With three hundred and fifty eight players, one thing the Swiss pairings system will do for you is present you with twenty or so players who get through the first four rounds undefeated. In this case, twenty two of them go into draft with the perfect record, and our friends with the Japanese language skills have been grinding them through the, er, grinder to come up with some numbers for us.
Nine distinct archetypes exist within the 4-0 bracket, with some additional variations. Seven of the twenty-two are playing some version of a Valakut deck. The big name pilot for this archetype is 2006 World Champion Makahito Mihara. Where the difference lies is whether or not to invest in Solemn Simulacrum, the returning 2/2 for four. Amongst the seven there's a five-two split against the Sim, but that's by no means conclusive, with the champion still another seven Standard matches away from victory.
Next up comes the archetype with the most variations. Four undefeated players have some kind of Tempered Steel decks. One of the four is pure white, one has a black splash, while the others splash into blue.
And no, we can't tell you what for until tomorrow. Control players are up next, with three taking a blue-white and three taking a blue-black route to victory.
That leaves five players ploughing a lone furrow, and it's interesting that three of the five are very well-known players. Shouta Yasooka, the 2006 Player of the Year, is running Tezzeret, turning his artifacts into 5/5s. Defending National Champion, and former World Champion, Katsuhiro Mori, is running a blue-white aggro deck that features no fewer than six swords. There's also a Caw Blade deck that features Blade Splicer, and a white-green aggro deck.
There's no doubt, though, that the most interesting deck we've seen in the undefeated section belongs to the finalist from Pro Tour Nagoya 2011, Toshiyuki Kadooka. He's built on his Pro Tour success with a green Eldrazi ramp deck that includes Quicksilver Amulet to run out such hits as Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
We'll have more on this later in the weekend.
As the 60 card decks are put away, and players add land to their 40 card concoctions, we're starting to see the shape of Standard with M12 in the mix. For a full metagame breakdown, and all the latest on the metagame musings, keep it right here at the home of Magic.