Editor’s Note: Relevant financial details in blue, folks.
Coming into Day 2 of the largest (466 players) Pro Tour field of all time, the field has proved to be a mix of the expected and a plethora of attempts to get ahead of the metagame with cards previously thought to be nearly unplayable in constructed Magic.
Aetherworks Marvel decks were the archtype that showed up in the greatest numbers, constituting nearly 18% of the total field on Day 1. When they work, the various flavors of Marvel decks can drop a gigantic threat such as Ulamog or Emrakul into play as early as Turn 4. They have also generated some truly embarrassing moments for their pilots however, with too many of their top end threats stuck in hand resulting in fail to find adventures when activating the Marvel. Heading into Day 2 it will be important to identify whether a proportional number of these decks have made it through to Day 2, or whether the group think on going big was off the mark. The spike has already taken place however, with the card pushing from $10 to $20 early Friday evening. It will need to make Top 8 to avoid a wholescale sell off by the speculators come Monday.
Coming out of a highly aggressive first couple of weeks in the new Standard, many wondered aloud whether a control deck could be configured to beat the variety of aggressive and combo strategies in the meta. So far it has been Grixis Control in the hands of Hall of Famer Shoota Yasooka that has been most impressive in controlling the field.
Shoota’s deck has put both Thing in the Ice and Torrential Gearhulk back in the spotlight on the financial front, with Gearhulk spiking Friday night up toward $20 before fading back a bit to $18 on significantly lowered inventory.
Heading into the weekend, Smuggler’s Copter was the card that seemed to define the format, but we haven’t seen a lot of the card so far on camera, and it is unclear how many Copter decks have made it into Day 2. Metalwork Colossus decks were sprinkled through the field, and a couple of them may be doing well enough to make a bid for Top 8. Consequently the card has moved from $1.50 to $5 overnight. Dynavolt Tower, as seen in the Travis Woo championed Jeskai Control build (with three players over 50% Day 1) and the Degan UR build, is also on the move. The card is currently available around $2, but inventory is draining and this card can easily top $5 if it makes Top 8.
The RG Double Strike aggro deck hasn’t had a good showing so far, with Brian Kibler looking fairly foolish with a few obvious misplays during his feature match with the deck. Electrostatic Pummeler may still end up a popular card at the LGS level however, as the deck is fairly cheap and easy to play.
As I expected, Chandra, Torch of Defiance has not made it on camera as of yet, and by all accounts she is essentially absent in the format. Look for this Planeswalker to crash hard heading out of the weekend. Panharmonicon spiked earlier this week on the back of a prominent video series by Saffron Olive, but the card is not in the field this weekend, and seems likely to slide back toward $5 from $10. Foils on the other hand, propped up by EDH demand, are likely to hold their current plateau a bit better.
Day 2 Meta looks as follows as reported by coverage staff:
- Temur Aetherworks holding steady, 1.17% up to 18.77% of the total field
- BG Delirium down 1.5% to 10.24%
- BR Aggro steady at 8%
- RW Vehicles steady at 7%
- RG Energy steady at 6.5%
Ten other decks between 2-5%.
Worth noting that no one deck has gotten blown out of the format thus far, nor have any of the newer decks proven to be true solutions to the format. Meta is looking wide open at present. The continued prevelance of the Aetherworks decks may indicate upward pressure forthcoming on Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Emrakul, the Promised End.
Follow along with us as we track the final 5 rounds of constructed play before the cut to Top 8 and the establishment of the new Standard metagame.
Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Lee Shi Tian (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Kentaro Yamamoto (Grixis Emerge)
The Tian deck is splashing black for Unlicensed Disintegration. Yamamoto’s deck leverages the Prized Amalgram/Scrapheap Scrounger engine via Perpetual Timepiece instead of the red discard spells favored by other pilots. In Game 1, Tian overruns Kentaro, essentially unopposed, within the first five turns. In Game 2, Tian comes out to another aggressive start but this time Yamamoto is able to stabilize with a Kozilek’s Return and turn the corner to put it away. Game 3, a key Ceremonious Rejection off a freshly played Cultivator’s Caravan allows Shi Tian to brush past a Kozilek’s Return and put the match away.
Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Matt Nass (Temur Aetherworks) vs. Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control)
Matt Nass concedes Game 1 after being unable to ruin Nass with an Emerakul trigger.
Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens) vs Rich Hoaen (Temur Aetherworks)
We come into this match with the players tied one game a piece. In Game 3 we quickly see Hoaen spin his Aetherworks Marvel, only to whiff on a solution to the quick RW clock from the Greek player, and Makis takes it.
Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Steve Rubin (BR Aggro) vs. Mike Hron (Mardu Vehicles)
These players split the first two games before we check in as well. The weakness of aggro decks in this tourney is looking to be premature. There are plenty of aggro decks keeping the combo and control players honest in the top ranks.
Deck Tech #5: Zac Elsik (UR Control), 5-1 in Standard so far
- 4x Torrential Gearhulk
- 2x Nahiri, the Harbinger
- 3x Dynavolt Tower
- 4x Galvanic Bombardment
- 4x Incendiary Flow
- 4x Harnessed Lightning
- 2x Void Shatter
- 1x Spell Shrivel
- 2x Negate
- 4x Glimmer of Genius
- 4x Anticipate
Dynavolt Tower has moved up to $3.00 online, but vendors are adding copies as low as $.50. One of these decks needs to Top 8 to avoid a backslide.
Cut for Top 8 is being reported as likely to extend only to 13-3.
Ben Weitz is talking to Marshall Sutcliffe about his White/Colorless Eldrazi brew, which went 5-1 on day 1.
Round 13 (7th Round of Standard): Oliver Polak-Rottman (Temur Colossus) vs. Pierre Dagen (UR Spells)
Both players come into the round at 10-3, needing to win to stay live for Top 8. Oliver takes Game 1 by repeatedly bashing in with 10/10s artifact creatures. In Game 2, he manages to get three copies of his signature beatstick into play and Dagen is forced to lean heavily on Niblis of Frost activations to hold off the metallic offensive. One stunning turn later however, Dagen pushes the match into a tie-breaker, by eeking through eleven damage between prowess triggers on both Niblis of Frost and the activation of a Dynavolt Tower.
Plenty of Metalwork Colossus inventory now posted in the $3.50-$4 range. Deck feels a bit niche to me, and I don’t see it taking more than 10% of the meta moving forward.
In Game 3, a Confiscation Coup from Oliver is met by Void Shatter, but it is countered by Ceremonious Rejection and Oliver manages to steal a Dynavolt Tower, leaving another on Dagen’s side of the board. Oliver is then able to get a Metalwork Colossus into play on the back of the extra non-creature artifact now in play on his side.
Dagen however, has a super-powered Harnessed Lightning to take down the first Colossus, with Oliver quickly following up with another from his yard. LSV calls out Niblis of Frost as doing amazing work out of the board, especially when opponents take out their removal. Indeed, Dagen uses the Niblis to hold back the remaining Colossus, gets a Torrential Gearhulk down and starts rolling a train of instants and energy generation to take control of the game. Dagen takes the match and stays live with his innovative UR Dynavolt Tower deck.
Reid Duke (RW Vehicles) vs. Kenji Tsumura (BG Delirium)
We come in on this and Duke finally puts Chandra, Torch of Defiance on camera out of his sideboard. The beleagured planeswalker is quickly killed however, and the match is split, heading to a third game after a key Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet makes combat too tricky for Reid. Off camera a bit later however, Reid is able to take the match.
Deck Tech #5: Frank Karsten (Mardu Zoo)
- 4x Inventor’s Apprentice
- 4x Toolcraft Exemplar
- 4x Thraben Inspector
- 1x Depala, Pilot Exemplar
- 3x Pia Nalar
- 3x Veteran Motorist
- 4x Scrapheap Scrounger
- 4x Smuggler’s Copter
- 2x Fleetwheel Cruiser
- 1x Incendiary Flow
- 1x Declaration in Stone
- 4x Fiery Temper
- 1x Key to the City
- 1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Franks mentions that he found that the other aggro decks were step behind this build in presenting early game pressure.
Standings after this round look like this:
Decks in contention are all over the map so far, with no clear theme. RB and RW Aggro, Grixis Control, Aetherworks Combo, Colossus, UR Control and UR Emerge are all live.
Round 14 (Standard Round 8): Lee Shi Tian (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Raphael Levy (UR Emerge)
Lee Shi Tian’s consistent aggro plan plays out as per normal again this round, allowing him to claim first blood yet again. In Game 2 Levy is forced to mulligan on the play against the last deck you want to stumble against. Levy is running a copy of Nahiri’s Wrath out of the board, which boasts nice synergy with Stitchwing Skaab and Prized Amalgam. He puts the power to use to clear the early assault cluster from Lee.
Round 14 (Standard Round 8): Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens) vs. Rob Pisano (Temur Aetherworks)
Matsoukas has Reckless Bushwacker in his deck to assist in the go wide plan and he makes great use of it in Game 2 to take down the match in record time when he applies it to five attackers.
