The Post-World Championship Standard
10/17/21 0 comments
Today, we'll delve deeper into the post-World Championship Standard Metagame, and talk about the anti-meta deck attempts.
How is the current Standard?
It's been about a week since the World Championship ended, and we see a Standard format practically the same as before, with the difference that Mono White Aggro is getting stronger due to the dominance of Mono Green.
In addition to these two decks, we have Izzet Dragons completing the tripod of the main archetypes, and we have a few other decks running around trying to counter one of those three or Izzet/Grixis Turns that are still popular despite not beating the Aggro decks.
I talked a lot about the 3 main decks of the format in the article about rock, paper, and scissors, so I won't go back to the subject at length. What I intend to discuss today is how the format should behave until Innistrad: Crimson Vow is released.
A unique addition to the main decks of the format that I've been noticing is Mono Green's ability to win bad matches. Decks with Storm the Festival, Mono White and Mono Black have good matchups against Mono Green and yet, the winrate is not high enough. The deck looks a bit ahead of the rest.
The World Championship didn't bring innovations to the metagame, and we realized that practically nothing has changed besides how much the main decks take turns at the top of the tournaments and Arena's ranked games. Perhaps what has changed the most is the return of Izzet Dragons in place of Izzet Epiphany because the extra turns Combo-Control doesn't play well against Aggro decks, while Dragons have a good match against Mono White and an even matchup against Mono Green and that's gives to the fact that, despite having many interactions, the deck manages to close the game quickly with the dragons without needing so much of the extra turns. It's the old story of a control that manages to control the board, but doesn't close the game and leaves room for opponents to recover.
The New Anti-Meta Decks on Standard
And what about decks that tries to prey on the current metagame? Basically Tempo decks, as they can beat extra turns with small creatures and counterspells — highlighted by Malevolent Hermit who plays both creature and counterspell role — and don't have horrible matchups against Aggro. I'll give some examples of these lists, showing what their problems are and why we shouldn't use them if we want to win some Standard games.
Here we see an Izzet Dragons worsened with the addition of Delver of Secrets, a card that definitely shouldn't be used in Standard because it's awful in the format.
I've seen several lists of Izzet and Dimir playing Delver and trying to be decks that mix some tempo spells, like Fading Hope, Divide By Zero and removals while having creatures that can unbalance the game, like Smoldering Egg transformed and Delver itself dealing 3 damage on turn 2 (something highly improbable, but statistically possible in a format without decent top manipulation).
Another example of a tempo deck that tries, but fails to counter the metagame is Noriyuki Mori's Azorius, from the Worlds.
Despite having good creatures that make sense in the deck with synergy, the deck just doesn't act as promised. In theory, Reidane, God of the Worthy, Elite Spellbinder, Malevolent Hermit, Legion Angel, and Concerted Defense are good against Izzet Turns and Izzet Dragons.
In practice, these decks have enough removals to deal with the relevant creatures and, at some point in the game, for lack of hard counters like Negate, Test of Talents and Disdainful Stroke, their gamplan go as planned with Goldspan Dragon, Alrund's Epiphany and Smoldering Egg.
This Bant Party, used by the Brazilian Tulio Jaudy, has a similar idea to the other Tempo decks with the difference of having more recursion and more synergy between the creatures. Another important point is the presence of hard counters on the sideboard, which, I believe, are essential to beat Epiphany decks because, conditional counterspells becomes irrelevant as the game drags on longer.
“How about Mono Black or other midrange decks that use black, like Rakdos with Adversary?”
Honestly, Mono Black is a competitively unfeasible deck, it's just bad. It can be excellent against MonoW and good against MonoG, but it's the kind of deck that prays you never see any copies of Epiphany on the other side. Also, cards like Froghemoth, Esika's Chariot and Old-Growth Troll are good against Mono Black due to Haste and exile cards from the graveyard, the difficulty of dealing with artifacts and coming back as a 4/4 trample in the pass, respectively.
The control decks are also not well-placed, as they can lose to Mono Green and don't have many tools needed to beat Izzet Dragons. Another problem for archetypes like Dimir, Esper and Azorius control is that they are decks that need recursion with card draw, but don't run Expressive Iteration due to the color matching of the best cantrip in the format. Siphon Insight is a good card, but it doesn't go head-to-head with Iteration which generates more tangible resources by taking 3 cards off the top and increasing the chance of not losing a land drop.
Midrange decks, usually with Storm the Festival, suffer from the issue of not beating Izzet Dragons or any control/combo with Epiphany and counterspells. Should the metagame become a world of aggressive decks, this option is substantially better, but until then, it's almost unfeasible to play with decks that consist of mana dorks and impactful late-game plays that hardly resolve against Izzet.
A month after the release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and the rotation at Standard, I don't see any changes in the format until the next set in November. The best decks now will probably remain until Crimson Vow arrives, and there will still be people with anti-meta decks, but almost never effective. The presence of Alrund’s Epiphany and Esika’s Chariot hardens the format enough for that to happen. The next Arena Qualifier will be in Historic, this also attracts some tournaments and deck builders to shift their focus to build decks without the now banned Memory Lapse, instead of playing Standard.
The Next Tournaments
For upcoming tournaments, Mono Green, Mono White and Izzet Dragons are the safest options. Temur Midrange based on Jean Emmanuel-Depraz's list is also a good deck that, if properly adapted to the field, can lead to great results. Temur's problem seems to me to be the inconsistency of when we don't open hands with the right sequence and/or without Jaspera Sentinel because the deck's strongest point is to cast Chariot or Goldspan on turn 3 with Jaspera and Magda, Brazen Outlaw on the board. Without this mana acceleration, the deck becomes “honest”, doing 2, 3, and 4 drops in turns that opponents get more responsive.
That's it for today, any questions, comments or feedback I'm available in the comments below.
See you next time!