Standard

Standard Results at PT 25th Anniversary and Testing for GP LA

Well, the results are in, and Allen Wu, Ben Hull, and Greg Orange defeated Channel Fireball’s Martin Juza, Ben Stark, and Josh Utter-Leyton in the finals of Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. This Pro Tour was a great celebration of Magic’s 25 years, complete with star-studded lineups, old favorites, and newcomers challenging for the title. The decks that these players brought to battle were just as exciting, as we saw breakout decks and new strategies in every format. But I’m not here to talk about every format – I’m here to talk about Standard, break down what happened at this Pro Tour, and talk about where to go from here.

Turbo Fog was the breakout deck from the Standard portion of PT 25th Anniversary. It had a great record, self reported by the six pilots, and came in 5th place in the hands of David Williams. It attacked the meta from a completely different angle, and the sideboard plan was awesome: Do nothing against Rb or Green stompy, sideboard all 15 for control. This deck had a great game plan, so the questions going into GP Brussels and GP Orlando were how does the meta adjust to Turbo Fog, and what does the metagame breakdown actually look like?

Thanks to Riley Knight, we have the answers:

Source: Riley Knight (http://magic.tcgplayer.com/db/article.asp?ID=14802&writer=Riley+Knight&articledate=8-15-2018)

Chainwhirler decks still make up over half of the winners’ metagame. And blue based control decks had a bit of a resurgence this weekend, winning both GPs and taking up a solid 15% of the meta. Turbo fog was next, with a 14% share. Steel Leaf Stompy looks to be in a pretty bad spot, with a bad matchup against both blue control decks and Turbo Fog, I am not excited about green decks moving forward.

Overall, I agree with Riley: your deck for GP LA or GP Providence needs to have a good plan against Chainwhirler decks, primarily of the Red-Black variety, and you need to know what you’re doing against control and fog. That’s a tough ask. So, what’s the plan?

I helped my teammate Justin test for GP LA. We started testing his Grixis midrange deck, which looks more like UB midrange splashing for Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and artifact removal, against a stock RB Chainwhirler deck. The mana felt a little rough for him, and RB did RB things. We tuned his Grixis deck and tried again, eventually tossing Grixis because it felt like while the deck was powerful, it was almost trying to hard and the powerful cards were not making up for its mana base issues.

Next, he found an Esper control list. Again, we smashed it against RB, and it felt like a much more even matchup. He was hooked. Then we grabbed a version of the Flame of Keld burn-like deck and tried some games. Again, it felt like a pretty even matchup. Justin loves finding and playing good 50/50 decks, and this Esper list gave him what he wants in a deck. But I’m not convinced. The mana still left something to be desired, and I think there’s a better option out there. That being said, we ran out of testing time, and Justin hopped on a plane to LAX, with a dream and Teferis.

Looking forward to the RPTQ next weekend, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something we hit on during the testing sessions was close. I went back to Justin’s Grixis list and compared it to Corey Burkhart’s UB Scarab God deck that Top 8’d GP Orlando. I realized that they were really similar. I wondered if dropping the clunky mana base really makes the deck that much smoother. When I checked Twitch later, I saw that some players are dipping their toes back into The Scarab God decks. Autumn Burchett was playing a league with what looked like a similar build to Burkhart’s. Midrange strategies featuring The Scarab God often use efficient creatures backed up by disruption to run the opponent out of resources before finally taking over the game. It has a fair matchup against Chainwhirler decks, and the disruption elements provide options against control and fog. Maybe this is where I want to be:

3 Fatal Push
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Cast Down
1 Revolutionary Rebuff
1 Censor
3 Essence Scatter
1 Doomfall
1 Commit // Memory
4 Vraska’s Contempt

2 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
3 Champion of Wits
1 Hostage Taker
1 Ravenous Chupacabra
3 The Scarab God
1 Liliana, Death’s Majesty
2 Torrential Gearhulk

1 Ifnir Deadlands
2 Field of Ruin
4 Fetid Pools
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Aether Hub
5 Island
6 Swamp

SB:
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
2 Duress
1 Spell Pierce
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
1 Jace’s Defeat
2 Negate
1 Essence Extraction
1 Doomfall
2 Walking Ballista
1 Kitesail Freebooter
1 Hostage Taker
1 Vizier of Many Faces

This is where I’m headed next – I want to see if I can have game against both ends of the spectrum. Vraskas Contempts gain you precious life points against red, while Torrential Gearhulk and The Scarab God turn the corner. On the other end, Champion of Wits and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner are must answer threats, and Kitesail Freebooter provides some must needed disruption against control and fog. I think there’s something here, and I hope to hit the sweet spot!

Featured Image: Grzegorz Rutkowski

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