If you look at the data from the February Kaldheim League Weekend, you will see that aggressive decks missed their mark. Here are the League results for the top three aggressive decks, each of which had at least eight players playing them:

The kicker is there were no other popular archetypes with lower than a 50% win rate, so this is a pretty lopsided data set against the aggro decks.

One weekend's results doesn't mean the aggressive decks are bad—in fact, many of these decks improved from a power level perspective from Kaldheim. The addition of Faceless Haven definitely helps the monocolored aggressive decks. Gruul Adventures hasn't changed that much, but was already a tier 1 deck in the format. The reason that I think the aggressive decks are currently doing poorly is a metagame imbalance.

Aggro Decks Are More Popular in a New Format

For as long as I can remember, players have gravitated toward playing aggro at the start of new Standard formats. There are several reasons for this.

In new formats, decks aren't fully fleshed out. Building aggressive decks is often much easier than other archetypes, especially when the decks are monocolored, or based on pre-existing aggressive decks. In the case of the current Mono-Red deck for instance, it is still extremely similar to the deck I played last year at the World Championships, and there is an established template for success there.

It takes time to test new brews, and in tournaments, players usually gravitate toward decks they are more familiar with and which feel like less of a gamble to play. This also leads players to pick aggro decks.

Popular Decks Are Easy to Target

If we look at results from events like the SCG qualifiers over the past few weekends, they were dominated by decks like Mono-Red Aggro. Their success led to more people playing aggro decks on ladder, and aggro lists were quickly refined down to a handful of successful archetypes. There often aren't enough viable aggro decks for the amount of players that love attacking and being aggressive. Within the past few weeks the three decks I have played against the most on the MTG Arena ladder are Mono-White Aggro, Mono-Red Aggro, and Gruul Adventures.

The prevalence of aggro decks pushed slower decks out of the format. Decks like Sultai Ultimatum (which is actually what I chose to play last weekend) started to get phased out.

Going into the League Weekend, all signs pointed to Mono-Red Aggro being the best deck in Standard, which meant there was a huge target on its back. Meanwhile, control decks were nowhere to be seen. This gave Magic Pro League and Rivals League players a clear strategy for choosing what deck to play. If you expect to play against primarily aggro decks, you can start to sacrifice other matchups, and make the adjustments needed to be ready for aggro decks.

Brewing to Beat Aggro

When your entire livelihood is on the line, you want to figure out a way to crack a format, and this requires putting in the extra work to develop decks that nobody is playing. We saw brews do very well at the League Weekend, and it's not because those decks were anything crazy, but because they were built with a very aggressive metagame in mind.

Take a look at the best-performing deck, built by Reid Duke:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Naya Adventures by Reid Duke

'Naya Adventures' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Reid Duke

Event:

Rank:

Standard

Market Price: $338.54

Cards

Fabled Passage

Market Price: $9.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Shredded Sails

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212051_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy target artifact.
• Shredded Sails deals 4 damage to target creature with flying.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235548_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Color Identity:G,W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222023_200w.jpg

When Yasharn, Implacable Earth enters the battlefield, search your library for a basic Forest card and a basic Plains card, reveal those cards, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Players can't pay life or sacrifice nonland permanents to cast spells or activate abilities.

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Masked Vandal

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230134_200w.jpg

Changeling (This card is every creature type.)
When Masked Vandal enters the battlefield, you may exile a creature card from your graveyard. If you do, exile target artifact or enchantment an opponent controls.

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Redcap Melee

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199300_200w.jpg

Redcap Melee deals 4 damage to target creature or planeswalker. If a nonred permanent is dealt damage this way, you sacrifice a land.

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Ox of Agonas

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $6.45

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206651_200w.jpg

When Ox of Agonas enters the battlefield, discard your hand, then draw three cards.
Escape—{R}{R}, Exile eight other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)
Ox of Agonas escapes with a +1/+1 counter on it.

