Can Anything Beat Azorius Control, Dimir Inverter, And Dimir Whirza At SCG Philadelphia?

Four SCG personalities say what they’d play at SCG Philadelphia! With three apparent decks to beat, who’s on the train, and who’s taking aim?

Urza, Lord High Artificer, illustrated by Grzegorz Rutkowski

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Welcome to What We'd Play! With SCG Philadelphia this weekend, many are unsure what they’d play in such a high-profile tournament. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for what decks you would play at the end!

Corey Baumeister – Azorius Control (Standard), Sultai Delirum (Pioneer), and Dimir Whirza (Modern)

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, I would be running back my SCG Richmond-winning decklist. I went 13-3 and all of my losses felt very close, with two of those losses coming from Temur Reclamation – a questionable to maybe even a bad matchup for sure. That is the main reason for adding Disdainful Stroke to the sideboard. Every Temur Reclamation player had a Plan B against me and all of those plans involved four-drops.

I’m playing some of the most powerful planeswalkers in the history of Magic as well as one of the best top-end cards (Dream Trawler) that we have seen in standard since Torrential Gearhulk. My plan is the same as it was last weekend – just play the busted cards and hope one of my teammates can pick up the second win!

I’m a sucker for a good midrange deck! That is why I would for sure be playing Sultai Delirium at SCG Philadelphia this weekend. Midrange decks usually have a great matchup against aggressive decks and this shell is no exception. Crushing Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-Black Aggro is something I have a huge interest in for this weekend, as I think those two decks will be very popular.

The huge boom of Dimir Inverter is a bit concerning because I do think it is a very bad matchup Game 1, but the sideboard has plenty of tools to be able to fight back and make things less of an uphill climb.

Modern is another example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Eli Kassis went X-1 with this masterpiece in Richmond and every single game I watched he was just dominating. Urza, Lord High Artificer is still a completely busted Magic card and people are very much sleeping on the powerful four-drop now that Oko and Mox Opal have been banned. The number of Amulet Titan players Eli dismantled was incredibly impressive.

With this more controlling build of Whirza, you’re able to answer all of your opponents’ early threats and all of a sudden turn around and combo off the next turn with Urza, Thopter Foundry, and Sword of the Meek. The deck is very skill-intensive but also very rewarding once you get the reps in.

Dom Harvey – Azorius Control (Standard), Sultai Inverter (Pioneer), and Dimir Whirza (Modern)

Azorius Control won the Team Constructed Open in Richmond. Azorius Control won the Standard Classic in Richmond. Azorius Control won the Standard Challenge on Magic Online.

And that’s just this weekend! Did I mention it won the Standard Showcase on Magic Online last week too? You may have seen this bold proclamation from Arena phenomenon crokeyz:

You can believe crokeyz or you can believe the results from every major Standard tournament featuring Theros Beyond Death. Azorius Control is here to stay (for real, Shaheen!).

The most important matchups at the top tables of SCG Richmond were the mirror and Temur Reclamation. Although Mono-Red Aggro was the most-played deck, it failed to convert and these aggressive strategies are at their best early in a format before other decks become more refined. Beating the blue decks is now the top priority as shown by maindeck Dovin’s Veto. Note that Temur Reclamation becomes much more of a Temur Flash deck with strong creature threats post-sideboard – don’t run into the big bad Wolf!

Dimir Inverter took over Pioneer remarkably quickly, going from Twitter joke to consensus best deck in less than a week. Every Top 4 team in Richmond had Dimir Inverter in their Pioneer seat and all eyes are on it going into SCG Philadelphia and Players Tour Phoenix. The deck plays the best generic interaction in the format, the most broken legal card in Dig Through Time, and an incredibly powerful and resilient combo. These combo-control strategies are truly formidable when piloted by a strong player. Meanwhile, Joel Larsson put Sultai Delirium on the map as the format’s fair deck of choice with his win at Players Tour Brussels.

This shell, from the mind of fellow British mad scientist Callum Smith (@Whitefacesmtg), is a promising synthesis of Pioneer’s new top decks. Dig Through Time, though an excellent card, was often awkward in Dimir Inverter, which has trouble filling its graveyard in a timely manner. Sultai Inverter has Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage to tie your draw together while enabling the best and cheapest Digs in the format; an amazing alternate threat in Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath; and faster Thassa’s Oracle wins post-Inverter. Finally, green gives more versatile sideboard cards that address common problems without being too narrow and a backup threat that doesn’t rely on the graveyard in Tireless Tracker.

As the format shifts once more to target Dimir Inverter, I hope this new twist on the archetype allows it to keep its crown! You can read more about this deck in Sam Black article today.

Eli Kassis always has something interesting up his sleeve and his Open-winning deck from SCG Richmond was no exception. The Simic Urza deck that dominated Modern over the past few months showed the power of Mystic Sanctuary with fetchlands in a blue midrange shell and this list can lean into that more now that the deck doesn’t have to push itself in another direction to support Mox Opal and other artifact synergies.

With Amulet Titan making up over a third of Day 2 decks in Richmond, that matchup is the biggest litmus test in the format right now. Eli went 9-0 against Amulet Titan on the weekend and, as one of those nine, I soon saw why. The combination of discard, countermagic, inevitability in the form of an infinite combo, and strong sideboard cards is a potent recipe against the format’s best deck. My suggested update makes the deck a little leaner, increasing its access to whatever cheap interaction is good in a given matchup.

