Posted in NEWS on April 7, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

With the field established for Day Two all eyes turn towards the potential to Top 8, and each round another group of players fall off the path to glory. This the what the metagame for players aiming for Top 8 – that is, at least twenty-seven points (with one match paired down to a player with twenty-six) – with just two losses:

Archetype Count
Mono-Black Devotion 12
Mono-Blue Devotion 9
Esper Control 8
Jund Monsters 8
Blue Devotion (White) 5
Bant Control 3
Mono-Red Aggro 3
Big Naya 2
Black Devotion (Red) 2
Black-Red Aggro 2
Boros Burn 2
Red-Green Monsters 2
White-Green Aggro 2
Black-Green Dredge 1
Naya Hexproof 1
White-Black Control 1
White-Blue-Red Control 1

While Black Devotion has been the boogeyman of Day One and Two, it's Blue Devotion (combining both mono-color and white-splashing versions) that's become the largest share of the metagame.

Archetype Percentage Count
Blue Devotion 22% 14
Black Devotion 19% 12
Monsters 16% 10
Esper Control 13% 8
Other 31% 20

The four main archetypes now comprise 70% of metagame, effectively locking in some combination to appear in the Top 8. But why would Blue Devotion decks pick up steam as Day Two plays out? Sam Pardee, a Mono-Blue Devotion pilot with a Grand Prix finals appearance in Albuquerque, shared some answers.

"Esper used to be a really bad matchup, but it's getting to the point where that have so many tap lands and are so focused on fighting things other than the Blue Devotion deck it's gotten better. That match up improved a lot,"Pardee explained, regarding what's typically considered a bad match up for the deck. "Black Devotion cutting Nightveil Specter for Lifebane Zombie helped out as well since it doesn't effectively block anything while Nightveil can block all of our creatures. Against Monsters you're pretty favored: You have Tidebinder for their big dudes, and three different fliers they don't have any way to interact with."

Sam Pardee had already seen the finals of one Grand Prix with Mono-Blue Devotion. He was on track for another until Round 12.

With a splash-white version available, why had Pardee brought the mono-colored version? "Consistency of mana," Pardee said. "I didn't want to have tap lands against the Burn decks, and I didn't think Ephara, God of the Polis is good: Most decks aren't even running that card. I think Detention Sphere is fantastic but I prefer having one-mana answers like Rapid Hybridization. Against Polukranos, World Eater, having Rapid Hybridization in response to monstrous is huge."

Was this the time for Blue Devotion to return to the winner's circle? Perhaps the better question is what will the net result of players' metagame tweaks be? Three more rounds of players' choices would decide the Top 8.