Pro Tour Eldritch Moon - Day One Archetypes

Posted in Event Coverage on August 5, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Special thanks to Chapman Sim for helping crunch all these numbers, figure out which archetypes are which, and generally making this a legible, legitimate piece.

The numbers and decks are in! As we delve deep into the new Eldritch Moon Standard format, we look to the Pro Tour to discover the Standard bearers for the format to come. Pro Tour Eldritch Moon is no different. And boy is there a lot to dive into.

Coming in, people assumed that Bant Company (mostly consolidated into a single archetype thanks to the new hotness, Spell Queller) would be top dog. Though that is technically true from the data, technicality is about all Bant Company has going for it.

The story of the data breaks down into a few main, new cards—Emrakul, the Promised End; Liliana, the Last Hope; Elder Deep-Fiend; Kozilek's Return; Voldaren Pariah; and Haunted Dead (as a package with Prized Amalgam).

Here's the big chart:

Deck Archetype # Played % of Field
Bant Company 58 19.20%
Black-Green Delirium 37 12.30%
White-Black Control 21 7.00%
Blue-Black Zombies 19 6.30%
Four-Color Emerge 17 5.60%
Temur Emerge 17 5.60%
Green-White Tokens 14 4.60%
Black-Green Midrange 12 4.00%
Jund Delirium 12 4.00%
Red-Green Ramp 8 2.60%
White-Blue Spirits 7 2.30%
Bant Spirits 6 2.00%
Legendary Naya 6 2.00%
Sultai Control 6 2.00%
White-Black Angels 6 2.00%
Red-Green Delirium Ramp 5 1.70%
Blue-Black Madness 4 1.30%
Mono-White Humans 4 1.30%
Zomb-Emerge 4 1.30%
Bant Eldrazi Rites 3 1.00%
Blue-Red Fevered Visions 3 1.00%
Mono-Red Goggles 3 1.00%
Abzan Control 2 0.70%
Bant Humans 2 0.70%
Black-Green Seasons Past 2 0.70%
Blue-Green Emerge 2 0.70%
Mono-Blue Engulf 2 0.70%
Four-Color Demonic Pact 1 0.30%
Five-Color Superfriends 1 0.30%
Abzan Seasons Past 1 0.30%
Black-Green Aristocrats 1 0.30%
Black-Red Control 1 0.30%
Blue-Black Control 1 0.30%
Blue-Red Emerge 1 0.30%
Colorless Eldrazi 1 0.30%
Esper Control 1 0.30%
Grixis Control 1 0.30%
Legendary Red-White 1 0.30%
Lupine Delirium 1 0.30%
Mono-Black Control 1 0.30%
Mono-Black Zombies 1 0.30%
Mono-Red Aggro 1 0.30%
Mono-Red Eldrazi 1 0.30%
Naya Planeswalkers 1 0.30%
Red-Green Tokens 1 0.30%
Red-White Goggles 1 0.30%
Sultai Emerge 1 0.30%
Total Players 302  

As you can see, Bant Company is indeed on top, with 19.2% of the metagame. However, this is much lower than initial estimates (some as high as 30%), and below the No. 1 slot is some hot spice indeed. Time will tell how good a choice these Bant Company decks were.

Black-Green Delirium—a new archetype that strongly leverages getting four card types in the graveyard to power up your spells—is the immediate No. 2 with the release of Eldritch Moon. Grapple with the Past, Gather the Pack, and often Vessel of Nascency provide for a way to get delirium quickly and efficiently. The deck can have delirium by the third turn and swing with a 4/4 Grim Flayer! But oh, that's not close to all.

The big split within this archetype is between the decks that play Grim Flayer and those that play Grapple with the Past. That is usually a good indicator of how proactive the deck will be, but none of them are truly "aggro" outside of the one Lupine Delirium, whose namesake, Lupine Prototype, brings the pain as early as turn three. The almost-unanimous choices are Ishkanah, Grafwidow and the newly Oathed Liliana, the Last Hope. Her ability to kill creatures, add to delirium, and recur creatures makes for a card that seemingly does it all.

