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Rogue Refiner

Congratulations to Huey Jensen for becoming the new World Champion! His weapon of choice was a rather standard looking Temur Energy deck that continues to dominate on Magic Online as well. Outside of a few cute touches like main-deck Commit // Memory, there’s not much to say about the deck. It does nearly everything well and its biggest drawback is the fact that it can’t run Duress.
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While it didn’t make a huge showing the first weekend, Abrade was back on top at Worlds. Abrade was the most played spell in the 24 Standard decks and with good reason. It does a little bit of everything and is only awkwardly positioned against U/B Control. Everywhere else, it remains a nice piece of cheap interaction that’s been keeping Heart of Kiran out of the metagame.
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The Scarab God

With the emergence of U/B Control at Worlds, The Scarab God has been propelled to new heights, both in terms of total play and in price. It's one of the few major threats control has access to that midrange can’t fully embrace. While energy shells have been making use of it, U/B Control's Essence Scatter, Vraska’s Contempt, and Torrential Gearhulk make a huge difference in winning the Scarab war.
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Vraska's Contempt

Speaking of a solid piece of interaction, the reincarnation of Hero’s Downfall has really made an impact in the viability of U/B Control. A universal catch-all that also gains life means that you can not only take out pesky planeswalkers, but remove a Hazoret or Glorybringer as well before taking a hit. Throw in the supplemental life gain alongside Essence Extraction and Gearhulk rebuys and this card fills a very important niche.
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This is arguably the most important sideboard card in the format—certainly in the argument along with Negate and Abrade. The impact this can have on post-board matches against Temur, U/B Control, and U/W Approach is significant. The information is worthwhile for U/B players who have a limited number of answers and knowing which threats are in the pipeline makes your task far simpler.
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Search for Azcanta

Along with being the perfect land for U/W Approach, Search for Azcanta helpfully allows U/B Control to hit early land drops, fill the graveyard for Torrential Gearhulk and The Scarab God, and means you’ll never run out of gas in a long game. These type of durdle control strategies utilize the card so well without having to build around it. In mirrors, it allows you to break mana parity and is crucial when you may have to make the first major action.
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Hazoret the Fervent

How the mighty have fallen. Mono-Red did poorly at Worlds and most people are starting to slide toward the U/B and Temur Energy decks. Once that happens, the question becomes whether Ramunap Red is worth playing in an optimal metagame. Perhaps, as Worlds displayed, that’s simply no longer the case. It could also be that while red was squeezed out because of how skilled and prepared the opposition was, at a normal Open tournament that won’t be the case. We’ll be looking on with interest.
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Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Much like Hazoret, Chandra may not remain in the top tier for much longer. While she certainly has a better home (Temur Energy), the fact remains that she really only excels against U/B and U/W Control decks. Perhaps that’s enough, or maybe being an all-around good card is enough to justify her slots. Do note that she isn’t all that strong in Temur mirrors anymore and she lines up horrifically against The Scarab God. Still, as long as you keep her weaknesses in mind, she can still provide a fresh supply of spells for you.
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Rankings Updated:  October 9, 2017
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Rankings Updated:  November 15, 2016
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Rankings Updated:  11/12/2015

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