Predicting What Deck Will Win Pro Tour Dominaria

Todd Stevens calls his shot from the other side of Virginia as players gather in Richmond for Pro Tour Dominaria!

All eyes will be on Pro Tour Dominaria tomorrow as we will find out what Standard decks the players brought to the table to try and cement their name in history. It’s always an exciting time of year, as the Standard metagame will be established for weeks to follow as players all around gravitate towards their favorite decks from the event. We don’t know for sure what the breakout deck will be until #PTDOM actually happens, of course, but first I want to try and predict what it will be by looking at the results we’ve seen in Standard over the past few weeks.

Am I just setting myself up to be wrong? Most likely, but that’s part of the fun of it! Hopefully the thought process I’ll go through today will at least get us pretty close, and that it will be helpful for you to use again, such as for the Invitational at #SCGCON the following weekend. And even if I’m completely wrong, that can be a good learning tool as well by looking at what data points I overlooked. So let’s begin my prediction of what deck will win the Pro Tour by first looking back on what has happened in Standard since the release of Dominaria.

We saw U/W Control take home the trophy at #SCGATL, the first weekend of Dominaria being legal in Standard. In typical Week 1 fashion, aggressive decks were all the rage with Mono-Red Aggro and R/B Aggro being the two most played archetypes into Day 2 of the Team Constructed Open. Rudy Briksza’s take on U/W Control was ready for them, with Lyra Dawnbringer being a key card out of the sideboard that people weren’t prepared for at the time.

Over in the Standard PTQ on Magic Online the same weekend, Myyamagat finished in second place with an innovative take on W/B Aggro, which would be the breakout deck of Week 2. It feasted on U/W Control with plenty of threats that the white removal spells struggled to answer like Knight of Malice and Heart of Kiran, and also had access to discard spells in the sideboard. This led to W/B Aggro being the most popular deck in Day 2 of #SCGBALT at 25% of the field.

However, at #SCGBALT, James Lu brought G/B Constrictor to the tournament, a deck that also had a positive U/W Control matchup with an incredible amount of threat density as well as discard spells in the sideboard. What set this deck apart, though, was that it had an incredibly favorable W/B Aggro matchup thanks to its threat density and W/B Aggro’s inability to play from behind. James Lu had the perfect deck for the Day 2 metagame, including dominating the Top 8 without dropping a game.

The following weekend at Grand Prix Birmingham, everything changed as R/B Aggro completely dominated the tournament with six copies in the Top 8 and sixteen of the Top 25. It seemed to have good matchups across the board and the other decks weren’t ready for it. It successfully put both G/B Constrictor and W/B Aggro on the back foot with a combination of aggressive creatures and cheap, quality removal while still having enough diverse and resilient threats to topple control decks. Clearly the other decks in the format needed to adapt to be able to contend with R/B Aggro moving forward.

And U/W Control certainly did just that. At Grand Prix Toronto the following weekend, Brad Nelson continued to innovate on Leo Lahonen’s take on creatureless U/W Control, which had an incredible game one edge over the other decks in the format by completely blanking the removal spells other decks played while also being able to play enough answers themselves. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria acted as the only way to prevent the deck from not losing by continuing to put itself back into the library after its ultimate allowed you to exile all permanents your opponent controlled. Eventually your opponent would draw all their cards and the game ended.

With such a strong Game 1 plan against the other decks of the format, U/W Control simply needed to win one of the sideboard games and the variety of threats that would be sideboarded in like Knight of Grace and History of Benalia would keep opposing decks on their toes. Brad Nelson himself had strong feelings about playing U/W Control after Grand Prix Toronto.

Finally, this weekend we had another Magic Online Pro Tour Qualifier that had a healthy amount of most of the decks listed above. G/B Constrictor finished both second and third showing that it can still compete in the red-heavy metagame. Ten of the Top 32 decks were R/B Aggro with another four being Mono-Red Aggro. Noticeably absent was W/B Aggro, which looks to be disappearing due to poor matchups against the other aggressive and midrange decks of the format.

With five weeks of Dominaria Standard in the books, there has been plenty of data to digest so far as well as a pretty healthy looking metagame. There’s still plenty of room for innovation and perhaps one of the Pro Tour teams will break it with something completely out of left field. That’s pretty unlikely since we’re this deep into the Standard season already, so let’s take a look at how each of the decks looks to be positioned heading into #PTDOM this weekend.

The Favorite – R/B Aggro

R/B Aggro is still going strong even after the adaptation of U/W Control and will most likely be the most played deck at the Pro Tour. The card choices in the individual decklists can vary immensely, with some people playing aggressive one- and two-drops such as Sugawara24 here and others going bigger with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Karn, Scion of Urza in the maindeck. When you’re not exactly sure what kind of threats your opponents will be bringing to the table, it’s always a good plan to stay on the aggressive side and R/B Aggro does exactly that while also having staying power into the late game.

It’s hard to build a deck with a good R/B Aggro matchup since each individual pilot can have vastly different threats in their 75. If I was playing on a team where everyone planned to play R/B Aggro I would be a little hesitant to register the same 75 and instead I could see hedging with slightly different decks being a better way to go about it. In any case, if there’s one deck to point at as the most likely deck to win Pro Tour Dominaria, I’d certainly point directly at R/B Aggro.