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Shatterskull Smashing

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $3.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222030_200w.jpg

Shatterskull Smashing deals X damage divided as you choose among up to two target creatures and/or planeswalkers. If X is 6 or more, Shatterskull Smashing deals twice X damage divided as you choose among them instead.

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Showdown of the Skalds

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $0.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/229211_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Exile the top four cards of your library. Until the end of your next turn, you may play those cards.
II, III — Whenever you cast a spell this turn, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control.

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Edgewall Innkeeper

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198999_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast a creature spell that has an Adventure, draw a card. (It doesn't need to have gone on the adventure first.)

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Elder Gargaroth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $16.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215477_200w.jpg

Vigilance, reach, trample
Whenever Elder Gargaroth attacks or blocks, choose one —
• Create a 3/3 green Beast creature token.
• You gain 3 life.
• Draw a card.

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Tangled Florahedron

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221925_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {G}.

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Archon of Absolution

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199294_200w.jpg

Flying
Protection from white (This creature can't be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, enchanted, or equipped by anything white.)
Creatures can't attack you or a planeswalker you control unless their controller pays {1} for each of those creatures.

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Elspeth Conquers Death

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.76

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207052_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Exile target permanent an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or greater.
II — Noncreature spells your opponents cast cost {2} more to cast until your next turn.
III — Return target creature or planeswalker card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Put a +1/+1 counter or a loyalty counter on it.

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Drannith Magistrate

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $5.71

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212115_200w.jpg

Your opponents can't cast spells from anywhere other than their hands.

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Lovestruck Beast // Heart's Desire

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198578_200w.jpg

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Giant Killer // Chop Down

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198743_200w.jpg

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Klothys, God of Destiny

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $9.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206458_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to red and green is less than seven, Klothys isn't a creature.
At the beginning of your precombat main phase, exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a land card, add {R} or {G}. Otherwise, you gain 2 life and Klothys deals 2 damage to each opponent.

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Needleverge Pathway

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $2.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221838_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {R}.

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The Great Henge

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $50.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199361_200w.jpg

This spell costs {X} less to cast, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.
{T}: Add {G}{G}. You gain 2 life.
Whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on it and draw a card.

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Fire Prophecy

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212611_200w.jpg

Fire Prophecy deals 3 damage to target creature. You may put a card from your hand on the bottom of your library. If you do, draw a card.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235546_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Cragcrown Pathway

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $2.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221845_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {R}.

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Kazandu Mammoth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222154_200w.jpg

Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Kazandu Mammoth gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

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Temple of Abandon

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.94

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206632_200w.jpg

Temple of Abandon enters the battlefield tapped.
When Temple of Abandon enters the battlefield, scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
{T}: Add {R} or {G}.

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Scavenging Ooze

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215695_200w.jpg

{G}: Exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a creature card, put a +1/+1 counter on Scavenging Ooze and you gain 1 life.

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Branchloft Pathway

Color Identity:G,W

Market Price: $2.62

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221843_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {G}.

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Scorching Dragonfire

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215894_200w.jpg

Scorching Dragonfire deals 3 damage to target creature or planeswalker. If that creature or planeswalker would die this turn, exile it instead.

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Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.76

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199035_200w.jpg

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235540_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/strixhaven-school-of-mages/plains-366

Developing a list like this requires thinking outside the box. Naya Adventure decks not featuring Goldspan Dragon were completely off the radar before this list made its debut. It makes sense in many ways, and looking at the four copies of The Great Henge, it is readily apparent the deck was designed specifically to go over the top of other smaller creature-based decks.

