From 1,076 players, 120 made the cut to return for Day 2 at Grand Prix Memphis. With Seville’s results hanging over players’ heads coming into the weekend, this is what made it through the Day 1’s gauntlet:
|(* denotes a Day 1 undefeated player’s archetype)|
Like Seville, aggressive strategies like White-Red Aggro and Abzan Aggro are in abundance. What’s surprising, however, is the return of Jeskai to the top lines of the metagame breakdown. Excluding Jeskai Tokens and Jeskai Ascendancy – the combo deck build around the namesake enchantment – the Jeskai decks filling out the field here are essentially White-Red Aggro decks that didn’t give up access to Mantis Rider and Treasure Cruise.
Two other surprising leaps are Red-Green Devotion and Abzan Control. Red-Green Devotion are built on the Green Devotion backbone, with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx hanging out in the lands section, but play both green and red threats. Stormbreath Dragon dodges the abundance of removal like Valorous Stance, Chained to the Rocks, and Abzan Charm, and powering out tons of mana makes Crater’s Claws as good as Fireball gets.
Abzan Control is just like it sounds: Instead of Fleecemane Lion and most other bodies in the main deck – Siege Rhino just won’t go away, of course! – it plays all the removal spells in the colors. With End Hostilities or Duneblast (Or both!) to turn back the battlefield, it takes control without ever countering a spell. Some competitors brought a metagame play in the sideboard, keeping the ability to bring in Fleecemane Lions and other more aggressive creatures to wreck the usual ways decks will try and deal with Abzan’s removal.
Despite winning last weekend, non-Abzan control decks are fairly scare. Blue-Black Control is around, and one player went undefeated with a Sultai-flavored version. Whether the extraordinary presence of aggressive decks squeezed then out, or Abzan Control is the new model of potency to look out for isn’t clear.
It will take several more rounds before the life, or death, of Seville’s control can be confirmed.