Hello everyone and welcome back to Standard Issue! I hope everyone had a great weekend watching the Pro Tour because I know I did! With such a volatile metagame going into the tournament I was more interested in what percentage of the meta each deck held and what sweet tech the existing archetypes brought to the table rather than what deck actually won the tournament.
Pro Tours are very strange tournaments that often define a Standard formats best deck. Yet with the Pro Tour now being so far after the release of each set they are becoming less about what the best deck is and more about metagaming for the expected field. They are becoming more and more inbred with the emergence of these huge teams, a perfect example being the deck that LSV took to the Finals.
Team CFB overall only won 44% of their Constructed matches but pulled in 81% for their Limited matches. Their deck was tuned to beat the mirror or so they thought and the deck also just has a good Izzet matchup which were the two decks the team expected to be the highest percentage of the metagame. Which was partially true but the biggest metagame share on both Day 1 and Day 2 were Golgari Midrange holding 22% both days. On day 2 R/W was a close second pulling in 17.4% followed by Izzet Drakes at 14%. This created a sort of matchup roulette for the the aggressive white decks hoping to play against other white decks thinking they had a better plan or the Drake decks which they expected to beat.
This brings me to my next point of how much a good Limited record can influence the Top 8 of a Pro Tour. We had a Mono Blue player go 10-0 in Constructed but didn’t really hear much about it because they didn’t make Top 8. In the 8-2 decklists we have everything from Golgari Midrange to Jeskai Control. Any of these decks could have conceivably been in the Top 8 had things just gone a little differently and going 3-0 in draft can have a huge impact on what those final decks are that are not only in the top 8 but fighting in the winner’s metagame.
On this weeks Pro Points PVDDR and Mike Sigrist talk about how they were considering playing Jeskai Control for the longest time but were talked out of it by their teammates from bad beats stories against the white decks. Yet Paulo said he found the matchup to be pretty even and found the deck to be well positioned. In the end they played the White Aggro list and as I said before the team had 44% win rate in Constructed.
Some people still decided to play Mono Red which was great to beat up on these decks full of 1/1s by casting a Goblin Chainwhirler. Then not to mention the huge percentage of players on Golgari which has Wildgrowth Walkers to gain some life and Find//Finality as a sweeper to stop these small creatures. The field was not the easiest for these white decks and I imagine that LSV happened to get paired against more favorable match ups than the rest of his team since his day 2 record was still 3-1-1. Yet no one on the team went 8-2 or better and they were mostly playing the same deck. LSV theoretically could have had 24 match points had he played his last match and not drawn into Top 8 but the next highest number of match points in Constructed was Paulo at 15. Taking a look at the team Siggy went 3-0 in both his draft pods but only won 2 matches in Constructed each day. Had he won 2 more Constructed matches he would have been able to draw into top 8 like LSV or maybe play each other.
This all just goes to show how you should not just look at the Top 8 of the Pro Tour and be worried that W/R Aggro is the best deck in the format and we are in for a White Winter because this is far from the truth. While the deck has established itself as a Tier 1 deck it has it’s weaknesses and is by no means unbeatable. Overall it didn’t even perform that great during the tournament with only 4 of the 23 decks with an 8-2 record or better being W/R.
All this doesn’t mean the deck is not competitive and if I were to pick it up I would look at Magnus Lannto’s list that went 9-1 during the Swiss. Yet I would be looking to sleeve up some Chainwhirlers for this weekend and punish all these 1/1s running around. Jeskai is also another good option with Deafening Clarion to sweep the board. Yet I think that secretly Golgari might be in the best position to actually win a tournament this weekend. If a a bunch of people are going to sleeve up these Mono Red decks then Wildgrowth Walker will be ready to shut them down. Not mention having access to a main deck sweeper in Find//Finality and other options like Moment of Craving, Ritual of Soot, and Golden Demise which are all reasonable cards against both aggressive decks. Golgari relies on having the right mix of threats and answers for any given weekend and after this Pro Tour it seems like there will be a clear reaction to the results with more players playing these aggressive strategies and possibly a decline in the number of Drakes decks which have a bad matchup against these aggro decks.
In the end the biggest take away I have from this Pro Tour is to never trust the Top 8 and you really need to look into the top performing decks in the Constructed rounds and not the tournament as a whole. I still believe this to be a very cyclical format and I would look to capitalize on a local level on people who may just look at the Pro Tour results and see a fairly cheap aggressive deck took 6 of the spots in the Top 8 and go pick it up. This your opportunity to show them Goblin Chainwhirler is definitely still out there.