Posted in NEWS on April 6, 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.

Coming off Grand Prix Beijing, Mono-Black Devotion was among the most popular archetypes in Standard. It was the most played deck on Day 2, and tied for making Top 8 there as well. Boros Burn was the other high-placing deck of the weekend since it was one of the ways to handle the black menace, but Esper Control-playing Yuuya Watanabe demonstrated what Staff of the Death Magus could do against the faster deck. With that technology available, Mono-Black Devotion was still among the best positioned for Phoenix, with a cadre of popular options behind it: Mono-Blue Devotion, White Weenie, "Monster" decks of Jund and Red-Green varieties, Blue Devotion with a black or more often white splash, and White-Black Midrange and Control.

Five rounds into the showdown at Phoenix, this is what was among the top twenty-five tables:

Archetype Count
Esper Control 11
Mono-Black Devotion 6
Red-Green Midrange 5
Boros Burn 5
Mono-Blue Devotion 4
White-Black Midrange 3
Mono-Red Aggro 3
Jund Monsters 3
Black-Red Aggro 2
Azorius Control 2
White-Black-Red Aggro 1
White Weenie 1
Mono-Green Devotion 1
Jund Dredge 1
Big Naya 1
Bant Control 1

Or, summarized by percentages:

While it's just a taste of the data – there were many more going into the round with a 4-0 record – it does point in the directions we expected. Esper Control and Mono-Black Devotion account for a third of the decks across the top tables, with Red-Green Midrange (Monsters) and Boros Burn close behind to round out the top half. Mostly other aggressive decks with a splash of Azorius Control filled things out.

Was this really what everyone was expecting? We caught up with currently 10th-ranked and 2013 Player of the Year Josh Utter-Leyton for his thoughts. Coming into Phoenix, Utter-Leyton expected "Esper Control and Mono-Black Devotion being the big two – more popular than everything else by a fair margin. The next most popular in order: Blue Devotion, Monsters with or without splashing black, and Burn decks."

2013 Player of the Year Josh Utter-Leyton is known for his knack at understanding Constructed formats.

We gave Utter-Leyton a chance to look at what we pulled from the top tables. "That was pretty much exactly what I said, right?" Utter-Leyton laughed at the eerie prescience. With Red-Green Midrange pushing larger than expected, why would someone choose that deck over one of the other options? "If Esper Control's the deck to beat," Utter-Leyton explained, "Monsters is good against it. Something like Mono-Blue isn't."

It's a little early for predictions, but we'll follow up with another look in two rounds to see evolution at work. What do you expect we'll find?