The Metagame, and the Top 3 New Decks from Standard GP Weekend

Last weekend there were 2 Standard Grand Prix events. The text coverage of Grand Prix Minneapolis and of Grand Prix Manchester offered metagame breakdowns of the Top 100 decks after Day 1, plenty of deck techs, and the Top 32 deck lists.

The metagame at the 2 events was similar, but there were still some differences. For example, White Weenie was quite popular in Minneapolis but nowhere to be seen in Manchester. Instead, Naya Midrange was much more popular over there.

To get a feel for the overall metagame and to give myself some indication of what to expect in Costa Rica next weekend, I wanted to condense the data a little bit. So I threw together an overall quick ranking by scoring the two Grand Prix as follows:

  • 1 point for every deck in the Top 100 after Day 1
  • 3 points for every deck that finished in places 5-32
  • 5 points for every deck that finished in places 1-4

This is a quick-and-dirty approach, but it aims to weigh popularity and performance for both tournaments. The results for archetypes with at least 10 points according to this system are below.

Archetype Points

Archetype Points
1. GW Tokens 96
2. Bant Company 63
3. Naya Midrange 38
4. BW Control 37
5. White Weenie Humans 34
6. Grixis Control 31
7. GWU(/B) Rites 29
8. GR Ramp 18
9. BG(/U) Control/Midrange/Ramp 17
10. Blue Eldrazi Ramp 10

This table indicates that Green/White Tokens is still the deck to beat in the current Standard. It is followed closely by Bant Company, which for the purpose of this article encompasses versions with and without Thalia’s Lieutenant (the 2 approaches were about equal in popularity, and I combined them because they overlap in so many cards.)

GW Tokens and Bant Company faced off in the finals of GP Manchester, which is another indication that these two are the top dogs in Standard. Beyond that, there were plenty of viable control, midrange, aggro, ramp, and Rites decks, all of which are pretty well-known by now, but there were also several decks that surprised me by coming out of nowhere. I’ll rank my 3 favorites.

#3: Blue/Black Brain in a Jar

Peter Vieren

If you like creatureless control decks, then this may be the perfect deck for you. You can check out the deck tech to learn more, but the gist is that it’s a a black/blue control deck with card draw, creature removal, and an unusual kill condition.

The end goal of this deck is to assemble the combo of Brain in a Jar and Rise from the Tides. By casting it at the end of your opponent’s turn, you can usually get around 15 Zombies that attack for lethal before your opponent has a chance to play a sorcery-speed answer like Languish or Declaration in Stone. To enable the kill, the card draw spell of choice is Pieces of the Puzzle, which will hit 2+ instant/sorceries in 84.3% of the cases in Peter’s deck.

According to Peter, his deck is good against grindy decks, but poor against Reality Smasher. After talking to him about that, he was promptly defeated by main-deck Reality Smasher, fell out of Top 8 contention, and lost several additional rounds after that. Still, Peter finished the tournament with a 10-5 record with his competitive brew.

#2: Blue/Red Flyers

Tomoharu Saito

This is an aggro deck with 2-mana flyers and counterspells instead of 1-drop beaters and burn spells. That’s a little weird, but Saito’s card choices make sense to me in the context of the current metagame. The defining cards of the current format are, in my view, Sylvan Advocate, Collected Company, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Languish. This has 3 main implications for deck building:

First, trying to attack with unbuffed ground creatures is nearly hopeless, as you’ll be outclassed by all the white and green cards. You have to either make your creatures large (with, say, Thalia’s Lieutenant or Always Watching) or go to the air. Green/White Tokens and Bant Company have a definite weakness to flyers, as they have few removal spells and few flyers themselves. This is why Gryff’s Boon is a stock card in White Weenie and why every single creature in Saito’s deck has flying.

Second, trying to answer Collected Company or Gideon with 1-for-1 removal spells is a losing battle as you’ll be behind a card in every exchange. You either have to be hyper-aggressive (with, say, 20 one-drops) or fight back with countermagic. Clash of Wills and Spell Shrivel cleanly answer Collected Company and Gideon in a 1-for-1 exchange that gets you ahead on the amount of mana spent. That is perfect, and the downside of having to keep mana up into the unknown is mitigated by the flash flyers.

Third, to get around Languish as an aggro player, you need threats that don’t die to it. Gideon and Needle Spires work, but Saito’s threat base is also adequate. Stratus Dancer counters LanguishGoldnight Castigator, and Fevered Visions survive it; and Rattlechains and Dimensional Infiltrator can be flashed in after the -4/-4 sorcery resolves. So I like what this blue/red deck is doing. Saito finished with a 12-3 record in Minneapolis, and you can find his deck tech here.

#1: Mono-Blue Prison

Martin Muller

There’s not a doubt in my mind that this was going to be the number 1 deck today. I did a deck tech with Martin, who is not only a genius for building this deck but was also having an enormous amount of fun while piloting this brew of his own design.

In a nutshell, a realistic draw for this deck would go Prism Ring on turn 1, Anticipate on turn 2, Hydrolash on turn 3, Jace’s Sanctum on turn 4, and Engulf the Shore plus Day’s Undoing on turn 5. At that point, your opponent has probably had to read half of the cards you played, but you may be at over 20 life and in a position where your opponent controls no creatures, you have the pivotal Jace’s Sanctum on the battlefield, and you can churn through your deck until you eventually win with Part the Waterveil. Love it.

Martin finished the tournament with a 12-3 record, and I asked to borrow his entire deck so that I could take it with me to Costa Rica this weekend. I’ll be testing it online in the next few days to see how much I like it, but there’s certainly a chance I register it for the Grand Prix.

Do you like these decks or, even better, have you already had a chance to try them out? Or was there another deck from last weekend that dazzled you? Let me know in the comments below!


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