Megamorphosis: Standard Trends and the Three-Bye Metagame

Posted in GRAND PRIX PARIS 2015 on May 9, 2015

By Frank Karsten

Last week in São Paulo, I described the evolution of the Standard format from the Pro Tour to Kraków to the Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers. Since then, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa won Grand Prix São Paulo with Esper Dragons and Lucas Siow won Grand Prix Toronto with Abzan Control, and the Standard metagame keeps marching onward.

Standard Trends

To get a feel for the trends in Standard, I looked over the metagames of the key events in the last couple of weeks and drew up the following graph. As you can see, the popularity of the top seven Standard archetypes is shifting from week to week, and various developments become apparent.

The first thing to notice is that Red Aggro and Dragon control decks (mostly of the Esper variety) have remained on top throughout. After good performances at the Pro Tour, they rose at Grand Prix Kraków, but last week, they took a bit of a hit as players started to learn how to beat those decks.

When it comes to Siege Rhino, the aggressive variant is king. Abzan Aggro is in third place, hovering steadily around the 10–15 percent mark, whereas Abzan Midrange has been in a steady decline. It is a little slow for the metagame, and many players have been shifting to megamorph decks instead.

The Deathmist Raptor/Den Protector duo, mostly seen in Bant or Abzan flavors, is the only deck in the chart that has steadily increased in popularity from week to week. The dreadful feeling when your opponent turns one Deathmist Raptor face up to recur two copies from his graveyard has best been described by Dr. Alan Grant:

"You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two raptors you didn't even know were there."

Deathmist Raptor requires a dedicated deck to work, and it has taken deck creators a while to perfect their builds. But now people have figured it out, and the Raptors are not being contained anymore. If the trend is any indication, we'll see more and more megamorphs this weekend. Damn it, even Nedry knew better than to mess with the raptor fences. Can anything stop this?

"The raptor fences aren't out, are they?"

"No, no. They're still on."

Lagging a bit behind the rise of the megamorph decks is the upsurge of Red/Green Dragons. A key reason why it has been trending upward in the last two weeks is because Stormbreath Dragon is great against Deathmist Raptor decks. It flies over the deathtouch guys on the ground and has immunity to Dromoka's Command. According to Platinum level pro Patrick Dickmann, who is running it in his Mardu Dragons deck, Stormbreath Dragon is particularly well-positioned this weekend. Czech superstar Martin Jůza had reached a similar conclusion, as he mentioned that he expected more Mardu Dragons this weekend than ever before.

The Three-Bye Metagame

So with all that in mind, what's the best deck to play this weekend? As there are approximately 1,400 players in the room (give or take a few) there's no chance we could tell you about the whole of the Day 1 field. Something we can tell you about, however, is the deck choices of a select group, that is the fourteen players with three byes. They earned these byes with their Platinum or Gold level status in the Pro Player Club or by way of a Pro Tour Hall of Fame induction, so if their previous accomplishments are any indication, their deck choices must be based on a solid understanding of Magic.

Here is the list of names:

Raphaël Lévy
Martin Jůza
Christian Seibold
Timothée Simonot
Pierre Dagen
Robin Dolar
Joel Larsson
Gabriel Nassif
Jérémy Dezani
Marcio Carvalho
Teruya Kakumae
Fabrizio Anteri
Antonio Del Moral León
Ondřej Stráský

Here's the archetype breakdown of what this group is playing:

Archetype #
Sidisi Megamorph 3
Esper Dragons 3
Mardu Dragons 2
Abzan Aggro 2
Abzan Megamorph 1
Abzan Control 1
Black/Green Megamorph 1
Green/White Megamorph 1

That's a lot of Deathmist Raptors. And that's also a lot of Dragons. So far, this tournament might shape up to be a fight between dinosaurs and Dragons, and my imagination is already running wild when I start thinking of the movie tie-in where a group of hungry Dragons is sent to Isla Nublar to face dinosaurs who continually come back from the dead. If only ... if only ...

More on Sunday, when we have a detailed breakdown of all Day 2 decks for you!