Welcome!

We’ve had a few large events for the new standard format, so let’s look at what has been doing well. The 3 events I’m going to be looking at are the Magic Online PTQ, the recent SCG Classic, and the SCG Team Open. The team open will be the least impactful of the 3 because there is always the chance that the standard players were carried by their teammates–we don’t know their individual record.

The Magic Online PTQ gave us the top 32 decklists and the breakdown is as follows:

Jeskai: 1 (It did win the event despite being the lowest represented deck)

Abzan Midrange: 2

Abzan Explore:1 (abusing Wildgrowth Walker, which might be the breakout card of this tournament)

Boros Midrange: 2

Boros Aggro: 2

Boros Angels: 3

Golgari Midrange: 1 (Golgari Findbroker with The Eldest Reborn and 7 planeswalkers)

Golgari Reanimator: 3 (Gruesome Menagerie with Wildgrowth Walker and a lot more explore cards)

Grixis Control: 1

Grixis Dragons: 1

Izzet Spells: 1 (Crackling Drake, Goblin Electromancer, and a ton of cheap spells)

Izzet Control: 1 (Ral, Izzet Viceroy and Dream Eater as win conditions)

Azorius Control: 1 (Just Teferi, Hero of Dominaria as a win condition)

Dimir Control: 1 (Disinformation Campaign)

Esper Control: 3 (Chromium, The Mutable alongside Teferi Hero of Dominaria as win conditions)

Mono-Red Aggro: 2

Selesnya Tokens: 2

Steel Leaf Stompy: 2

Sultai Midrange: 1 (Another Wildgrowth Walker deck with Muldrotha, the Gravetide this time)

Naya Dinosaurs: 1

Wildgrowth Walker had a breakout weekend on Magic Online. I hadn’t seen it before this but it was everywhere here.

The Star City Games Classic only gave us 16 decklists:

Boros Angels: 2

Grixis Control: 1

Mono-Red Aggro: 4

Boros Aggro: 1

Jeskai Control: 2

Golgari Reanimator: 1

Golgari Midrange: 1 (Find // Finality as a card advantage engine, Izoni and Molderhulk as the top end)

Mono-Blue Aggro: 2

Esper Control: 1

Selesnya Tokens: 1

Mono red as usual is very popular week 1 of a new standard format in paper tournaments.

The Team open for some reason gave us the top 27 decklists which is a strange number to use.

Selesnya Tokens: 4

Mono-Red Aggro: 9

Boros Angels: 1

Boros Aggro: 1

Esper Control: 1

Golgari Midrange: 3 (1 similar to a previous one with Find // Finality card advantage engine, the others are more midrange with lots of Doom Whisperers and removal)

Steel Leaf Stompy: 2

Dimir Control: 1

Grixis Control: 1

Sultai Control: 2

Sultai Midrange: 1

Jeskai Control: 1

Mono-Red had an even higher representation in the main event than it did in the Classic. While Selesnya tokens only had 4 spots here there were 2 in the finals. Control decks appear to be all over the place right now, which is pretty normal for week 1 of a format. It generally takes an established meta for control decks to be tuned to beat it, and this weekend was very diverse due to it being a new format.

The most interesting decklists to me from this weekend were the Gruesome Menagerie lists playing Wildgrowth Walker. The lists were all pretty similar consisting of 4 one drops, 12 two drops, and 8 3 drops as targets to bring back. The most interesting difference to me is whether they chose Llanowar Elves or Stitcher’s Supplier as their 1 drop. Llanowar Elves allows for a faster start, allowing player to play multiple explore creatures to follow up a Wildgrowth Walker, while Stitcher’s Supplier allows for a more effective Gruesome Menagerie.

Here’s a version of the deck I’ve been playtesting:

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Merfolk Branchwalker

4 Seekers’ Squire

4 Wildgrowth Walker

4 Jadelight Ranger

4 Plaguecrafter

1 Golgari Findbroker

2 Ravenous Chupacabra

1 Doom Whisperer

2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

1 Molderhulk

4 Gruesome Menagerie

3 Find//Finality

22 Lands

This list has a better aggressive matchup than many of the other Green-Black lists due to Wildgrowth Walker’s ability to gain life, as well as having plenty of early blockers. The lack of planeswalkers makes this deck a little worse against control, but that has already been a great matchup for Golgari in my testing, so the loss of those percentage points are likely less important than the gain against aggro decks. This might be the right way to go if red stays as popular as it was this week.

~ Sean Armstrong