Quite the Pro Tour we had, huh? It turned out to be incredibly interesting, and I think we're all breathing a sigh of relief to see so many new archetypes shaking up Standard.
I'm here to recap what happened on Day 2 and discuss the Top 8---from there we'll try and see where Standard is headed. I'll also talk about the bevy of cards that increased over the course of the Pro Tour, and some candidates that may increase in the coming weeks. Let's get to it!
First off, Congratulations to Steve Rubin, our new Pro Tour champion! The story of the weekend was Rubin's unsung hero deck of G/W Tokens, which he piloted to a victory over Mengucci's Bant Company.
With a 90% conversion rate, G/W Tokens seems to be extremely potent in SOI Standard. While it received little camera time, the deck was quietly one of the best decks at the tournament. We were all so enamored by B/G Aristocrats (LSV) and Seasons Past Control (Finkel) it seems we forgot to recognize the less flashy deck, which ultimately triumphed.
Day 2 Recap
Here's the Day 2 metagame breakdown:
|Archetype||#||% of D2||% of D1||Conversion %|
|Red-Green Goggle Ramp||12||5.1%||4.0%||80%|
|Blue-Red Thing in the Ice||5||2.1%||1.3%||100%|
|Blue-Black Demonic Tentacles||3||1.3%||1.3%||60%|
|4-Color Dragon Reanimator||1||0.4%||0.8%||33%|
Day 2 Notes
- Team Face to Face had a fantastic showing with G/W Tokens and B/G Aristocrats. Their collective 90% conversion rate is an incredible stat, and strong arguments for best deck of the weekend can be made.
- In addition to the decks above, Goggles Ramp also put a lot of players into contention, lagging behind only slightly in conversion rate. The new tech for Ramp is clearly great, and will likely be built on after the Pro Tour. Goggles and the draw spell package alleviate the issues Ramp decks usually have.
- Despite under-performing, Humans and Company were still (and likely will continue to be) strong choices in SOI Standard.
- Other interesting deck choices and plenty of cool decks appeared---they just don't have the numbers to back them up.
Kyle Boggemes (Bant Company) vs. Steve Rubin (G/W Tokens)
Funny how this round we were already witnessing the matchup that would be the conclusion to the Pro Tour. A Bant Company-G/W Tokens showdown, and Steve Rubin was playing great Magic all weekend. G/W Tokens was clearly a great overall deck choice and easily contends with Company lists.
We were able to witness Nissa at 9 loyalty! How often do we get to see that? I'd like to also note that Evolutionary Leap is still a card, and a subtle yet powerful addition out of the sideboard.
We also saw Jon Finkel (B/G Control) go up against Brad Nelson (Goggles Ramp), both of whom would end up in the Top 8. This round it was revealed that Finkel was running Infinite Obliteration maindeck, which just seems brutal with Seasons Past chains.
Seth Manfield (Esper Control) vs. Brad Nelson (R/G Goggles Ramp)
We finally get to see Seth Manfield's Esper Control in action! A deck very different than the Esper Dragons list that Yasooka was playing. This deck ditches the dragon interaction and plays a whole bunch of planeswalkers, including Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and... Narset Transcendant?
Color me intrigued; I never thought I would see Narset on the top stage like this. Apparently playing a ton of planeswalkers would eventually earn Manfield a 3rd place finish. Who would of thought that would happen at this point?
Brad did end up taking the round, showing us how this new take on Ramp can easily overcome some situations that previous iterations of the deck would fall flat in.
It would seem Finkel isn't the only one utilizing Dark Petition, a card which had a great showing over the course of the weekend. Dark Petition clearly has multiple uses over many archetypes going forward. It was easy for the card to increase, and will likely stick above its previous price.
We also saw Steve Rubin square off against LSV, showcasing the power of both their respective decks. At this point we were able to figure out that Rubin was running a full package of Archangel Avacyn. So, for those of us hoping to build this deck going forward there's quite the hurdle. Avacyn wasn't the story of the weekend, but the card is still defining the format.
We also got to see some brief action with Jon Finkel (B/G Control) vs. Jérémy Dezani (Abzan Company). We would eventually get to see Dezani's list in full, which I'll provide below.
Jérémy Dezani (Abzan Company) vs. Seth Manfield (Esper Control)
Some more exposure for Seth's Esper Control list. But I think the big story this round is how awesome Abzan Company looks. The deck had a 75% conversion rate, and while it didn't end up in the Top 8, it's still worth examining.
