The Big Three of Standard

Posted in Event Coverage on April 19, 2015

By Tobi Henke

When looking at all the decklists for Sunday's metagame breakdown, two things became clear very quickly. One, the current Standard format allows for a lot of variety with easily 25 different archetypes being able to make the cut to the second day even at a Grand Prix.

But secondly, there are very obvious frontrunners among them. Close to 55 percent of all players on Day 2 of Grand Prix Kraków chose one of only three decks: Red Aggro, Abzan Aggro, and Esper Dragon Control. The names might suggest otherwise, but these come rather close to covering the classic spectrum of aggro, control, and midrange. Among the three, the Abzan deck takes the role of aggressor against the more control-oriented Esper and plays defense versus the even more aggressive red deck.

Let's take a look at one example for each of these archetypes. Luckily, for the most part, people have agreed on the basics of what such a deck should look like. As such, looking at one list will give you a good impression of what to expect from the archetype in general.

Bernhard Lehner's Red Aggro

Differing in just one card, at least as far as the main deck is concerned, this is basically a carbon copy of Martin Dang's Pro Tour-winning list from last week. Bernhard Lehner can hardly be faulted for that, however, seeing as he had been part of Dang's team for said event.

The one card that's been changed between then and now, by the way, is the second copy of Lightning Berserker which had been a solitary Frenzied Goblin at the Pro Tour. Lehner said the card just hadn't proved itself there.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's Esper Dragons

Same here. Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa had also been part of the team who originally build this deck for and played it at the Pro Tour. Other takes on blue-black control with more or less Dragons ended up being slightly more succesful there; but in the court of public opinion Esper Dragons has clearly been judged to be the defining control deck of the format.

And Damo da Rosa was again running it here, so far to a record of 10-2. Everyone was expecting Dragons and got Dragons and still couldn't do a thing about it.

Lukas Blohon's Abzan Aggro

At time of writing, Blohon was also 10-2, but overall, the degree of success Abzan Aggro enjoyed at this Grand Prix varied wildly. Likewise, within this archetype one could find the biggest variety. For example, some people put their Wingmate Roc and Sorin, Solemn Visitor into the main deck, some have them in the sideboard, and others don't run them at all.

The Abzan colors are just a veritable cornucopia of awesome cards and for the most part no two Abzan decks look exactly alike. This one, for instance, has two copies of Whisperwood Elemental which aren't regular inclusions. Still, the list should give a good idea of what to expect from Abzan Aggro.

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