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.

It's over halfway through Day 1 of Grand Prix Phoenix, and the press to make Day 2 is beginning in earnest. As players see and face down more opponents, those with winning lists begin to rise to the top. Two round earlier it was clear Esper Control and Midrange, as well as Black Devotion decks, were the dominant share of the top tables metagame. This is how it looked across the top twenty-four tables going into Round 7:

Archetype Count
Black Devotion 13
Esper Control & Midrange 7
Blue Devotion 7
Jund Monsters 4
Bant Control 3
Boros Burn 3
White-Green Aggro 2
Black-Red Aggro 2
Mono-Red Aggro 2
Azorius Control 1
Red-Green Midrange 1
Jund Dredge 1
White-Blue-Red Control 1
Mono-Green Devotion 1


(Note: Blue Devotion and Black Devotion include splash variants of the Mono-Versions)


Again, as percentages of the field:


Is this how the metagame of a mature format performs? Pro Tour Hall of Famer William "Huey" Jensen had been watching events unfold as a coverage commentator in Phoenix, so we asked him what he had seen so far.


"Pretty much what I expected," Jensen said. "A lot of Esper. A sprinkling of Red-Green Monsters, Jund Monsters, a little Blue Devotion, but mostly Sphinx's Revelation decks and Black Devotion. Conley Wood's Five-Color Control deck was interesting, probably the most unique deck we've seen so far."

A formidable player in his own right, Hall of Famer William Jensen was in front of the camera throughout Grand Prix Phoenix.


What did he expect to see coming into the weekend? "Black Devotion and Esper. I wrote an article this week that looks at the Top 40 decks from the last three Standard Grand Prix – Top 16, Top 16, and Top 8 – and those two decks accounted for 55% of the Top 40."


So is this what a mature format looks like? Jensen seemed to agree. "There's a little room for innovation," Jensen said. "I don't think there's a Tier 1 deck that hasn't been discovered, especially right now: Born of the Gods didn't have a big impact on Standard. A lot of decks have been Tier 1 since the release of Theros so I'd be surprised to find more then metagame tweaks at this point."

What's the most compelling metagame tweak he's seen so far? "I think most notable tweak is the addition of red for Rakdos's Return to the Mono-Black deck," Jensen said. "Rakdos's Return is very good against Esper and the Mono-Black mirror. It's also pretty good against Burn, interestingly."

Jensen's succinct summary of Grand Prix Phoenix so far: "It's been the status quo. It's exactly what I expected to see."

We'll follow up and see what the end of Day 1 has to say about maintaining the status quo of Born of the Gods Standard.