Sorry for the delay everyone, but I’m back with your regularly scheduled programming. Today’s edition is coming to you from a car, as
I’m on the road again…
This weekend is the StarCityGames.com Indianapolis Open, featuring the Invitational, marking the midpoint of the 2011 season with what’s likely
to be our biggest weekend yet. Between the Invitational itself and the Opens that run alongside it, Indianapolis will mark the biggest opportunity to
scrape for Player’s Club points yet. Between the main event and the Standard Open, you’re going to want the full scoop on Standard at your
fingertips as you wrap up your testing—and that’s what Too Much Information is for!
We’ll start with the metagame population charts for Orlando and Louisville before moving onto the matchups and decklists. As ever, the population
charts define Tier 1 as any archetype that appeared as more than 5% of the field, and calculates the matches won each weekend with mirror matches
removed in order to prevent the numbers from needlessly trending toward 50%.
You can find the original spreadsheets here.
It was no surprise to see Caw-Blade sitting at the top of the metagame in Orlando once again, but there are some interesting showings along the way.
Grixis Twin made its first appearance with a big splash, as any archetype that looks competitive and different from Caw-Blade is worthy of attention.
In addition to the deck’s intrinsic appeal, it was also very popular among Florida players, with finalist Michael Strunk and Top 16 finisher John
Cuvelier playing near identical lists.
With Grixis Twin already popular in Florida, its natural predator grew in popularity as well. Most U/B Control lists are heavily favored against Grixis
Twin, and many players opted for the control deck hoping to ride that soft matchup while paying special attention to defeating Caw-Blade. Only Taylor
Raflowitz made it into the Top 16, and it looks like the list needs a few more adjustments in order to beat the Blade as well. Valakut’s marked
decline makes sense, with a new combo deck on the block pulling players and presenting a major threat to the archetype.
Most of the Tier 2 decks had Tier 2 performances, with only RUG and WW Quest making any big moves. The debut of Despise had promised to really wound
RUG but it survived the first weekend mostly unscathed.
Following the victory of Edgar Flores, Caw-Blade continued to dominate the tournament with a slight increase in popularity. Far more pronounced was the
surge for Darkblade. I’d trace that increase back to its strong performance in Orlando, where multiple players took Gerry Thompson list
into the Top 16, dominating the tournament on the numbers even though Edgar won it. Alex Gonzalez championed Caw-Blade in taking the trophy, defeating
plenty of Darkblade along the way and continuing the heated debate over which build is better.
The environment adapted to accommodate Grixis Twin and it enjoyed considerably less success, although players did begin to come to a consensus on what
the list should include over the course of these weekends. Valakut’s ignominious descent continued, and old favorite R/B Vampires cracked through
to the top. Aadil Qadir proved that cutting Gideon made players very vulnerable to the bloodsuckers and the Captivating Vampire himself, Indianapolis
Standard Open champion Matthew Landstrom, made it to the semifinals in Louisville.
Tim Landale Orlando finish with RUG Twin gave it a chunk of the metagame, so watch out for more from that strategy as well. Worth noting is
that Mike Flores won a large event in New York with a straight U/R Twin list, and that the addition of this deck to the format will change a lot for
Indianapolis. I’d look to Mike’s article for more
information, but here’s the decklist:
Dominating the metagame, Caw-Blade and Darkblade accounted for a fourth of the decks played and boasted the two highest win percentages—but I bet
you had already guessed that to be true. Grixis Twin has proven itself a capable contender, but there are a lot of variants on the Deceiver
Exarch/Splinter Twin combo, and I’m betting that Mike’s list will wind up being a game-changer. RUG is still a reasonable Tier 2 choice
based on performance, which remains mystifying to me. I guess time will tell.
Onto the Tier 1 matchups!
For the first time I can recall, Caw-Blade has fared noticeably worse against Darkblade. That’s strong evidence that you should be adding
Darkslick Shores to your Seachrome Coasts, but it’s also no coincidence that Caw-Blade still managed to win both of the last two Standard Opens.
Darkblade’s disruption combined with actual removal is handy in the Batterskull war, but the inclusion of Emeria Angel by most of its Orlando
players probably warped these numbers a bit. Don’t bet the house just yet.
The other matchups are about how you’d expect. Grixis Twin remains a little undefined, so you can’t really trust an aggregated performance
with so many lists running around. Wait for definition to shake out the data.
Best finish: Mike Long – 2nd place, Louisville Standard Open
Boasting nothing but positive performances against the top decks, Darkblade earns the nod this week and may soon be wearing the Standard crown. Go for
the Throat and its own hand disruption make it a stern favorite against Splinter Twin variants, although its Valakut matchup has always been pretty
close as a result of that commitment and the lack of Tectonic Edges.
Moral of the story is, Darkblade should be on your short lists, and you need a compelling reason to play something without Stoneforge Mystic (news
Best Finish: Michael Strunk – 2nd place, Orlando Standard Open
I can’t lump the other variations on this theme in, considering the differences, but the fact that there are at least four different versions of
this deck running around are proof that it’s worth your attention, and Grixis is the flavor of the month. Most Twin decks are crushing Valakut,
which makes sense considering that they threaten a very similar clock and pack disruption alongside counterspells and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. When
it’s not going combo, Grixis Twin can still mess you up and threaten to take control of the game, which Valakut cannot.
These decks are proving that they can go toe-to-toe with Stoneforge Mystic from time to time, but there’s no real consistency in their
performance. The Invitational will probably decide their fate, and I’m excited to see what it is.
Best finish: Miguel Rondon – 8th place, Orlando Standard Open
Valakut had a reasonable showing in Orlando, but handle with care. The deck has spent the past several months getting bullied by Caw-Blade pilots, and
now Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin are in the mix and threatening the deck’s viability even more. Valakut cannot afford to cross its fingers
and dodge these matchups, and that means it’s time to adapt or die—personally, I have a feeling it’s the latter.
Last year’s winning horse is definitely an underdog for Standard at the moment.
I know today’s offering has been a bit brief, but there’s so much to do in preparation for the Invitational and it’s only a few days
away! Indianapolis has historically been an incredible location for Open Series events and this weekend promises more of the same. Between the increase
in Open Series events and the addition of Invitational Qualifiers to our tournament structure, way more players will be qualified and I expect a huge
boost in attendance—don’t disappoint me!
The Invitational will feature the addition of Legacy to the tournament, with four rounds of Standard followed by three rounds of Legacy before a cut to
Day 2, which will include three rounds of Legacy and three rounds of Standard before a Legacy Top 8 decides the victor of our $50,000 event. If
you’re not qualified then you should show up on Friday, as Standard grinders will offer players the opportunity to prove they are worthy.
Unqualified players can still test their skills in the Standard Open that runs beside the Invitational, and players missing the second day will have
the opportunity to play all the Legacy they want in the Legacy Open. If you want to play Magic this weekend, then Indianapolis is the place to be!
Gavin Verhey and Adrian Sullivan will be covering the tournament alongside myself with SCGLive, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.