Banthog Day

I awoke promptly at 6:00 a.m. to Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe” on my clock radio. Maybe that should have been my first clue that things were about to get weird. Later on as I scanned the Top 64 Open deck lists, it was clear that I was reliving the same Standard format as before.

Hyperbole aside, anybody hoping for a grandiose shake up of Standard is going to be sorely disappointed. The biggest change appears to be that instead of two dominant GW archetypes (Bant and Tokens), the printing of Spell Queller has consolidated space at the top into one supreme top dog and its name is CoCo.

To say Collected Company decks had a great weekend would be an understatement.

The deck won the tournament outright. Between the 3 flavors of Bant (Humans, Spirits, and Original Recipe), the deck constituted roughly a quarter of the Day 2 metagame. Even more impressive was the fact that it also composed nearly 50% of the Top 64 cash spots (29). So, of the 45 Bant decks that made Day 2, the conversion rate to cash was 66%. Yikes.

The deck is an absolute, stone-cold killer—it’ll tempo you off the table with pressure and Reflector Mages.

It can beat you down with an aggressive Sylvan Advocate + Dromoka’s Command opening.

It can out-card-advantage you with Duskwatch Recruiter.

And of course let’s not forget the biggest, baddest angle of all: The CoCo. Company is insane because it is a versatile, flexible, generates mana, and gives you a 2-for-1. Oh, is that all? Yeah, that’s all folks.

Let’s take a look at a few different lists to see what is going on here.

Bant Company

Devin Koepke, 1st place at SCG Open

Devin is basically playing a more traditional Collected Company deck that has shaved the weakest slots in the main deck to include copies of the best cards in Eldritch Moon.

Spell Queller is easily the best card in the set and Thalia is also pretty high on the list. It can never be a bad thing when you get to replace your weakest pieces with the best cards from a new set!

I was pretty bummed to see that my friend Kyle Boggemes didn’t end up winning the whole thing but he did make an impressive run into the final 4 with Bant Company.

Bant Company

Kyle Boggemes, 3rd place at SCG Open

I think you can see enough in common between these two lists to assume a common core among the CoCo lists.

The difference is that Kyle is playing more flash creatures in the form of Bounding Krasis and more Werewolves in the form of Lambholt Pacifist.

It is neat that the Werewolves have a lot of synergy with the flash creatures since you can play a Wolf on turn 2 and then always pass the turn on 3 to flip your Recruiter or Pacifist. A neat little synergy for sure.

I also love the Summary Dismissal in the sideboard as an elegant answer to Elder Deep-Fiend. Pretty spicy tech.

Let’s take a look at another flavor of Bant Company: Humans.

Bant Humans

Dwight Desotelle, 23rd place at SCG Open

The Bant Collected Humans deck foregoes some of the individually powerful creatures like Spell Queller and Sylvan Advocate in favor of Thalia’s Lieutenant and other Human tribal synergies. Bant Humans was one of the better decks in the format before Eldritch Moon and it doesn’t surprise me that without gaining anything other than Thalia, the deck is still a strong contender in Standard.

I also love Tamiyo in the Bant Humans deck because it wants to play downhill already. The fact that it can force Spell Queller decks to tap out to not die is pretty sweet. Generally speaking, a card like Tamyio seems well suited in a deck full of cheap creatures.

And in case you haven’t hit on a flavor of Bant Company that you find palatable—one more try, this time with Spirits!

Bant Spirits

Mitchell Mellott, 47th place at SCG Open

Unlike the other Bant decks that are basically GW decks that touch blue for Reflector Mage and Spell Queller, Bant Spirits is a UW Spirit deck touching green just for CoCo.

I actually really like the innovation here because if you are going to splash a card, why not splash the best card in the format?

The deck wants to play like a flash deck on the opponent’s turn already, so Company is really a nice fit.

Looking at the week one results I can honestly say that Standard has a very interesting and diverse mix of Bant-colored Collected Company decks. Unfortunately, while there may be some real diversity among interesting ways to abuse all of the awesome Bant cards in a CoCo shell, the landscape looks pretty grim for the other cards.

The good news is that there is a Pro Tour on the horizon and maybe the Pros will have better luck at finding something to combat these Company decks. Honestly, if I were going to the Pro Tour, I would almost certainly play Bant Company based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve playtested.

The shell of the Bant deck is a collection of the best cards in the format. Bant Company feels a lot like Bloodbraid Elf Jund when that deck dominated Standard for 6 straight months. All of its cards are just more powerful, more efficient, and generate card and board advantage.

Based on what I’ve seen and experienced, I think you are going to see a lot of similar Standard tournament results in the coming months until Kaladesh arrives in October. But there are a few wild cards in the race that could stir the waters.

These various flavors of Bant are going to be public enemy number one for every player going to Australia. Here are the questions I’m currently pondering:

Is black-based delirium control the real deal and is it actually consistently good against CoCo? If so, is it good enough in the matchup that it is worth playing it instead of just playing the best deck?

Where were all the Elder Deep-Fiend control decks that I’ve been hearing about all week that were supposed to beat CoCo? Are the Pros saving their lists for Sydney?

Will the Pros solve the metagame for Sydney or will it be Banthog day every day until October? If the Banthog sees its shadow, does that mean 2 more months of mirror matches?

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