Metagame of the Three-Bye Players

Posted in Event Coverage on March 19, 2016

By Frank Karsten

Twenty-one players entered the event with three byes, and their deck choices are often a good indication of what decks are best in Standard right now. You can earn three byes by being a Hall of Famer, Gold-level pro, or Platinum-level pro, and this list here in Paris consists of the following players (some of whom are ranked in the current worldwide Top 25):

  • (10) Fabrizio Anteri
  • Christian Calcano
  • Marco Cammilluzzi
  • Marcio Carvalho
  • Pierre Dagen
  • (18) Martin Dang
  • Antonio Del Moral Leon
  • Robin Dolar
  • (6) Reid Duke
  • Maciej Janik
  • Martin Jůza
  • Magnus Lantto
  • (16) Joel Larsson
  • Valentin Mackl
  • (5) Martin Müller
  • Gabriel Nassif
  • Oliver Polak-Rottmann
  • Tomoharu Saito
  • Ben Stark
  • (13) Ondřej Stráský
  • Ryoichi Tamada

Here's the archetype breakdown of what this group has registered:

Deck #
Four-color Rally 7
Dark Jeskai 6
Green Mardu 3
Bant Company 2
Abzan 1
Esper Tokens 1
Jeskai Ascendancy combo 1

For many players, this Grand Prix marks their last chance to exploit the fetch lands at a high-level Standard event, so accordingly this breakdown read like a parade of four-color decks. But a few of our veteran players showed restraint by registering "only" three colors. And there's a sweet Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck that we'll be sure to keep an eye on throughout the weekend.

We'll have more detailed overviews for you later this weekend, but if you're still trying to get a leg up in Standard, then two of the players from the above list may have some useful words of advice. Hall of Famer Ben Stark and No. 6-ranked player Reid Duke offered a free seminar last night, and after their format overview they concluded by offering three general tips:

Reid Duke and Ben Stark

  • Be prepared to beat a turn 2 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Jace is a key element of Four-Color Rally and Dark Jeskai, and you need to pick your removal spells with the threat of Jace in mind.
  • Try to win games in a timely fashion. It is difficult to defeat the four-color Rally deck in the long game because that deck excels at playing a drawn-out, grindy game. You need to beat them early.
  • Gear your main deck to beat the midrange decks, and your sideboard to beat the extreme decks. This is a useful adage if you doubt whether a certain card should go into the maindeck or sideboard. Duke and Stark already warned that multicolor midrange decks would be popular, and their prediction is confirmed by the archetype breakdown of the three-bye players.

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