Grand Prix Denver is just a few days away and, as readers of the past few weeks will know, I have been neck deep in testing for the tournament. Standard has had some high-profile tournaments nearly every week, serving to document trends that have aided a lot in developing a list that I feel comfortable taking to a large tournament. My specific choice for Grand Prix Denver is Mono-Black Eldrazi, but regardless of what your choice is, getting a grasp on metagame trends is a huge advantage going into the tournament.
Metagame trends and predictions should be a crucial part of your tournament prep and deckbuilding process. With this information you can change your deck choice, of course, but you can also update your current deck to have a better plan against the expected field. This can be as simple as changing a few sideboard cards, or more drastically, "preboarding," for a particular matchup you expect to see heavy play.
Let's quickly break down what we know to be true about the format right now.
- Black-Green Delirium seems to be the most popular deck (and one of the winningest)
- White-Blue Flash is probably number two on this pecking order
- Below here a ton of viable decks constantly compete for top tier space
I tried to keep that broad enough and high level enough that it is rather objective. I think most people would agree on there being two distinct frontrunners with a lot of viable stuff just behind. But regardless, we are going to assume they are. From these few assumptions and combined with our knowledge of the format, we can make some less objective projections about what might happen.
For example, we know that Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel has a rather great game against Delirium since it plays the Emrakul game faster and more reliably. With a good matchup against Delirium, people have experimented with all sorts of Aetherworks variations including green-black. We have no way of knowing exactly how much of the field is going to show up with Aetherworks Marvel in their deck, but we can plan on it being significant and we can also plan on there being a decent amount of variety among builds.
That is not the most specific prediction, and I'm not declaring it will be 15% of the field, or make two Top 8 slots or anything like that. But what I am predicting is that Aetherworks Marvel will be relevant enough that it should influence your deck selection or deck construction in some way. In other words: don't sleep on it.
There is also a funny thing that happens when a combo deck is looked at as a strong choice - other combo decks often look to piggyback the wave. Sometimes they are correct in that the metagame is inherently weak to combo in general, but often this assumption is wrong and the other combo decks don't do nearly as well as the primary mover. That said, regardless of which of these is true, I expect to see more combo at this particular tournament, overall.
Of course, there will always be aggro decks lurking in the waters trying to make sense out of a messy format. If people begin straying from the known formula looking to get an edge, aggro can step in and punish you for any misplayed turns or misbuilt decks. I also happen to have a little insider info and I know that the Denver metagame is typically very aggro-heavy. While the local metagame is only a small portion of the field, it is arguably the largest of any single contingent and is therefore worth mentioning.
Ultimately, I think that if you took a slice of the room away and boiled it down to say 75% or 80% of its starting size, that new tournament would look a lot like the metagame from the last few tournaments. You will see the best decks taking up the same proportion of that new field and a relatively stable looking environment. But I think that in that other 20% is a lot of chaos and it can go any direction, or every direction. If people show up with combo and brews, the tournament will look quite different than if those 20% "join 'em" and play White-Blue Flash and it becomes a two-deck tournament.
I would keep the following decks in mind when crafting your sideboard. This is roughly in order of importance due to prevalence in the metagame (although there are certainly some debatable positions):
- G/B Delirium
- U/W Flash
- Temur and R/G Aetherworks Marvel
- Mardu and R/W Vehicles
- Bant Aggro and Midrange
- B/G Aetherworks Marvel
- Jeskai and U/W Control
- R/G Energy
- B/R Zombies and Graveyard synergy decks
- Metalwork Colossus combo
If you stretch out too much more thin than this, you are likely to run out of room to answer all of your problems. This covers a wide enough base that I would be comfortable knowing these matchups. This doesn't mean you have to dedicate deck space to beating these decks, but at least be aware of them and how your deck might interact with them should you matchup. In some cases, you might run into some matchups that deserve slots of your sideboard you had not considered, which is huge.
You don't always need to dedicate a slot to beating the deck, but sometimes you will have flexibility where consideration for other matchups break ties. Imagine you have one copy of Lost Legacy and one copy of Pick the Brain in your board. You value them equally at the job they are there for and both are effortless to cast. If we then want to add Metalwork Colossus into our gauntlet of decks to be conscious of, we might choose to swap our Lost Legacy for a second Pick the Brain to improve that matchup without devaluing any other.
I am not here to make sideboard choices for you, obviously, but these are the influences that I deem worthy of mentioning. Do with that what you will.
For the past three weeks I have been detailing my work on Mono-Black Eldrazi which I will be playing in Denver. Since last week, I have made quite a few modifications and added some new technology. In general, these shifts have been made to be better configured to taking out White-Blue Flash, Black-Green Delirium and Aetherworks Marvel with our main deck. Many of the lost cards from the main have simply moved to the side in order to change the ways our matchups play out.
If you are looking for more detail regarding these sideboard changes and where the deck is at, check out the the videos.
If you happen to be at Grand Prix Denver, definitely come say hi if you see me! I will be there and battling with this beast. Until next week, best of luck and thanks for reading!