This week's B&R Announcement has come and gone, and Pioneer is once again stable, so this week we're going to dig into Standard.
GP Lyon was last weekend and GP Detroit is coming up fast, so Standard is the format many grinders are focused on at the moment. Standard has been a whirlwind of change for the past month and a half as we've gone from Azorius Control being the strongest deck in the metagame to the most nonexistent. Seriously, there was not a single Azorius Control deck in the published decklists for either Grand Prix Lyon or the MTGO Challenge. A single copy squeaked into day two of the GP but was unable to convert to a Top 64.
Let's look at the winners' metagame for the weekend:
The current Standard metagame is aggressive. Nearly 40% of the metagame aims to apply heavy pressure to your life total, and very few decks have consistent access to life gain right now. Curves started to get heavier to compete in the late game against Temur Clover, but Mono-Red Aggro and Rakdos Sacrifice absolutely punished that this weekend. Rakdos Sacrifice in particular was well positioned because it had an aggressive plan while also boasting a good matchup against Temur Clover.
Jeskai Fires appeared to be forgotten with such a small metagame share despite the prevalence of aggro decks, but it could have also been held down a little by a bad matchup against Bant Ramp. If the metagame remains 40% aggro however, Jeskai Fires is well positioned for the coming weeks.
Temur Reclamation had a shockingly good weekend despite a small metagame share, not least because the number of Teferi, Time Raveler in the metagame has gone down. Not only that, but the matchup against Rakdos Sacrifice looks good and the Bant Ramp matchup is slightly favorable despite the presence of Teferi.
Bant Ramp itself was one of the better-performing decks on the weekend but oddly enough has a bad matchup against Mono-Red Aggro. That said, Bant Ramp has a good matchup spread across the rest of the format, while Mono-Red Aggro underperformed.
This Standard format seems to be a fascinating puzzle of separating out what's good from what's popular. Mono-Red Aggro for example has been a large portion of the winners' metagame two weeks in a row despite having so many bad matchups. Trying to sift this out Monday night to estimate the metagame on Saturday will be challenging, so I'll try and focus on the matchups of each deck so that you can pick the deck that will be best positioned against your own predicted metagame.
Keep in mind that this analysis is based on a combination of my own experience and the limited metagame data we have. Big thank you to the folks at mtgmeta.io for combing through the data for GP Lyon to put together this excellent matchup chart.
Looking at the data, Bant Ramp is the best-positioned deck in the format. It has game against the entire format and its two worst matchups are Mono-Red Aggro and Jund Sacrifice, the former of which isn't a great deck right now and the latter of which is unpopular.
This is the current top dog of midrange, pulling slightly ahead of Temur Clover in the head-to-head and quite favored against Jeskai Fires and Sultai Midrange. A good matchup against Rakdos Sacrifice is icing on the cake.
All of that said, there are a lot of builds of Bant Ramp right now, and finding the right one will be the hard part. I'd personally start from Adriano Moscato's list and tune from there.
Rakdos Sacrifice had an incredibly good weekend and held a strong win rate despite its high metagame share. The biggest selling point is an absurdly good Temur Clover matchup. This deck is the biggest reason I personally am hesitant to register Temur Clover this weekend. The other selling point is a strong matchup against the other aggro deck, Mono-Red Aggro.
Rakdos Sacrifice is a little more standardized than Bant Ramp, though there are two major builds. The list that saw the most success at the Grand Prix is the one linked above featuring Mire Triton and Tymaret Calls the Dead. The other is the aggressive version that's seen a lot of play on MTGO running a package of Dreadhorde Butcher and Slaughter-Priest of Mogis instead.
The big reason to not play Rakdos Sacrifice this weekend is if you expect a spike in Temur Reclamation and Jeskai Fires opponents. This archetype takes advantage of opponents who can't interact favorably with its engine creatures. Reclamation and Fires can handle the engine creatures and then slam the door before Cauldron Familiar and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger can grind out a win.
