Welcome back to another Standard Issue where we bring all of the latest in the Standard format. This week we are coming off a truly iconic Pro Tour and one of the best weekends of Magic coverage done by WOTC. The real action through most of the weekend was happening on the Legacy table and with the recent bannings in the format things really got shaken up. Standard seems to be the format the teams played the safest and went with the tried and true RB Aggro strategy. So let’s breakdown what showed up to PT25 in the Standard seat.
The elephant in the room that every deck has to address and if they don’t it will stomp all over you. One thing I have found interesting over the past few months is the move away from Hazoret in these decks since you can’t as easily dump your hand with some draws. Slowly I have watched the numbers dwindle and some list have cut the card entirely. Decks seem to value Rekindling Phoenix over Hazoret, the Fervent these days which doesn’t have the drawback of only being able to block and attack when you have one or fewer cards in hand. I found this very reasonable since Phoenix still requires an exile answer or some sort of weird play that usually just ends up being a 2 for 1. Though I do like Martin Juza’s list where he has diversified his top end playing 2 Hazoret, 2 Phoenix, and 2 Glorybringers. This can give you different angles of attack and require answers or will just start taking chunks of out of a life total. I saw a lot of blowouts over the weekend with Chandra’s Defeat which has already been a card that has been seeing regular play but playing at least three copies I think gave anyone that did such a significant edge in the mirror that they probably played all day long. There were 66 copies in the room on Day 1 making up 40% of the tournament though with this being a team tournament I won’t take conversion rate into day 2 into account but will say obviously the deck is doing well. Though in the end RB lost to Teferi which I think was the deciding match of the series since I would favor the Hollow One deck with Leylines and Ancient Grudges against the KCI deck piloted by someone that’s not Matt Nass. But enough about Modern let’s talk about the winning Standard list.
The first time I saw this deck in standard I was in love. Being a control junkie myself I was excited to try out the No Win Con plan and just make my opponent’s suffer, sorry. There has been a lot of variations on the archetype since Teferi, Hero of Dominaria entered the Format. From Gideon of the Trials to Approach of the Second Sun there have been quite a few different ways people have built their UW decks. The problem with control is usually you don’t have the right answers to the questions posed by other decks. Luckily this Pro Tour was pretty obvious that RB was going to be heavily played which meant that as a control player you could plan around that to set yourself up to battle against them. Greg Orange decided to play the full 4 Seal Away which gives you early interaction and also a way to get up on mana by taking out even bigger threats at only 2 CMC. Playing 2 copies of Forsake the Worldly in the sideboard for all the Scrapheap Scroungers running around and exiling them so they won’t come back. Greg also played 3 Lyra Dawnbringer which can take over the game against a red deck if they don’t have an Unlicensed Disintegration handy before you untap. Greg played only a singular Torrential Gearhulk in the main and elected to put 2 in the sideboard. I think he valued more cheap interaction in game 1 to help him battle all the aggressive strategies and if he played a another control deck could probably bring in the extra Gearhulks in the board. A 1 of Kefnet, the Mindful in the sideboard is also cute and can be an extra draw engine if needed plus a 5/5 indestructible flyer is no joke. Greg’s deck was a masterpiece and I love it even running a 2 and 2 split with Hieroglyphic Illumination and Glimmer of Genius. There were only 2 copies of this style of deck in the tournament with 4 copies playing Approach of the Second Sun making up 3.63% of the room in total. So if UW was only a small percent of the metagame then what was the other large share of the metagame…
This archetype has gotten a bit more powerful with the addition of Vine Mare and it seems like a lot of others thought so too with 31 copies making up 18.79% of the field. Another card that has really been a big addition was Thorn Lieutenant as a 2 mana 2/3 that helps the deck be lower to the ground and create value off of a removal spell pointed its way. Not to mention in the late game you can activate the second ability and turn the lieutenant into a serious threat. The ability to turbo out a 12/12 on turn 4 can just instantly end games if your opponent doesn’t have an answer and that is this decks main gameplan. Going forward this is still going to be a very powerful deck to watch out for and be ready with your counterspells or Unlicensed Disintegrations or you will get trampled all over. Again I am not really looking into the conversion rate of decks with this being a team tournament but it is interesting to take a look at the meta game numbers and know this was the other big deck in the field. There were quite a few other archetypes played in the tournament but one in particular has had everyone abuzz.
Bant Turbo Fog
With the tournament saturated in aggressive strategies this archetype came in to throw a fog throughout the room and prevent some combat damage. Here we have another Teferi deck but it is is operating on a bit of a different axis then the other Teferi control decks. This deck is looking to use it’s eight 2 mana Fog effects to never take damage and ramp into a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and take extra turns with Nexus of Fate to just take over the game as Teferi usually does. The deck doesn’t really have any interaction in the main deck other than just using Fog effects to protect its Planeswalkers. This deck is a product of an expected extremely aggressive meta and did well against it. This strategy will definitely struggle against a control deck with so many spells being blanks against most Teferi decks. Moving forward if the meta remains very aggressive I could see this archetype sticking around but I feel that you are just so unfavored against any other Teferi decks and this may have been a good meta call at the time but with UW taking down the tournament then control may be back on the uptick. We shall see what happens going forward though!
We had quite a Pro Tour and it will probably be remembered as being one of the most successful PTs as far as viewer numbers go. There were some breakout decks in every format to keep things interesting on top of just being a 3 format PT in general. I’m interested to see moving forward if Wizards decides to continue to have Team Pro Tours and whether or not Limited should be included in the Pro Tour at all, but that is a discussion for another day. From a viewers perspective I thought it was a lot of fun to watch but from a player’s perspective I understand the RPTQ fiasco was a problem for qualifying and just finding a team was much more difficult for some than others but overall I think the result was worth it. Moving forward I would be looking to play some more control to fight against these Turbo Fog decks and mid-range strategies and I think UW is the best when it comes to fighting multiple archetypes. So until next time thanks for reading and be sure to check out some more sweet content all over the site! Thanks you!
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