Welcome back to Over/Under! Ari Lax and Todd Anderson face five number-themed questions. After they take the over or the under, it’s your turn to vote!
Number of different archetypes in Pro Tour Ixalan’s Top 8: 3.5
Ari takes the Over: Pop Quiz!
Do you think more than four Temur Energy decks are going to be in the Top 8 of this Pro Tour?
Do you think that any of the other decks in Standard will put up a three-of-eight Top 8 performance and have this happen alongside a strong Temur Energy performance?
Do you think that only Temur Energy, U/B Control, and Ramunap Red are playable in this Standard format?
Do you consider Temur Energy the same thing as Four-Color Energy? Or various other control variants the same as U/B? Or Mardu or B/R the same as Ramunap Red?
Do you think that Ixalan Draft is consistent enough that a single team or two can dominate the top of the standings in a mixed-format event, preventing a single consensus from stacking a single archetype’s results?
If you answered in a very specific way to this, you could say Under, but I just don’t think it lines up. This isn’t a slam dunk, and I can see worlds where Under occurs, but I will err on the side of entropy and assume random things happen.
Todd takes the Under: Standard is flush with different archetypes at the moment, and I expect at least four to show up in the elimination rounds. I could be end up being on the wrong side of the argument here, but I think that Tokens (in some form), Temur Energy, Ramunap Red, and Control are all viable options. This is especially true when you consider just how many utility spells each archetype has at its disposal to fight literally every deck in the format.
There will be some cards that feel unbeatable when they’re cast (Torrential Gearhulk, The Scarab God), but those cards don’t win the game on their own if you can’t control the early turns. While U/B Control is the only archetype to play both of these cards(and Grixis, to an extent), there are a lot of turns before these creatures come online to start dominating. If the Red Aggro decks can capitalize on this, or the Temur Energy decks can find a way to put up enough pressure in the early turns, they can invalidate the big spells from the U/B Control deck.
Also, Tokens. Various forms, all pretty solid. Personally, I’m a big fan of God-Pharaoh’s Gift, but just about any version will do. Fumigate is a pretty big deal right now, so I’m leaning toward any version of Tokens that contains that card to do well.
Number of SCG Regionals Top 8s that will have at least one Storm deck: 5.5
Ari takes the Over: This one we will do the actual hard math way, at least for a little bit.
Is Storm more than 50% to Top 8 a given tournament? Yes or no.
If you assume Storm is about 6% of the Modern metagame, which is pretty accurate based on recent events, the answer is “it’s close.” You are about 40% to hit a Storm deck if you randomly chose eight decks from the room.
But that’s assuming Storm isn’t better than even odds to make it to a Top 8. If recent events are any indication, Storm is way better than random to settle at the top of the standings. I would also bet it is a deck many of the best players at these events will gravitate to.
The lesson here is that if you are talking about the top decks in the Modern format, you don’t need a huge edge to push it into more than 50% to Top 8 range.
Todd takes the Over: Storm is a fine deck and I think that, in all the SCG Regionals that we’re going to have, at least six will make it into the elimination rounds. The deck is busted, and people clearly don’t know how to beat it, so I expect it to do very well. People who’ve been playing the deck for the last few months should have a significant advantage in these tournaments.
Number of SCG Regionals wins for Collins Mullen’s Humans deck: 1.5
Ari takes the Under: I really like the Five-Color Humans deck. Matt Ling, a DC-area friend of mine, even won the #SCGDC Classic with the deck right after Collins Mullen’s big win at #SCGCIN. This probably says something about the deck being pretty good.
But multiple wins in eleven tries? Winning an event is hard. Using Worlds “what player is a favorite to win” discussions as a fairly reasonable approximation of Modern with 24 or so possible winners, even the best deck is maybe 8% to outright win the event. This is especially reasonable as none of the decks in Modern is that much better than any of the others right now, even if Humans has some flashy results.
Even being generous, Humans winning multiple events is in the 25% range. You have to basically double my approximate odds of it winning an event to get to multiple wins being an even-odds proposition.
