The Pro Tour really shook up the proclaimed boring Bant Company metagame, and took full advantage of all the mechanics featured in Eldritch Moon. We saw a little bit of everything from sweet emerge decks taking advantage of Elder Deep-Fiend and Wretched Gryff, the delirium decks finally coming together to power up Grim Flayer and Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and even the big baddie herself, Emrakul, the Promised End.
The best part was that Bant Company wasn’t completely outmoded these advancements. Luis Scott-Vargas still came within a few games of taking down the Pro Tour, settling for his 3rd Top 8 appearance in as many Pro Tours. Despite early reports of Bant Company being the worst choice for the metagame, now that the dust has settled, I see it only slightly underperformed. Bant Company also had nearly zero new additions, and now players have a firm grasp of what their enemies will bring to the table.
Instead of breaking down every single successful PT deck, I’ll be covering what I see moving into this weekend. If you want more in-depth guides to the various decks, there’s plenty of content on CFB that has you covered.
Here’s the new Standard metagame:
- GB Delirium (Vessel, more graveyard setup)
- Bant Company
- 4-Color Emerge (Dredge—Haunted Dead and Prized Amalgam)
- RG Ramp
- BW Control
So the metagame roughly dictates that you want to:
- A: Go under Emrakul decks before they can crush you.
- B: Play Emrakul yourself (likely in a delirium shell).
- C: Pack the best value cards you can outside of the Emrakul/delirium engine.
Every deck in the metagame falls into one of these descriptions. The only deck that may not fit into any and has shown any signs of life is the UR Spells deck that Pedro Carvalho piloted to a 9-1 Constructed record.
So if you have an event this weekend, where should you land among these 3 options?
Despite the uptick in sweepers, I really like where Humans stands. On the draw, the sweepers are too slow to matter and you rarely have to worry about the deck clunking out, unlike the various delirium and emerge decks. The reliance on a handful of good creatures instead of a mass of 2/3s also makes Declaration in Stone a far more powerful removal option for the aggro deck. Ishkanah requires specialized answers and it happens that Declaration fills that role nicely.
If you’re worried about sweepers, splashing is a valid option. UW Spirits may have fallen out of favor, but Humans splashing Spell Queller is viable and Selfless Spirit beats Kozilek’s Return. Bant Humans may even be underrated right now as an aggressive deck fast enough to not get rolled by Emrakul and resilient to Languish/Return. The additional of Thalia’s Lieutenant makes a big difference to your clock even without mono-1-drops backing her up.
Going under is an obvious response when nearly every other deck wants to hit peak mana and start throwing haymakers around. Playing a straightforward midrange strategy when people have tutors that find a 13/13 Mindslaver is a losing proposition. If mono-red were slightly stronger, this is the kind of metagame where you’d see the red mage riding in on a Goblin Chariot slinging fire and lightning at green players. Half the decks in the format are scared of interacting with you in any real way and lean entirely on throwing up a few speed bumps.
Maybe you hate aggro though and think the idea of playing such weak cards is embarrassing when you could be jamming Emrakul or Elder Deep-Fiend instead. This is totally understandable and in that case I’d recommend the Temurge deck. Which build? I have a slight lean toward Andrew Brown’s take, but Owen definitely has the purest of all the versions. The Dredge iteration relying on Haunted Dead and Prized Amalgam is, unfortunately, trash when you don’t hit Amalgam early. Without that extra board presence, you rely heavily on Kozilek’s Return to keep you in the game.
Both Owen and Brown can take advantage of Summary Dismissal out of the board if they need to win an Emrakul war. Invasive Surgery is also an interesting option for shutting down Traverse the Ulvenwald. The lack of planeswalkers in both decks is also a bonus since To the Slaughter will likely pick up in popularity in the GB Delirium builds to combat Liliana, the Last Hope.
If you want to stick with powerful cards but go off the beaten path a bit then Joel Larsson had one of the most interesting decks in the top Constructed records. Jund Delirium is a deck that could be uniquely positioned moving forward due to the heavy red/black configuration. Not only does it have more sweepers against the decks trying to go low, the split on Return and Languish ducks the Selfless Spirit gambit from Bant Company. Distended Mindbender also takes down both sides of the Traverse package and backs up Transgress the Mind nicely.
While discard isn’t a total fail-safe (people can just topdeck the Traverse or Emrakul, of course) it feels a hell of a lot more effective than relying on 1-2 Summary Dismissal and holding up 4 mana. Having a proactive noncreature option is huge when every deck punishes you for durdling around, even BW Control can ruin your day by ticking up Liliana for every free turn you give them! The aforementioned To the Slaughter is in the deck to help keep the Liliana and Tamiyo population in check and Dragonmaster Outcast is a blast from the past for the BGx mirrors.
The format is wide open right now and the PT results have set nothing in stone. There is no default best choice right now, so play whatever you feel comfortable with and learn to make quick decisions. The format is quite grindy and both the delirium and emerge decks have extensive decision trees at times, so going to time isn’t uncommon. Good luck to all my friends at Portland and enjoy the new meta!