The first full week of events is now over, with an entire week of MagicFest Online Qualifiers and a Weekly Championship to pull a lot of data from. As usual, mtgmeta.io continues to do fantastic work, and I highly recommend checking out their matchup matrix. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's have a look at the winners' metagame for the weekend, comprised of the Top 32 of both the Standard Challenge and the Weekly Championship:
Early on this week it looked like a one-deck format with an incredibly lopsided Super Qualifier on MTGO showcasing Jeskai Fires' dominance. This trend did not hold until the weekend though, as Bant Ramp rose back up to pick on Jeskai Fires once again, just like last format. However, no longer is Temur Reclamation a sleeper deck.
The sacrifice decks were incredibly popular but have fallen prey to the aggro-slaying duo of Temur Reclamation and Jeskai Fires. This opened up the space for Bant Ramp to compete, though its black counterpart in Sultai Ramp has had an abysmal week. You're simply not going to succeed when the top three decks are all horrific matchups.
As we move toward a more stable metagame, be aware of a few newcomers to the scene with a lot of promise. Temur Mutate, an archetype Patrick Dickmann has been championing, and Lurrus "Heroic," designed by Noah, both show a lot of promise as aggro decks in the format, though admittedly they both push the definition quite a bit. The key here is both are able to apply a lot of pressure very early on and kill incredibly quickly uninterrupted. While both of these decks are in their early stages, be aware of them as this week's metagame develops.
With the new big three established, the pillars of the format are pretty clear both in terms of archetypes and individual cards. Teferi, Time Raveler, Fires of Invention, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Elspeth Conquers Death and Shark Typhoon are the major cards that define the shape of Standard right now, and your deck should be built with all of them in mind. Whether you go under, around, or over the top is up to you, but you cannot ignore these cards.
Welcome to the first Ikoria Hot Take Tier List.
Jeskai Fires is the most played and most successful deck so far in Ikoria. Keruga, the Macrosage and Raugrin Triome have pushed this deck to a very high land count because you simply cannot flood anymore. As long as you hit Fires of Invention or play on curve, Keruga gives you a burst of resources to pressure your opponent and grind them out. Discard plans no longer work against Jeskai Fires, and counterspell heavy plans still suffer the Teferi, Time Raveler problem.
If you just wanted to lock in a 75 from now 'til the end of Ikoria, this is the deck. I don't think Jeskai Fires will ever be actively bad because of how powerful and consistent it is. This sounds like the description of an S tier deck, and maybe it is, but this also makes the deck easy to account for.
Speak of the devil, here's Jeskai Fires' one true bad matchup. Because of Yorion, Sky Nomad, Bant Ramp now occupies this odd space of midrange-control. It can never truly play the aggressor, but 80 cards gives you a lot of space to play a ton of threats and a ton of answers, and Yorion is an ever-present source of advantage. The Jeskai Fires decks cannot rely on Keruga, the Macrosage to grind out Bant here, because Yorion often is doubling up Elspeth Conquers Death, and Shatter the Sky is a clean answer to most Jeskai Fires boards.
While the large, clunky nature of this deck is largely exploitable by aggressive lists, Bant Ramp still runs a playset of Shatter the Sky and it's deceptively good at finding it. This means that the most effective decks against Bant Ramp are proactive decks with recursion, disruption, or both. The Obosh, the Preypiercer versions of Rakdos Sacrifice, Simic Flash, and Mono-Blue Flash are all very good here.
While Jeskai Fires got all the press, Temur Reclamation was actually the most successful deck this week overall. With essentially no bad matchups in the common metagame, Temur Reclamation posted an astonishing 57% win rate. Of the most common decks, Jeskai Fires was just shy of a coin flip matchup, and the only other matchup below 50% with a decent metagame share was Mono-Blue Flash.
Temur Reclamation gets to be a control deck with a combo finish in a metagame built around aggro and midrange. Gone are the decks packing four Narset, Parter of Veils and four Teferi, Time Raveler. Going late against essentially anyone favors Temur Reclamation, so the deck has become far more streamlined to achieve the late game.
