For the longest time, the Standard metagame developed at absolutely incredible speed. Highly visible streamer events full of high-profile players happened within days of the set's release online. By the time of SCG Philadelphia last year, during the release weekend for Throne of Eldraine, Bant Golos was already a known quantity with players teching for repeated mirror matches

Right now, though, it feels like the metagame is… kind of lurching in a few different directions. Streamers are obviously still streaming, but there aren't any big events, just players trying different things.

The one exception to this was a pair of Standard Challenges on Magic Online. Two clear stories emerged from these tournaments: Bant Ramp is the most popular deck right now as the most obvious home for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon,  followed by a variety of aggro decks which are looking to attack the slow Ugin decks. As it turns out, the best way to beat an eight-cost spell is to never let them get to eight mana to begin with.

Interestingly, the deck to beat just two weeks ago barely showed up at all. In all 64 published decklists from the two tournaments, there were only two Temur Reclamation. If the Top 32s of both tournaments are any hint, it's likely there were quite a few copies of Teferi, Time Raveler present to keep the deck from showing up. Between a bad matchup against Bant and a host of aggressive decks in all five colors, Reclamation likely has to wait until the metagame develops further and there are fewer Teferi, Time Raveler running around. 

While Bant Ramp put up the best numbers in terms of published decklists and Top 8 representation, it never managed to win the whole thing. In Saturday's event, both Bant decks lost to Sultai Ramp and Mono-Green Aggro, while Mono-Green Aggro faced off against Mono-Red Aggro in Sunday's event. Aggression is the name of the game, and Mono-Green feels like a serious contender, at least for week one.

What isn't particularly clear is which way the metagame is going to develop. When aggro does well, there tends to be a noticeable uptick in removal and wrath effects as players react to the latest developments. But slow Bant Ramp decks ostensibly did the best on the weekend, and Sultai Ramp, which lacks the same tools against aggressive decks that Bant has, won Saturday's event. And if there's one thing I've learned in all my time playing, it's that Magic players love any excuse to register Sultai.

This leaves me wanting two things: first, to play an aggressive deck as a way to punish Bant and Sultai, and second, to have an advantage against the other aggressive decks.

The first of these is fairly straightforward: put the opponent on a clock and punish the overabundance of Temples, Triomes and shock lands. The second is about identifying which of the many aggressive strategies have natural strengths to win aggro mirrors, either by being the bigger aggro deck or by having removal or creatures that are going to win when both players are enacting their game plan. Thankfully, there are a few decks that seem suited for that.

#1: Gruul Aggro

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Gruul Aggro by HEROtsukai

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

Created By: HEROtsukai

Event:

Rank:

Standard

Market Price: $167.75

Cards

Fabled Passage

Market Price: $5.69

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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Nullhide Ferox

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.51

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176425_200w.jpg

Hexproof
You can't cast noncreature spells.
{2}: Nullhide Ferox loses all abilities until end of turn. Any player may activate this ability.
If a spell or ability an opponent controls causes you to discard Nullhide Ferox, put it onto the battlefield instead of putting it into your graveyard.

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Embercleave

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $11.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198755_200w.jpg

Flash
This spell costs {1} less to cast for each attacking creature you control.
When Embercleave enters the battlefield, attach it to target creature you control.
Equipped creature gets +1/+1 and has double strike and trample.
Equip {3}

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Gruul Spellbreaker

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182363_200w.jpg

Riot (This creature enters the battlefield with your choice of a +1/+1 counter or haste.)
Trample
As long as it's your turn, you and Gruul Spellbreaker have hexproof.

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222825_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Redcap Melee

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.20

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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Temple of Abandon

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.76

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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Questing Beast

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $14.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198763_200w.jpg

Vigilance, deathtouch, haste
Questing Beast can't be blocked by creatures with power 2 or less.
Combat damage that would be dealt by creatures you control can't be prevented.
Whenever Questing Beast deals combat damage to an opponent, it deals that much damage to target planeswalker that player controls.

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Lovestruck Beast // Heart's Desire

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.17

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

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Primal Might

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.36

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215456_200w.jpg

Target creature you control gets +X/+X until end of turn. Then it fights up to one target creature you don't control.

