It’s finally time for the first Pro Tour featuring Guilds of Ravnica, and while I’m not excited about my boring deck
choice, I’m eagerly awaiting the results to see if someone broke it. That
doesn’t happen often, but if there’s a Standard format that can be broken,
it’s probably this one.
The Pro Tour will be a good mix of these five decks.
Wait, where’s Selesnya? Tulio’s Path of Discovery deck put up some good
numbers initially, and while there are some Angel-based versions of
Selesnya, those don’t line up well against Boros Tokens. If you haven’t
been checking results from Magic Online, you might be wondering what the
hell Boros Tokens is considering it wasn’t a deck that showed up at either
Grand Prix last weekend.
- 4 Adanto Vanguard
- 4 Skymarcher Aspirant
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Dauntless Bodyguard
- 4 Knight of Grace
- 3 Healer's Hawk
This deck annihilated the Magic Online Championship Qualifier last
weekend. Of the twelve decks that went 7-1 or better, seven of them were
small white creature decks. Why was this deck suddenly popular?
We had a format of Golgari Midrange, Jeskai Control, and Izzet Phoenix, and
none of them could beat the early aggression capped off with Heroic
Reinforcements. With Lava Coil being one of the most played removal spells,
Adanto Vanguard is nearly unstoppable.
It’s not surprising for this Standard format to have the weekly shakeup,
but I think we all thought the format was finally calming down. I, for one,
was pretty happy with where my testing was. On Friday, I bought the missing
cards for my deck, only to have to throw that deck in the garbage following
the MOCS results.
Only a scant week ago, I had the best deck in the format. Everyone in my
testing group (Team Legion and friends) were very high on using Dive Down
to protect Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Golgari, Jeskai, and the rest of the format
couldn’t beat it. To top it off, we were even splashing The Eldest Reborn
to beat the people who were doing the same.
So, what changed?
For starters, Boros Tokens made its presence known. It created a huge buzz
that lead to many testing teams scrambling to either find answers or figure
out if they should play it themselves. Izzet Phoenix also performed well.
Decks like Jeskai and Golgari, formerly the best two decks, seemed to
flounder. Also, the Golgari decks adapted and started playing
Plaguecrafter. That’s not the end of the world by itself, but it makes
things more difficult.
You could make adjustments, like playing Sailor of Means, Moment of Craving
maindeck, and more Fiery Cannonades, but it didn’t fix everything. The plan
of protecting Niv-Mizzet with Dive Down was no longer the best possible
thing you could be doing against everyone. Untapping with Niv-Mizzet is
about the most fun you can have in Standard, and although those decks will
have some success, I still thought I could get an edge.
Fast forward a week later and I’ve submitted my Pro Tour decklist with time
to spare. Did we re-break it? Sadly, I don’t think so. Given infinite time,
I could have potentially kept evolving with the format, but we ran out and
submitted the best thing we had.
It’s an odd thing to have a solid grasp on the metagame and what’s going to
happen, but not know what to do with that information. Part of the problem
is that I could be completely wrong, so I didn’t want to make any hard read
Given all that, here are my predictions for Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica.
“Gates” Will be the Breakout Draft Archetype
Most people would rank the guild draft order as Dimir, Boros, Izzet,
Golgari, Selesnya. That’s fairly close to the truth, although my favorite
draft archetypes haven’t really been guild-affiliated at all. If you
prioritize bombs, removal, Gates, and then everything else, chances are
you’ll end up with a great deck basically every time. Sub-archetypes exist
within this strategy, so you’re never leaning on picking up anything
For the weaker archetypes, like Golgari and Selesnya, this is a huge boon.
You can pick up great gold cards in those guilds relatively late while
splashing everyone else’s best cards, which also makes your opponent’s
decks worse. There are reasons why green is basically the weakest color and
having access to all the other colors can fix those problems.
There are even some direct payoffs for having multiple Gates like Glaive of
the Guildpact, Guild Summit, and Gatekeeper Gargoyle. If you pick up a
Chamber Sentry, even better!
Goblin Chainwhirler Will be at an All-Time Low (But Will Put up
If you want to embarrass Adanto Vanguard, look no further than our old
nemesis. The red cards surrounding Goblin Chainwhirler are weaker than last
season, but it still forms an aggressive package that must be respected. I
don’t expect a ton of people to play Mono-Red, but it is a solid check to
the new hotness that is Boros Tokens.
