The latest Modern pro tour is in the books! And it was a doozy! Lantern Control took down the trophy, in the skilled hands of Luis Salvatto. The top decks reminded me of Modern league decks I faced while preparing for the RPTQ a few months ago: Humans, Mardu Pyromancer, value/control, Tron, Affinity, and the like. Well, I didn’t see any Hollow One decks back then, but that mess of a deck didn’t surprise me too much either.

You can’t talk about Modern pro tours without talking about banning cards. Wizards R&D announced that they would not mess with the Modern card pool prior to Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. But many fear the ban hammer will come down in its wake. People are calling for bans on Lantern of Insight or Whir of Invention. Both seem like silly ideas to me.

What do I think might actually get banned? Here are some good candidates.

If they ban a card from the Lantern Control deck, it will be Ancient Stirrings. Go watch the top eight. See how many times Luis Salvatto chained two or three copies of Ancient Stirrings. Did he win those games? I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure there’s a strong correlation between casting this card multiple times in a game and winning that game. Whir of Invention is hard to cast—triple blue is a real cost that requires a specific mana base. You have time to prepare for it, in theory, and Gerry Thompson even managed to delay it with Molten Rain in his valiant effort to defeat the Lantern menace.

Lantern is not the only deck that gets supercharged by this hyper-efficient cantrip-tutor. Tron decks warp the format as much as any—wonder why Jeskai or Azorius Control decks failed to crack the top tier? Ancient Stirrings can find Karn Liberated, Wurmcoil Engine, Walking Ballista, or the key Urza’s Mine needed to cast any of them. That’s stupid. And there are plenty of other fringe artifact-based decks that also use this powerful card filterer. I’ve wondered why Affinity doesn’t play the card—it seems at least as good as Thoughtcast or Steelshaper’s Gift, both of which see some play in Affinity decks.

I expect to see Ancient Stirrings get banned soon. Nothing else seems imminent, but these are the rest of the cards I consider to be on the table.

Gitaxian Probe already got banned. Why not hit the other big free cantrip? Street Wraith plays a similar role in Death’s Shadow and Hollow One decks as Gitaxian Probe did in decks like Storm or Infect.

Being able to cycle and lose two life for free at any time is very powerful. Did you see Jean-Emmanuel Depraz steal a game from under Luis Salvatto’s Ensnaring Bridge by attacking with Liliana-shrunken Death’s Shadows then grow it in combat with two Street Wraiths?

Street Wraith is an unfair card that powers many Modern decks. In addition to Death’s Shadow and Hollow One decks we saw in the top eight, it also plays a key role in Living End and could show up in decks like Dredge or Assault Loam. I don’t know that Street Wraith deserves to be banned, but it is broken enough and ubiquitous enough to be in the conversation.

Moat is pretty good, right? I doubt Ensnaring Bridge will get banned, but it is a stupid card that can be very difficult to beat. I’ve attacked through it with enough Ornithopters and Signal Pests, and even a few Spellskites, to not fear it too much. But the Modern metagame is stuffed with creature decks. Unless more people start playing stuff like Obzedat, Ghost Council or Disciple of the Vault, Ensnaring Bridge will be a hard lock for a while. Add in Witchbane Orb or Leyline of Sanctity and even those non-attacking creatures lose their punch.

I think this one survives a while. It’s not any worse than Blood Moon, after all.

Simian Spirit Guide was quiet this weekend, and hasn’t attracted too much attention since we emerged from Eldrazi Winter. It’s a free mana source, though. I suspect R&D will save this one for some other time, but don’t be surprised when this one eventually gets the axe.

I do not think they will ban Mox Opal right now. Maybe I’m biased because I own a playset. But despite its obvious power level, Mox Opal is a hard card to play with. It helps Lantern cast Whir of Invention, but I believe banning Ancient Stirrings goes a long way to making that less of a problem. Affinity loves Mox Opal, but the all-in nature of the deck keeps it from ever dominating the format. Affinity has yet to win a Modern pro tour despite being one of the top decks almost constantly.

Most other decks that play the free mana source would take a big hit by losing Ancient Stirrings, because those decks are usually stuffed with colorless cards. Ad Nauseam decks are sometimes use only Mox Opal, but they aren’t exactly a dominant force in the metagame. That, plus the obvious price tag of this legendary mythic rare, should keep it around in Modern for a while more.

So what do you think? Is Burning Inquiry the real problem card? Should I have sold my Mox Opals already? Can we dodge any bans at all? Will something else rejoin the format? (I doubt it.) Here’s hoping Modern remains a fun and vibrant format regardless of ban choices.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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