Pro Tour Aether Revolt Day 1 Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on February 3, 2017

By Tobi Henke

The numbers are in. My colleague Meghan Wolff and I went through all 425 decklists, looking for patterns, categorized them, re-categorized some, and tallied up the totals.

Going into the weekend, the two most expected archetypes had been black-green decks on one hand and those featuring the combo of Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian on the other. Of course, this being the Pro Tour in preparation of which the world's best players tested with their teammates in absolute secrecy, one kind of had to expect the unexpected as well.

So how did expectations square with the actual results?

Archetype Count Percentage
Mardu Vehicles 95 22.4
Jeskai Copy Cat Control 72 16.9
Black-Green Constrictor 66 15.5
Black-Green Delirium 31 7.3
Four-Color Copy Cat 25 5.9
Blue-Red Control 15 3.5
Grixis Control 14 3.3
Jeskai Control 13 3.1
Green-White Tokens 11 2.6
Black-Red Aggro 9 2.1
Four-Color Aetherworks Copy Cat 8 1.9
Grixis Improvise 7 1.6
Blue-Black Control 6 1.4
Esper Control 5 1.2
Jund Constrictor 5 1.2
Black-Red Zombies 4 0.9
Blue-Black Improvise 3 0.7
Blue-Red Fevered Visions 3 0.7
Temur Aetherworks Marvel 6 1.4
White-Black Midrange 3 0.7
White-Blue Flash 3 0.7
Blue-Red Zombies 2 0.5
Four-Color Constrictor 2 0.5
Red-White Humans 2 0.5
Bant Flash 1 0.2
Black-Red Control 1 0.2
Four-Color Control 1 0.2
Four-Color Dynavolt Tower 1 0.2
Four-Color Energy Aggro 1 0.2
Four-Color Improvise 1 0.2
Jeskai Vehicles 1 0.2
Jund 1 0.2
Jund Aggro 1 0.2
Jund Energy Aggro 1 0.2
Red-Green Energy Aggro 1 0.2
Sultai Delirium Control 1 0.2
Temur Dynavolt Tower 1 0.2
White-Blue Paradoxical Outcome 1 0.2
White-Blue Spirits 1 0.2
Total: 425 100.0

Mardu Vehicles, huh?

Several big teams had arrived at this deck choice. The theory behind it was that many more players would try control decks, now that bannings had taken out Smuggler's Copter, Emrakul, the Promised End, and White-Blue Flash. Meanwhile, testing indicated that aggressive decks with Vehicles were still well equipped to overpower control strategies, and that Heart of Kiran was a fair replacement for the verboten Copter. Plus, as one former Pro Tour champion pointed out, Heart of Kiran matched up nicely against Saheeli Rai. With the skyship poised to strike, no one could ever just play Saheeli Rai and expect the Planeswalker to live for a turn, effectively turning the combination with Felidar Guardian from a turn-four into a turn-five combo.

Mardu Vehicles on top of this list might be considered somewhat misleading though. If one were to add up, for instance, all the Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian decks, quite a different picture would form.

Copy Cat Variants 105 24.7
Jeskai Copy Cat Control 72 16.9
Four-Color Copy Cat 25 5.9
Four-Color Aetherworks Copy Cat 8 1.9

All of a sudden, Copy Cat claims the number one spot, with almost a quarter of the field employing the two-card combination in one form or another. The most popular shell for it was a regular Jeskai Control deck which would try to control the game with removal spells and countermagic and the occasional 1/4 blocker until it was time to wrap things up with an arbitrarily large number of Cats.

The other versions of the deck, all of them adding green, didn't all go all out on the combo either. Their players would often just keep the opponent busy with things like Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso, get an additional trigger out of these creatures via Felidar Guardian, and wait for an opening. Many of them included Elder Deep-Fiend to create such an opening, and a few took the energy theme one step further and incorporated Aetherworks Marvel.

Black-Green Based Decks 104 24.5
Black-Green Constrictor 66 15.5
Black-Green Delirium 31 7.3
Jund Constrictor 5 1.2
Four-Color Constrictor 2 0.5

Getting bogged down in the Swamp of details, one can't see the Forest for the trees. Meaning, the sum of all black-green creature decks also came to about a quarter of the field. Winding Constrictor eclipsed Grim Flayer as the two-drop of choice here, as did Walking Ballista. Delirium no longer played a significant part in most of these decks. Instead, everyone's favorite Snake climbed the ladder and granted additional +1/+1 counters and, every so often, additional energy counters.

That last part was the reason why we got to see several players branch out into further colors. After all, when you already work with, say, Longtusk Cub and Greenbelt Rampager, you might as well add Attune with Aether and Harnessed Lightning. One team did so, while two others splashed Skyrider Elf and Tamiyo, Field Researcher, the latter helped along by Oath of Nissa.

Blue Control 55 12.9
Blue-Red Control 15 3.5
Grixis Control 14 3.3
Jeskai Control 13 3.1
Blue-Black Control 6 1.4
Esper Control 5 1.2
Four-Color Control 1 0.2
Sultai Delirium Control 1 0.2

Proper control—you know, removal and counterspells, preferably at instant speed, card draw and very little focus on winning options—was the fourth most popular macro archetype (behind Copy Cat, Black-Green, and Vehicles). At only a little more than an eighth of the field, this was not exactly a major player in the metagame, but several major teams had decided to bring blue control decks.

Non-Vehicle Aggro Decks 18 4.2
Black-Red Aggro 9 2.1
Black-Red Zombies 4 0.9
Red-White Humans 2 0.5
Jund Aggro 1 0.2
Jund Energy Aggro 1 0.2
Red-Green Energy Aggro 1 0.2

Aside from the ubiquitous Vehicle decks, other forms of beatdown were quite rare. Humans getting a Metallic Mimic to go along with their Thalia's Lieutenants still was something to note. Cryptbreaker wanted to let us know that it wasn't dead yet, despite the loss of Smuggler's Copter, just as undead as ever. But the biggest news here were that Black-Red Aggro now often had Weldfast Engineer crew Heart of Kiran.

Improvise Decks 11 2.6
Grixis Improvise 7 1.6
Blue-Black Improvise 3 0.7
Four-Color Improvise 1 0.2

Lastly, I wanted to draw the attention to this improv group. At least one team of noteworthy players had been working to get the most out of the new keyword ability in all three of its colors, while one famously innovative player led the charge in the blue-black department.

Of course, there's a lot more going on in Standard here in Dublin, like Green-White Tokens, admittedly more focused on +1/+1 counters nowadays, possibly returning to former glory. Or White-Blue Flash still being around, despite the loss of Smuggler's Copter and Reflector Mage. Naturally, one could draw the lines differently and combine some of the above mentioned into different groups too.

Copy Cat, Black-Green, and Vehicles together accounted for roughly three quarters of the metagame, blue control decks for another eighth, and a slew of interesting inventions, updates, and comebacks bringing up the rear: That's your Pro Tour Aether Revolt Standard metegame in a nutshell.

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