Week after week, tournament after tournament, Standard continues to evolve. What started as a battle between Mono-blue, Mono-black, and Mono-red Devotion decks at Pro Tour Theros and Grand Prix Albuquerque, has formed into a diverse metagame in the past few weeks. As mono-color strategies become stale, players have gotten more greedy and have started reaching out to other colors. Due to these changes, aggressive decks and control decks have adapted to take a solid footing in the format.
Marlon Gutierrez added white to his Mono-black devotion deck and became champion at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth. One of the toughest cards for the Mono-black Devotion decks to deal with is Blood Baron of Viskopa. While Marlon had to drop Gray Merchant of Asphodel from his deck to make room for the vampire, it paid off. Being able to have a nigh-unkillable 4/4 against the Mono-black menace allowed him to take games he otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
While for the most part Mono-blue Devotion decks have remained Mono-blue, Charles Lancaster put up a top 16 performance at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth with an blue-white devotion deck. Being able to add Detention Sphere and Sphinx’s Revelation ostensibly gave him a better matchup versus Mono-black Devotion as well as aggressive strategies that have gained popularity at recent tournaments.
Speaking of aggressive decks, red decks of one form or another continue to put up good results. Due to their good matchup against Mono-black and black-white, these decks put two players in the top eights of both Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth and the Star City Games Invitational. Whether they’re burn heavy, like Darin Minard’s deck, or devotion based, red continues to be able to do what it does best: close out games as quickly as possible.
Two other aggressive decks have seen success in the past couple weeks as well: Orzhov Aggro and green-white aggro. Both of these decks use Banisher Priest to remove key opposing creatures while getting in damage with undercosted white creatures. Ben Stark, Orrin Beasley, and Josh Utter-Leyton had success with the Orzhov deck at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth. The stand-out in their deck was Xathrid Necromancer. Once out, the Human Wizard made it tough for the opponent to efficiently deal with any of Orzhov’s creatures.
At the Star City Invitational, Andrew Shrout had success with his green-white aggro deck. With maindeck Skylasher and Mistcutter Hydra, Shrout made it clear that he had no intention of losing to blue decks. Additionally, he found a place for Boon Satyr and Voice of Resurgence--cards that previously did not have a home in standard. Armed with a quick clock and resourceful creatures, Shrout took fourth place.
Finally, the composition of control decks have changed over the past tournaments. The once dominant Esper Control deck that Guillaume Wafo-Tapa rode to a fifth place finish at Pro Tour Theros has been replaced by a solid two color blue-white control deck. Huey Jensen piloted the creatureless control deck to a second place finish in Fort Worth. With its only win condition being one of its planeswalkers, the blue-white control deck aims to control the game with Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict, and counterspells, before reloading with a singleton Elixir of Immortality.
As standard continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what deck or archetype will come out on top here at Grand Prix Shizuoka. Will there be another victory for a Devotion deck? Will a white or red based aggro deck be crowned champion? Or will it be a control deck holding the trophy at the end of the weekend? Stay tuned all weekend long as we crown a Grand Prix champion here in Shizuoka!