Shining A Light On SCG Chicago

Gerard examines eight decks from #SCGCHI that fell just outside of the spotlight’s circle, looking at 17th-24th to discern the broader trends of the Standard metagame for #SCGRICH and #PTOrigins over the next two weeks.

This past weekend marked the first major Standard event with Magic Origins. Over seven hundred players gathered to show off their new brews at the Standard Open in Chicago, and now that the dust has settled it is time to analyze the top performing decks from the event. G/R Devotion was victorious and still seems to be the top deck in Standard, but with everyone else’s focus on G/R Devotion and the other Top Eight decklists I want to focus on the decks that were within grasp of a Top Eight.

The decks that finished just that little bit out of the spotlight, in the Top 24, were just one or two wins away from the Top Eight. Considering how early it is in the season, I feel very strongly that we should not be overlooking them just because they didn’t reach that loftiest of circles. Another unique and interesting thing about the Top 24 decks is that they are all different, so you can get a taste of a wide range of decks.

Jeskai Aggro is a deck that somewhat fell off the radar in the past few months on the SCG Open circuit. A few players would put up fair results with it from time to time, but it has become far less dominant than it once was. However, with its newest addition of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy… which is currently my pick for the best card out of Origins… I truly feel that Jeskai is poised to make a strong comeback. Jeskai would normally struggle with drawing the wrong cards at the wrong time; cards like Wild Slash match up great against Goblins but terribly against Abzan, and this deck is full of things with just that sort of matchup dependency. With Jace, now you are able to filter your draws while filling up your graveyard to power Dig Through Time as well. I really like how this list is built, with the only exception being the missing Elspeth, Sun’s Champion I’d want in the maindeck. I am a big fan of Elspeth and feel that there is no real reason not to play at least one copy main; many times having access to a card like Elspeth somewhere in Game One can pull you ahead in any of the grindy matchups. In addition, I would strongly consider running a copy or two of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker in the main as well. With Languish becoming more popular, having a hard-to-answer threat such as Sarkhan may work out nicely. Overall, I feel Jeskai is a solid choice and is good for any player that loves interactive Magic.

This is the deck that won the most recent Pro Tour, and it is still a powerhouse, plus it got a great boost from Magic Origins in the form of Goblin Piledriver. Atarka Red’s great draws are nearly unbeatable, and if your opponent misses just one beat it is often game over. With a build like this one, you have the advantage of having all your lands enter the battlefield untapped which means you’ll be able to play out nicely on curve. Many decks in the format run upwards of a dozen lands that enter the battlefield tapped, really slowing them down, and each precious moment of time wasted is something Atraka Goblens can take advantage of. To make things worse for your opponent is the fact that you can just steal wins out of nowhere with cards like Atarka’s Command and Become Immense. Going forward, I would like to see a second copy of Become Immense in the maindeck, a couple of Outpost Sieges somewhere in the 75, and for the three copies of Destructive Revelry to remain and maybe even become a four-of. With so many artifacts and enchantments running around in the format, I really love the fact that Jason had so many copies in his sideboard. Overall, Atarka Red is a great deck to play but it isn’t as easy as it looks, so make sure you get a good amount of games in before playing it at your next big event.

This list is called Abzan Megamorph but with the trimming of Deathmist Raptors perhaps Abzan Midrange is a more suitable name for it. It still runs one Deathmist Raptor in the main along with the full playset of Den Protectors, however something at the three-drop slot had to go in order to make room for Nissa, Vastwood Seer. Speaking of Nissa, I really believe this deck got a huge boost because of her. Abzan Megamorph was already one of the top three decks prior to Magic Origins and I think it only got better thanks to the new set. Besides for Nissa, Languish really helps the deck fight battles that it might have struggled with in the past. The one thing missing from Shong’s deck is one copy of Tasigur, the Golden Fang. I really like the fact that both Siege Rhino and Tasigur survive Languish, so I definitely want at least one in the 75. I also really like Ajani, Mentor of Heroes in the current format and wouldn’t mind seeing that moved into the main. Other than those few changes I feel this list is very well-positioned and a great choice if you are looking for a deck that will hold its own against pretty much any deck in the format.

I really like how straight orward and consistent this deck is. There is no messing around with a second color, it doesn’t need one since it’s super powerful on its own. My favorite part of this deck is the four copies of Outpost Siege and two copies of Abbot of Keral Keep, both of which help to make sure the deck never runs out of fuel. I think Abbot of Keral Keep can easily be moved up to being a four-of since it is good at any point in the game. I also like the sideboard plan of both more removal and Dragons. Both provide utility in certain matchups, and both allow the deck to change its role depending on who is the beatdown in the match. Overall, I like this list more than Atarka Goblins if you want to play a red deck. I feel this is a bit more solid and is better set up against Languish and Drown in Sorrow, both of which I think will continue to be popular.