I was surprised to see only one copy of Ayli, as that card just seems great right now. Maybe that's something that changes going forward. While Dezani didn't win against Manfield, I feel like Abzan Company could be explored further. There were particular board states that would have been more manageable with a different set of creatures in the list.
First of all Kalitas is a huge issue, and unlike Bant Company this version doesn't have access to Reflector Mage or Bounding Krasis. There has to be some changes going forward, but I like the shell as a beginning.
We also got to see some action in the match of Lukas Blohon (Jund) vs. Oliver Tiu (Grixis Control). Oliver was playing a full four-of Goblin Dark-Dwellers and still relying on Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to grind opponents out. Oliver ended up with eight wins, and I feel like Grixis could be a very potent choice going forward.
Oliver Tiu (Grixis Control) vs. Shota Yasooka (Esper Dragons)
Clash of the control decks! Surprisingly the games went faster than I ever expected with both players playing fairly fast. In the end Yasooka showed some dragon prowess here and took a commanding 2-0 win this round. There were intense and well-crafted plays from both sides, but I felt Yasooka had the advantage from the start. The payoff spells for Esper Control are extremely good and hard for Grixis to deal with.
Tiu did end up mana-flooded at one point in the game, so I wonder if maybe there would have been more of a fight. In the meantime we got a glimpse of the Grixis Control list in full.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers has quietly proven itself as a strong roleplayer in SOI Standard, often appearing in full playsets. It has already begun an upward movement in price which should continue with OGW drafts cut off. I expect it to level out in the $5-6 range. It's a value creature with meaningful evasion in menace that can enable some explosive plays.
I also want to note here that Jace, Vryn's Prodigy seems "fair" now. He lost a lot of power with the rotation of fetchlands, as expected. Jace is still very good though, and largely irreplaceable in most lists. But it's nowhere near the power level it had just a few weeks prior.
I wasn't able to fully cover Round 16, but here were the notable matchups:
- LSV (B/G Aristocrats) vs. Chye Yian Hsiang
- Brad Nelson (Goggles Ramp) vs. Shota Yasooka (Esper Dragon)
- Seth Manfield (Esper Control) vs. Ondrej Strasky (G/W Tokens)
Top 8 Announcement
I returned at the end of this round when they were announcing the Top 8. And what a Top 8 it was...
- John Finkel
- Brad Nelson
- Luis Scott-Vargas
- Shota Yasooka
- Seth Manfield
- Steve Rubin
- Andrea Mangucci
- Luis Salvatto
The individual decklists can be found on the mothership.
Top 8 Wrap-Up
I'm just going to share some notes here. I will be covering this more in depth on QS Cast along with Ryan Overturf/Doug Linn and in my Insider articles.
- Steve Rubin deserves to be the champion---he executed well the whole way. Congrats to him. G/W Tokens may not have been the flashiest deck going in, but it was clearly consistent and plain good.
- I was under the impression that Finkel's team (contrary to what Kai said) felt comfortable with the Bant Company matchup. I was obviously wrong, and despite a mulligan to five, it just felt very lopsided.
- Luis Salvatto's list is extremely interesting. I hope to see more of it going forward. The Goggle's draw spell package is just very potent and can obviously be used in multiple archetypes. Keep an eye on Goggles moving forward---it already had another drastic price bump.
- I was high on Nissa, Voice of Zendikar from the beginning---as were some others here at QS. I felt it really shined in the Top 8 and played a fantastic complimentary role to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Many of us felt this would happen and I expect a slow rise in the OGW walker.
- The finals (and overall Top 8) was really amazing---probably one of the best in quite some time. Rubin vs. Mengucci had some very intense board states and it was just a fantastic series. I mentioned before that G/W Tokens feels like a very good deck to bring to a tournament post-PT. It looks to be great against Company decks.
- We haven't seen the last of LSV's deck. The raw power level is extremely high and it can probably adapt to win the control matchup in the post-PT metagame.
There's plenty more to discuss, and a wide variety of decklists for us players to clue into and tune in the upcoming weeks. It was a fantastic Pro Tour and I'm relieved to know the format is vastly diverse and extremely fun.
The pillars of Standard feel almost ever-changing, but some of them are clearly defined going forward. Archangel Avacyn leads the charge on that front, as well as old favorites from Origins and Battle for Zendikar like Pyromancer's Goggles or Zulaport Cutthroat. Stay tuned, and we'll cover it all in the coming weeks.