No more Nightpack Ambusher and Frilled Mystic. In place of these flash threats is the new premier flash threat: Shark Typhoon. While a good card in most blue decks, Shark Typhoon is especially potent in Temur Reclamation because it gives the deck another angle against Teferi, Time Raveler while also doubling as an anti-aggro tool.
I'll spoil things a little here and say that this is the deck I believe to be best positioned in the metagame. Jeskai Fires may be sturdy from now until the end of time, but Temur Reclamation has more room to adapt its configuration week to week, and the format isn't presenting anything resembling a scary matchup.
The Lurrus of the Dream-Den versions of Sacrifice were good front-runners, but the format is now full of interaction and sweepers, and Priest of Forgotten Gods is unexciting against a lot of the top decks. The Obosh, the Preypiercer versions are capable of stronger pushes in the midgame to close, and still get to play Mayhem Devil. While Lurrus versions do have a better Jeskai Fires matchup, I think the Obosh version matches up better against the rest of the metagame, especially vs. Bant Ramp and Temur Reclamation.
While this is a fascinating archetype, less consistent access to Fires of Invention is not being appropriately paid back in power. This archetype has a bad matchup against Bant Ramp, Jeskai Fires and Temur Reclamation. If you can't beat any of the top three, you need to go back to the drawing board.
I don't even have a decklist to pull for this archetype, but the data shows a good chunk of players still electing to play a 40% deck. When Mono-Blue Flash is your best matchup, you need to reevaluate your decisions.
Lurrus Cycling actually had a decent showing this weekend, but I think it mostly makes way for people to develop interactive Lurrus of the Dream-Den decks. Its strength comes from its ability to gum up the board and then go over the top with Zenith Flare.
This is the deck in this list I'm the least certain of, but I think Lurrus Heroic might take the spot as a more aggressive Lurrus deck in the same space with a lot of goldfish potential.
Lurrus Sacrifice got all the press, but Obosh, the Preypiercer was actually the better choice this weekend and isn't stopped by two removal spells and a Grafdigger's Cage. I think going forward this more aggressive, bigger deck is the better choice, especially as it boasts a better matchup against two of the big three. It's weird to put it in this category when it won the Weekly Championship, but nobody is talking about it, and I think it's just not on enough people's radars.
At the time of writing this is my own list for Lurrus Heroic. The deck is capable of some truly incredible sequences and plays in the same space as the Heroic decks of old. You want to deploy one big scary threat and then protect it while it beats them down. Lurrus of the Dream-Den makes this even scarier because threats, pump, and protection can all come from the 'yard. Alseid of Life's Bounty being recurred with Lurrus can be lights out for interactive decks, and I believe that potential means that Alseid makes the cut over Pteramander.
Seth's list looks incredibly polished, and I'd start from here this week. I'm personally still a fan of Chemister's Insight in the maindeck, but Seth found room to play Thassa's Intervention and a third copy of Shark Typhoon instead. The one Brazen Borrower may look out of place, but having access to a maindeck answer to Shark Typhoon's token and other problematic permanents is very powerful when you see so many cards each game. As the week develops, keep an eye out for which decks rise to the top and adjust accordingly. Is the mirror becoming more prevalent? Consider Wilt in the 75. If Lurrus of the Dream-Den decks continue to decline, you can look to get some sideboard slots back from that playset of Flame Sweep. Small shoutout to Brad Nelson whose MTGMelee discord has had some really good, focused discussion about this archetype.
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In some sad parting news, I regret to inform you that this week's Thursday stream will not be with Temur Reclamation. I lost a bet on Twitter and will have to instead stream a MagicFest Online Qualifier with whatever Grixis Pile Ryan Overturf comes up with. If I somehow qualify with said pile, I'll be playing either Temur Reclamation or Lurrus Heroic on the weekend as I think both of those decks are excellent choices right now.
I'm very happy with where Standard is and the rate of churn in the format. The games are fun, the metagame seems healthy, and I've been playing more and more as new archetypes show themselves and have promise. I'm looking forward to another week chock full of coverage and more data (seriously can't thank mtgmeta.io enough for all they do). See you next week, and don't lose any bets in the meantime!