Round 14 (Standard Round 8): Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) vs. Rich Hoaen (Temur Aetherworks)
The control is real as Yasooka takes this down without a lot of trouble. Counterspells are showing their value every round, but this one has a truly great sequence at the end.
Yasooka is at four cards in library and has a Thing in the Ice with two counters. He casts Painful Truths for three, and then Negates it, flipping his Horror and drawing a concession. Hoaen was stuck with multiple not-yet-castable Eldrazi in hand, later versions of this deck may adjust the threats. More Gearhulks anyone?
The final Feature Match of the round doesn’t have more to add, except to show us how bad Chandra is against Vehicles. Her price is still on the decline until she’s able to stay in play.
Round 15 (Standard Round 9): Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) vs. Reid Duke (RW Vehicles)
Game 1 felt over after two early Galvanic Bombardment from Yasooka blunted Duke’s early creatures, but aggro takes it down anyway.
Game 2 shows us the spell-Negate my spell trick to flip Thing in the Ice again, and only a couple of attacks are needed to win it. Yasooka is still playing Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, which seems amazing. If Duke attacks it, Jace has replaced himself and gained some nice life. If he doesn’t, the card advantage is real. It’s only a two-of, though, so big movement is probably unlikely.
Game 3 is a clinic, as the control deck uses life totals and Weaver of Lightning triggers very well, even managing to fire off a Jace ultimate! A late Chandra, Torch of Defiance just isn’t enough and Duke picks up his fourth loss. Will we get to see Chandra be good on camera as these rounds progress?
Jun Ishihara (Temur Emerge) vs. Tyler Hill (BG Delirium)
This games ends up in a draw after an epic Game 2 with multiple Emrakul’s in play between the two players.
Matt Nass is in with Temur Emerge, so is Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens).
Deck Tech #6: Oliver Polak-Rottman (Temur Colossus)
Oliver describes how Sanctum of Ugin allows you to chain Metalwork Colossus, with the dream draw leading to four copies on Turn 4. It’s a combo deck and Sylvan Scrying adds consistency by finding the Sanctum of Ugins. More reliable than Aetherworks in his opinion. Colossus is pushing $4 at this point.
- 4 Sanctum of Ugin
- 2 Inventor’s Fair
- 4 Sylvan Scrying
- 4 Metalwork Colossus
- 4 Hedron Archive
- 4 Prophetic Prison
- 3 Deadlock Trap
- 4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
- 3 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
- 3 Cultivator’s Caravan
- 4 Glint-Nest Crane
- 1 Elder Deep-Fiend
- 2 Select for Inspection (Oliver says he’d replace these with more artifacts)
- 1 Hanweir Battlements
Pierre Dagen manages a tough match win against Ondrej Strasky, to keep his Top 8 hopes alive, making UR Control live for Top 8. Predicting Top 8 to include: Grixis Control, UR Control, Temur Emerge, R/W Tokens so far. This format is wide open.
My gut says that Temur Aetherworks is going to be dust binned after this tournament as a strategy that is simply too inconsistent. Need to see the win %s on this deck on Day 2.
Round 16 (Final Round of Standard): Tyler Hill (BG Delirium) vs. Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control)
Both of these players are playing for access to the Top 8, at 11-3-1. Hill’s delirium deck isn’t much different than versions from a month ago. Romao is running Dovin Baan, Torrential Gearhulk, and many of the UR control components we’ve seen all weekend.
Game 1 Carlos gets off a two target Quarantine Field on Kalitas and Mindwrack Demon to empty the board. This opens up a sequence a few turns later where Carlos finds himself with a pair of Torrential Gearhulks in play, and the onslaught is too much for Hill to deflect. Romao is now a game away from making Top 8 of the Pro Tour only a week after winning his 2nd GP of the season. Impressive!
In Game 2, Romao gets a Dovin Baan out onto an empty board, but it gets answered quickly by Hissing Quagmire. Hill then answers with Liliana, the Last Hope, only to have it countered. Another Liliana is answered just as quickly by a Torrential Gearhulk into Harness Lightning. A late Quarantine Field later takes out three threats on Hill’s side, and the board opens up for aggression by the Jeskai player and Romao pulls another control deck into the Top 8.
Round 16: Matt Nass (Temur Aetheworks) vs. Pierre Dagen (UR Control)
Dagen has taken the first game off camera. Pierre takes the match as well, and clinches Top 8 for both players.
Joey Manner is ghosting into Top 8 with a UW Flash Spirits deck, running Archangel Avacyn, Smuggler’s Copter, Spell Queller and co, knocking a Temur Emerge deck out of the final day.
James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.