Todd takes the Under: Zero. Whatever.
Play a better deck. Play a Collected Company deck. Play a better “green doofuses that do nothing” deck. Mayor of Avabruck? Are you serious? The only reason this deck has any legs is because Champion of the Parish is a stupid Magic card. The only other reason is because Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is actually just the nuts against Storm and Death’s Shadow.
Collected Company is a great card, and I could think of 50 different shells that might want to play it and none of them would involve Kitesail Freebooter or Mantis Rider. I’m guessing that these Humans players just don’t ever face off against Supreme Verdict or they have to call it with Meddling Mage over and over. If they did, they’d never play their deck again. Lucky for me, I play against three or four Jeskai Control decks per tournament, so I know a thing or two about Supreme Verdict, and exactly how to not play a bad Human aggro deck that folds to a four-mana sorcery.
I hate this deck and I hate everyone who plays it. It’s bad and you should feel bad!
Number of Pro Tour Ixalan finish for World Champion Huey Jensen: 16.5
Ari takes the Over: I could make some argument about a Pro Tour this late in a Standard season means basically everyone will have a reasonable deck and every match will be close, but Brad Nelson just wins a million matches over and over and Huey is really darn good. I would believe I was right, but I’m not sure I would convince everyone.
Fortunately I have a really solid second argument.
Have you drafted Ixalan?
This isn’t Hour of Devastation. This is a super-high variance-format both on deck quality and draw quality, and it has been out basically forever, so everyone knows all the things. There’s only so much you can do to ensure a result good enough for Top 16. Last Pro Tour, I drew my last round because I would have finished seventeenth with a 12-4 result. If someone’s expected Draft record falls from 5-1 to 4-2, are you really that sure they can 8-2 Constructed?
Todd takes the Over: Lucky Rabbit’s Foot, etc.
I think Huey Jensen is a phenomenal Magic player and a great human being, but you can only play so well and get so lucky for so long before everything comes crashing down. Right now, I’d say that Huey Jensen is favored to make the Top 32, but it isn’t easy to hit the nail on the head for two major tournaments in a row. People thought he’d annihilate US Nationals. People thought he’d win the latest Grand Prix (to be fair, Reid won that one, so same thing, but whatever). My guess is that Huey Jensen will make exactly 23rd place.
Number of Pro Tour trophies won this weekend by a Temur Energy pilot: 0.5
Ari takes the Under: I’m sick of math. I started eyeballing it, assuming 35% of the field played Temur or something, and I just kinda gave up half way through.
I just want to feel something for the underdogs here. It’s boring to say “Yes, Temur will win the Pro Tour.” I want to be able to say I was right when W/G Cats wins.
I’ve made very heads-up predictions the rest of this Over/Under. Let me spew off my earned dignity equity however I want.
Todd takes the Under: That’s the hope, anyway. I like Temur Energy in general. I think the deck is fine, and I certainly wouldn’t fault anyone for playing it, but I’m definitely rooting against it. While I watched my good friend Gerry Thompson lose in the finals of US Nationals with Temur Energy, it hurt me more that he opted to play it over the much-more-Gerry U/B Control deck that he played at the World Championship.
But results are results.
If you took all the Magic Online data from the last few weeks and had to pick a deck to win the Pro Tour, my pick would be Ramunap Red. While it has some significant weaknesses, I think it is the most consistent deck in the format. Would I like to see Ramunap Red win the tournament? Absolutely not. Would I rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon?
Now we have a conversation!
Standard is in a strange place right now, and I’m just hoping that the Pro Tour shapes the metagame in such a way that it becomes more playable. The format features four major archetypes with varying color combinations, and I don’t know which one to pick. Please, just show me the best deck and how to build it! I’m dying over here! I don’t want to play U/B Control. I don’t want to play Temur Energy! Just give me something fresh and shake things up. You owe us!
(You don’t, but please help. We need some good Standard after the last year or so).