Last weekend (February 27-28) we had the League Weekend in Standard format, in which the Magic Pro League (MPL) and Rivals League players played each other in their respective leagues for awards and positioning in the leagues! Let's talk a little bit about Standard's metagame and what awaits us for the next few weeks until the release of Strixhaven, focusing on the two decks that I consider to be the best positioned at the moment, Temur and Naya Adventures.
The decklists can be found on Magic's official eSports website. In this article I will talk more deeply about Standard's metagame and which decks caught my attention the most and I believe they are the best of the format at the moment. The tournament winrate data was made available through MTG Data which does the job to gather the main tournaments of the week in a matrix with the most used archetypes.
First, let's read the matrix data, make inferences to locate ourselves. Naya Fury had a good winrate against aggressive decks and a terrible one against midrange decks, which have good responses to the Unleash Fury and Kazuul's Fury // Kazuul's Cliffs combo with strong creatures, like Goldspan Dragon and Lovestruck Beast // Heart's Desire. As expected, the deck's winrate dropped a lot after seeing how the deck works and how to play against it. The aggro decks - MonoWhite, MonoRed and Gruul - had surprisingly low winrates, as archetypes had been dominant until then. Analyzing the lists, the aggressive decks were strongly focused by the midranges, which had good results mainly against the aggros.
Cycling got a good winrate for its versatility of winning by hitting several 1/1 tokens and having an insane finisher which is Zenith Flare. However, the deck has problems against aggressive strategies using Embercleave, therefore, ignoring blockers thanks to running over powerful creatures like Questing Beast, Kazandu Mammoth // Kazandu Valley and Lovestruck Beast and against Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector's Shield which increases Zenith's cost and ignores the 1/1 tokens damage.
Temur and Naya managed to win high against aggressive decks due to the fact that they were able to hold the momentum of the early game and generate enough value to win the game on the basis of 2 to 1, 3 to 1 with cards like Showdown of the Skalds, Alrund's Epiphany and The Great Henge.
Sultai, as expected, suffered several defeats to aggressive decks for having a slower game, trying to interact with global removals and spot removals until reaching the Emergent Ultimatum mana. Its biggest triumph was against Naya Fury, who is unable to carry out the combo thanks to Sultai's counters and removals and against other off-meta strategies that are heavily punished by the Ultimatum.
Given this general outlook, let's get down to business, as the meta went from dominant aggros to dominant midranges that crush opponents by generating a lot of value without counter-response. Since the week before League Weekend, Temur Adventures has resurfaced with a new tech, Alrund’s Epiphany. The already known cards with adventures of Eldraine, extremely strong, had the addition of the extra turn and the dragon of Kaldheim to end the game in an unexpected way. The adventure base for two of the three decks set out below was widely discussed in my other article about Gruul.
This is the new to beat deck of the format, as it manages to have an aggressive game plan with Lovestruck Beast, Bonecrusher Giant and Goldspan Dragon, in addition to interacting with opponents' critical plays with counters and Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft. The key card that makes the deck so good is the extra turn that not only gives you one more turn to hold the game and draw an answer, but you can close the game by hitting with flying creatures. Often opponents end up accepting to take unnecessary attacks thinking that they will have some action on the next tur n, but little did they know that there would be no next turn (memories of those who have already taken 2 extra turns in a row).
But why is the card so good on this deck? An important part of this is the two 1/1 bird tokens created that can block the next turn to hold the game, if necessary, or aggressively causing 2 more damage per turn over, making the block difficult and making the card both offensive and defensive, depending on the progress of the match. The board advantage and resource of the card is strong with the plan that the deck intends to follow. Having foretell to escape discards and being able to cast for 1 less mana is also relevant.
With the adventures and interactions already mentioned, the extra turn becomes a perfect finisher for the late game with the unique resource generation of the card. As we see in the sideboard, the post-side is even better for the plan to hold the game with 4 Elder Gargaroth and 2 Soul Sear. This idea of having a Gruul with blue interactions and Epiphany seems to be the future of the format for the next few weeks until Strixhaven, as it is very difficult to interact with so much value and so many powerful cards. One way is to lethal with Zenith Flare at once or play with cards that can generate even more value at a lower cost, say Showdown of the Skalds. Against control decks, the deck has a high beatdown potential with the creatures and protection from sweepers with the counterspells.
Speaking of the Boros saga, let's look now at another deck that I consider tier 1 at the moment, Naya Adventures. Again, the red and green adventure kit is extremely strong. The difference from this to Temur is the splash to white this time, allowing the use of Giant Killer // Chop Down, a insane card against aggros, Showdown of the Skalds, a insane card against mid decks and flexible white cards on the sideboard.
The ability to generate value and 2 to 1 exchanges for this deck is unmatched with what we have in the rest of the format. Showdown, Henge and Edgewall Innkeeper are very recursive cards that require an immediate response to keep them out of control. That's right, the deck has three card advantage sources that make the transition from mid to late game very well, one of which, Henge, usually wins the game in up to two turns after untapping due to the card advantage and table position generated by the Eldraine artifact.
While Temur has higher power level cards, such as the dragon and Epiphany, Naya has more synergy with more adventure cards on the deck and the game plan aimed at filling the board with creatures and "drowning" the opponent in value. without any response. The deck is failing to catch the Naya Fury combo so well due to the low number of removals without circumventing the deck's protection Sejiri Shelter // Sejiri Glacier. Even with the low winrate against Cycling too, Scavenging Ooze and Klothys, God of Destiny seem to be enough to hold the match. The problem in the match is getting through damage, as the 1/1 tokens generated with Improbable Alliance and Valiant Rescuer form a wall of chump blockers very difficult for Naya to penetrate without [[Embercleave] ] or other ways to pass damage with trample.
And what lies ahead in this new metagame until new cards come out in Strixhaven?
It is very complicated for aggro decks to turn around after many midranges are established because the goal of the midranges is precisely to hold the early game with interactions and / or creatures like Lovestruck Beast and make impactful plays in turns 5-6 that do not allow any reaction of aggro decks.
The Naya and Temur lists are evolving and starting to converge to a core with the red and green adventures and the same white or blue splash cards. The differences are in the matches that are prioritized by the sideboard.
For now, respect for aggro must still prevail, but, as time goes by and the fall of aggressive decks, we will be able to see more and more of these decks focusing on midrange mirrors trying to generate more value than opponents and breaking with the recursion mechanisms across the board. The option of playing with control decks still seems unlikely because you need to fight turn after turn against both card advantage and board position and this is very complicated to do si.
That's all for today, I hope you have enjoyed my article!
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