The dust has settled after PT Dark Ascension. Where is the Standard metagame now?
Luckily we live in an age where we can get access to lots of data from all sorts of tournaments, which can keep us abreast of every format.
For my analysis of the current Standard meta-game I have taken the 18 points or better decks from the Pro Tour, which are available here, and 3-1 or better decks from various online MTGO daily events from the last few days which can be found here. This will not tell us the metagame of the whole field but rather what is doing well, which is way more interesting!
Let's start in Honolulu.
68 decks went 18 points or better. 5 of those were sufficiently rogue that I have defined them as 'other' but here's how the rest shape up:
The numbers are the percentage of decks of that archetype appearing on the list.
There are a huge number of Delver decks in this list! As this was the first preview of the Spirits build created by Sam Black this style of deck only comprises 26% of the Delver lists though that speaks volumes for how good the deck was at the event as there were probably not many more people with the build.
Delver-Spirits by Samuel Black
The majority of the Delver decks (52%) were comprised of the more traditional Delver-Pike decks exemplified by the list piloted by Samuele Estratti. The remaining Delver decks were mono-Blue Illusions, UW-Humans and UR Burn.
Delver-Pike by Samuele Estratti
The next most successful deck to take a slice from our metagame pie is Humans. Almost all versions were UW with a few GW versions knocking up enough points. It is the aggro deck of choice at the moment and what yours truly choose to play. As an aggro deck it should generally do well against Delver decks, which fill a tempo-control function in the metagame. Whilst Delver can handle counter spells, the occasional fatty and some removal they don't like hoards of little guys hitting them for more damage than they are dealing.
UW Humans by Dan Jordan
While we are on the subject of aggressive decks a few more versions are present on the list. R/G arrived on the scene for the first time in various different flavours and commanded 14.3% of the field. I have picked one at random for your enjoyment.
R/G by Daniel Grafensteiner
We also have the mono-Green variety of aggro deck as piloted by Todd Anderson, although this only manages 4.3%. B/W Tokens and Tempered Steel are also present though only in very small numbers. Finally there are various varieties of Zombies with mono-Black and Red variants doing equally well.
Mono-Green by Todd Anderson
Zombies! By Jasper Johnson-Epstein
Moving away from aggro we come to the third most successful deck type in the tournament–Ramp! Paulo and Kibler both took a red version of Wolf-Run Ramp to the final. Basically all the successful ramp decks were Red but there is one Black and one White/Red version present in the list.
R/G Wolf Run Ramp by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
This deck isn't new in concept though the inclusion of Huntmaster of the Fells certainly impressed Channel Fireball enough to run with the deck. This deck will be strong against aggro decks such as Humans as they can't kill before a Titan takes over the game or all their creatures die to Slagstorm or Whipflare.
Decks that are set up to handle Ramp are control decks. However, probably due to their weakness to Delver, they were only present in a small number (9.5%). There seem to be two main flavours of control at the moment, Esper and UB, which performed equally at the event.
UB control by Lukas Jaklovsky
Esper Control by Orrin Beasley
One of the other majors players in the metagame was Birthing Pod. Managing a healthy 12.7%. This was something I was very pleased to see, as I love Birthing Pod, even though I hadn't had time to explore it myself during testing. There were several different colour combinations with Bant and Naya being most prevalent.
Bant Pod by Koichi Tanaka
Naya Pod by Lukas Blohon
The final deck of note from Honolulu is the emergence of a combo deck in Standard in the form of Unburial Rites. For those of you that haven't seen this deck yet the plan is to discard Unburial Rites and a big fatty (such as Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Wurmcoil Engine) and then get it into play on the cheap! Not a huge showing for this but it was new to the scene so it remains to be seen if it will become a notable player.
Rites Combo by Raphael Levy
That was how Standard stood at the end of the Pro Tour. Let us now see how this has affect what is being successful online.
Delver is still the most successful deck in the metagame though the numbers doing well is significantly reduced compared to the Pro Tour. Unsurprisingly, the number of Spirits versions has increased to the same levels as the more traditional Pike builds.
More surprisingly is that the Wolf Run decks appear to be doing worse. After two making the final I, personally, expected lots of people to pick it up–and may be they have but are being beaten by the control decks that suddenly seem to be flourishing. The number of control decks has roughly doubled since the Pro Tour. About two thirds of these control decks are of the UB variety.
Why are the control decks suddenly doing better?
It's a combination of factors. For a start the metagame is slowly becoming a bit more defined and stable. This is always a turning point that allows control decks to shines. Another important change is that the aggro decks suddenly have a lot of enemies namely Wolf Run and Delver-Spirits. Control already has a good matchup against Wolf-Run. The Delver-Pike decks are very tempo-based making it strong against control but the new Spirits build is more tribal based. This has strengthened its aggro matchup by having a better clock but has weakened it against the control decks.
The number of Humans decks performing well has remained mostly unchanged, despite Delver-Spirits having a good matchup against it. The number of people playing Spirits is not yet huge and with Wolf-Run numbers down enough Humans decks are still performing. The draw back of this analysis is I do not know the starting metagame so it could be all Humans decks are 3-1 or better or most of the starting decks are Humans and these are the few that do well but clearly the deck is still capable of winning in this shifted meta.
Zombie decks are clearly popular on line and doing slightly better than they did in the PT thanks, partly, to the emergence of a U/B version, which is doing better than the previous Red version.
UB Zombie by Cabomaldades
Rites Combo is still kinda left field with it showing similar numbers but mono-Red, a deck that didn't really appear in Honolulu, is having a few successes online. Being strong against control decks this may explain its come back.
So there you have it. An overview on how Standard has been changed by the release of Dark Ascension. As I write this GP Baltimore has concluded, sadly the list of successful decklists is not yet up though I had hoped to include the breakdown here for you. There was a lot of UB control this weekend with three lists in the top 8 which I would have expected given what I saw here.
If you are attending a Standard tournament soon make sure to have a plan against the controlling menace. Thrun, the Last Troll is a good option is you are set on playing Green or perhaps you should opt to play Delver-Pike with its strong matchup (it won Baltimore after all)... ofcourse if lots of people do that you should play Humans... aren't metagames fun?!
I will personally be attending GP Lille next weekend, which is Standard. Already I am considering my ways around Mana Leak and Black Sun's Zenith. On thing is for certain, I will not be playing it myself. If you are also going feel free to come say hi and tell me what you are playing. I love talking to people.
Until next week.