This list plays the full zero cards from Magic Origins, that’s right: zero! Whenever a new set comes out I love to see new decks, but I also love to see how established decks change and what new cards make the cut. However, Vladimir decided to play it safe and let the other players try out the new cards. I really think Liliana, Heretical Healer can be a nice addition here, but it looks like Valdimir might think otherwise. Overall, Mardu Dragons can be built in so many different ways and I do like the approach Vladimir took here. He decided to pack his removal spells fully and made sure they were very diverse between both the main and sideboard. It is a little unfortunate for Mardu Dragons that Languish will be the new removal spell of choice for other decks, since almost everything in his list dies to it. On the bright side, players can adapt and possibly change around the creature base to find room for a third copy of Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury and possibly a couple of copies of Dragonlord Kolaghan. This will allow you to have more game against Languish-based decks. Overall, I am not the biggest fan of Mardu Dragons but think it is still a serviceable choice.

Here is another deck that uses no new cards from Magic Origins, but some can fit in easily if they wanted to. Both Kytheon, Hero of Akros and Liliana, Heretical Healer would be easy additions here. The mana would need to be changed to fit them, but I feel both are excellent, hard-to-answer threats which is something Abzan Aggro needs right now since Languish is out there. I really like the fact that he is running three copies of Herald of Torment since the Herald gives the deck some much-needed reach. I think Abzan Aggro might struggle right now in the current metagame, but it can still be a very solid contender. Overall, I think Abzan Aggro is a great choice if you love attacking; if you have no specific preference for the Red Zone, I think the value of the deck goes down a bit. Games with Abzan Aggro are often decided in the early turns, and a weak opening hand that is not properly mulliganed will most likely cost you the game. My best advice for you is to mulligan aggressively and try to find what you are looking for: the multiple early plays it’ll take to you pressure your opponent right from the start. As you can tell when I start talking about how you should mulligan, the deck is probably not for me.

I’m not a big fan of Collected Company in Standard right now. This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t think the creatures you are getting from it and the chance that you miss is really worth trying to build your deck around. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how powerful the card is, but I just think it’s better suited for Modern or Legacy. In those formats, even the cheap creatures are way more powerful, and the support cards are also better for it. However, if you are a true fan of Collected Company and want to play it in Standard, I think Andrews’s list is great with just one exception. I would like to see only 22 lands and add in two more copies of Nissa, Vastwood Seer. The main reasoning here is that you want to try and maximize all of your value. The deck already has a very low curve, and you are running four copies of Elvish Mystic which means you should be fine with trimming a few lands. Overall I like the fact he is going slightly big in his sideboard with two copies of Gaea’s Revenge. I think Gaea’s Revenge will be a nightmare for many of the control decks, and already it has earned a reputation for stealing games out of nowhere. If you like decks like this, try out Andrew’s deck with these small changes and I think you’ll be happy with it.

Mono-Red Goblins and Atarka Goblins have a very similar play style. Many of the cards overlap, but the main difference is normally that one relies on Atarka’s Command to push through the final damage while Mono-Red Goblins normally relies on Obelisk of Urd. Here, Michael decides to avoid the Obelisks and instead he went with three copies of Exquisite Firecraft. I do think Exquisite Firecraft is very powerful, but it still doesn’t get through everything you want it to get through. Siege Rhino will still stand in the way, as will Tasigur, the Golden Fang and various other large creatures. I like Mono-Red Goblins, I just don’t like the plan of not playing any copies of Obelisk of Urd. If you are not a fan of Obelisk then I would suggest you run Atarka Goblins; without something to push through damage in this deck’s version of the late game, you will be struggling mightily to try and deal the last few point of damage.

I want to congratulate all players who finished in the Top 24! Opens nowadays get huge turnouts and I feel that more than just the Top Eight decks should be praised and talked about. I really enjoy the fact that the StarCity Coverage Team posts all the decks that finish in the money, which can be found here.

So what do you guys think? Which decks will make the biggest splash at Pro Tour Magic Origins? And is it time for me to bust out my foil Opulent Palaces and win it all with Sultai? I would love to hear your thoughts, and I guess SCG Richmond will provide us more information on what the Pro Tour will look like.