All right cats and kittens, let’s get down to it. Sometimes, when a format is on the wane, this archetype breakdown isn’t that important, and serves more as a marker of where the format has come. But this weekend is quite different indeed.
Coming hot off Pro Tour Magic Origins, where two very aggressive decks took the top spots, what decks performed well on the first day of Grand Prix San Diego can be a beacon for where the Standard format is going.
The general pro consensus was that Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact was a great Pro Tour deck, but doesn’t have the legs to be a real contender in the coming months. However, Red Aggro is the one that can stand on its own. Additionally, Dromoka's Command would be one of the best cards to combat both decks.
Did that bear out? Let’s see:
|Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact||22|
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact that has the most players in Day 2. But perhaps that’s because the deck is relatively easy to put together compared to some of the other decks. But perhaps not. Another change is the #2 deck is solidly occupied Green-White Megamorph—a deck with only two copies at the Pro Tour. Brian Kibler can be prescient sometimes, as he went 9-1 in Constructed with the deck last weekend.
And what about the big get for the control deck du jure, Abzan Control? (20) Matt Sperling piloted the deck to a semi-finals finish last weekend, and with cards like Languish, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and, you know, Siege Rhino, it’s easy to see why this deck can pull its own weight. In fact, if we combine all the different Abzan flavors, there are 34 different Siege Rhino decks out of 167. That’s about 20% of the Day 2 Field on those three colors.
Also, the re-rise of Jeskai is imminent. The new incarnation is sometimes referred to as “Jace-skai,” the printing of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy has given the deck the push it needed to get back into the spotlight. The two-mana casting cost fits just where the deck needs it (with so many powerful three-drops already), and allows the deck to more easily find the right tool for the given job—because the deck plays all those tools.
Getting slightly more granular, the four undefeated Day 1 players are playing four different archetypes—Abzan Aggro, Green-White Megamorph, Jeskai, and Blue-Red Tutelage. None of which are the top-played archetypes. In fact, Michael Majors is the only player on the Cuneo special to make it to the second day at all.
Everyone thought the Sphinx's Tutelage deck was cute when Andrew Cuneo played it last weekend, but perhaps it actually has some legs in the format? After talking with Majors’ Round 9 opponent, he and his friends discussed how there are just so many different angles of attack and archetypes around right now, figuring out how to build a deck—and especially a sideboard—can be super-challenging.
Now with a milling deck a potential player, how many more deck-building calculations do you have to make?
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. We’ve got plenty of rounds to play before we cut to the Top 8. And maybe that—even more than these numbers—could affect how Standard moves going forward.