This has been one of the longest lead in times before a Pro Tour, which
makes things a little odd. While there has been no shortage of smaller
events like PPTQs, SCG Classics, and Magic Online Leagues, there haven’t
been any SCG Tour stops that are purely Standard and only one individual
Standard Grand Prix.
With Dominaria having a huge impact on Standard and there being a
relatively light amount of high level Standard, I expect some cool things
to come out of this Pro Tour. However, the red cards and the blue cards are
quite a bit better than everything else that’s going on, so it sort of puts
a damper on things.
Or does it?
Black Will Be The Most Popular Color
Let’s be honest — @basicmountain will
be the most popular card in the tournament, but that’s only because of
Goblin Chainwhirler making that a necessity.
If Standard is all about red decks and blue decks, then black is probably
where most people will go in order to fight them. The combination of Duress
and Arguel’s Blood Fast beats control almost by itself. It’s one of the
reasons why R/B Aggro has the black component, even if Goblin Chainwhirler
has warped the manabase to the point where using Arguel’s Blood Fast isn’t
Vraska’s Contempt is the most obvious answer to a format full of Hazoret
the Fervent (or other red mythic rare four-drops) and Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria. Once you decide to add Vraska’s Contempt to your deck, there are
several places you could end up. U/B Control is a solid, but uninspiring
option. Mono-Black Midrange was picking up some steam for a little while
during people’s “experimentation with The Eldest Reborn” phase.
The black decks that catch my eye are those with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner,
History of Benalia, and a light blue splash for The Scarab God, Teferi, and
Syncopate. Maybe they aren’t amazing, but they sure as hell look good.
Some of Your Favorite Decks Will Look Much Different
If someone told you, “I’m playing U/W Control, R/B Aggro, G/B Constrictor,
or Mono-Red Aggro,” you probably have a good idea of what their starting 60
looks like, if not their entire 75. Even if this Pro Tour doesn’t introduce
brand new archetypes into the fray, it will certainly change the way you
look at the “stock” lists of those archetypes going forward.
Standard has rapidly been evolving this season, and it will continue to do
so. Get ready for some cool iterations on maindecks and sideboards, where
you can watch your favorite pros throw conventional wisdom out the window.
People Will Shy Away From One-Toughness Creatures
Goblin Chainwhirler is stupid.
If there is going to be a playable card that specifically hoses a subset of
other cards, it should either be slightly weaker on rate than other cards
in its category or have some sort of restriction. As it is, we have another
Lifebane Zombie type of situation that is very troublesome.
Playing 23 Mountains is something people were incentivized to do already,
so there’s no real cost to putting Goblin Chainwhirler in your deck and
getting bonus points against things with one toughness. There’s also the
combo with Soul-Scar Mage that happens to make Goblin Chainwhirler fine
against larger creatures as well.
Cards like this are supposed to circle out of the metagame once people stop
playing cards that are weak to them, but Goblin Chainwhirler has no reason
to go anywhere. You’ll see the occasional Bomat Courier, Glint-Sleeve
Siphoner, and Llanowar Elves on camera this weekend, but you’ll probably
see Goblin Chainwhirler blow a bunch of them up for free.
Before Dominaria, there were some cool white decks with Sram’s
Expertise popping up, but now? I can’t imagine anyone registering that card
at the Pro Tour.
White Will Be The Least Represented Color
Outside of control decks (and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in general), there
isn’t much of a reason to have basic Plains in your deck.
Aside from Settle the Wreckage, the white cards in the format are mostly
about going wide with smaller creatures. Goblin Chainwhirler puts a damper
on all those strategies. Those who mistakenly think Goblin Chainwhirler has
cycled out of the format will be severely mistaken.
Heart of Kiran Will Be Terrible
Vehicles are effectively card disadvantage. They’re sort of like Equipment
in that they need a creature to actually do anything. Since that’s the
case, they must be pretty damn good to see any play. You can break that any
number of ways, like never care about blocking or by using planeswalkers to
crew, but even then, there are liabilities.
Heart of Kiran was briefly in a great spot thanks to U/W Control and Seal
Away, but that’s mostly irrelevant now. You can beat up on control without
Heart of Kiran, and once you remove Heart of Kiran, your matchups tend to
get better across the board.
The games in Standard aren’t over particularly fast, but you can fall
behind to the point where there’s no coming back. If you play a three-drop,
use it to crew, and your Heart of Kiran gets destroyed, you’re in a bad
spot, plus down a potential blocker. Control can keep you off the requisite
power to crew it, drawing multiple copies is actively bad most of the time,
and Sorcerous Spyglass is a gigantic beating.
People will be ready for Heart of Kiran.
