Posted in PRO TOUR KHANS OF TARKIR - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 11, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

The Pro Tour Top 8 decklists can often be a misrepresentation of the real Standard metagame. Because of the six draft rounds, a player can 6-0 Limited, then limp into the Top 8 with a below-average Constructed build. Often the Day Two metagame is a good place to look. Though also not without its winning-the-draft problems as well, the larger number of players gives a broader view for what can be played.

Yesterday we saw a wide-open field in this new Constructed format. The top three played decks, Jeskai Wins, Abzan Midrange, and Mardu Midrange were all in higher numbers than any of the existing, pre-rotation archetypes. But "getting played" is not the same as "performing well." Looking at the Standard metagame of Day Two, after five rounds of Constructed, gives a good start as the field becomes winnowed. Both Black-Green Devotion and Green Devotion were played in large-enough numbers, that if they were in fact the best decks, their cream would rise to the top, and would displace the newcomers with ease.

Other new deck ideas, or adjustments from old builds, were played in some smaller numbers. A high second-day conversion rate could show that maybe this deck has play, and others just haven't found it yet or the build is yet to be fully optimized. However, it could also just mean that a team, or a few players, thought it would be great for this Pro Tour and this tournament alone.

Enough jibber-jabber. Here's the table.

Archetype # in Day Two # in Day One Conversion Rate % of Day Two Field
Jeskai Wins 54 77 70% 24.22%
Abzan Midrange 38 60 63% 17.04%
Jeskai Ascendancy 15 21 71% 6.73%
Black-Green Devotion 14 23 61% 6.28%
Mardu Midrange 14 27 52% 6.28%
Blue-Black Control 12 16 75% 5.38%
Green Devotion 11 17 65% 4.93%
Sidisi Whip 6 8 75% 2.69%
Esper Control 5 6 83% 2.24%
Unwritten Devotion 5 5 100% 2.24%
White-Blue Control 5 5 100% 2.24%
White-Blue Heroic 5 6 83% 2.24%
Abzan Aggro 4 4 100% 1.79%
Mardu Planeswalkers 4 7 57% 1.79%
Red-Green Monsters 4 10 40% 1.79%
Naya Midrange 3 4 75% 1.35%
White-Red Aggro 3 3 100% 1.35%
Mardu Aggro 2 4 50% 0.90%
Mardu Control 2 4 50% 0.90%
Red-White Heroic 2 4 50% 0.90%
4-Color Midrange 1 1 100% 0.45%
4-Color Sidisi 1 3 33% 0.45%
Abzan Constellation 1 2 50% 0.45%
Abzan Delve 1 1 100% 0.45%
Blue-Red Heroic 1 1 100% 0.45%
Jeskai Control 1 1 100% 0.45%
Jeskai Tokens 1 1 100% 0.45%
Mono-Red Aggro 1 1 100% 0.45%
Naya Walkers 1 5 20% 0.45%
Sultai Constellation 1 1 100% 0.45%
Sultai Control 1 1 100% 0.45%
Temur Aggro 1 2 50% 0.45%
Temur Monsters 1 1 100% 0.45%
White-Black Control 1 1 100% 0.45%
Red-White Tokens 1 1 100% 0.45%

Many things stayed the same. Both Jeskai Wins and Abzan Midrange have the highest percentage of the field, combining for over 40% of the field (24.22% and 17.04% respectively). And both decks had a conversion rate of over 60%, with Jeskai Wins at 70%. It seems both of these decks were indeed as playable as most thought coming in. Jeskai Wins was the more uncertain of the two, though it had won some lead-up tournaments. But now the secret's out—Mantis Rider + Burn = Profit.

The loser of the new three was Mardu Midrange, with a barely 50% conversion rate. But its loss was quickly replaced by another new archetype: the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck. It's been a while since combo was formidable in Standard (unless you count Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Voyaging Satyr), and many didn't think the deck had the consistency to survive. But with many pros playing the deck, from LSV to (9) EFro, to Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, each playing today (although some with better records than others), it seems that this is the real deal. At least for this tournament. How might it perform into a prepared field? Most people I talked to just didn't think the deck would be consistent enough, and were taken by surprise at its success. Perhaps just a few deck slots here or there can destroy the combo's viability.

Another winner appears to be control. Having a positive match-up against aggressive decks was a plus here (as you can see, many aggro players have been hated out), and the conversion rates are generally high. Blue-Black Control, as played by both (5) Ivan Floch and (6) Stanislaw Cifka, got 12 of its 16 players through, and Esper Control was 5 for 6 and White-Blue Control was a perfect 100% at 6 for 6.

I talked to many pros, including Shahar Shenhar, who said their groups didn't really give Blue-Black Control much credit. Most pros saw that End Hostilities was better than people were thinking (this card is played heavily in the Mardu Planeswalkers and Mardu Control decks as well as the blue-based control decks), but didn't think control could survive without it. I think going into the next tournament, Grand Prix Los Angeles, people will have to think not only of Esper and White-Blue as players, but also Blue-Black Control. Or maybe it'll be time to try it on for size. Mantis Rider could likely keep it in check, but only time will tell.

The other unexpected results came from Red-Green Monsters, Naya Walkers, and Rabble Red/Mono-Red Aggro concoctions. Monsters had one of the worst conversion rates on the board—with 4 out of 10 players moving on to Day Two—second only to Naya Walkers, which was 1 for 5; and Mono-Red is all but gone. You might see one on the board, but that really doesn't count. Because it's Tomoharu Saito. That man could play aggressive decks into a format with six Wrath of God variants and still win, I swear. And even that is a bit misleading, as he only went 3-2 in the Constructed rounds—not exactly a confident finish for one of the elite players.

Black-Green Devotion still appears to be a good choice. It's got a solid conversion rate, which goes higher if you add into it the similar, ChannelFireball The Pantheon (and Hall-of-Famer Makihito Mihara)'s Unwritten Devotion deck. This list is similar to Black_Green Devotion with some distinct differences. One is the large number of See the Unwritten in the main deck. Honestly, that card seems kinda busted in the deck. Because each Unwritten Devotion player converted, that would bring the larger archetype of Big Black-Green to 68%, which puts it in line with the other top performers.

If you're more of a purist, perhaps you just care that of the five undefeated players during the Constructed rounds (including one 4-0-1), only Abzan Midrange (Ari Lax and Matt Severa), Jeskai Wins ((11) Yuuya Watanabe, Ondrej Strasky, and James Rynkiewicz) and Abzan Aggro (Mike Sigrist) were represented. But maybe the first two were only there because they were both good decks, and with the amount of players playing them, you'd expect at least one to run hot.

Speaking of Abzan Aggro, not only did it put up an undefeated player, but every single person playing the deck is now in the second day of competition. Granted, there were only four players, and they are all Face to Face team members, but the deck seems well-positioned right now. Perhaps if only because your opponent is expecting Sylvan Caryatid into Courser of Kruphix, and you give them Rakshasa Deathdealer into Herald of Torment instead. Either way, this build is legit. So just because you see Abzan colors, doesn't mean the Siege Rhino will be the first real threat you face.

It's a wonderful world out there. Coming into this tournament people feared that the metagame would just be midrange deck hitting up against other midrange decks, but that seems far from the truth. You want combo? You got it. Midrange? Check. Control? Yup. Burn/Tempo/Aggro/Skies? (Why you're looking for that, I really don't know.) Check. The Top 8 will likely determine what people will try to play in the future, but that doesn't mean they are the best in the field.

Day Two Incoming!