Questions after Worlds

Written by John Cuvelier on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

William “Huey” Jenson is our world champion. I hope you enjoyed the coverage as much as I did. Granted day one coverage wasn’t the greatest thanks to the horrendous glare on the cards. I am glad they managed to fix their mistake and hopefully learn from it. Now that the dust has settled there are some serious questions that need to be asked about Standard going forward. First of all is the format solved? Are we subjected to playing only the three Tier one decks being Ramunap Red, Blue-Black Control and Temur Energy? The complete absence of the color white from the 24 deck lists makes me wonder if the color is truly that bad or perhaps there’s something(s) being overlooked. Finally, can something inspired from Ixalan tackle the big three decks? Between Worlds and the Starcity open seemed to point towards no, but perhaps everyone was playing it all a little too safe.

Has the format been solved? I don’t think so. There wasn’t a lot of time between when the full spoiler was out and Worlds to figure out the new best deck. The safest play was to go with what was popular prior to the rotation and solve the best builds based on the information. Temur Energy and Ramunap Red are no surprises. Neither deck lost anything of relevance but also at least one of these decks gained some substantial upgrades. These two decks were the cream of the crop prior to rotation and it’s to no one’s surprise really, that these two clashed in the finals. As for the Search for Azcanta control deck in the format the pros opted for Blue-Black control over Blue-White Approach. I think the reason is pretty straightforward in that Blue-Black just slaughters Blue-White and has more reliable targeted removal. The only weakness Blue-Black suffers is the lack of sweepers that white typically offers. Bontu’s Last Reckoning is a fine solution to that weakness, even at a real cost. All in all the trio of decks that showed up to World’s truly look dominating. In order to break through these you’ll need a truly special deck. I would suspect that something different than these three, new or existing with some tweaks will emerge come the Pro Tour in November and that the format is far from solved.

It was a rough weekend for the color white. Not a single plains or white card was registered in the 24 constructed decks used at worlds. That is a shocking and disturbing realization. This tells me that players believed that they could beat Ramunap Red and Temur without the powerful hate cards or sweepers white has to offer such as Authority of the Consuls, Solemnity or Fumigate. This got me thinking of possibly a new way to no pun intended, approach white decks as a whole or at least revive something that lost a couple of cards to rotation.

I’m not going to go through the minute details of the list but rather why I think something like this could be a good choice moving forward. For starters it’s fast, which gives it a favorable position against Blue-Black right out of the gate. After sideboard things get even more difficult with hard to answer cards like Chandra, Torch of Defiance and disruption such as Duress. The matchup against Red on paper looks fairly close, but can be dramatically skewed in favor of Vehicles depending on how committed you want to be to beating it. You have access to a great hate card like Chandra’s Defeat already and can easily add Authority of the Consuls or Regal Caracal to the sideboard if you so choose. Against Temur you still have some good speed, comparable to Ramunap Red but also you get evasion with your Vehicles and better removal than what Ramunap Red has. Post board you also get the powerful hoser Solemnity to shut down the entire operation. Put all these points together and you have a strong case for Mardu Vehicles to be back on top.

Ixalan really hasn’t been fully explored if we’re being honest. There have been rumblings of Pirates, Dinosaurs and even Merfolk as playable tribes that could make a splash into the meta game. With the uncertainty of what decks would rein coming out of rotation, coupled with the lack of an ideal build given not enough time or information these tribal themes just haven’t made a splash. I think it’s quite reasonable to assume that Dinosaurs could be the emergent archetype from Ixalan that challenges the top three decks for superiority.

The reasons why this could work are pretty clear. This deck offers effective ramp creatures that scale with the game, cheap removal and some fantastic finishers. Cards like Ranging Raptors and Walking Ballista often give Ramunap Red fits in the early game. Couple those with the cheap removal this deck offers and you can easily go over the top while preserving your life total. Blue-Black control will have trouble answering your threats one for one and Carnage Tyrant plus a plethora of Planeswalkers out of the board makes me think this could be an easy matchup. Temur Energy doesn’t pair up well against Dinosaurs because of their size and enrage mechanic. This particular build also lines up well against Glorybringer with all the Enrage and five toughness creatures. Although this particular build may not be the ideal, something similar will show itself soon. This tribe is simply too powerful not for some sort of strong shell to emerge.

As for me, I’m still embroiled in testing for the Pro Tour. I’ve spent a lot of time playing the limited format and admittedly not enough time playing constructed. Although three and a half weeks is a reasonable amount of time to figure out Standard, time does fly by faster than you’d expect. I’ve got a whole plethora of deck lists I need to test out to see if I can find something to dethrone the big three. Outside of the couple of decks mentioned in this article, I’m really interested in finding a successful shell for the Improvise mechanic. Perhaps something similar to the deck that won the open classic. If you’ve got something you’d like to share feel free to chime in on the comments or send me something on social media.

John Cuvelier
Gosu. on MTGO
@JCuvelier on Twitter

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