It is a new week and a new beginning here at GGG as we start covering Standard. Our new discussion community voted for today’s article to cover the Top 32 of SCG Indy. We closed out last week by predicting the impact of the new set on Modern but today we will be looking at the first results for Standard.
New Set, New Meta
It is always exciting to see what a new set release brings to spice up Standard. However, Ravnica Allegiance brings the remaining shocklands into the fold. With all ten shocklands and all ten core set lands in the format, any combination of three colors can be brought together with a consistent manabase. Among the Top 32 we saw Sultai, Bant, Grixis, Esper, and even Jund break through. It may only be the first tournament but it appears that whichever combination you choose you need to keep an eye on blue; more than half of the Top 32 contained blue cards.
Going into this tournament there were concerns growing in the community about Bant Nexus decks. As it was revitalized by the printing of Wilderness Reclamation and Hallowed Fountain. These decks irritate many players as they take an extremely long time to win, usually via mill out, as they continue to cast fog effects and cast reshuffled copies of Nexus of Fate. This did not pan out though and these decks missed out on the Top 32 entirely; though one made 33rd place.
The actual breakout star of the tournament was Sultai Midrange. It managed to win the trophy, put two pilots into Top 8, and comprised 25% of the Top 32. The lists are not very different from the Golgari lists we have seen recently though. They are simply splashing blue for Hydroid Krasis and sideboard counterspells. This is made possible in large part by the freshly legal Breeding Pool. I expect this to be the deck to beat going forward.
The other big winner, and a personal favorite, is Mono-Red Aggro. This archetype missed out on Top 8 but put five pilots into Top 32. These lists leaned heavily on Experimental Frenzy but have been reinvigorated by the new set. Skewer the Critics has given them an additional functional Lightning Bolt to close games quickly. Meanwhile Light Up the Stage provides them with card advantage that does not require four mana from a sligh deck. It is worth noting that one of the Rakdos Aggro lists was Mono-Red Aggro with a sideboard splash specifically for Theater of Horrors. It will be interesting to see whether this is the typical Week 1 red rush or if it has staying power in the format.
Beyond this we see Esper Control and Midrange which, despite the color match, are very different from one another. Esper Control is a hard control deck complete with Teferi and Kaya’s Wrath. Esper Midrange leverages a high density of multi-color spells, particularly creatures, to maximize Hero of Precinct One. Control did much better than Midrange at this tournament but these decks are distinct enough that I could see them coexisting going forward.
Beyond this was a bit of a rogue’s gallery. Similar to the Golgari shift to Sultai, the Azorious Aggro decks are the White Weenie decks from before with a splash for sideboard counterspells and the newly minted Deputy Doug. The two lists were very similar with the main difference being a set of Adanto Vanguard versus a set of Tithe Taker. The Bant Midrange lists are very different from one another though. The second place list had few creatures and a significant amount of interaction while the other was an aggressive ramp list. The other lists have been filed under “Other” as they only had one pilot but all decklists are available here.
In many ways it appears that the new set has brought more of the same but the improved manabases have allowed the old guard to splash colors for new toys. The biggest breakout star from the set is Hydroid Krasis which appeared in full sets in both of the finalist decklists and appeared in half of the decks that made Day 2. At the time of this writing it has exploded to $35 making it more expensive than any other two Ravnica Allegiance cards combined. We will keeping a close watch on the Standard format going forward and if the response to this article is favorable we will continue to share it with you. Tomorrow though we will be back in Modern with a Grixis Death’s Shadow guide from Bronze Pro and Grand Prix winner Ben Jones.