What to Expect in Standard at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon

Posted in Top Decks on August 4, 2016

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

Pro Tour Eldritch Moon promises to be one of the most exciting Magic events in recent memory. Over the last few months, Standard has been beautifully diverse. The best deck for a given weekend has shifted alongside popular opinion, and the healthy addition of many powerful new cards from Eldritch Moon is sure to shake things up even more. This weekend, the best players in the world are gathering in Sydney, Australia, to compete in Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. As always, there's been a lot of speculation as to what the best players will choose to play in Standard on the game's biggest stage. The Pro Tour makes Magic into a spectator sport—the best of the best are armed with brand-new strategies capable of plays we probably haven't seen before. Today, we'll be looking at Standard with Eldritch Moon to get a better idea of what we should be expecting at the Pro Tour.

The StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Columbus, Ohio, was the first large tournament to showcase Eldritch Moon Standard. The Pro Tour is a much different environment and will feature some of the best players in the world working as teams to find the perfect deck for the weekend. Still, there's a lot to be learned from Columbus, and the most successful decks there will give us a better idea of what we'll be seeing in Sydney this weekend.


Green-White Tokens

At Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, No. 3-ranked Steve Rubin emerged victorious from one of the most stacked Top 8s in Pro Tour history. Green-White Tokens will likely remain a tier 1 strategy in the new Standard. The deck attacks from a lot of angles and has the ability to play an aggressive or controlling style depending on the way the game at hand is going. A mixture of token generation, planeswalkers, and aggressive creatures makes it very difficult to contain the deck from a control perspective, and the sheer amount of power and toughness the deck is capable of putting on the table makes it great against most aggressive opponents. Eric Rill managed to make it to the Top 4 of the SCG Standard Open in Columbus with the deck. The presence of instants, sorceries, artifacts, creatures, enchantments, planeswalkers, and lands that can be sacrificed for value make Ishkanah, Grafwidow a great inclusion. Think about what the Spider queen is capable of when we're playing it alongside four copies each of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar! Let's take a look at what Green-White Tokens might look like at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.

Eric Rill's Green-White Tokens—Top 4, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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Bant Company

Recall Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad. Coming into the weekend, there was a big portion of the Standard community that thought Bant Company was oppressively strong. At the actual Pro Tour, the best players in the world found ways to combat Bant Company effectively, and the deck, while still very strong, became just another tier 1 entity. Eldritch Moon gives Bant Company a nice boost in power level. Spell Queller adds a whole new dimension to the way opponents play against the deck. Before Spell Queller, four open mana and a fist of cards was assuredly a sign of Collected Company. Now, it could mean Spell Queller just as easily. What's even more impressive is that Spell Queller can come in off of Collected Company to exile an opponent's spells. Selfless Spirit makes the deck more resilient to board sweepers that aren't Languish, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar is an incredible tool for a deck that wins such a large portion of its games through tempo. We can expect Bant Company to be the deck to beat coming into Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. Let's take a look at Devin Koepke's winning Bant Company deck from Columbus!

Devin Koepke's Bant Company—1st Place, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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White-Black Control

White-Black Control has been one of the quieter powerhouses in Standard before the new set's introduction. No. 1-ranked Seth Manfield is basically unbeatable with it at Grand Prix events, and the deck's win percentage has remained impressive throughout the Standard season. The deck gets to adopt a new endgame with the addition of Eldritch Moon. Gisela, the Broken Blade is a very powerful card, and Thalia's Lancers can easily find a singleton copy of Bruna, the Fading Light. If white-black's removal and board sweepers are enough to contain early aggression from the opponent, then it should be well-positioned as it makes its way into the later stages of the game. It can be difficult to find a good control strategy in a new format where we don't know what the questions are yet, let alone the answers. Still, the versatility and inexpensiveness of black's removal probably mean that white-black is in a pretty good spot this weekend. Let's take a look at Ronnie Ritner's White-Black Control deck from Columbus.

Ronnie Ritner's White-Black Control—Top 8, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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Being aggressive is usually a good plan at Pro Tour events. A lot of people want to do cool things with new cards, and just winning the game before they have an opportunity to strut their stuff is a pretty solid plan. Standard Humans is one of the most impressive Standard aggro decks we've seen in a very long time. It can be difficult to go slightly bigger to achieve victory because the threats continue to grow as the game goes on. Instead, players need access to inexpensive spot removal and board sweepers if they want to beat the deck. Let's take a look at Tom Ross's Top 16 version of White Weenie from Columbus!

Tom Ross's Mono-White Humans—Top 16, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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Seasons Past

One of the biggest stories from the last Pro Tour was the success of Black-Green Seasons Past control decks like the one played all the way to the Top 8 by No. 17-ranked Jon Finkel. Since then the deck has had scattered success, but has mostly been replaced with Grixis and white-black control decks. Languish has certainly become the board sweeper of choice, and it seems very possible that the format slows to a point where Seasons Past could be the exact crazy card advantageous spell we're looking for. Let's check out the list that Kasey Walton took to the Top 8 in Columbus.

Kasey Walton's Black-Green Seasons Past—Top 8, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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Red-Green Goggles

Red-Green Goggles is another deck that had its breakout performance at the last Pro Tour. The deck does some absurdly powerful things, and chaining World Breakers actually seems like it's a better top end than anything else now that we'll likely see fewer people actually casting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunter.

Matthew Voltz's Red-Green Goggles—Top 8, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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Sultai Control

Former US National Champion Ali Aintrazi made it all the way to the finals in Columbus with an exciting Sultai Control deck that uses a lot of cards from Eldritch Moon. The deck takes full advantage of the new set, testing out every potentially powerful control card within the given colors while still leaning on the very powerful Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. It's not clear whether this is a deck that will see a lot of play at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, but we can be certain that a lot of the decks that are going to show up this weekend will be influenced a great deal by Aintrazi's creation. Let's take a look at Ali Aintrazi's Sultai Control deck!

Ali Aintrazi's Sultai Control—Finalist, SCG Standard Open Columbus

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This weekend promises to showcase fresh new Standard strategies alongside our existing favorites. What cards from Eldritch Moon do you expect to make a splash at the big show? Which players are you rooting for in the event? Don't miss your chance to watch the action as it unfolds in a live broadcast from Sydney, Australia! Coverage of Day One starts today at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET/11 p.m. UTC on twitch.tv/magic.

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