First of all, congratulations to Samuele Estratti, the first ever Italian Pro Tour champion, for defeating my favourite top-tier deck in the brand new Modern format, Counter-Cat, with his build of my least favourite combo deck of all time, Splinter Twin.
This is to take absolutely nothing away from Estratti, who sideboarded and played brilliantly (the boarded-in Blood Moon for Game 4 was the nail in the coffin!) He’s becoming quite a star on the Pro Tour circuit already. His deck is very solid and takes full advantage of the broken Splinter Twin & Deciever Exarch/Pestermite combo, digging deep with Preordain, Ponder, and a full suite of fetch-lands, and plenty of filtering with a full suite of shock lands. It also featured plenty of removal, such as Firespout, and everyone’s new favorite instant counter-spell, Dispel. Estratti also featured a solid side-deck. He certainly deserved to win, and having the Dispel to counter Josh Utter-Leyton’s hand of “beat that deck” must have been quite frustrating to the future American Hall-of-Famer.
My problem with Splinter Twin is how easy and ridiculously dumb the combo really is. It’s bad enough in the current Standard environment, but there’s plenty of hate to stop it. The trouble with it being available in Modern is now having the ability to also play Pestermite (the 2/1 flying version of Deciever Exarch) as well as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, which is Splinter Twin on a stick. I have less of an issue with the latter, as it’s much more difficult to resolve him and get off the combo than it is with Splinter Twin. I personally think that in light of how silly Estratti’s Twin deck proved to be, it shows why it deserves to be banned in Modern. I knew before Pro Tour Philly even started that this was the deck that would win. I mean no disrespect at all to its pilot; every combo deck, even Twin, has its downfalls and has to be played correctly to go off successfully. But the first time I ever faced Splinter Twin, I just wanted to drop out of playing Standard tournaments altogether until rotation because of how unfair it was; unless you draw your hate, which I had sided in, you just will lose far more often than not. I later entered another tournament with first round being Splinter Twinned on Turn Four BOTH games. It was like why bother. And I got a second-round bye to stew over it. That’s when I decided that I’d had enough of Standard until October.
So I really feel for Josh Utter-Leyton this morning, because that deck is so unfair. It forces people to have to side-deck for it, taking out valuable space in the aggro Counter-Cat deck for necessary control elements to break the Twin combo. The problem is that while the combo is essentially quite fragile, it has too many more chances to be successful in Modern.
And until Splinter Twin is banned in Modern, I want nothing to do with the Format. At least in October, Standard will be Twin free.