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Pelt Collector

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $1.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176907_200w.jpg

Whenever another creature you control enters the battlefield or dies, if that creature's power is greater than Pelt Collector's, put a +1/+1 counter on Pelt Collector.
As long as Pelt Collector has three or more +1/+1 counters on it, it has trample.

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Rimrock Knight // Boulder Rush

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199534_200w.jpg

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Mystic Repeal

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207054_200w.jpg

Put target enchantment on the bottom of its owner's library.

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Scavenging Ooze

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.96

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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Flame Sweep

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192507_200w.jpg

Flame Sweep deals 2 damage to each creature except for creatures you control with flying.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222821_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Edgewall Innkeeper

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.11

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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Stomping Ground

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $8.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182841_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R} or {G}.)
As Stomping Ground enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.90

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

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Embereth Shieldbreaker // Battle Display

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198550_200w.jpg

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Gruul naturally fills the role of the bigger aggro deck. Cards like Gruul Spellbreaker and Questing Beast should be the biggest threats at their weight class, and Pelt Collector can get out of control too fast for opponents to adequately block. In a stalled board, both Embercleave and Primal Might give the deck ways to break through and win out of nowhere.

On top of all of that, Bonecrusher Giant seems absolutely absurd at the moment.

When it came out, Bonecrusher Giant quickly became a litmus test for aggressive decks in the format. Any deck that can't beat a two-for-one Stomp and 3-converted-mana-cost 4/3 has a hard time competing when Bonecrusher is commonplace. The format feels like it has gotten progressively bigger, though, and its stock has steadily fallen the past few sets, because there aren't many 2 toughness creatures worth Stomping.

Now, not only are there plenty of targets for Bonecrusher Giant, even the Bant decks are playing them in the form of Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse. Jolrael puts the aggro decks in the weird place of needing removal before it generates too many free creatures, but creature removal is otherwise terrible against Bant. A threat that, against one of Bant's best anti-aggro cards, will two-for-one them without dedicating any specific slots is invaluable right now.

The list above is one way to build the deck, and I will never fault anyone for pushing Edgewall Innkeeper. That said, when I tried the deck this week, Rimrock Knight was so bad that I wanted to board it out constantly, but couldn't because then there wouldn't be enough Adventure creatures in the list. Lovestruck Beast also only has ten ways to make a 1/1. Four of them are Lovestruck Beast itself, and those two Pelt Collector won't stay 1/1s for long. 

VTCLA on our podcast brainstormed a list that was more haste and more Dragons, with four Pelt Collector, Robber of the Rich in the two-drop slot, and Skarrgen Hellkite at the top to double as game-ending haste threat or a dominating force against aggro. If I had a tournament this weekend, I would be exploring that direction for Gruul.

#2: Rakdos Sacrifice

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Rakdos Sacrifice by Nick Prince

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

Created By: Nick Prince

Event:

Rank:

Standard

Market Price: $131.69

Cards

Mayhem Devil

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188173_200w.jpg

Whenever a player sacrifices a permanent, Mayhem Devil deals 1 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/mayhem-devil

Castle Locthwain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.63

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199388_200w.jpg

Castle Locthwain enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Swamp.
{T}: Add {B}.
{1}{B}{B}, {T}: Draw a card, then you lose life equal to the number of cards in your hand.

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Embereth Shieldbreaker // Battle Display

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198550_200w.jpg

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/embereth-shieldbreaker-battle-display

Scorching Dragonfire

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

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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Act of Treason

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216592_200w.jpg

Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn. (It can attack and {T} this turn.)

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Village Rites

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215554_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature.
Draw two cards.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Rankle, Master of Pranks

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.32

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198584_200w.jpg

Flying, haste
Whenever Rankle, Master of Pranks deals combat damage to a player, choose any number —
• Each player discards a card.
• Each player loses 1 life and draws a card.
• Each player sacrifices a creature.

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Noxious Grasp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192688_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker that's green or white. You gain 1 life.

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Agonizing Remorse

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207044_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it or a card from their graveyard. Exile that card. You lose 1 life.

