Now that we are a few weeks out from Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, the meta for the format is starting to settle itself out into the Tier 0 and Tier 1 decks based on the Pro Tour, and the Tier “everything else” decks that are popping up in the Magic Online decklist dumps. And I have to tell you, we are in a wonderful time for Standard Magic!
Across the four major events taking place the weekend of August 18th (immediately following the Pro Tour), we were able to see 16 different archetypes represented in the 32 top 8 decks. That means we would be able to fill TWO FULL tournament top-8’s without duplicating! And we almost got there at TWO of the tournaments; both GP Los Angeles and the Star City Games Classic had 7 different archetypes represented in their top 8’s. Breaking down the representation of the decks, the clear front runner is the ever present Red-Black Aggro; 8 copies placed, and the deck was present at all 4 tournaments. The next two most represented decks with 4 copies each were Pro Tour darling Blue-Black Midrange; present at 3 of the tournaments. A surprising newcomer to the fold was Mono-Red Wizards; 3 copies of the archetype placed in the top 8 at GP Providence.
Rounding out the decks that were able to put multiple copies into the top tables are White-Blue Control, Grixis Midrange, and Turbo Fog. A week later, the Star City Games Classic results from August 26th start to skew a little bit towards a homogeneous meta with the two main decks from the previous weekend dominating the top tables. Emma Handy took it all down piloting one of the three copies of Blue-Black Midrange to make the top 8. Rounding out the rest of the top tables was a Turbo Fog deck and four copies of Black-Red Aggro. Yes, even though Star City lists the 8th place deck as “Mono-Red”, I say the fact that the mana base has 4 copies of Dragonskull Summit and somewhere to spend the black mana in Scrapheap Scrounger means that this is definitely a Black-Red deck in my eyes. However, being that the Classics are typically smaller tournaments and that these are the only results from the weekend, you can’t really put too much weight on the uniformity of the results.
Even with the competitive events giving us 16 different viable decks to choose from, the Magic Online decklist dumps provide even more fuel for our brewer’s paradise. Of course the known quantities are showing up, sometimes in multiple iterations (my guess is the clever players pick some wacky 1-of to include just so their username shows up in the deck archives :-P), but there are also some fun-looking lists here.
Voltron style magic is not a new concept; in fact this White-Blue Flyers deck is very reminiscent of the same archetype that was burning up the Magic Online results back in January just before Explorers of Ixalan came out.
With just over a month of competitive tournaments on the agenda before Fall rotation brings us Guilds of Ravnica, I get a feeling that the buzz surrounding a fun, balanced, and wide-open Standard environment coupled with yet another return to one of Magic’s most beloved planes, means we are in for another resurgence of popularity and an influx of new players.
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.