Welcome back again to the Strictly Standard meta report. After the breakout of Krasis decks in the opening week of the new format, we get a chance to see how the meta has adapted. With results from two Magic Online Competitive Standard League 5-0 posts to go through as well as Star City Games Team Open and Classic events in Baltimore it’s looking like RNA Standard is finally settling into its groove.
Checking in on tournaments at Star City Games Baltimore, the Team Open repped 287 teams for a grand total of 861 players. Winning in the Standard slot was Jacob Hagen with Azorius Weenies. Turns out an aggro deck getting access to Detention Sphere on a stick plus a sideboard full of permission is a recipe for success!
The rest of the top-8 was a little disappointing with Esper Control filling up 4 of the spots, but I think this is more representative of the fact that the standings are influenced by the team results and a strong Modern and Legacy performance could have carried a weaker Standard deck.
For a more regular representation of what tournament results have looked like, the Sunday Classic had 6 different archetypes in the top-8 with two decks putting up two results each. Alex Hon took it all down with a Sultai Midrange list that’s all in on the Explore value grind, and backed up by the beef of Vivien Reid, Karn, Scion of Urza, and Hydroid Krasis.
Runner up was an Azorius Aggro list similar to the winning deck from the Open showing that the archetype wasn’t just a fluke in that tournament structure. With 3 aggro decks, 2 Midrange decks, 2 Nexus of Fate decks, and a pure control list, this top-8 is what you should expect out of RNA Standard.
Moving to the Magic the Gathering Online Competitive Standard League 5-0 results, the Thursday, January 31st has 26 unique decklists posted. This is down from the 30 we got on Monday, but that is what I have come to expect from the mid-week results. Unique 3+ color deck archetypes is also down by 6 at 15 entries. I will reserve judgement on what this means until we get a few consistent results, but it seems as though this may be the tipping point. Nothing seemed to signal an innovative shift in tech to combat the meta as Bant decks were still the most represented archetype and Hydroid Krasis was the most represented card with 7 different decks. In the face of a lack of innovation against the Krasis decks, several of the old archetypes have seemed to pick up a new piece here or there to bring them back to viability. I think my favorite addition is seeing TEDPANIC adding Pteramander in the Mono-U deck.
Moving to the Magic the Gathering Online Competitive Standard League 5-0 results from Tuesday, February 5th, we also see 26 decklists posted here. The 3+ color archetypes is also holding even at 15 in this one. This is NOT in line with what we would normally expect after a weekend of results. Perhaps the archetypes are starting to settle into their “correct” builds and Standard will be in a solid place going forward. Even the number of Krasis decks is down. One thing I do know for sure is that there are a ton of viable strategies that can simply dominate. Sometimes the mono-red deck feels unbeatable, especially when they are able to “storm off” with Experimental Frenzy and Runaway Steam-Kin, while other times the Sultai decks seem to just have every answer they need to keep you locked down while they Explore into a giant Wildgrowth Walker or Hydroid Krasis. And then there’s the Nexus of Fate plus Wilderness Reclamation combo that, if they were also able to get a Growth Spiral off on turn 2, means that you are locked out of playing another turn as early as turn 4. GHASH77 gave us a cool new take on the Gates deck this posting. Going hard into the control realm, this list boasts 12 Planeswalker cards (if you count Nicol Bolas, the Ravager as ‘Walker…). Gates has been a surprisingly viable and fun archetype to play, and this adds a third dimension to the deck.
We are fast approaching the first MagicFest Grand Prix event to feature RNA Standard, and the first time we will get to see the Pro’s put the Meta to the test in a tournament format. So which of the early front runner archetypes will come out on top as the Tier 0 deck to beat over these next few weeks? My money is still on Hydroid Krasis, but I can’t quite tell whether it will be in a Sultai value deck or if pairing our new tentacley overlord with the “lock you out of the game” inevitability of Nexus of Fate will be the build du jour.
Eric has been an avid Magic fan and player since re-discovering the game in 2012. He is a Red mage at heart but likes to confuse himself with the varying decision trees presented by mid-range and control decks from time to time.
Eric plays mostly casually with his 9-year-old daughter, but manages to get out for every prerelease and a few FNM’s and GP’s every year.
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