Welcome back everyone! You’ve likely only seen my name in site announcements, but I’ve been behind the scenes editing all articles that you’ve been reading! I can’t say I’m happy that it’s taken so long for me to finally release one myself, but I am excited to start producing content regularly!
Almost every reasonspast writer will be attending SCG Philly this weekend, and while CJ and Brandon are focusing on Pioneer and Modern respectively, Jonah and I will both be playing Standard. While it’s definitely a bit too early in the format for there to be a distinct best deck or concrete metagame, there are certainly a few decks that are rising to the top and putting up consistent results. Identifying these decks and thinking of how to beat or improve them is one of the best ways to get a step ahead of the competition.
One of the coolest things about the release of Theros: Beyond Death is that it’s created a ton of new decks, and people are trying out literally anything they can in this brand new, open format, which is a far cry from what happened the last time a set was released. The last set release led to a Mythic Championship dominated by Field of the Dead, and when that was banned, a stale format dominated by Oko, Thief of Crowns, leading to yet another ban. Even after that ban, the best deck had one of the most annoying combos I’ve personally ever played against in Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar. Thankfully, Theros: Beyond Death standard seems to be going in a completely different direction!
This past week brought about our first big tournament in SCG Richmond, and while results from team tournaments are generally not the best place to turn, given that you don’t actually know how many matches each seat won, the results of the Open are strikingly similar to those of the Standard Classic that took place on Sunday.
Without further ado, here are the decks that made up the Top 16 of both tournaments.
The “Other” category comprised of Jund Sacrifice, Mono-Black Aggro, Rakdos Knights, Mono-White Aggro and Sultai Ramp. While I do think that a couple of these decks are quite strong, namely Jund Sacrifice and Mono-White, I don’t think that any of them can be categorized as being Tier 1 decks right now, and I think testing extensively against them wouldn’t be nearly as helpful as playing against the other five decks.
One of the first things that stuck out to me is that UW Control actually won both events! While this by no means makes it the best deck in the format by default, it definitely pushes it into the spotlight, and I think it’ll be the deck to beat in Philly. Regardless of whether a deck is good or not, it winning two events in one weekend means it will make up a large percentage of the metagame the following weekend, because many people are generally inclined to play the best deck, especially if they do not have as much time to prepare. For this reason, UW is the first deck that I want to put in my “Tier 1” category going into SCG Philly.
UW Control by Corey Baumeister – 1st Place at SCG Richmond
4 Dream Trawler
Me and Jonah were testing an early version of this deck after Field of the Dead was banned after the release of Throne of Eldraine, but the additions Theros has brought to this archetype have pushed it from the fringes of the format to the forefront. The Birth of Meletis and Omen of the Sea are both turn two plays that give you a staggering amount of consistency, something which the previous version was sorely lacking, as it only had the lowly Opt to resort to. Shatter the Sky is a strict upgrade from the playset of Time Wipe or Realm-Cloaked Giant earlier versions played, but the real strength of the deck comes in the threat department.
UW Control picked up both Elspeth Conquers Death and my personal vote for best card in Standard, Dream Trawler. The versatility of Elspeth Conquers Death, which can eliminate threats ranging from opposing Teferis to Wilderness Reclamation or even the annoying Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and then later get back a Dream Trawler or either of your planeswalkers is a huge upgrade to the average power level of the UW deck. Something I’ve maintained ever since Dream Trawler was released is that if you aren’t far behind when you cast the card, it is nearly impossible for you to lose. A 10 point life swing and an extra card every turn, coupled with the fact that Dream Trawler rarely ever dies to removal makes it the most efficient finisher for control decks, and playing against it has been a nightmare for me and many others.
The additions from Theros: Beyond Death have turned UW Control from a pet deck to one of the best decks in the format, and I believe the deck will have another great weekend in Philly.
The second deck that I would categorize as “Tier 1” right now is Temur Reclamation, which, similarly to the UW deck, has risen from it’s fairly fringe status to become one of the best decks.
Temur Reclamation by Will Pulliam – 2nd Place at SCG Richmond
This is another deck that I played a bit of in the last format, and while it was certainly not bad, it was never close to Tier 1, and really couldn’t challenge the best decks in the format. With the release of Theros however, the deck’s power has increased drastically, and allowed it to rise to what I believe is Tier 1 status, at least for now.
One of the most important thing that the new set has brought to Standard is consistency. The addition of Omen of the Sea, Uro, and Thassa’s Intervention means that the Reclamation deck can hit its namesake card way more often than it previously could, and not run out of gas once Reclamation is on the board. In addition to these improvements, Storm’s Wrath does wonders for the deck’s midrange and aggro matchup, and can also take care of a Teferi, Time Raveler, which is one of the cards the Reclamation deck has always had trouble beating.
While the additions to Temur Reclamation are not as drastic as those to UW Control, the deck certainly improved significantly, and its good matchup against low-to-the-ground aggro decks and midrange decks means the deck is perfectly positioned to prey on people who aren’t playing Ramp or Control.
While I believe that both Mono-Red Aggro and UG Ramp are incredibly strong decks, I don’t think they have the same power level as these two decks, which seem significantly better positioned in an aggro-heavy meta. If you’re expecting a lot of Temur Reclamation, I think RG Aggro is likely a better choice than Mono-Red. Mono-Red is definitely stronger against Control decks, even though I don’t think it has a great matchup, as the deck folds to well-timed interaction into Dream Trawler. Going into the weekend, I am still undecided between UW Control and Mono-Red, but I think I’ll end up playing control with adjustments for the mirror, such as some number of Dovin’s Veto, Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis, or Chemister’s Insight mainboard.
Whatever event you may be playing in this weekend, I wish you luck, and I hope you manage to dodge Dream Trawlers (unless you’re playing me, in which case I hope you play against at least two each game)!
See you next week,