Grand Prix Miami Day Two Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on March 8, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

The field of 1,387 players has been culled down to 152. With the lists all sorted, we took a dive through the Day Two decks to see just what the field looked like.

Archetype Count
R/W Aggro 23
Abzan Control 18
U/B Control 10
G/W Devotion 9
Mono-Red Aggro 8
R/G Devotion 8
Abzan Aggro 7
Jeskai 7
Abzan Midrange 6
Mardu Midrange 6
Sultai Control 6
W/U Heroic 6
Sidisi Whip 5
Abzan Whip 3
Jeskai Tokens 3
Temur Aggro 3
Mono-Black Aggro 2
Mono-Red Devotion 2
Naya Midrange 2
R/G Aggro 2
4-Color Control 1
4-Color Midrange 1
Abzan Mastery 1
B/G Constellation 1
B/g Control 1
Esper Control 1
Jeskai Heroic 1
Jund Midrange 1
Naya Control 1
Sidisi Soul 1
Sultai Midrange 1
Sultai Whip 1
Temur Control 1
W/B Constellation 1
W/B Tokens 1
W/U Control 1

That's the individual archetypes separated by each distinctive flavor of deck, but let's parse this out differently. Of the above decks, these can be categorized by the broad archetype they fall under instead.

Abzan

While the white-black-green wedge comes in a variety of flavors, there are indeed a few constants that remain as part of the Abzan strategy:

-Siege Rhino is a must

-Thoughtseize is an ubiquitous inclusion amongst most players in the main deck

The Abzan archetype is broken down into the following decks:

Archetype Count
Abzan Aggro 7
Abzan Control 18
Abzan Mastery 1
Abzan Midrange 6
Abzan Whip 3

Abzan Control, as we're classifying it, is any deck that goes beyond six mana spells in their main deck. This can range from any of the following cards: Duneblast, Garruk, Apex Predator, Hornet Queen without a Whip of Erebos alongside it (rare, but out there), and even Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This particular flavor of Abzan is still commonly classified by many as Abzan Midrange, but because of the departure from earlier spells, and the often-times heavy leaning towards lists that favor sweepers like End Hostilities and the removal of Sylvan Caryatid from the 75 cards, it felt appropriate to break Abzan further out in where the archetype is moving towards.

Abzan Midrange follows the more traditional approach we've seen from Abzan. Wingmate Roc more commonly finds a home here, Fleecemane Lion sometimes makes its way in the 75, and the decks favor four- and five-mana Planeswalkers over going all the way up to seven. Elspeth, Sun's Champion is the top of the Abzan Midrange curve, if it even goes that far up.

Abzan Aggro is the more direct approach. If it has Rakshasa Deathdealer, it's 99% Abzan Aggro, and it usually has Heir of the Wilds and even the occasional Warden of the First Tree along for the ride.

The lightest played Abzan deck is Abzan Whip, a deck that has settled down in numbers under the broader “Graveyard Deck” archetype which could encompass Soul of Theros self-mill decks as well as Whip of Erebos strategies. Abzan Whip still has some serious inevitability, but a few factors contribute to the deck not being as large as it has normally been.

This totals to 35 decks. Even if you re-classified Abzan Whip to another archetype, which you could, that still makes the Abzan archetype the most popular among the Day Two competitors with a scant lead over the clear winner of most played deck for the weekend: R/W Aggro.

Speaking of which...

R/W Aggro

This broad archetype only has one deck associated with it, although you could certainly make a case of including Jeskai into this mix. R/W Aggro was Grand Prix Memphis Ben Stark's weapon of choice two weeks ago, and it was certainly a popular one for the players here in Miami, with 23 R/W Aggro players advancing into Day Two.

The next archetype on the list is...

Dig Through Time Control

These decks come in a smattering of flavors, but all are generally approaching the same general strategy:

-Control the opponent's creatures through spot removal and sweeper effects

-Cast Dig Through Time, draw cards, keep hitting land drops

-End the game very late with either a back-breaking Planeswalker or with a singleton copy of Pearl Lake Ancient (sometimes, both make an appearance)

These come in the following flavors:

Archetype Count
Sultai Control 6
U/B Control 10
W/U Control 1
Esper Control 1

The Blue-Black Control deck is the classic flavor of this broad archetype, and oftentimes comes alongside some Perilous Vaults ways to gain back some life in its lands. Sultai Control dips into green for Satyr Wayfinders to fuel its delve cards along with Sultai Charm, which provides a versatile answer for troublesome enchantments in the format in exchange for losing percentage points against the most aggressive strategies.

The White-Blue Control deck dips into white's offerings for things like Elspeth, Sun's Champion, while the singleton Esper Control is more or less a Blue-Black Control deck with some additional scry lands and the white-black removal offered in Utter End.

In total, the Dig Through Time control decks count up to 18, making it more than 10% of the field.

Devotion

Devotion decks are any strategy based on using Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx for some amount of mana alongside a collection of green creatures. Note that this does not include the Red Devotion decks listed in the larger breakdown above, but rather all the decks that are looking to do things like cast a turn one Elvish Mystic, capitalize on Courser of Kruphix, or overrun an opponent with Whisperwood Elemental.

Archetype Count
G/W Devotion 9
R/G Devotion 8

This amounts to 17 decks in the field. The classic direction is R/G Devotion, with the most notable gains in red being Xenagos, the Reveler as well as Nykthos mana-sink all-star Crater's Claws.

G/W Devotion, however, is a brand new direction for Devotion and the breakout deck of the tournament. Piloted in a couple of variations by both Brad Nelson as well as eleventh-ranked Samuel Black, G/W Devotion capitalizes off of Mastery of the Unseen, allowing the deck to gain a ton of life since the Devotion deck very often manifests into creatures that can be cheaply turned face-up. This inevitably makes the G/W Devotion deck very difficult to stop through damage.

The Rest

After that, the rest of the format breaks down into any archetype that represents less than 10% of the field. All of those decks have merits, and some are even very well positioned. One thing is clear: the Standard format is still shifting, and it's hard to determine where things will end up in a few weeks after Dragons of Tarkir hits store shelves.

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