rounds come at the start of each day and can set the tone for the rest of the tournament. To wit, Manfield rode his undefeated Draft record to the Sunday stage in Amsterdam.

The Bird Flies


It wasn't all Nadu, of course. Ruby Medallion and Storm as well as Necrodominace slid into existing shells and enticed many players at the Pro Tour to skip their draw step or start storm count. But while Ruby Storm faltered, Necro decks were able to at least make a dent, and Ma Noah and Seth Manfield both advanced to the Top 8 with the deck.

3 Sorin of House Markov 4 Grief 3 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse 1 Boggart Trawler 4 Orcish Bowmasters 2 Dauthi Voidwalker 4 Thoughtseize 4 Soul Spike 2 Fell the Profane 1 Cling to Dust 3 Malakir Rebirth 4 Fatal Push 3 March of Wretched Sorrow 1 Not Dead After All 4 Necrodominance 1 Polluted Delta 1 Bloodstained Mire 1 Raucous Theater 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 1 Phyrexian Tower 1 Marsh Flats 3 Castle Locthwain 7 Swamp 1 Verdant Catacombs 2 Toxic Deluge 3 Break the Ice 1 Collective Brutality 2 Sheoldred's Edict 3 Surgical Extraction 2 Damping Sphere 2 Pithing Needle

But Nadu was dominant. It posted the highest win rate on Day One and only separated itself further as the tournament went on. With five players in the Top 8 on the breakout archetype, it will be the deck to beat on Sunday.

1 Outrider en-Kor 4 Nadu, Winged Wisdom 1 Endurance 2 Wall of Roots 2 Bristly Bill, Spine Sower 4 Springheart Nantuko 4 Delighted Halfling 1 Noble Hierarch 1 Sylvan Safekeeper 2 Haywire Mite 1 Dryad Arbor 4 Chord of Calling 2 Summoner's Pact 2 The One Ring 4 Shuko 4 Urza's Saga 4 Windswept Heath 4 Misty Rainforest 1 Temple Garden 1 Otawara, Soaring City 2 Forest 1 Lush Portico 1 Hedge Maze 1 Hallowed Fountain 1 Waterlogged Grove 1 Shifting Woodland 1 Breeding Pool 1 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth 2 Boseiju, Who Endures 2 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Drannith Magistrate 2 Suncleanser 1 Volatile Stormdrake 1 Burrenton Forge-Tender 1 Force of Vigor 1 Dismember 2 Veil of Summer 2 Damping Sphere 1 Vexing Bauble 1 Shadowspear

The Kai Budde Player of the Year Trophy

We've spent literal decades talking about what Magic legend Kai Budde has done for the game, and even that undersells what the German Juggernauthas meant to Magic, and to millions of people who make up Magic. With Budde present in Amsterdam along with sixteen other Hall of Famers including Director of Play William Jensen, there was an announcement that enshrines Budde's name into the Pro Tour forever.

Looking Ahead

The Top 8 action kicks off on Sunday as these eight players return for their shot at the title! Three rounds of Modern will deliver us a winner, and you can catch all the action live at 10 a.m. CEST (4 a.m. ET / 1 a.m. PST) at!

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