Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on April 22, 2016

By Tobi Henke

It's a brand new world in Standard. Now that is true at every Pro Tour these days because every Pro Tour closely follows the release of a new set. Some even coincide with a Standard rotation where a new set is added while older sets rotate out of the format. This one was special because not only did we get new cards (from Shadows over Innistrad) to replace two older sets (Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged); this Pro Tour also was the first under the new system by which Standard rotates twice a year and consists of three blocks and five to six sets.

So what decks did players choose for the event? Let's dive right in!

Archetype Count % of Field
Bant Company 87 23.02%
Mono-White Humans 43 11.38%
R/G Ramp 22 5.82%
W/U Humans 20 5.29%
Mardu Control 19 5.03%
R/G Goggle Ramp 15 3.97%
Esper Control 14 3.70%
W/B Midrange 14 3.70%
B/G Aristocrats 13 3.44%
Jund 13 3.44%
G/W Tokens 10 2.65%
B/G Control 8 2.12%
Esper Dragons 8 2.12%
R/W Midrange 7 1.85%
G/W Humans 5 1.32%
R/W Goggles 5 1.32%
R/W Humans 5 1.32%
U/B Demonic Tentacles 5 1.32%
U/R Thing in the Ice 5 1.32%
W/B Control 5 1.32%
W/B Eldrazi 5 1.32%
Sultai Midrange 4 1.06%
W/U Eldrazi 4 1.06%
Abzan Company 4 1.06%
4-Color Dragon Reanimator 3 0.79%
B/R Midrange 3 0.79%
Bant Tokens 3 0.79%
Big White 3 0.79%
Jeskai Goggles 3 0.79%
Abzan Control 2 0.53%
Bant Company/Humans 2 0.53%
Grixis Control 2 0.53%
Jeskai Dragons 2 0.53%
Mono-Red Goggles 2 0.53%
Naya Midrange 2 0.53%
Naya Tokens 2 0.53%
U/R Goggles 2 0.53%
Other 7 1.85%
Total 378 100.00%

The most played deck by a wide margin was Bant Company. It had done well at a few tournaments prior to the Pro Tour and, when I talked to players on Friday, many considered it the most important deck to beat and a lot of them admitted that they simply hadn't been able to find a deck that did beat it consistently. Humans, either white-blue, green-white, or mono-white, had likewise been a known quantity going into the weekend, and the archetype didn't disappoint with regards to quantity here either. Combined, these three decks put up three quarters of Bant Company's numbers, with Mono-White Humans taking the lead.

Going with a previously established deck didn't obviate the need for innovation, however. A few teams, for example, had found that Jace, Vryn's Prodigy wasn't the best 2-drop creature in today's Collected Company deck anymore. Meanwhile, Anointer of Champions was gaining in popularity on the Human side. Two players were even running a hybrid of Humans and Company, and five came with Red-White Humans, with red mostly for Abbot of Keral Keep and Outnumber, sometimes for Reckless Bushwhacker.

Similarly, early tournament results had suggested that there definitely was potential in the combination of Pyromancer's Goggles and Magmatic Insight/Tormenting Voice and possibly Drownyard Temple. But where that would lead was entirely unclear. So far, it led some players toward blue-red control-oriented decks, either with Thing in the Ice or without, with a third color or without, while others included those cards in red-white decks. One noteworthy team came up with Red-Green Goggle Ramp, and two heroes of the mono-red persuasion would be casting Pyromancer's Goggles plus Magmatic Insight on turn three off of Vessel of Volatility.

Other innovative designs by major teams included Black-Green Aristocrats, harnessing the power of both Loam Dryad and Cryptolith Rite, as well as Black-Green Control, a deck with an insane amount of creature removal, but also Dark Petition and Seasons Past.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Some people decided to employ Pieces of the Puzzle to put Dragons into their graveyard and Ever After into their hand. Meanwhile, others were returning Demonic Pact to their hand via, of all things, Crush of Tentacles.

It was still too early to tell which of these strategies were the real deal and which would ultimately come up short, of course. Check back tomorrow for the update on the decks that made it to the second day of competition!

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