A Windy City - Where the Red Deck Goes

Posted in NEWS on June 21, 2014

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

The Red deck... It's the ire of many, and the weapon of choice for few. In most formats, the Red deck is a fringe entity, something that can steal wins from anyone, but rarely a serious contender. This Standard is strange, though. The last two major Standard events were won in convincing fashion by two very different Red strategies. Over the last week, we've seen three distinct Red archetypes emerge as real contenders. Let's take a look at the hottest Red deck that showed up in Chicago this weekend.

Hyper Aggro "Boss Sligh"

The most aggressive variant of the Red deck is a relative newcomer to the mainstream. Tom "The Boss" Ross has been advocating the deck for months, but it failed to garnish the respect it deserved until last weekend when Ross used it to win the StarCityGames Invitational in convincing fashion. The deck plays twenty one-mana creatures, meaning that it's going to hit the ground running faster than any other deck in the format. It's common for the deck to have three bodies in play before the opponent plays their second land. The other creature decks find themselves too far behind to contend while the control strategies struggle to make it to the fourth turn where they can cast Supreme Verdict and stabilize. Ross was able to catch the Standard format off-guard last weekend with this brutally aggressive brew, but will players have adapted for this weekend's Grand Prix?

A pair of Boss Sligh players face off in a mirror match at the top tables.

Tom Ross - SCG Invitational Columbus 1st Place

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Boros Burn has been quietly building a resume with Grand Prix Top 8s over the last few months. The deck realized its full potential two weeks ago at Grand Prix Moscow where it emerged victorious in the hands of Igor Gorbunov. The deck is well-positioned in a format with a lot of spot removal spells. Young Pyromancer can be held until turn four or five, guaranteeing a bit of value. Chandra's Phoenix often forces opponents to use removal spells instead of advancing their boardstate in a matchup that's often about racing. The deck puts it's opponent in very difficult spots, often forcing them into unwinnable races. There are a lot of shock lands and Thoughtseize here in Chicago this weekend, and that means a lot of the Burn players' work has already been done.

Some good ol’ fashioned burn math.

Igor Gorbunov - GP Moscow 1st Place

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Red Devotion

Red Devotion has fallen off most people's radars. The deck was first introduced to the world by team Channel Fireball at Pro Tour Theros in Dublin. There, the deck was unprepared for Blue Devotion and found itself in terrible position, especially as players made it deeper in the Standard rounds of the event. The deck bounced back later in the season, becoming a powerhouse tier one strategy. Since then, the deck has waned in popularity until recently. Over the last few weeks, we've seen the deck be among the top performers in Standard Magic Online events. The deck is a gamble here in Chicago where Blue Devotion decks seem well-positioned, this could prove to be a problem for Red Devotion this weekend, but the deck's recent success in the world of Magic Online could portent some nice finishes.

Deep in the tank with Red Devotion.

jsegovia07 - MTGO Standard Daily #7190371

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