Niv-Mizzet, Parun Will be Hyped…
As I mentioned earlier, many other players were starting to develop
powerful control strategies that protected Niv-Mizzet. Had Boros not taken
over, some sort of Niv-Mizzet control deck would have been the breakout
deck of the PT. Given how popular I expect Boros to be, Niv will be
overshadowed a bit, but I fully expect it to make it into the elimination
…But Boros Tokens Will Steal That Hype
There’s not much to say here. Boros will be everywhere, and it will be
killing people very quickly. The first time it’s on camera, people will
probably be losing their minds, especially if they haven’t seen the Magic
Decks Ready for Boros Tokens Will be the Talking Point for Day 2
Of this class of decks, I expect Golgari, various control decks, Mono-Red
Aggro, and maybe some clever Izzet decks to fit into this camp. What
emerges from that winner’s metagame is anyone’s guess.
Grixis Midrange is the Sleeper Pick of the Tournament
Black removal lines up incredibly well, but there are issues. First of all,
what’s good against Boros isn’t necessarily good against the field. Golgari
will grind out your Ritual of Soots and Golden Demises, and Boros might
still beat you with Heroic Reinforcements and their sideboard Experimental
Frenzies and Banefires.
One of the largest problems for Grixis (and black decks, in general) is
finding a good win condition. Lava Coil neutralizes Nicol Bolas, the
Ravager, and although Doom Whisperer is large, it doesn’t do enough against
a wide battlefield.
There Will be Four Distinct Versions of Golgari
Yes, someone will cast Molderhulk during this Pro Tour. For a brief time, I
thought that person could be me. Most Golgari decks struggle against Star
of Extinction, but the Molderhulk decks have recently been playing Golgari
Raiders. Your opponent might be able to wipe your battlefield, but that
just fuels your big finisher.
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 1 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Stitcher's Supplier
- 1 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
- 4 Molderhulk
- 1 Golgari Findbroker
- 4 Golgari Raiders
- 4 Glowspore Shaman
- 4 Plaguecrafter
Aside from the meme versions, Golgari will be successful and there will be
many different avenues for that success. Carnage Tyrant’s time has come to
pass. Control now has plenty of answers to the big dino, so you’re better
off trying to fight them on card advantage again. Additionally, Boros
doesn’t care in the slightest about your six-drop.
There will be some versions with lots of planeswalkers, some with The
Immortal Sun, and probably another version that will surprise us.
Teferi Won’t Make it to the Elimination Rounds
Control will be present, but that will likely involve Niv-Mizzet more than
Teferi. Crackling Drake does a fine job blocking (especially against Adanto
Vanguard) while pulling triple duty as a win condition, source of velocity,
and something that baits out removal to clear the way for Niv.
If Izzet can overcome its Adanto Vanguard problem, I expect it to be one of
the more successful archetypes. Teferi decks, on the other hand, don’t seem
to have a lot going for them that other decks don’t also have.
Top 8 Will Have Four Players in Their First PT Top 8
The best players aren’t necessarily the ones who have the best deck
selection or metagame understanding. Because of that, I fully anticipate
we’ll see a larger than average amount of players in their first Pro Tour
Top 8. These players will be those with sharp Draft skills and good deck
selection as a result of a firm understanding of the metagame.
There Will be Five Unique Archetypes in Top 8
If we want to make hard predictions, I’d say three Golgari, two copies of
Izzet or Boros, and some one-ofs. Given that Top 8, this PT should be one
of the most exciting sets of elimination rounds you could watch.
Tom Ross Will Win the PT
That’s right, aggro master Tom Ross is about to be unleashed on the wild.
His contract with Wizards of the Coast is up, he’s got Gold status in the
PT Player’s Club, an intense fire, and (likely) fourteen basic Plains. He’s
not messing around.
In the long standing tradition of pro players being cut loose from R&D,
which started with me and continued with Allen Wu, Tom Ross is going to win
a Pro Tour after leaving WotC. Aside from that tradition, Tom is one of the
most fearsome opponents you could ever have, and one of his favorite
archetypes is possibly the best deck to register.
Nothing would make me happier than Tom Ross in his trademark leather jacket
hoisting a trophy.
The Best Deck This Week Won’t Be the Best Deck Next Week
This metagame shifts too rapidly. In a large sense, that’s a good thing, as
the format continues to evolve and be fresh. However, it’s also difficult
because the hot tech one week might be completely hated out the next. If
you stick with the same deck, you’re going to have wildly different degrees
However, there are some decks that can adapt. Golgari and the various
control decks of the format have shown some early resilience, and I imagine
that’ll remain a constant. Decks like Izzet, Boros, Selesnya, and Mono-Red
have their own issues, each of which is easily exploitable.
Strap in. I think we’re in for a wild ride.