With 108 pings for Traverse the Ulvenwald in the big deck document, it might just be the most-played card this weekend.

Oh yeah, and out of these decks, you better be on the lookout for Emrakul, the Promised End—and a heck of a lot earlier than the thirteenth turn.

Once you combine the black-green decks with Jund Delirium, Sultai Delirium, and the Black-Green Midrange, it seems clear that black and green have replaced black and white as the go-to "big" deck colors. Though they might not all be "control" decks, many look like The Rock decks of old, or the Standard Jund decks. At each mana slot, you're hoping to cast something better than your opponent. In these decks, you're just using delirium and your graveyard to get there.

The next big story is the attack of the Zombies! Blue-Black Zombies is the most-played version, but you could lump Blue-Black Madness, Mono-Black Zombies, and Zomb-Emerge in there too. Most all these decks run cards like Haunted Dead; Cryptbreaker; Wharf Infiltrator; Liliana, the Last Hope; and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to completely abuse the graveyard. Some have tricky things like Gisa and Geralf; Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet; and the like, but they all use their graveyards to the max to add creatures, draw cards, and—most importantly—wipe the board with Voldaren Pariah.

Voldaren Pariah is especially crazy with cards like Haunted Dead. Using free and/or recursive creatures to sacrifice to the Pariah feels especially mean when your opponent has to sacrifice "real" creatures.

If you have been building at all with these new cards recently, you'll know there's one card unexpectedly absent from that last paragraph: Prized Amalgam. All the Zombie decks are playing it (even the ones that can't cast it), but that's not where it ends for the Eternal standout. Along with Haunted Dead, the Amalgam is making a large splash in non-Zombie archetypes as well. And this story is probably the coolest one of the tournament so far.

The most notable use for Prized Amalgam and Haunted Dead outside of straight Zombies is the four-color emerge deck. Emerge as a mechanic has a huge representation in the field—when Four-Color Emerge combines with Temur Emerge (or "Temur-ge"), they make for a full twelve percent of the metagame! Both decks look to fill up their graveyards (hopefully with Kozilek's Return), emerge big creatures (activating Kozilek's Return to wipe the board), then go over the top again and again. This can be by chaining Elder Deep-Fiend with Sanctum of Ugin, it could be with a giant, discounted Emrakul, or it could even be something else.

And here's where the Amalgam and Haunted Dead come in.

The big difference between the Temur Emerge decks and the four-color ones is the eight-card Zombie package. Once you can recur creatures, not only do you get cheap, emergent creatures (discounted thanks to sacrificing creatures with mana costs, regardless of whether you've paid for them), but you can also end your chain with cards like Decimator of the Provinces to make all the little dudes swing for approximately 8,000,000 damage! Well, it sure seems like 8,000,000...It's a real big game.

This is why although Bant Company might get the top slot, it's not close to the headline story. Emerge has enabled both older cards like Prized Amalgam and Kozilek's Return. Liliana, the Last Hope; Grapple with the Past; Ishkanah, Grafwidow; and Grim Flayer have made delirium strategies something to actively go for, and Voldaren Pariah is popping up all over the place.

On Thursday, I asked the top pros two questions: (1) What percentage of the metagame do you think Bant Company will comprise? and (2), Are those players as safe as they think? Almost unanimously, the answer to the second question was "less safe." The pros knew that decks like this were out there, and knew that they had at least a pretty good game against the Pro Tour boogeyman, Collected Company.

Whether or not these new decks will prove their worth and vault players into the Top 8 remains to be seen—but just from the sheer number of new decks and new cards played, there are some fun Constructed rounds to look forward to. Not just this weekend, but into Grand Prix, Pro Tour Qualifiers, and Friday Night Magic events to come.

...And we haven't even mentioned the deck that uses Thalia's Lancers to fetch up Pyromancer's Goggles.


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