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Dreadhorde Butcher

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.63

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187230_200w.jpg

Haste
Whenever Dreadhorde Butcher deals combat damage to a player or planeswalker, put a +1/+1 counter on Dreadhorde Butcher.
When Dreadhorde Butcher dies, it deals damage equal to its power to any target.

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Witch's Oven

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198898_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice a creature: Create a Food token. If the sacrificed creature's toughness was 4 or greater, create two Food tokens instead. (They're artifacts with "{2}, {T}, Sacrifice this artifact: You gain 3 life.")

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Blood Crypt

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $14.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182838_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B} or {R}.)
As Blood Crypt enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Woe Strider

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206627_200w.jpg

When Woe Strider enters the battlefield, create a 0/1 white Goat creature token.
Sacrifice another creature: Scry 1.
Escape—{3}{B}{B}, Exile four other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)
Woe Strider escapes with two +1/+1 counters on it.

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Midnight Reaper

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176429_200w.jpg

Whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, Midnight Reaper deals 1 damage to you and you draw a card.

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Claim the Firstborn

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198858_200w.jpg

Gain control of target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $5.69

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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Cauldron Familiar

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215972_200w.jpg

When Cauldron Familiar enters the battlefield, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.
Sacrifice a Food: Return Cauldron Familiar from your graveyard to the battlefield.

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Priest of Forgotten Gods

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183311_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice two other creatures: Any number of target players each lose 2 life and sacrifice a creature. You add {B}{B} and draw a card.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222821_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.55

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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Gutterbones

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183034_200w.jpg

Gutterbones enters the battlefield tapped.
{1}{B}: Return Gutterbones from your graveyard to your hand. Activate this ability only during your turn and only if an opponent lost life this turn.

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Since 2020 started, Rakdos Sacrifice has been the anti-aggro deck of the format. Mayhem Devil makes playing cheap creatures almost impossible, Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven make attacking a nightmare, and all the pieces together build an engine that other decks have trouble competing with.  

I honestly cannot say enough about Claim the Firstborn right now. This card has never looked so good as in a format full of aggro decks and a Bant deck that plays Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse, Hydroid Krasis, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and a pile of Nissa, Who Shakes the World lands to get stolen, sent to attack and then sacrificed. 

Frankly, the thing that was holding this deck back in June was all the Temur Reclamation running around. Now, though, there's barely any of that to be found, and it has seemingly all good matchups: Bant and Sultai have consistently been reasons to register Rakdos Sacrifice, and it does an excellent job of beating up decks like Mono-Black Aggro.

The only new card the deck really got was Village Rites, which has impressed me more than I thought it would. An extra sacrifice outlet to go with Claim the Firstborn is definitely welcome, but it also plays very well against removal because it's so cheap. Sacrificing a Mayhem Devil or Priest of Forgotten Gods in response suddenly puts you up a card and mana in the exchange, and completely punishes Adventure creatures like Bonecrusher Giant, Murderous Rider or Brazen Borrower

Currently, this is the deck I would register for a tournament this weekend if I had one I needed to play. That it beats up players on the Arena ladder right now is just an extra bonus.

#3: Izzet Prowess

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Izzet Prowess by VTCLA

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

Created By: VTCLA

Event: MTGO Standard Challenge - 06/27/2020

Rank: 4

Freeform

Market Price: $104.93

Cards

Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $15.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199387_200w.jpg

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/brazen-borrower-petty-theft

Crackling Drake

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212305_200w.jpg

Flying
Crackling Drake's power is equal to the total number of instant and sorcery cards you own in exile and in your graveyard.
When Crackling Drake enters the battlefield, draw a card.

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Temple of Epiphany

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.45

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215545_200w.jpg

Temple of Epiphany enters the battlefield tapped.
When Temple of Epiphany enters the battlefield, scry 1.
{T}: Add {U} or {R}.