The way to beat aggro decks is usually to go a little bigger than they do. You want to have a lot of inexpensive interaction, as well as a way to control the long game, and the adventure creatures offer both. This is why playing in a tournament like a Pro Tour has always been so scary. If you simply play one of the top decks, you are choosing a deck that your other competitors also know is a tier 1 strategy. A rogue choice can leave opponents completely unprepared, and this Naya deck showcased that.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Abzan Control by Gabriel Nassif

'Abzan Control' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Gabriel Nassif

Event:

Rank:

Standard

Market Price: $177.75

Cards

Extinction Event

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212261_200w.jpg

Choose odd or even. Exile each creature with converted mana cost of the chosen value. (Zero is even.)

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Temple of Silence

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $1.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236445_200w.jpg

Temple of Silence enters the battlefield tapped.
When Temple of Silence enters the battlefield, scry 1.
{T}: Add {W} or {B}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2021/temple-of-silence

Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Color Identity:G,W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222023_200w.jpg

When Yasharn, Implacable Earth enters the battlefield, search your library for a basic Forest card and a basic Plains card, reveal those cards, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Players can't pay life or sacrifice nonland permanents to cast spells or activate abilities.

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The Birth of Meletis

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206752_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Search your library for a basic Plains card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
II — Create a 0/4 colorless Wall artifact creature token with defender.
III — You gain 2 life.

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Yorion, Sky Nomad

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $4.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212715_200w.jpg

Companion — Your starting deck contains at least twenty cards more than the minimum deck size. (If this card is your chosen companion, you may put it into your hand from outside the game for {3} any time you could cast a sorcery.)
Flying
When Yorion enters the battlefield, exile any number of other nonland permanents you own and control. Return those cards to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step.

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Llanowar Visionary

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215462_200w.jpg

When Llanowar Visionary enters the battlefield, draw a card.
{T}: Add {G}.

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Darkbore Pathway

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $6.67

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/229208_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {B}.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $9.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Archon of Sun's Grace

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206838_200w.jpg

Flying, lifelink
Pegasus creatures you control have lifelink.
Constellation — Whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, create a 2/2 white Pegasus creature token with flying.

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Indatha Triome

Color Identity:B,G,W

Market Price: $7.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212689_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}, {B}, or {G}.)
Indatha Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Duress

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215662_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.

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Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215516_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker with converted mana cost 3 or less.

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Branchloft Pathway

Color Identity:G,W

Market Price: $2.62

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221843_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {G}.

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Lithoform Blight

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222048_200w.jpg

Enchant land
When Lithoform Blight enters the battlefield, draw a card.
Enchanted land loses all land types and abilities and has "{T}: Add {C}" and "{T}, Pay 1 life: Add one mana of any color."

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Omen of the Sun

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206784_200w.jpg

Flash
When Omen of the Sun enters the battlefield, create two 1/1 white Human Soldier creature tokens and you gain 2 life.
{2}{W}, Sacrifice Omen of the Sun: Scry 2.

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Elspeth Conquers Death

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.76

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207052_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Exile target permanent an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or greater.
II — Noncreature spells your opponents cast cost {2} more to cast until your next turn.
III — Return target creature or planeswalker card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Put a +1/+1 counter or a loyalty counter on it.

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Brightclimb Pathway

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $3.86

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221817_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {W}.

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Acquisitions Expert

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221775_200w.jpg

When Acquisitions Expert enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals a number of cards from their hand equal to the number of creatures in your party. You choose one of those cards. That player discards that card. (Your party consists of up to one each of Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard.)

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Emeria's Call

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221952_200w.jpg

Create two 4/4 white Angel Warrior creature tokens with flying. Non-Angel creatures you control gain indestructible until your next turn.

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Doom Foretold

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198873_200w.jpg

At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player sacrifices a nonland, nontoken permanent. If that player can't, they discard a card, they lose 2 life, you draw a card, you gain 2 life, you create a 2/2 white Knight creature token with vigilance, then you sacrifice Doom Foretold.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235544_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Glass Casket

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199004_200w.jpg

When Glass Casket enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield.

