Taking Down the Establishment (Standard After Pro Tour Origins)

Posted in Perilous Research on August 6, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG's exclusive Magic Online column. Last weekend, we watched the best players in the world take on a Standard environment that included Magic Origins. When the dust settled, aggressive red strategies and Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact decks stood atop a diverse field of powerful options. Today, we'll be taking a look at what's been winning on Magic Online in the wake of the Pro Tour.

Let's start by discussing what we've learned from last weekend.

Aggressive red strategies are a very real threat that will, at least for now, require us to devote a significant portion of our sideboards to beating the deck. Even our main decks will be warped in the coming weeks to handle the rise of the red boogieman. The most popular sideboard options at this point in time seem to be Arashin Cleric and Feed the Clan.

The Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact decks are capable of tremendously fast starts. These strategies encourage us to play more inexpensive spot removal and make cards like Kolaghan's Command much more appealing as main deck inclusions.

Identifying powerful cards that perform particularly well against both these strategies is also quite important. Dromoka's Command has the ability to counter a burn spell while also killing a creature or pumping one of our own. This two-mana instant can also be used to deal with an early Ensoul Artifact in a more efficient fashion than other main deckable cards currently in Standard. We can expect decks that would want to be playing with Dromoka's Command anyway, like Abzan Aggro and Heroic, to perform especially well in the coming weeks. Dromoka's Command decks were deemed too weak against Languish for consideration at the Pro Tour, but Languish strategies underperformed and their share of the current metagame will shrink in the coming weekends.

Let's take a look at what's been winning on Magic Online since the Pro Tour!

_DarkBeast_ —Abzan Control—4-0 Magic Online Standard Daily

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Abzan Control didn't have a great Pro Tour, but Matt Sperling still managed to make the Top 8 piloting the deck. If red strategies continue to do well going forward, we can expect lists to steadily increase the number of Tasigur, the Golden Fangs they play in the main deck. The sideboard of Abzan Control will be fully outfitted with Arashin Cleric and Dromoka's Command to further hedge the red matchups. Abzan Control is already decently positioned against Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact decks thanks to the high density of removal available to the deck. This is the type of strategy that can beat anything if it's trying to, and now that the format has been more established we can expect big things from Abzan strategies once more.

Ostis—Blue-Red Tutelage Combo—4-0 Magic Online Standard Daily

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Sphinx's Tutelage doesn't look like the type of card that's going to make waves in Standard when we look at what's been winning, but it's hard to argue with results and there have been a few different players that have gone undefeated in Daily Events over the last few days with this type of strategy. The deck aims to land an early copy of Sphinx's Tutelage, and it uses a tremendous amount of draw to quickly mill the opponent. Anger of the Gods helps the deck recover from opponents' faster starts, and it's augmented by Seismic Rupture and inexpensive removal out of the sideboard. The deck is nearly impossible for control decks to beat and outraces most of the midrange strategies in the format.

FreshGaming—Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact—4-0 Magic Online Standard Daily

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The breakout deck from Pro Tour Magic Origins has been on a tear in the Magic Online circuit, securing more undefeated records in the past few days than any other archetype in Standard. The deck mulligans aggressively to find an ideal start and leans heavily on the strength of Hangarback Walker and Ensoul Artifact to achieve victory. We can expect players to bring more sideboard hate for the matchup in coming weeks, but the base power level of this deck and its ability to overpower opponents with 5/5 flyers on the second turn will make it a force to be reckoned with for its life in Standard.

loystke—Sultai Pact—4-0 Magic Online Standard Daily

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Demonic Pact proved itself to be the real deal at Pro Tour Magic Origins. Various strategies employing the new enchantment performed well, but the Sultai version of the deck seems to be the most successful on Magic Online. This particular list seems very weak against red decks, but many versions are playing enough copies of Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Feed the Clan to pad their life total and win a long game against the format's most aggressive entity. Demonic Pact offers a very powerful effect for its cost, but it's worth noting that disenchant effects and cards like Dromoka's Command will become more popular, and the deck may suffer enough splash damage to be pushed out of competition in the coming weeks.

RRozanski—White-Blue Control—4-0 Magic Online Standard Daily

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Control decks may be weak against red for the most part, but that can be easily handled with a few copies of Ojutai's Command and Arashin Cleric. White-Blue Control seems to be the new defining control deck of the format in a world where Red Aggro and Ensoul Artifact are the decks to beat. Swift Reckoning is a particularly strong tool for a deck like this. It's also worth noting how powerful the interaction between Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Ojutai's Command can be.

Mini_Gnarls—Medium/Small Red—1st Place Magic Online Standard PTQ

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The biggest Standard event on Magic Online recently was a PTQ that was eventually won by a red deck that goes a bit larger than the decks we saw do well at the Pro Tour. This version of the deck takes advantage of Goblin Rabblemaster to go bigger than the hate that's trying to pad life totals. Goblin Rabblemaster allows the deck to deal big chunks of damage and gives the strategy more longevity against the expected hate.

Huggins—Abzan Rally—2nd Place Magic Online Standard PTQ

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Abzan Rally aims to fill its graveyard with powerful creatures before using Rally the Ancestors to bring back a swath of creatures, including Mogis's Marauder and Nantuko Husk, to win the game seemingly out of nowhere. Even without its namesake, the deck can win games simply by using Collected Company for value while trading aggressively with the opponent. Arashin Cleric and Dromoka's Command are both on-color and should give this deck enough game against the new expected format.

mtdats—Devotion—5th Place Magic Online Standard PTQ

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Devotion strategies are struggling to keep up at this point, and we can expect cards like Unravel the Æther and Reclamation Sage to start making a bigger appearance in sideboards. The deck aims to do bigger and more powerful things than its opponents, and the sheer size of its creatures should help it match up well against red decks if it configures its sideboard differently. The deck is still Standard's most powerful strategy in a vacuum, and there's a very good chance that it wins a few big tournaments before the release of Battle for Zendikar.

Yuris125—Mardu Dragons—7th Place Magic Online Standard PTQ

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Kolaghan's Command has already proven itself to be a Modern powerhouse, and the rise of artifact strategies in Standard should be able to push it to new heights there in the coming weeks. Mardu Dragons is the most obvious home for Kolaghan's Command, and the deck has access to a lot of life gain post-sideboard if it so desires. The Mardu color combination is very well set up for the new face of Standard, and it's only a matter of time before players find the right mix of cards to establish a new Tier-1 deck.

IWALKALONE—Jeskai Tempo—8th Place Magic Online Standard PTQ

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Harbinger of the Tides is one of the format's best answers to an early copy of Ensoul Artifact, and Ojutai's Command performs beautifully alongside it and against the wave of red strategies we've been seeing. Jeskai decks are traditionally strong against control strategies, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy upgrades the available two-drops significantly for a deck that's trying to card Dig Through Time. This is definitely a deck to watch in the coming weeks.

Standard is rapidly evolving in the wake of Pro Tour Magic Origins. Next weekend, Grand Prix San Diego will showcase the format's evolution. Will red strategies and Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact decks continue to dominate? Or will a new Tier 1 identify itself? Stay tuned to DailyMTG.com for all the coverage as it unfolds from Grand Prix San Diego!

Knowledge is power!

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