The Whole World Is Watching

Posted in Perilous Research on August 20, 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! One Week from today, the best Magic players in the world will descend upon PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington, for the World Championship. Competitors will be required to prepare for four different formats for the 2015 World Championship: Standard, Modern, Modern Masters (2015 Edition) Draft, and Magic Origins Draft. Modern is normally quite stable, and all of these players recently had the chance to compete in a Standard Pro Tour, but the last few weeks have seen both Standard and Modern take on completely new shapes. Today, we'll be taking a look at some of the most successful new Standard and Modern strategies in preparation for the World Championship!

Let's start by exploring what's new in Standard. Decks like Blue-Red Thopters, Mono-Red Aggro, and Abzan Control are all still enjoying a great deal of success. Those decks haven't changed much over the last week, though. So we'll be focusing on the innovations that have kept Standard evolving over the last few weeks.

Fabrizio Anteri's Abzan Aggro—Winner Grand Prix London

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Abzan Aggro got a facelift at Grand Prix London last weekend. Hangarback Walker went from being an oddity to being stock in Abzan Aggro strategies seemingly overnight. Hangarback Walker offers the deck more longevity and resilience, while also comboing nicely with Dromoka's Command—a card that remains tremendously well-positioned, considering the current makeup of the Standard format. It's hard to argue with this deck's capabilities; the combination of powerful threats, removal, and disruption will always be a recipe for success. We should expect variations of this deck to make a big splash at the World Championship next week.

Neo-DINO's Goblins!—1st Place Magic Online PTQ

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The most successful Red strategies at Pro Tour Magic Origins were very burn-centric. As a result, people have started cutting sweeper effects like Drown in Sorrow from their decks in favor of life gain and large bodies. As a result, Neo-DINO was able to "go wide" and achieve victory in a recent Magic Online PTQ with a Goblin strategy that takes advantage of Obelisk of Urd.

Kumazemi's Jeskai—Top 4 Magic Online PTQ

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Jeskai Decks were supercharged by the printing of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, but the lists that were played in the early weeks of the new Standard found themselves to be very weak against the red decks and Abzan Control strategies. Now, this deck has found itself in a much more diverse metagame where its pure power level is able to shine. This seems like a great mix of cards, and it also fits the playstyle of many World Championship competitors. I'd expect versions at the World Championship to play more countermagic and Valorous Stance over some of the less expensive burn, but that's only if players aren't expecting a lot of focused damage-based red strategies.

VonUber's Blue-Black Control—Top 8 Magic Online PTQ

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Jace, Vryn's Prodigy seems to be finding a home in a lot of places. The card supercharges a deck's ability to cast powerful delve spells such as Dig Through Time, while also functioning as a flagbearer that slows down the opponent by essentially forcing them to use a removal spell instead of advancing their board state on a given turn. Blue-Black Control is much more focused as a control strategy than other decks we've seen recently. The deck has a big edge in matchups where people are attempting to be slightly larger than the expected meta. However, Deathmist Raptor strategies offer a unique angle of attack that's very difficult for the Blue-Black Control deck to contend with.

Drollaria's Blue Devotion—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Blue Devotion had a bit of success on the Daily Event circuit over the last week. The deck aims to pick up a lot of the free wins that come to Blue-Red Thopters through Ensoul Artifact. Harbinger of the Tides gives the strategy the best two-drop it's ever seen, while Military Intelligence combines nicely with the low curve and helps give naked Ornithopters some degree of value.

Triosk's White-Blue Control—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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White-Blue Control has also been doing quite well recently. Ojutai's Command works very nicely alongside Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, and the density of playable countermagic in Clash of Wills is a huge deal. Swift Reckoning is especially strong in a deck such as this, and we can expect it to be a major player in white control strategies for the coming year.

The World Championship will also showcase Modern, a format that's also been changing quite a lot as of late. About a month ago, Modern seemed to be dominated by combo decks. But more recently, grindy midrange strategies like Grixis and Jund have been enjoying a huge deal of success. Let's take a look at the Modern decks that have been doing well on Magic Online this last week!

Ninell's Grixis—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Grixis is currently the deck to beat in Modern. The deck offers up an absurd suite of card advantage and disruption, while playing threats that are far too efficient. Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler are both cast for a single black mana a huge percentage of the time. Kolaghan's Command and Cryptic Command are tailor-made to ensure delicious two-for-one action. To top things off, the deck gets to play with the format's best countermagic, protecting its huge threats for an unrealistically small amount of mana. We can expect this strategy to be one of the major Modern players at the World Championship.

Beena's White-Blue Control—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Ark4n's White-Blue Control—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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A wide variety of White-Blue Control strategies have been enjoying quite a bit of success recently in Modern. These decks aim to play a draw-go strategy while winning with powerful threats that tend to trump opponents' after a counterwar. The best strategy for beating a White-Blue Control deck with another one of the blue strategies is patience. The first player to make a move in these matchups usually finds themselves at a massive disadvantage.

Froggy's Infect—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Infect remains the fastest, most consistent combo deck in Modern. Inkmoth Nexus does a lot of work against the new dominant control strategies. The deck suffers from a bad postboard matchup against both Jund and Grixis, which may prevent it from maintaining its recent run of success if the format continues to take shape as it has recently.

inosta's Scapeshift—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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The latest versions of Scapeshift are pure control strategies that happen to play ramp spells and their namesake win condition. The deck beats other control strategies, especially postboard, mostly by virtue of having more lands than the opponent.