Insider: Post-Ban Standard Winners to Watch

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A ban announcement as monumental as Monday’s, which removed Oko, Thief of Crowns and Once Upon a Time from Standard and left the metagame eviscerated, is an incredible financial opportunity. The change opened up vast swaths of the card pool that were previously suppressed, and that brings the potential for new decks to emerge and breakout cards to grow in price and potentially spike. One card, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, already did, and doubled in price within a day of the announcement on speculation that a Jund Sacrifice deck would be one of the best in the field.

Normally we’d have to wait until the weekend for some major events to see what the metagame has been doing, but this week there was a special Twitch Rivals tournament that invited streamers - including the MPL pros, to what boiled down to a Magic Arena Standard Grand Prix, and the results have set the stage for the post-ban metagame. Jund Sacrifice and its Korvold did perform well, making it all the way to the finals, so the hype has been warranted, but I’m more interested in cards that performed well but are still flying under the financial radar, and could offer the potential for large gains when they gain more attention. 

I didn’t have to look too hard, because I found not just a card, but an entire cycle of them doing serious work in the tournament, and at a bargain price point. The Core Set 2020 Cavalier creatures are quite powerful, and they saw some play before rotation, but a world with Oko, which could turn off much of their value, was not a great environment for their success. Now they stand out as some of the more appealing cards in the format, and all but Cavalier of Dawn saw starring roles in high-finishing decks in the Twitch Rivals tournament.  One deck, in particular, Jeskai A-Fires of Invention, finishing in fourth place, uses a full set of Cavalier of Flame and three Cavalier of Gales.

Consequently, these were the two largest price percentage gainers in Standard on Magic Online in the day after, growing around 22% and 36% respectively. As Mythic Rares from M20, which has demonstrated time and time again to be in short supply and are capable of large price increases, I have to imagine these hold potential, especially at their current low prices. Cavalier of Flame at around $5.50 is certainly a reasonable price, but the current price of around $3.50 Cavalier of Gales seems like a real steal to me. 

The sacrifice theme headlined by Korvold also comes in every combination without it, including Rakdos, Golgari, and even Mono-Black, and Cavalier of Night fits right into the theme. Its paper price is strongest in the cycle, now over $7 after a few months of steady growth from $4. Its price point is a potential target to shoot for the others in the cycle, but I see no reason this one shouldn’t continue the trend and grow higher.

Green took a major hit from the bannings, but it won’t destroy what was and still very likely is the strongest color in Standard. A ramp deck with a full set of Cavalier of Thorns reached the top 8 of the tournament, and could serve to change the trajectory of the card that has been falling steadily the entire time it has been in existence, now below $5. 

Cavalier of Dawn hasn’t shown up yet, and it doesn’t have the best prospects, but there is some precedent of it being played in the sideboard of the Dance of the Manse deck, so it’s something to watch for it that deck does re-appear in the metagame. 

Another cycle I have my eye on is the God-Eternals from War of the Spark. Specifically God-Eternal Bontu reached top 8 of the tournament, playing a key role as a two-of in the Rakdos Sacrifice deck. It’s particularly appealing for this and any non-Jund versions without access to Korvold in the five-drop slot, so it has a lot of potential, so I like it at just $3. 

Another five-drop, this one more of an anti-sacrifice strategy card because of its sweeping power, is Massacre Girl. It was a sideboard two-of in the tournament-winning Golgari Adventures deck played by Mike Sigrist and in the top-four finishing list,  and both will surely be heavily copied. Three maindeck copies in Jund Sacrifice shows it has applications in the deck, not just against it, and that it’s becoming a true staple of the format. The paper price already shows some signs of growing, now at $0.60 from $0.50 a couple weeks ago. 

One card riding the sacrifice wave that I have my eye on is Midnight Reaper. It was a staple for a brief period, but its price sagged down to $2 before rotation brought it new attention and moved its price to $3, where it has sat all month. Now the price looks to be on the move again, heading towards $3.25 and higher as it becomes better than ever before.

The rise of black decks has also brought about a shift in sideboard cards, which explains why besides the Cavaliers, Legion's End has been the highest-growing card since the tournament. It’s included in the sideboard of Golgari Adventures, along with the sideboards of various sacrifice builds, where it’s a great way to fight back against all variety of creature decks. Now nearly 5 tickets, it has shown tremendous growth from just $1.50, where it sat before interest as a sideboard card in Pioneer’s popular Mono-Black deck started the price moving upwards, which has only accelerated. At $3 it’s not the bargain it was before rotation spiked it from just $1, but as a cross-format staple, it has a bright future. 

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