I expect to see this shell become the default interactive deck in Modern in upcoming weeks – get on that bandwagon now!

Shaheen Soorani – Azorius Control (Standard), Dimir Inverter (Pioneer), and Dimir Whirza (Modern)

Welcome to the best deck in Theros Beyond Death Standard.  It has been a while since I could say that with such confidence; however, it may have been worth the wait.  I have written extensively about the power of Dream Trawler and I feel sorry for those who enter the format without a deck utilizing four copies.  That, combined with Elspeth Conquers Death, creates a tap-out late-game that rumbles the earth upon resolution.

Azorius Control defeats aggro and midrange, and has a medium matchup against combo in the form of Temur Reclamation.  I foresee a bit of Wilderness Reclamation in Philly, but the sideboarded games are good enough to stay at a positive record against it.  I personally finished 11-2 in Richmond with this list, splitting my games against Temur Reclamation and losing one out of three to Mono-Red Aggro.  The rest of the field was at the mercy of the most powerful cards in Standard, making Azorius Control the easy choice moving forward.

For SCG Philadelphia, my choices may have been a bit biased.  My teammates just took down SCG Richmond with a series of decks that were tested, vetted, and discussed thoroughly for weeks.  The only deck that got a few less reps was this beauty of a combo deck, Dimir Inverter.  I have Esper Control at the ready, but this monster contains the maximum amount of discard, combo kill, and Dig Through Time that can possibly fit into a 75.

It plays very similarly to a control deck at times, which can be comforting in this dark time.  There is very little chance this survives the format long enough to make my typical control strategies obsolete.  Even though the win percentage wasn’t flashy at the Players Tour, it nullifies too many decks to stick around.  This may be the deck that gets Dig Through Time banned, and if it is, I will hold an ancient grudge until my dying days against this nonsense.

Old man Kassis broke it again.  I like to rag on him for playing a few stinkers like Nihil Spellbomb and Pithing Needle, but the rest of his strategy is truly genius.  He and I both knew Urza, Lord High Artificer could survive a Mox Opal banning and luckily that was the case.  This is just a Dimir Control deck with a combo kill floating in it.

The removal, hand disruption, and countermagic is still top notch, adding a killer of a late-game with Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek and Urza, Lord High Artificer.  It still maximizes Cryptic Command with Mystic Sanctuary, to provide those easy wins after stabilizing.  There is no doubt in my mind that this Dimir Whirza deck has the might to take on Modern, regardless of the metagame it presents.

Cedric Phillips – Temur Reclamation (Standard), Izzet Ensoul (Pioneer), and Amulet Titan (Modern)

It’s easy to focus on what wins a tournament. I’ve been guilty of this in the past and I’m sure I’ll be guilty of it in the future, but something is a bit strange to me. Will Pulliam lost one match last weekend at SCG Richmond, in the finals to Corey Baumeister, something everyone has acknowledged. Everyone, including Corey himself earlier in this article, has also acknowledged that Temur Reclamation is a difficult matchup for Azorius Control.

Yet Azorius Control is the deck to beat in Standard coming into SCG Philadelphia? Yeah, I don’t buy it.

One thing I think people are seriously underestimating is that Temur Reclamation gets to adjust to a metagame in which Azorius Control is the perceived best deck. Harlan Firer had four copies of Nightpack Ambusher where Pulliam did not, and if I were preparing for a metagame that’s flush with Azorius Control, I’d really load up on the ability to play more of a Temur Flash game (think Simic Flash that Brad Nelson and Seth Manfield dominated Mythic Championship VII with) while loading up on copies of Fry since killing Teferi, Time Raveler (and to a lesser extent Narset, Parter of Veils) is so important.

Temur Reclamation has been an imposter many times during its Standard lifespan. This time, thanks to the addition of Storm’s Wrath; Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath; Omen of the Sea; and Thassa’s Intervention, it’s for real. And a couple of copies of Absorb and Dream Trawler don’t change that fact.

As well as Dimir Inverter performed at SCG Richmond last weekend, the deck has plenty of holes simply given the cards available in Pioneer. One thing it doesn’t like playing against is getting beaten down in a meaningful way. It certainly has tools to work around small threats via Fatal Push, Cry of the Carnarium, and Legion’s End, but the deck really doesn’t have much interest in playing against a deck that deals damage in the chunks that Izzet Ensoul can.

Further, as good as Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-Black Aggro are in Pioneer, neither deck has the type of reactive permission (read: countermagic) that makes life difficult for Dimir Inverter. Izzet Ensoul is the kind of deck that can sideboard into a Fish-style strategy that adds to the battlefield while holding up countermagic or a protect-the-queen-style strategy with Ensoul Artifact and/or Skilled Animator.

If Dimir Inverter is going to continue showing up in heavy numbers, I think Izzet Ensoul is a natural next step.

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet because I’m far from an Amulet Titan master, but Matthew Dilks certainly is. You’re telling me that because Eli Kassis went 9-0 versus Amulet Titan last weekend (kudos to Kassis!) that Dimir Whirza is now the best deck in Modern?

You do know that Dilks and the rest of the Amulet Titan masters on the SCG Tour (Pulliam, Ayers, Magalhães, Harvey) now have a deck to attack, right? And that Amulet Titan is infinitely customizable in the lands that it plays, its Summoning Pact targets, and the cards that it sideboards because it has access to all five colors of mana.

I hate to be a broken record here folks, but I’m simply not buying it. Amulet Titan will adjust and the results will continue to be absolutely devastating.

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