5 Shockers from PT Shadows over Innistrad Standard

Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad is in the bag, which means two things for certain: everyone who watched PT coverage this weekend is stoked to play MTG this week, and everyone who was waiting until after the PT to “buy into Standard” is finally ready to make a move and start playing!

The reason to wait until after the Pro Tour in order to buy into Standard is simple and smart: people want to see what the Pros determine to be “actually good” before buying a deck to play for the next three or so months.

The narrative of PT SOI can be spun a ton of different ways! Steve Ruben won the event playing GW Tokens, but the format feels wide open with regard to what is good and playable right now.

Pro Tour White Cards: False

One of the big questions going into the event was whether white cards were going to straight up dominate this thing. The previous Open and Invitational results seemed to indicate the dominance of the new SOI white cards—would the trend continue through the PT?

Top 8 Archetypes

  • 2 BG Mindrange decks
  • 2 Goggles decks (RG and RW)
  • 1 Bant deck
  • 1 GW Tokens
  • 2 Esper Control

The Top 8 did not reflect the “white” heavy element everybody was expecting. But Top 8 isn’t determined only by Standard (since 6 rounds of Draft matters), so let’s take a look at what decks found themselves in the 8-2 or better category.

8-2 or Better

  • 3 Bant Company
  • 3 BG Midrange (Seasons Past and Aristocrats)
  • 1 RW Eldrazi
  • 1 BW Eldrazi
  • 3 UW Humans
  • 1 Mono-White Humans
  • 3 Red Goggles (2 RW, 1 RG)
  • 1 Jeskai Control
  • 2 Sultai Midrange
  • 2 Esper Control
  • 1 Grixis Control

Even with the big bullseye on its back, “White Aggro” put 4 players into the 8-2 range, which was more than any other deck! But it is also worth noting that it makes up less than 25% of the best performing decks.

The thing that stands out to me most about the spread of decks at the top is how diverse it is.

Standard is Diverse: True

When you take a look at the decks that performed at an 8-2 or better clip, it becomes very clear that anybody looking to buy into Standard has a lot of options. Everything is on the table, from mono-color beatdown all the way through hard control.

While Standard is very diverse after the PT, there are still clear battle lines being drawn in the sand. Though neither archetype won the event, these 2 cards are going to continue to shape the format for weeks to come.

While Bant Company may not have dominated the format, Collected Company is format warping. Keep in mind that “BG Aristocrats” should really be called “BG Company,” which makes the CoCo deck look to hold a bigger piece of the pie.

The other big adaptation was to play strategies that didn’t get wrecked by Declaration in Stone out of the Humans deck. People played more sweepers like Kozilek’s Return and Languish.

People clearly gravitated toward strategies that were good against the horde of white creatures they saw in weeks 1-2.

If you are a Bant Company or White Humans fan, don’t get too discouraged. First of all, both decks were pretty clearly the “decks to beat” going into the event. These new decks are the most hateful you are likely to see all season. Also, these decks can’t stay so finely tuned to beat up on Bant and Humans for very long because they will need to adapt to fight each other.

It’s possible that in only a week or so both creature decks will come surging back to the forefront of the format. When you combine the primarily white decks and the CoCo decks, you get a firm half of the best performing Standard decks in the event, so while there’s hope that there are other things you can do in Standard, you also need to remember that white and CoCo are at the helm driving everything else.

The Return of Control: True

One of the fun things about PT SOI was that we finally saw the return of blue-based control decks to Standard.

Let’s take a quick look at these lists to see what you are dealing with:

Esper Control

Seth Manfield

Seth’s deck is “Solar Flare-y” in the sense that it is mostly a big blue tap-out control deck. The key is that he has a ton of sweepers to undo an opponent’s early progress and then comes over the top with expensive threats like planeswalkers and Sphinx of the Final Word.

I also love the use of Dark Petition to randomly find a sweeper or a threat depending on the board state.

Jeskai Control

Rob Pisano

Rob’s deck looks pretty sweet! He’s also pushing the sweepers + planeswalkers angle pretty strong here.

Descend upon the Sinful seems like a particularly nasty card. Sweep the board and go over the top—got it.

Also, I’m digging the 61 main deck cards with a Rending Volley! Wow, level 2.

Grixis Control

Oliver Tiu

I like this deck a lot and can see it becoming popular moving forward. It isn’t loaded up with a million wraths and it has a lot of cheap interactive cards.

The Grixis deck is also a tap-out control deck, with 4 Radiant Flames out of the sideboard for the Humans and Company deck.

Red is Ahead of the Curve: True

Everyone was thinking that white was the best when really red may secretly have been insane the whole time. Everyone got a little tricked because typically the mono-red deck dominates early and then the rest of the format catches up.

But this time around, the Mono-White Humans deck was the red deck and red was secretly the control? Wow, this is weird!

It turns out that Chandra, Flamecaller may be not-so-secretly the best control card in the format. It wraths the board, draws cards, kills opposing planeswalkers, and doubles as a win condition. She’s pretty much the epitome of a control card. She’s no Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, but the comparison is way closer than most people care to realize.

I was caught sleeping on the Goggles, which is funny because I recognized they were great as soon as I saw Todd playing with them in Baltimore.

It turns out that the Goggles have applications beyond the traditional UR Thing in the Ice shell. Brad Nelson put the card into the GR Ramp shell to great effect and two others had nice finishes with the Goggles in a mono-red shell splashing white for Nahiri, the Harbinger.

Red/White Goggles

Makihito Mihara

Red has it all—controlling planeswalker finishers like Chandra and Nahiri? Yes. Great removal? Check. Cheap card draw? You bet. A mythic rare artifact that doubles your spells and mana? Yep.

Red is great.

Long Live the King(s): Yes, again.

LSV. Finkel. Brad Nelson.

Big names playing on the big stage yet again. This is the second PT in a row where LSV has shown up and put up a stellar performance. Man, these guys are great at Magic.

It shows that they are not slowing down at all and to have the drive, desire, and ability to put up results after playing for so long is extremely impressive. It was a very impressive run and an extremely entertaining PT to watch this time around.

Now that the landscape has been shaped, it is going to be fun to see what people do with the pieces that have been put into place in Madrid. I’m probably going to keep playing Bant Company, but I’m kind of interested in jumping on the Goggles bandwagon. The card looks so fun to play with!

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