Raise Your Standards – Analyzing RPTQ Results


Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  A little over a week ago, Wizards of the Coast released the top 8 deck lists from each of the RPTQ (Regional Pro Tour Qualifier) tournaments for the Amonkhet Pro Tour.  I’ve been looking at these deck lists to see what can be determined about the current state of Standard from them and to see if there are any innovative decks that did well.

First of all, let me begin by stating that I am by no means an expert on analyzing data.  The information I’ll be presenting to you in this article is only based on my casual review of the deck lists.  Someone else who has more time to analyze the data might come to slightly different conclusions than I did, but I don’t believe I’m far off on my analysis.

I went into the review of this data with the expectation that the data would prove the pro’s belief that Standard is largely solved and that there are only two decks that consistently perform well (Mardu Vehicles and Saheeli Rai / Felidar Guardian decks).  I had no reason to doubt the opinion of the majority of pro players.  After all, they have more time to play the game than I do, so their analysis of the format has more data points than mine does.  What I found was a bit shocking.

There were 24 Amonkhet RPTQ tournaments held.  The winning decks are broken down below into their different types:

# of Wins Deck Archetype
7 G/B Constrictor
6 Mardu Vehicles
6 Saheeli Rai / Felidar Guardian
2 Aetherworks Marvel
1 Dynavolt Tower
1 U/R Emerge
1 G/B Delirium

I believe this data fairly well proves that the current Standard format isn’t broken and that there are viable alternatives to playing the perceived ‘best two decks’.  However, while the format may appear healthy, I will admit that it does feel stale based on the staggering amount of content that is published regarding the ‘best’ decks.

So, let’s take a look at some of the winning decks that aren’t G/B Constrictor, Mardu Vehicles, of Saheeli Rai / Felidar Guardian decks.  I’d like to start with the Dynavolt Tower deck.


Joe Lam – 1st Place – Amonkhet RPQT – Singapore

CreaturesShielded Aether Thief


LandsDynavolt Tower



Build up energy while playing instants and sorceries along with creatures that help to add to the energy total, then use that energy to deal lethal damage to your opponent.  I like that this version isn’t the typical Temur variety, as the Unlicensed Disintegrations in the deck pair up nicely with Dynavolt Tower.  It’s little improvements like this one that can really elevate a deck to achieving the next level.

Next up, let’s go over the U/R Emerge deck.


Max Magnuson – 1st Place – Amonkhet RPTQ – Burnsville

CreaturesElder Deep-Fiend


LandsKozilek's Return



Use the spells in your hand to pitch creatures into your graveyard that have a trigger that will return them to the battlefield.  Then use those creatures to cast larger creatures with emerge.  Follow that up by triggering the ability of those creatures that were just sacrificed for emerge to return them to the battlefield.  Now that’s value!

If Wizards had put any sort of graveyard removal into the current Standard, the emerge deck might not be as powerful as it is.  Another deck that would surely be weakened by graveyard hate is the next deck we’ll be looking at, G/B Delirium.


Brennan Decandio – 1st Place – Amonkhet RPTQ – Jacksonville

PlaneswalkersIshkanah, Grafwidow



LandsGonti, Lord of Luxury



Ishkanah, Grafwidow hasn’t seen much play recently, due to the rise of Mardu Vehicles, but this deck certainly shows why it can be an amazing card.  If your opponent doesn’t have a way to buff it, Ishkanah does a fine job of blocking your opponents Heart of Kiran, but it does need a boost to kill it.  That’s where your Grasp of Darkness or Walking Ballista can help.  Also, if the game goes long enough, you can always use the activated ability on Ishkanah to cause your opponent to lose life for each spider you control, perhaps the final few points of life they have remaining.

Finally, let’s take a look at both of the Aetherworks Marvel decks.


Fredrik Skauen – 1st Place – Amonkhet RPTQ – Stockholm

CreaturesRogue Refiner


LandsWhirler Virtuoso



Nick Cummings – 1st Place – Amonkhet RPTQ – Monroeville

PlaneswalkersNahiri, the Harbinger



LandsWorld Breaker



Fredrik Skauen’s deck attempts to play more creatures that give you the energy needed to activate the Aetherworks Marvel, while Nick Cummings’s deck attempts to achieve the same result by playing more spells that grant energy.  While they come from different angles, the end result is hopefully the same.  Activate the Aetherworks Marvel and cast an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger for free.  I love that both decks have World Breaker either in the main deck or the sideboard.  That’s a card that hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves and should be seeing more competitive play.


As the above information shows, it is possible to win a major tournament without playing one of the perceived best decks.  With a little luck on your side, all of the decks highlighted in today’s article show that Standard is not just a two deck format as many pro’s believe.

Thank you for joining me today as we reviewed the results from the Amonkhet RPTQ’s.  Speaking of Amonkhet, spoilers for it begin on April 3rd.  As I did for Aether Revolt, I’m planning on doing another week of articles reviewing the cards once they’re fully spoiled.  We’ve already seen one card possibly spoiled recently.  Join me next week when I take a look at that card (and any others that are spoiled before then) and what it could mean for Standard once Amonkhet is released.  We’ll also take another look at the current Standard and see if there are any innovative decks to be found.  I’ll see you then.

— Mike Likes


Mike Likes

Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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