With another Pro Tour in the bag it’s time for the rest of us “Muggles” to throw our collective wizarding hats into the Standard ring and play some games!
Before I get started with the topic, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate my friend Andrew Elenbogen on becoming a Pro Tour champion! It couldn’t have happened to a better or more deserving individual. It’s important to note that not only has he taken his game to a new level this year, but he’s also become an irreplaceable member of the tournament scene in Michigan. He takes the lead on planning and coordinating group travel to events and frequently offers his time and home for group playtesting.
Not only has Andrew elevated his game to the top level, but like a true champion, he elevates the people around him as well.
O.K., enough with the mushy congratulations. Let’s talk about how the Pro Tour results have and will continue to impact the Standard metagame. In particular, I’d like to discuss trends we can observe on Arena and what they mean for the coming week of Magic.
The White Weenie Story Arch
Here’s the winning list, which only touches red for the sideboard Experimental Frenzy:
Andrew Elenbogen, 1st Place at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica
In case you missed the headline, “Boros Takes 6 of Top 8 Spots at #PTGRN—Another Broken Standard.”
Don’t listen to the Chicken Littles of the world, because the Standard sky is not falling. Not even close. Pro Tours are 16 rounds and only ten of those rounds are actually Standard (the other six are Draft). Of the 6 Boros players in Top 8 only Andrew Elenbogen actually had a record of 8-2 or better with the deck.
Here’s a breakdown by archetype of the decks that went 8-2 or better.
- Golgari Midrange: 23
- Boros Aggro: 15
- Boros Angels: 6
- Turbo Fog: 2
- Red Deck Wins: 9
- Dimir: 1
- Izzet Drakes: 7
- Jeskai Control: 9
- Big Red Control: 1
- Mono-Blue Tempo: 1
- Esper Control: 2
All things considered, this is an astoundingly diverse winners’ metagame and White Weenie (despite being abundant in Top 8) was not even the most represented deck in the winner’s metagame. Golgari Midrange was:
“The Rock,” or Golgari Midrange has always been a potent strategy for pushing back against beatdown decks.
Golgari appears to have been the most formidable Standard deck in the tournament despite failing to convert a single Top 8 with nearly a 25% share of the winner’s meta (more than any other deck). The takeaway:
Golgari players need to hone their drafting skills? Maybe. Beyond that, it’s no surprise G/B Midrange had a big weekend in Milwaukee. I’m sure there were a lot of bandwagon players who looked at the Top 8 and decided to go Boros, but that was a trap, as Boros now had the big bulls-eye on its back, despite not actually being the best performing deck at the PT.
I think a deck that is hateful toward swarms of little creatures is likely still very well positioned right now.
The Great Arena Shift
I’ve been using #MTGArena to do the majority of my Standard and limited testing this past month. I’m finally to the point where I can build multiple Standard decks with sideboards and have been making my way into the competitive Leagues.
There was a dynamic shift in the Arena metagame between last Thursday and the present. Only a few days ago the Arena metagame was dominated by various blue and red decks. Nassif’s Mono-Blue Tempo deck, Red Deck Wins, and Izzet Drakes made up roughly 80% of my matchups. Now, the metagame has dramatically shifted to Boros Aggro to the point that it is 75% of my matchups!
It’s difficult to say how much is people jumping on the bandwagon and how much is people test driving a successful deck, but the entire focus of Standard seems to center on these Boros decks and beating them is the highest priority.
If you are climbing the ladder in Arena I highly advise playing a strategy that is hostile toward Boros. Again, Golgari appears to be a strong choice.
I was playing Boros Aggro last week before the Pro Tour (I actually wrote an article about Boros Aggro), but have since switched to Golgari. The midrange decks (especially the lists with sweepers) are quite good against the white decks.
The stock of all the sweepers has increased with swarmy aggro decks leading the pack. Jeskai and Golgari were premier choices at Grand Prix Milwaukee. I was Standard playtesting all week long on Twitch in preparation for #GPMILWAUKEE, and you can tune in any time to help me get ready for the next one.
Don’t listen to the haters. Standard is in a great place right now. Boros may have spiked the Pro Tour in the hands of a very capable pilot (congrats again, Andrew!), but the Standard 8-2 (or better) winners’ metagame paints a different and more diverse portrait of Standard.