The Pro Tour is over, which means the end of the current professional Magic season. I am excited to start fresh on this blossoming Standard format. Bant Company was the most popular deck at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, but there were plenty of other archetypes that proved they can compete with Bant Company; many players are now referring to Pro Tour Eldritch Moon as "Pro Tour Emrakul."
A variety of emerge decks did well. During the first week of Eldritch Moon Standard, players tried various emerge shells, but many didn't incorporate Kozilek's Return. Kozilek's Return is where the true power of the deck comes from but it also forces the deck to play red, which leads to a three-color deck. East West Bowl came up with a Temur Emerge list that is extremely focused on the emerge mechanic and the emerge creatures themselves. Andrew Brown made Top 8 with the deck:
This is not a deck based around Emrakul, the Promised End, but there is a delirium package in the sideboard that includes Emrakul, the Promised End, Traverse the Ulvenwald, and Kiora, Master of the Depths. The maindeck focuses heavily on chaining Elder Deep-Fiend and Wretched Gryff. Matter Reshaper and Primal Druid work well as the fuel for this theme.
Between Sanctum of Ugin, Grapple with the Past, and Gather the Pack, there are many ways to find emerge creatures. This makes having an early creature that you actively want to sacrifice more important. Primal Druid and Matter Reshaper are the best ones to sacrifice, but Shaman of Forgotten Ways and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy can also get the job done. Besides Elder Deep-Fiend and Wretched Gryff there is also one copy of Lashweed Lurker, which over-performed in testing. Being able to search for a creature that can interact with any troublesome permanent the opponent can play is quite nice.
This is the best version of Temur Emerge East West Bowl could come up with. However, there is another version that goes even further over the top with an emphasis on Emrakul, the Promised End — the version Owen Turtenwald finished 2nd with, beating me out for Player of the Year in the process.
This deck is not all in on emerge; there are actually only four emerge creatures. Pilgrim's Eye does a lot of work as both a creature to enable emerge and it is an artifact to help for delirium. It may look weird initially but its delirium synergy makes it an important piece of the puzzle.
While there are only four emerge creatures, they are still pretty easy to find. This deck puts a lot of cards in the graveyard to enable delirium and find Kozilek's Return with Vessel of Nascency, Grapple with the Past, and Gather the Pack. This means that even with only one or two copies of a creature you are still likely to find it. These cards all help accrue cards in the graveyard and most games this version of Temur Emerge wins involve casting Emrakul, the Promised End. There are a full three copies of Emrakul, the Promised End as well as a Coax from the Blind Eternities in the sideboard. This may be the best full-on Emrakul, the Promised End deck to come out of the Pro Tour. Most decks that run Emrakul, the Promised End play it as a singleton or sideboard option, but not this one. In order to help reach the lategame there's Gnarlwood Dryad, which becomes a 3/3 very easily. This is a great creature to have against Bant Company as a way to protect yourself on the ground.
This is a deck that absolutely needs to hit delirium but it can do so easily. Ishkanah, Grafwidow is another payoff card and helps with having a large variety of different threats. The only negative about Ishkanah, Grafwidow in this deck is that the activated lifedrain effect cannot be used since the deck doesn't play black mana. This deck has a lot going on with ramp elements and a variety of creature threats. I expect it to continue to see play but there will also be more sideboard hate for it.
Cards like Infinite Obliteration and Summary Dismissal, which didn't see much play at the Pro Tour, may suddenly see more play now that Temur Emerge is so popular. After finding a way to answer Emrakul, the Primised End, Tutenwald's deck becomes far less threatening. In the finals of the Pro Tour, after Emrakul, the Promised End was hit with Infinite Obliteration, the game was pretty much over, though it is true that Turtenwald also missed land drops.
Speaking of Infinite Obliteration, despite a ton of perceived bad matchups, it was actually Lukas Blohon's W/B Control deck that won the Pro Tour. This is an archetype that I know a thing or two about, and it was actually pretty surprising to see the deck come out on top. Going into the Pro Tour, versions centered around legendary threats and angels were popular, but this version relies heavily on Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet alongside Archangel Avacyn.
By not playing as many creature threats, the deck has more room for interactive spells in the maindeck; Transgress the Mind and Hallowed Moonlight ride alongside various removal spells. Transgress the Mind is perfect against big mana decks that rely on expensive threats, and the fact that it exiles is also relevant. Hallowed Moonlight is another carryover from previous lists, as Collected Company decks are still just as popular as ever.
There is a Planeswalker package but it is a bit different from the norm. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is no longer maindeck, but there are four copies in the sideboard. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet serves itself better as a way of disrupting decks with emerge threats, but Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can get boarded in against other controlling decks. Liliana, the Last Hope is a card that just about all black decks should at least consider playing. Sometimes with Liliana, the Last Hope the primary plan is simply up-ticking her and going ultimate rather than try to grind a game out by returning a threat. Ob Nixilis Reignited stands out as a card that can overperform here. The key is that Ob Nixilis Reignited is capable of taking out an Emrakul, the Promised End. Simply casting Ob Nixilis Reignited and ticking it up means that even after the opponent takes your turn it is possible to come back by having enough loyalty on Ob Nixilis Reignited to kill an Emrakul, the Promised End.
There is a reason that W/B Control won the Pro Tour, it isn't a fluke — the deck has a versatile gameplan and the sideboard is great. We saw Blohon constantly switching his deck up after sideboard and drastically shifting the way a matchup plays out. Having a lot of discard alongside difficult-to-deal-with threats like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is tough to deal with for decks that have a good game one matchup against W/B Control. I have to wonder if the format will start to move back towards W/B Control decks sporting Gisela, the Broken Blade or if this Planeswalker-based version is simply more powerful.
The Pro Tour was dominated by midrange, control, and ramp decks. There were very few aggressive decks that showed up last weekend. Is this because aggressive decks are just bad? Are aggressive decks significantly worse now that Liliana, the Last Hope is seeing a lot of play? I believe that many pros feel silly testing extensively and then showing up to a big tournament with white weenie. This does not mean that the aggro decks are bad though, and I suspect they will come back into the metagame in a big way. In fact a lot of these slower decks have real issues with aggressive decks.
The emerge decks are very reliant on Kozilek's Return and the black control decks need to have Languish. These are cards that White/Red Humans is capable of getting around.
This deck hasn't changed much but it shouldn't be underestimated. A lot of the time it is possible to get your creatures above two toughness to dodge a hardcast Kozilek's Return and the ramp decks don't usually get the time to play a big Eldrazi in order to flashback a Kozilek's Return. One of the keys to beating Emrakul, the Promised End is finishing the game before it can be cast and W/R Humans just that.
I understand players wanting to play with new cards from Eldritch Moon but sometimes in order to beat the new kid on the block it is necessary to go back to an old standby. There still aren't many aggressive decks in the format and this White Humans deck remains the best one. A card like Always Watching makes opposing Liliana, the Last Hope much less threatening.
The format is not broken it is actually in a pretty healthy spot right now. Bant Company is likely still the overall best decks but there are new archetypes which can claim to have a good matchup against it. I am excited now that there are a larger variety of viable decks to choose from.