Karn Will Be Terrible
There was a point where one of the best things you could be doing in
Standard was plus-ing Karn while trying to contain your opponent’s
battlefield presence. That doesn’t really work anymore, so you’re better
off adding to the battlefield yourself with planeswalkers that do things,
such as Chandra, Nissa, and Vraska. Every deck in Standard snowballs so
quickly, so it’s more important to be adding to the battlefield and mostly
ignoring your late game.
Don’t fret, though. Karn will be back. The format will circle back to card
advantage mattering at some point, but expect the action to be too fast,
too furious for the Scion of Urza.
G/B Will Be Terrible
Green was the unfortunate recipient of getting one of its key mechanics
banned. Without Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner, the color has very
little left to offer outside of Llanowar Elves. Merfolk Branchwalker and
Jadelight Ranger are strong cards, but more so in the early-game than the
I just got done explaining how the late game doesn’t typically matter in
midrange mirrors except under extreme circumstances. Sometimes your cards
trade off, but it’s more likely that a player runs around with the game
after sticking a mythic rare. While the explore creatures help you set up
in the early game, they’re not very good at taking a commanding position on
the battlefield and pressuring planeswalkers.
The main issue with G/B is how heavily it relies on Winding Constrictor and
how easily Winding Constrictor dies. G/B also hasn’t gotten many new tools
in recent sets except for Llanowar Elves and it’s questionable whether
that’s even a playable card at the moment.
Mono-Red Aggro Will Be Great
With most of the red-based focus being on R/B Aggro, people have kind of
been sleeping on Mono-Red (or Mono-Red with a light splash for Scrapheap
Scrounger). The Magic Online hive mind isn’t wrong in this one.
As U/W Control aims to tackle the midrange decks targeting them with Duress
and Arguel’s Blood Fast, they cut things from their sideboard like
Authority of the Consuls and Lyra Dawnbringer. Even though red decks have a
pile of dead cards against control in the first game, they don’t need a
full seven card hand to win the game. One-drop, two-drop, three-drop,
Duress your Settle the Wreckage is often game over.
Bomat Courier might not be well-positioned, but aggressive red decks are
bad matchups for the majority of the metagame. One of red’s big weaknesses
are how much they rely on Hazoret in some matchups, but that can
potentially be fixed by going bigger with Rekindling Phoenix.
Mono-Black Midrange Will Put Up A Solid Finish
As I mentioned earlier, black is the go-to color to metagame against Goblin
Chainwhirler and Teferi. U/B and Esper are solid, but I wouldn’t be
surprised to see Cabal Stronghold and The Eldest Reborn make a deep run
This Top 8 Could Be One Of The Most Stacked Top 8s Of All Time
draft and Standard are both incredibly skill testing.
That said, a first-timer making Top 8 with Mono-Green Aggro (likely
splashing Spell Pierce) wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Steel Leaf
Champion is powerful and that’s kind of what you need to be doing in this
Despite that, Standard is ripe for players finding ways to break common
play patterns and exploit the weaknesses in various archetypes. How you
position yourself in sideboard also matters a ton, maybe moreso than in any
other Standard season.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the various masters of Standard find unique ways
to gain edges this week.
Goblin Chainwhirler Will Take Half The Top 8 Slots
Red decks are great and they will all have four copies of Goblin
Chainwhirler. You’ll rarely see a Bomat Courier in a post-board game, and
the red mythics will clean up. While stuff like Rekindling Phoenix might do
the heavy lifting, it will be Goblin Chainwhirler that helps them get
Kai Budde Will Do Terribly
I only say this because Kai asked me why I registered such a bad decklist.
Joke’s on you, old man. I’m gonna have a better record than you.
In all seriousness, I hope Kai does well.
Baral, Chief of Compliance Will Have His Coming Out Party
There’s no shortage of cards that work great with Baral, and I think the
time is right for some of those synergies to be exploited. The
recently-banned-in-Brawl legendary creature works great with Syncopate, Blink of an
Eye, Mox Amber, Chart a Course, Strategic Planning, Karn’s Temporal
Sundering, Metallic Rebuke, and even Glimmer of Genius, so there will be
decks build around Baral present.
If there is any sort of strategy that “breaks” the format, the
under-utilized blue cards will likely be at the center of it. If not Baral,
then maybe Tempest Djinn or Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp will be serving up
some solid beatdowns. Finding out what people do with these cards is what
I’m more excited to see come out of this PT
Teferi Is The True Hero Of Dominaria
That tagline writes itself.
Specifically, a well-known pro is going to take down this tournament with three or four copies of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in their 75. It’s the single card
with the highest ceiling in the format and it’s also one of those cards
that you can have a good matchup against in theory but end up losing to
Will it be me? Did I even register Teferi? That doesn’t sound like
something I’d do, but I guess you’ll find out soon enough…