This weekend was the final MagicFest Online event for the near future. ChannelFireball says they have more planned going forward, but this is the end of our 24/7 all-you-can-watch coverage buffet.
I'll miss it, but it's not like there's any shortage of events going forward. This weekend still has big, important events like the Red Bull Untapped Qualifier and the Mythic Qualifier on MTG Arena. If you want to play events during the week, MTGMelee is the new gold standard for online tournament hosting and has events pretty much any day of the week. There's plenty of Magic Esports to be prep for, so let's get into this week's analysis.
Here's the winner's metagame from this weekend, drawn from the Top 32 of the MagicFest Online Season 2 Finals and the two Standard Challenges.
Jeskai Lukka and Cycling both kept their positions as pillars of the format, continuing to make up over a third of the metagame even after their breakout weekend. Temur Reclamation's demise was greatly overstated, however. It seems my instinct was correct and the matchup against Cycling wasn't quite as bad as last week's data made it out to be, and the matchup against Lukka decks remains good.
Just under those three lies a deck that I've ridiculed for a while, but with a new twist. Mono-Red finally seems to have an Obosh, the Preypiercer build that works and a metagame that doesn't embarrass it. Much like the sacrifice builds of Obosh, the lack of Deafening Clarion in the metagame allows this deck to take advantage of aggressive starts, trading Mayhem Devil and Cauldron Familiar/Witch's Oven for Shock, Bonecrusher Giant, Heraldic Banner and better mana. Mono-Black Aggro adopted Heraldic Banner under Aaron Barich's influence, and it has carried over across colors. The ability to pump your early creatures while powering out Obosh, the Preypiercer is very good.
Mono-Black Aggro seems to have been replaced in function and metagame share by Mono-Red Aggro. Bant Ramp saw a sharp decline, "classic" Jeskai Fires is cropping up to fight the rise in aggro decks, and… Temur Elementals came out of nowhere?
Grzegorz Kowalski seems to be the origin of this list, with Brad Nelson popularizing it on Twitter. While results seem middling (bad Cycling matchup, close but favorable Lukka matchup, terrible Reclamation matchup), the deck certainly didn't crash and burn, putting up numbers comparable to those of Rakdos Sacrifice and Bant Ramp.
The big picture trend of this past week has been a spike in aggro to fight Jeskai Lukka, with some undercurrents of dedicated anti-aggro decks like Jeskai Fires. The aggro decks were lackluster before in the face of Deafening Clarion, and packing a playset maindeck gives you a favorable matchup against the majority of the aggro decks. I expect to see Deafening Clarion in Lukka maindecks soon as well, but for now, those lists seem to have crystalized into "MTGO Stock" 75s.
This is the current endgame king of Standard. The package of Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast, Agent of Treachery and Yorion, Sky Nomad is powerful, efficient and fairly hard to interact with. The rest of the deck is built around surviving and setting that up. The big weaknesses of this deck are opponents with countermagic that can keep up in card economy, and aggressive starts with direct damage to close.
Temur Reclamation is the former, and is capable of keeping Teferi, Time Raveler off the board so they can play the countermagic game. Cycling and Mono-Red Aggro are the latter, and I think it may be time to trade some of these maindeck cards out for Deafening Clarion in game one. The metagame shares of Cycling and Mono-Red are large enough that I think preboarding some of your "anti aggro" slots is a good idea right now.
This is the new stock list of Cycling, and this 60 is basically unchanged across the winners' metagame. Sideboard slots as always are in contention, but 16 creatures and 18 lands seems to be set.
I like Doomenstein's sideboard quite a bit, as Soul-Guide Lantern is incredible in the mirror, Fry handles Narset, Parter of Veilss and Bant in general, and Fight as One is the premier anti-sweeper spell. Apostle of Purifying Light may not need quite so many copies with Mono-Black Aggro on the decline, but Devout Decree is still quite good.
Temur Reclamation is back, with Storm's Wrath making it back into the maindeck to fight against Lukka and the aggro decks. I like the split of Chemister's Insight and Thassa's Intervention, and four Shark Typhoon is just how these decks are built now. It's an alright tool against aggro, and your best card against a resolved Teferi, Time Raveler.
The sideboard plan is very clear against Lukka: countermagic and card draw. Putting Chemister's Insight in the sideboard isn't something you do unless you mean it. I think Temur Reclamation may secretly be the best deck in Standard right now.
I think Elementals is a fine deck, but it's almost too fair for what's going on right now. The matchups are mostly fine other than Temur Reclamation, but it's just not a compelling deck at the moment. It feels a lot like Bant Ramp, in that it does a powerful thing fairly consistently, but it's just not as good as it needs to be right now. It's a solid tier 2 deck that will stick around for the fun factor, but isn't a top-tier competitor.
Bant Ramp is in an awkward spot where it's slightly unfavorable against both Lukka and Cycling, but not enough to make the deck actively bad. The matchup against Wilderness Reclamation is good, but Reclamation isn't popular enough to make up for the bad matchups elsewhere. Bant Ramp is a good deck that's not super well positioned. The card quality in the deck is sky high though, and that gives the deck a high floor even if the ceiling isn't great.
Even against Cycling; bad against Lukka; bad against Reclamation. The deck is fine, but I think it remains poorly positioned, especially as the cycling matchup went from great to even. I would recommend against playing this deck for the time being.
Simon Goertzen and his Heraldic Banners! Last season it was Mono-White. This season it's Mono-Red.
This deck is surprisingly good for how bad it was for so long. I think Heraldic Banner unlocked a lot for Obosh, the Preypiercer decks, because they naturally want to play a lower land count but are built around a five-drop. Having a split ramp/anthem card does a lot for the consistency and power of the deck, and the ramp helps make Light Up the Stage a lot less awkward when your curve is abnormal.
I think this deck suffers once Deafening Clarion returns, but so far the metagame has not adjusted (or is being prevented from adjusting by Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast), and that means Mono-Red gets to play punisher. It has a good Lukka matchup, a good Cycling matchup, and a bad Reclamation matchup.
While Jeskai Fires has a weakness to Jeskai Lukka, I think Fires has potential to succeed if the format gets heavily aggressive as a response to Lukka's continued dominance. However, if the metagame stabilizes here, Jeskai Fires is likely a mistake. Keep an eye on it, but it may just hang out in tier 2 for a while.
Temur Reclamation seems very well positioned, and this configuration looks really good to me. I love maximizing Mystical Dispute due to the popularity of both Teferi, Time Raveler and Narset, Parter of Veils, and hedging Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in the sideboard because of how strong it is against aggro but how vulnerable it makes you against Elspeth Conquers Death. I like this list a lot, and this is where my testing for the week starts.
I will say that what I'd play is very much in flux. I took a small break this past week to recharge because I have multiple tournaments this week. I'll be doing a lot of testing in preparation for both the aforementioned Red Bull Qualifier as well as this week's ELeague! I'll be playing tonight (if you're reading this on Wednesday) over at ELEAGUE TV.
If you want to keep up with my testing and deck selection, you can keep an eye on my Twitter, which is also the best place to give me any feedback about these articles, TCGplayer Infinite, or my sense of humor.
See you next week!