I love Standard. I love when the metagame circles around and brings back archetypes that were forgotten for weeks.
Grand Prix Providence was evidence of how, if you carefully read the metagame, you can show up at an event with a great deck.
Daniel Duffee, Bolun Zhang, and Christopher Stitson clinched the Top 8 of GP Providence playing the same deck. It was totally unexpected. I can’t recall seeing a single copy of The Flame of Keld at either Pro Tour 25th Anniversary or GP Brussels.
Mono-Red Flame of Keld
Daniel Duffee, 1st place at GP Providence
Mono-Red Flame of Keld was a great choice for last weekend for its favorable matchup versus Turbo Fog, a deck that for some reason people still play. It’s good against Esper Control, since they now play close to zero copies of The Scarab God, and it’s fine versus R/B Midrange thanks to its speed.
The nightmare for this deck was Steel Leaf Stompy, but the deck has now been pushed out of the metagame because of its bad matchup versus Turbo Fog and U/W Control. Between both Top 16s there was only one copy of Mono-Green, piloted by Platinum Pro Andrew Baeckstrom, who was splashing blue as suggested by Bobby Fortanely.
Grixis Midrange is another enemy of this deck. Whirler Virtuoso and The Scarab God are incredibly strong creatures. The first one lets you stabilize as early as turn 3 and the second shuts down the game very fast. And if you add to all of this some Magma Sprays, Harnessed Lightnings, and Abrades, you can’t have a good matchup there.
Grixis Midrange did fine with three copies in the Top 16 across the two GPs, but people are slowly moving toward the cleaner U/B version that clinched the finals at GP Las Vegas and put two copies in the Top 8 at GP Providence.
Why is This Deck Good Against R/B Midrange?
Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Glorybringer become slow and clunky cards because most of the mono-red deck costs 1 or 2 mana and trading those for 4 or 5 is excellent. Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran aren’t the greatest of blockers as mono-red will point its 12 removal spell at early creatures to leave Heart of Kiran without any pilots.
Goblin Chainwhirler is still a house. That’s why you sideboard out all of your X/1s for the whole sideboard (minus two Insult // Injury) and turn into a burn control deck that closes the game with Hazoret the Fervent.
The deck is easy to pilot but it’s important to time your spells correctly. If you draw gas with the second chapter of Flame of Keld, it is often correct to wait for the third chapter, especially if you’re holding a Goblin Chainwhirler that suddenly becomes a Bonfire of the Damned with X=3.
I love the list that Daniel won the GP with, and I like it better than Bolun Zhang’s list because Hazoret the Fervent is very often too slow in game 1 and you can afford to go down to 19 lands if you cut them.
Hazoret the Fervent will shine in the post-sideboard games but in the main deck you want to keep your curve as low as possible.
You are loaded with cheap removal spells that you need to point in the right direction. Keep Chandra’s Defeat for Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Cut // Ribbons for Glorybringer as you can kill everything else with the other spot removal spells.
Hazoret the Fervent will be your commander, and you’ll ride her to victory as they usually can’t deal with her.
The worst thing you can do against a deck with Vraska’s Contempt is to offer them a good mana exchange. That’s why I don’t like to bring in Hazoret the Fervent. I’m still boarding in Chandra, Torch of Defiance because she can have an immediate impact on the board even if killed right away, and can take over the game if left unchecked.
This is an insanely good matchup, one you can only lose to Lyra Dawnbringer, which I believe is a pretty bad sideboard card in Turbo Fog. I foresee one copy being played at most. Soul-Scar Mage is an answer to that along with two burn spells.
Other than that, you can’t lose this matchup, which is why I couldn’t get on board with playing Insult // Injury. It’ll only be good in this matchup.
Another thing you might have missed is how cheap this deck is. It’s less than $100 USD in real life and less than 50 tix on Magic Online. It might have set the record for a Standard GP winning deck.
This weekend I’ll be playing Modern at GP Prague, hoping to get some more points in this Dominaria cycle that is still lacking good finishes.