The Target – U/W Control

Even though it isn’t the favorite to win the Pro Tour in my mind, I would certainly stress playing a deck with a good U/W Control matchup. I expect it to be a popular deck choice due to the incredible strength of Search for Azcanta and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria as well as the white removal spells. Like I mentioned before, U/W Control has a favorable Game 1 against almost everything in the format which means your sideboard games need to be incredibly good to defeat it time after time.

This task is much easier said than done, especially considering the various degrees U/W Control can change their deck after sideboard. Romani took down the Pro Tour Qualifier on Magic Online this weekend playing Torrential Gearhulk over Pull from Tomorrow, showing the deck may continue to adapt heading into this weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if U/W Control won Pro Tour Dominaria and I think it’s the deck you need to target heavily to break through.

The Comeback Kid – Mono-Red Aggro

With the other aggressive and midrange decks focused on going bigger to one-up each other as well as have less removal that’s blanked by control, it’s entirely possible that looping back around to Mono-Red Aggro is the way to go. Mono-Red Aggro had a very poor start to the Dominaria Standard season as the printing of Goblin Chainwhirler had the deck in the spotlight and everyone was ready for it. Seal Away was an efficient answer to Hazoret the Fervent and Lyra Dawnbringer was a nightmare.

However, after a couple of weeks of Mono-Red Aggro underperforming and therefore leaving the spotlight, it came back in a big way during the Pro Tour Qualifier on Magic Online this past weekend with one pilot finishing the Swiss rounds 8-0 and three more at 7-1. Honestly, I don’t expect Mono-Red Aggro to win #PTDOM, but room is there for this deck to jump up and surprise people if things fall into place.

The Playable Green Deck – G/B Constrictor

A bevy of threats in the maindeck as well as a dedicated sideboard to defeat control makes G/B Constrictor a favorite of mine heading into PT Dominaria. My biggest worry about this deck would be how it matches up against R/B Aggro, especially the versions playing Goblin Chainwhirler, but with two copies in the Top 4 of the latest Pro Tour Qualifier on Magic Online makes me optimistic in that matchup. I don’t think there will be many pilots on this deck as R/B Aggro is a similar kind of deck that I believe will be much more popular. With that said, I would be surprised if G/B Constrictor got completely shut out of the Top 8, and when you’re in the Top 8 anything can happen.

The Not-So-Playable Green Deck – Mono-Green Aggro

Even though this has been a decently popular deck on Magic Online over the past couple weeks to combat R/B Aggro, I would recommend staying far away from Mono-Green Aggro. I’m not convinced it can ever win a game against U/W Control or that its Mono-Red Aggro matchup is consistently good enough, and therefore, I don’t expect this deck to have success at PT Dominaria. There were three copies of this deck that finished 7-1 in the Swiss portion of the Magic Online Pro Tour Qualifier last weekend, so it’s certainly not a bad deck per se. I just don’t have high hopes for it. Like I mentioned before, beating U/W Control needs to be a priority, and I don’t believe this deck can with any regularity. This is one of two decks I expect to do poorly this weekend…

The Trap – W/B Aggro

With the other being W/B Aggro. Even though this was the breakout deck of #SCGBALT, and it won #GPToronto, I think it’s in a very poor position in the current metagame. The reason to play W/B Aggro would be to beat U/W Control, which is certainly a positive in my book, but the problem is all of the other aggressive decks. I don’t like how this deck matchups up against R/B Aggro, Mono-Red Aggro, or G/B Constrictor. That’s a huge percentage of the metagame that I believe are tough matchups for W/B Aggro, and therefore, would be far away from this deck this weekend as well. I’m not too surprised there were zero copies of W/B Aggro in the Top 32 of the Magic Online Pro Tour Qualifier last weekend as I just don’t see this deck being good enough right now.

The Dark Horse – Mono-Black Control

This is certainly a stretch, but I honestly like how Mono-Black Control is positioned in the current Standard metagame. This is the current decklist I’ve been playing myself, and will have recorded a Versus Series episode for next week against Ross Merriam by the time this article goes up. I’m not sure if Mono-Black Control is the best black based midrange/control deck out there, and I could certainly see that honor going to a U/B, Sultai, or W/B deck. But in any case, I really like Fatal Push and Vraska’s Contempt as removal spells in the metagame and would be surprised if there isn’t a copy of a black-based midrange/control deck in the Top 8 of #PTDOM. It’s also what I’m most interested in playing at the #SCGINVI the following weekend and therefore, I’ll be trying all the color combinations I listed above.


While I think the most likely deck to win Pro Tour Dominaria, as well as the most played deck, will be R/B Aggro, I think there are plenty of other good choices for the weekend as well. I expect U/W Control to be popular and it’s certainly a deck I would target when building my deck for the weekend. On the flip side, I’m expecting both Mono-Green Aggro and W/B Aggro to have poor showings relative to the other major strategies and that a black-based midrange or control strategy could be the under-the-radar deck.

What’s your pick for winning the Pro Tour? Do you have a different breakout deck that I missed? I can’t wait to watch the action unfold this weekend and immediately start gearing up for SCG CON next weekend, where I’ll be spending most of my time preparing for the Standard portion of the event.

Is it Friday yet?