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Narset, Parter of Veils

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.80

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188705_200w.jpg

Each opponent can't draw more than one card each turn.
−2: Look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a noncreature, nonland card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

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Aether Gust

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192535_200w.jpg

Choose target spell or permanent that's red or green. Its owner puts it on the top or bottom of their library.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $5.69

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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Crash Through

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215891_200w.jpg

Creatures you control gain trample until end of turn. (A creature with trample can deal excess combat damage to the player or planeswalker it's attacking.)
Draw a card.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222821_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Stormwing Entity

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.93

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215582_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2}{U} less to cast if you've cast an instant or sorcery spell this turn.
Flying
Prowess (Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
When Stormwing Entity enters the battlefield, scry 2.

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Flame Sweep

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192507_200w.jpg

Flame Sweep deals 2 damage to each creature except for creatures you control with flying.

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Pteramander

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $2.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222468_200w.jpg

Flying
{7}{U}: Adapt 4. This ability costs {1} less to activate for each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard. (If this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put four +1/+1 counters on it.)

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Negate

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222130_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222819_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

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Beacon Bolt

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176857_200w.jpg

Beacon Bolt deals damage to target creature equal to the total number of instant and sorcery cards you own in exile and in your graveyard.
Jump-start (You may cast this card from your graveyard by discarding a card in addition to paying its other costs. Then exile this card.)

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Frantic Inventory

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215572_200w.jpg

Draw a card, then draw cards equal to the number of cards named Frantic Inventory in your graveyard.

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Scorching Dragonfire

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

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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Steam Vents

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $8.51

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175202_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {R}.)
As Steam Vents enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Fry

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192595_200w.jpg

This spell can't be countered.
Fry deals 5 damage to target creature or planeswalker that's white or blue.

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Shock

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192914_200w.jpg

Shock deals 2 damage to any target.

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Thrill of Possibility

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215889_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, discard a card.
Draw two cards.

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Sprite Dragon

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $1.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212044_200w.jpg

Flying, haste
Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Sprite Dragon.

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Opt

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215840_200w.jpg

Scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
Draw a card.

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Finally, two great minds thought alike this past week with Izzet Prowess. Ally Warfield wrote a guide for the deck that went out on Saturday, the same day that Baker Top 8'd the Magic Online Standard Challenge with the same strategy. 

Interestingly, because the archetype is brand new to this Standard format, there were many differences between the two lists. But the deck thrives in the current format because the evasive creatures clock an opponent so quickly that just a small amount of disruption is typically good enough to get the win. Bant isn't realistically going to make a Hydroid Krasis or Shark Typhoon token large enough to block an early Sprite Dragon ever, and it's going to have to count on being able to bounce or kill every creature the Izzet deck plays rather than locking up the board with creatures like an Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath or big Hydroid Krasis.

Against aggressive decks, Izzet already has Shock, which is good for many of the reasons that Bonecrusher Giant is, and Brazen Borrower, which buys enough time against the best cards out there like Rotting Regisaur or Embercleave. That means the deck naturally has multiple ways to stall aggro built in. On top of that, all of its creatures are already evasive, so board stalls will rarely happen.

What I like most about these decks is the ability to bring in some all-star effects post-board. Narset, Parter of Veils is so powerful against Bant, where they're actively trying to draw two cards in a turn, that I feel like I want more of them. And against decks full of small creatures, Flame Sweep takes care of them in short order. 

My one point of caution is that a lot of what makes decks like Izzet Prowess effective is the surprise factor. Once people know what the key cards are and how quickly the deck can kill when they go uncontested, the more people will have the ability to play against it. The rising number of Mystical Dispute is also tricky for a deck that plays all blue threats. And it can still take splash hate from Aether Gust in the maindeck as well.

Its wins are also often pretty scrappy. If you're going to pick up this deck, be prepared to eek out every point of damage and win with a Shock off the top of the library, because there are plenty of games where that will be the only route to victory. 

All in all, M21 has done a better job than I hoped at making Standard more interesting. I've been able to move away from the grind-fests that are Growth Spiral mirrors, and finish a match in under 45 minutes for the first time in months. Ultimately, even if Bant is still the best deck, there are other players in the metagame that are making it work for its wins. There should be some week-to-week shifts in the format that will keep me trying new cards and strategies for a few more weeks before the top few decks settle. With any luck, one of them might even be an aggro deck this time.