Shaking up Standard

Posted in Event Coverage on October 31, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

It's no secret that the Standard metagame has been pretty well-defined so far. While the arrival of Battle for Zendikar injected some new blood into the format and heralded the exit of previous staples, many of the top decks remained similar: Abzan, Jeskai and Atarka Red variants all continued to find the success they had begun prior to Rotation.

That might make it seem like there's not much going on in Standard, but the truth is there's plenty of innovation going on at the edges of the format, just waiting to break out at Grand Prix Indianapolis.

Rally the Ancestors — colloquially known as The Aristocrats — first appeared at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, with both blue-black and black-green variants making an impact. Taking advantage of the multiple of triggers from Zulaport Cutthroat or Grim Haruspex and synergy with Bloodsoaked Champion, Nantuko Husk and Liliana, Heretical Healer, the deck creates tricky board states that opponents can struggle to deal with.

While the Aristocrats may have been the first new archetype to appear with Battle for Zendikar, it's far from the only one in the room on Saturday. The Eldrazi in the room is Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, and it's an open question heading into Day 2 if the Red-Green Eldrazi deck first piloted to a Top 8 by Jake Mondello in Quebec City last week. It was the first Top 8 appearance for Zendikar's foremost Eldrazi, and could be the first in a line of Eldrazi-themed concoctions to hit Standard over the next few months.

Red-Green Eldrazi — Jake Mondello 

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Mondello's deck looks unlike anything else in Standard. Not only is it running a card typically relegated only to Draft sideboards in Jaddi Offshoot, but it's also the first deck to make use of the one-two land punch of Sanctum of Ugin and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods to keep the colorless gas coming out every turn. Even Sylvan Scrying makes an appearance to make sure the deck always has access to its key lands. Counteracting the heavy control or Dark Jeskai decks across Standard, the ramp deck is a breath of fresh Eldrazi air that threatens to annihilate the metagame.

Of course, the ramping machine does struggle with the aggressive decks in the format, which means its success is tied directly to how well Atarka Red performs this weekend. The balance between all three archetypes shows the varied approach players can find success with in Indianapolis, and all are out in force this weekend.

With a few headline decks and a few dark horse contenders, the metagame in Indianapolis is far from solved, and there is another contingent of players out to make their own mark on Standard. There are Esper lists of all flavors — including a new tokens-based build — Eldrazi control decks, landfall decks and even Jeskai Ascendancy Combo are trying to attack Standard from a unique angle and ride the wave to a Top 8 appearance.

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