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Elspeth's Nightmare

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207053_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Destroy target creature an opponent controls with power 2 or less.
II — Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.
III — Exile target opponent's graveyard.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235540_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Heartless Act

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.72

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212369_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy target creature with no counters on it.
• Remove up to three counters from target creature.

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235548_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Binding the Old Gods

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230118_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Destroy target nonland permanent an opponent controls.
II — Search your library for a Forest card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
III — Creatures you control gain deathtouch until end of turn.

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Elderfang Disciple

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230382_200w.jpg

When Elderfang Disciple enters the battlefield, each opponent discards a card.

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Treacherous Blessing

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.19

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When Treacherous Blessing enters the battlefield, draw three cards.
Whenever you cast a spell, you lose 1 life.
When Treacherous Blessing becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice it.

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Players found other ways to target aggro decks too. For instance, Gabriel Nassif cut blue from his Doom Foretold deck, and played a straight Abzan list. He decided there would not be any control decks, so he could focus primarily on aggro. These types of gambles are risky, but they can also be incredibly rewarding.

Targeting an aggro deck is often easier than targeting a midrange or control deck. Cheap removal spells, plus creatures that are large and tough to beat, plus some type of late-game inevitability is almost always going to be the recipe for success. The games play out in a very straightforward way a lot of the time. If you don't get killed within the first few turns you should be fine and that's an easier play pattern compared to midrange vs midrange, or midrange vs. control fights, where games are more complicated, and it can be harder to know which cards are good in a matchup.

What Now?

The metagame needs to rebalance. One of the biggest reasons the aggro decks have been doing poorly recently is because of how easy targeting them has been. If Sultai Ultimatum and other slower decks start to regain a greater share of the metagame, the format could shift a bit, and allow aggro decks to be better positioned.

There were players who were scared that the aggro decks were too good, but I think it's been proven that isn't actually the case. Yes, there are some cards like the adventure cards out of Eldraine that still feel a bit overpowered, but from the standpoint of having many viable decks, I like this format.

I like to use the Rock-Paper-Scissors analogy. If you know that everyone will choose paper, it is possible to find a scissors that will work very well, as long as people don't choose rock. This past weekend the format was too skewed toward aggro, and the people that targeted aggro got rewarded as a result. The hope is that we will continue to see weekly rotations like this, as a healthy Standard format is one where it makes sense to play new decks at different times, based on the metagame. An example of where this has not worked are times like Standard when Temur Reclamation was so clearly the best deck, there was actually no deck that could beat it consistently, and then the metagame falls apart completely.

There Are More Aggro Decks Out There

Outside of the top three aggro decks, there are plenty more options in terms of getting aggressive in this format. I don't mean to sound like those are the only viable aggressive decks, but too many people recently have defaulted to those strategies. As I mentioned earlier the monocolored decks are oftentimes the most straightforward, and it's a bit tougher to build a successful three-color aggro decks.

However, there are many other shells where you can play a snow package or Embercleave. If you have time to test, I recommend trying some different color combinations, and cards you might not normally play with. The new Pathways make three-color aggro decks more reasonable, and I have even seen cards like Jaspera Sentinel be quite strong for some additional fixing.

Wrapping Up

I'm not saying you shouldn't play aggro decks whatsoever. I'm saying that you should realize what you are getting yourself into before doing so. If you do play an aggro deck, you should tune it for this metagame. Maybe add some additional answers for a card like The Great Henge for instance. I haven't seen enough copies of Embereth Shieldbreaker or Masked Vandal being played.

As soon as players start to move back toward control decks, the aggro decks become naturally better choices. The reason control decks haven't been doing well recently is because of how good aggro decks are now that they have Faceless Haven, which is usually especially relevant in those matchups.

I'm looking forward to seeing where things go from here. Don't trust every tournament result you see online in the early going of a Standard format, especially if there are a sea of aggro decks at the top of the standings. Oftentimes that just means that there is about to be a rotation in the metagame toward targeting them more.