Coming into this weekend, each Standard event previous had yielded some new deck out of the blue that subsequently works its way into the format. The numbers aren't looking quite that way today, although there are still some rogue-ish decks around the top tables. This is likely because many of the pillars of the format are likely on their way to Nice, France for Worlds. Here's the breakdown:
|Archetype||# of Decks||% of Field|
|Jeskai Ascendancy Combo||1||0.83%|
The top three deck slots probably aren't a big surprise. Abzan Midrange is the largest-played archetype, followed by Jeskai Tempo/Burn/Control/Aggro/Thing, then Mardu Midrange right behind. That third slot is actually pretty significant for a big reason—Crackling Doom. With Brad Nelson's Grand Prix Los Angeles creation now taking up over 10% of the field, the amount of maindeck Crackling Dooms has sharply risen. This spells bad news for two parts of the format.
The first, is decks that look to make a big all-in creature, mainly White-Blue Heroic. Though it still put seven players through to Day 2 (one of which being Tom Ross, the deck's progenitor), Crackling Doom can be a big problem for that deck.
The second is decks that lean on Sylvan Caryatid. The big loser here, which was already on its way out of the format, is Jeskai Ascendancy Combo. The combo itself was already shaky and weak to removal. Now that the 0/3 hexproof is pervious as well, thanks to the sacrifice requirement on Crackling Doom, the combo becomes that much harder to assemble.
But the Doom can also affect the slower draws of Abzan decks that need to use the 0/3 to buy time and accelerate them into the gas. Before the Doom was a thing, that hand of Caryatid, Caryatid, One Big Dude was keepable. Now, it's less so.
Next up, glutting in the four, five, and six slots are decks that have been present, but have only recently started putting up some real results—Sidisi Whip, Red-Green Monsters, and White-Blue Heroic. All three of these decks made appearances at the Pro Tour, but as the format starts to shake out, and people learned how to play against the new top dogs, they began to perform better.
Sidisi Whip, abusing the synergy of Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Whip of Erebos, is a midrange deck that can keep the pressure coming well into the long game when other decks have run out of steam. Red-Green Monsters has existed in some form since Theros, and after taking down Grand Prix LA has been showing up more and more. The newer versions lean more heavily on the aggro route and Xenagos, God of Revels that is pretty well-positioned in this metagame.
Some other interesting decks of note are the Mono-Red deck splashing for Treasure Cruise (another Mono-Red splashes for Chained to the Rocks) and the two different versions of Blue-Red Soulburn. Using Ensoul Artifact to turn Darksteel Citadel or Ornithopter into a 5/5, then backing that up with some burn or tempo can be pretty devastating.
One Soulburn player looks like a classic CounterBurn deck with Stoke the Flames and Disdainful Stroke and friends, while the other is decidedly more tempo, playing cards like Singing Bell Strike, Phyrexian Revoker and Hubris. Yeah, it's pretty funny to watch someone finally afford to pay six mana to untap their big dude, only to watch it—and the Bell Strike—go back to their owners' hands. Brutal.
Another deck style rise worth noting is that of graveyard-based decks. Past Sidisi Whip, more and more decks with Black and Green (and sometimes White) are taking advantage of the power of Whip of Erebos to be able to go much longer than they could otherwise. I mean, what's better than casting Siege Rhino? Casting it twice, of course. Some go so far as to run a bunch of Ashen Riders. The main avenue to get them into play would be with the Whip and cards like Commune With the Gods, but don't think that people aren't casting them with impunity.
This Enchantment Artifact is seeing so much play, some Abzan Midrange players are beginning to maindeck the card to combat the graveyard strategies.
Grand Prix San Antonio has solidified that Abzan is a safer deck to play than Jeskai (with two undefeated players, Angel Solache and Randall Gay within its ranks), although the Mantis Rider & Co. are obviously still a solid choice (David Ochoa is still sitting pretty, undefeated after nine rounds).
But Grand Prix Antonio has also cast in bronze that you can play with basically any card that interests you in the format and succeed with it. Like Butcher of the Horde? What about See the Unwritten? Sidisi, Brood Tyrant? Genesis Hydra? Savage Knuckleblade? Ensoul Artifact? Pearl Lake Ancient? Just take your pick.
That knowledge will likely make the Standard portions of Worlds that much crazier.