GRN Standard Week 4 – Settle Down Now

Welcome back to my weekly Standard meta update report. As we check in on the results of the Magic Online Standard Competitive 5-0 postings, last weekend’s Start City Games Classic at Charlotte, and the double GP weekend with Standard main events (shockingly the FIRST WotC sponsored major Standard tournament of the season), we are truly seeing the meta settle into its groove.

The Thursday, October 25th Magic Online Competitive Standard League 5-0 decklist post only had 35 lists, down 12.5% from the week before. And with only 17 of those containing a maindeck Planeswalker, the first time that figure has been below 50%, I believe this is the sign that Standard has settled into the best builds of the best decks. Rather than analyze which of the ‘Walkers does the best Craig Kimbrel intimidation stare down (it’s Teferi at 21 copies across 6 decks and 5 archetypes, btw), I’d like to talk about the diversity of the format. By my count there are 22 different archetypes represented in this posting, which tells us that the 15 duplicates are most likely where the “best” archetypes lie. Those also happen to be the best performing decks in Golgari (with Walkers) and Jeskai Control.

Checking in on the Grand Prix events of the weekend, we see the diversity theme continue to play out.  At GP Lille, there were 6 different archetypes making up the top 8, with Golgari and Jeskai Control being the two repeats. Sounds familiar… That being said, it was a Mono-Red vs. Mono-Blue aggro finals (I know, I know!), as the decks that were tuned to beat the Golgari lists that made up nearly 40% of day-2 did what they were supposed to do. And it turns out that Experimental Frenzy is a REAL card. When I thought I had a game in the bag with the win on board, and instead had to watch my opponent burn me down from 11 for the win thanks to chaining spells off the top of his deck, I knew this was going to be one of the decks to watch going into the Pro Tour.

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Looking at GP New Jersey results, again we see Golgari as the most represented archetype in day 2, and again we have a very diverse 6 different archetypes represented in the top-8 decks. Except this time Golgari isn’t anywhere to be seen. But Jeskai Control was. Not only did the deck win in the hands of Eli Kassis, but there were 3 total copies of the deck making it the only archetype to take multiple players all the way to the end. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was the story here, but backed up by 4 copies of Azor’s Gateway to power out the late game where the others relied on a more traditional approach and fell short.

Combining the results, we see 9 total archetypes at the top tables and the insights into the technology that the pro’s are bringing to combat Golgari has rejuvenated interest in tweaking and tuning the lists online. The Magic Online Competitive Standard League 5-0 post from Monday, October 29th (hey, they gave us a Monday post this week!) was back up to 43 different decks across 26 archetypes, including newcomers to the format like 2 different flavors of Rakdos.

And then there’s the Star City Games Charlotte Classic. Also presenting 6 separate archetypes in the top-8 with Jeskai Control and Golgari being the two double ups, it sounds just like more of the same story from the GP’s. Enter Ali Antrazi and his winning 5- Color Control abomination.

With seemingly no win-cons, this deck is the epitome of what it means to meta game. And only a very good player like Antrazi could architect the perfect set of control pieces that can extend the game to the point where you can now “wish” for the perfect answer, or threat if need be, using Mastermind’s Acquisition.

As we look forward to next weekend and Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica in Atlanta, Georgia on November 9th, was Antrazi’s 5-Color Control deck a sneak peak into what to expect from the pro’s? Or was it merely a well timed and perfectly timed meta call? I expect the latter, but also expect the theme of diversity at the top tables to persist. The question is, what WILL the “hot” deck look like?

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.

Please reach out to me on twitter @edubious

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