Last week I wrote that this format was wide open. I believe I understated it.
Naya Midrange… what year is it? Not only is this now a successful deck, but it just won an absolutely massive Grand Prix!
This is a creature deck, but Nahiri, the Harbinger still goes a long way. She loots away unneeded cards, and she kills Always Watching, Pyromancer’s Goggles, Stasis Snare, tapped creatures, and more. By playing a minimum of 1 giant monster in your deck, Nahiri threatens to deliver a powerful ultimate.
Sylvan Advocate is making a strong case for best creature in Standard. Everyone knew this card was good when it was first spoiled back in Oath of the Gatewatch, but I don’t think anyone had it pegged as a format defining staple. This card was the difference in making GW Tokens a top tier deck. This is the most important creature in Bant Company. This card has become a key in ramp strategies. This is the card that is making Sultai midrange decks, and now Naya midrange decks, actually possible.
Tireless Tracker and Archangel Avacyn are fantastic. The sheer amount of value and game-winning potential they both have sets them apart from the field, and they do so at reasonable mana costs. Tracker is a built-in card advantage engine that is also a serious threat, while Archangel Avacyn allows you to attack with impunity, sweep the board if necessary, and win the game in the air.
The rest of the creatures used to win GP Tokyo are pure value with nice enters-the-battlefield effects. Nissa, Vastwood Seer is likely the best of them, coming down early, guaranteeing you hit some land drops, and then becoming a powerful planeswalker to take over the game. They will often have removal for the first Nissa, but that only helps to make sure you have enough lands to play and flip the second, getting full value down the road. Elvish Visionary is decent against the x/1 creatures in the format, but replaces itself and can help protect planeswalkers or your life total for a turn.
The top end of the curve are castable cards that can also be brought out by Nahiri. They also have sweet enters-the-battlefield effects, making sure you get double uses when Nahiri sends it to your hand. Linvala, the Preserver does work against decks like Bant Company and Tokens since you will often get 8 power in flyers and the full 5 life. Dragonlord Atarka comes down, sweeps the board, and leaves behind the biggest flying trample monster when all is said and done. With many decks using Grasp of Darkness, Ultimate Price, and Dromoka’s Command as their removal spells, Atarka can end the game quick.
Oath of Nissa helps to fix your mana and smooth your draws, hitting nearly every card in the deck except for the few removal spells. Stasis Snare gets the nod as the 4-of removal spell, taking out Kalitas and Archangel Avacyn alike. A couple Silkwraps can interact early, and a single Radiant Flames can surprise people and clean up a mess. Often you will want to cast a Flames for 1-2 and leave your creatures alive, killing their tokens, so you can finish off their planeswalkers.
Naya Midrange is definitely a deck that surprised me, but it again goes to show what you can do in this format. Sylvan Advocate, Tireless Tracker, and Archangel Avacyn are some crazy powerful cards that fit well in many homes, many of which I’m sure we haven’t found yet!