The most popular bad deck in Standard. Okay, so Mono-Red Aggro isn't that bad, but I still wouldn't recommend it. The only good matchups are Bant Ramp and Temur Reclamation, and neither is popular enough to make up for all the bad matchups.
This deck probably belongs in Decks People Will Play, but Shouldn't, but it's so popular that I need to leave it in this category. Beating it ain't hard, but you need to leave your anti-aggro cards in the deck. Don't cut Storm's Wrath from your Temur Reclamation decks.
Sultai Ramp isn't really bad, but it's not very good either. Its matchups are almost the inverse of Bant Ramp, but that's not a good thing. Playing Casualties of War to go over the top of Temur Clover and then failing just isn't the place to be.
Temur Clover was incredibly good for a span of time, but Temur Reclamation is popping back up and Rakdos Sacrifice is somehow an even worse matchup than that. I love this deck, but I think I need to put it down for the weekend. The metagame has adapted, and Temur Clover is no longer both more efficient and more resilient than the rest of the format.
I really don't know where to put Jund Sacrifice. It hasn't done great, but it hasn't done terribly. It mostly hasn't been popular enough to really get a feel for its matchups. Wicked Wolf returning to the deck helps the Mono-Red Aggro matchup, but I just don't know how well positioned Jund Sacrifice is against things like Bant Ramp. I don't think I can recommend this deck this weekend, but keep it in your sideboard guide, because it's still a large enough metagame share to dodge "other" status.
This deck is far from dead and looks pretty well positioned. A slightly favorable Bant Ramp matchup, a favorable Rakdos Sacrifice matchup, and a slightly unfavorable Mono-Red Aggro matchup isn't a bad spread for the top three, and the Temur Clover matchup is excellent.
Temur Reclamation quietly had the best win rate of the weekend, and I don't think people have the respect for it they should right now. The focus of the format has been solidly aimed at Temur Clover, and this weekend I expect aggressive decks to be heavily targeted. The big caveat here is a poor Jeskai Fires matchup, and that deck has potential to be popular this weekend.
Speaking of, here's Jeskai Fires. Great aggro matchups, a good Temur Reclamation matchup... sounds incredible, right? Well unfortunately the Temur Clover matchup is slightly unfavorable and the Bant matchup looks worse.
I think Jeskai Fires has potential to do very well this weekend if Temur Clover starts to drop off without too big a spike in the Bant Ramp population. I'm heavily considering it for this weekend, even tinkering with a Fae of Wishes package to shore up the matchups against the greedier decks. I haven't been able to determine if that makes the deck better overall though, so I'm not recommending it just yet.
I think Bant Ramp is where I want to be this weekend. It boasts good matchups against several of the top decks and has space for good tuning to address Temur Reclamation and Mono-Red Aggro. I've seen a lot of lists with Narset, Parter of Veils, but I think her fail rate is too high for a 15-round event. I'd rather lean into power cards that are similarly good in the same matchups but have broader application.
It's possible that Mass Manipulation makes our 6-drop count too high and that I should be playing a fourth Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath over the second Dream Trawler. I'll be tuning this up over the course of the week, so keep an eye on my Twitter for more up-to-date lists and plans.
The big selling point of this version of the list for me is maindeck Knight of Autumn, which essentially lets you start game one sideboarded for a solid portion of the metagame. There are very few matchups where it won't have a target, and the fail case is simply a 4/3.
The sideboard is still very much in flux, but I like Disdainful Stroke as a card that answers a lot of the same cards as Dovin's Veto without getting caught by cards like Agent of Treachery, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King and Questing Beast. I may still want room for more copies of Mystical Dispute, but I think that card is a bit weaker in the current metagame.
Standard is the healthiest it has been in a long time, and that makes it very difficult to correctly predict a metagame week to week. There's been a lot of iteration and innovation over the past few weeks, and I'm excited to sit down and play Grand Prix Detroit. Don't be afraid to say hi if you find me at the event! I'm relatively easy to spot with my yoman5 jersey and I'll be there basically all weekend. To all those playing either GP Detroit or the Mythic Championship Qualifier: good luck, and have fun!