The Pro Tour is in the books and we have a champion. Congratulations to Gerry Thompson for winning it this time, especially after he got crushed in the top 8 of Pro Tour Gatecrash by Joel Larsson. This also crowned Zombies as the new king of Standard. I talked about that archetype quite a bit during my set review and boy did the deck make an impact on the format, much more so than I expected.
If we look at a rough breakdown of the format provided by Wizard’s own Frank Karsten, we seemingly get Mardu Vehicles, Aetherworks Combo and Zombies as the new “Big Three” of Standard after this weekend. If the goal was to increase deck diversity, it seem the ban of Felidar Guardian sort of had the desired effect, especially given the fact that this is only a fairly preliminary look at things. There’s plenty of room to develop in the coming weeks given that these were only the numbers from the Day 1 breakdown. Let’s look at the conversion rate of archetypes from Day 1 to Day 2.
The highest conversion rate actually comes from a surprise contender that was only played 11 times, Temur Energy, with a whooping conversion rate of 82% putting 9 out of 11 pilots into Day 2. The best performing Temur list was fairly aggressive, featuring Elder Deep-Fiend as a way to go big and do something truly powerful to back up the aggressive plan making sure it is able to break through in the midgame or later.
Temur Energy by Michael Brierley (8-2)
So what’s new here: First and foremost Glorybringer is the big new toy here and we all know by now how powerful this card is. It provides the deck with a great curve topper that generates both pressure and board advantage all at the same time. The deck also got Channeler Initiate as another two-drop accelerant to make ramping into the deck’s top end more consistent. Magma Spray helps with decks that go under it while also providing answers to annoying, recursive creatures like Scrapheap Scrounger.
But the biggest “gain” for this deck I think was the ban of Felidar Guardian. It’s exactly these kinds of decks that Saheeli combo was suppressing before, and now that the oppressive combo deck is gone we can see how powerful the Temur strategy is. It crushed the constructed portion of the PT in the hands of the few people that came up with this specific list and ran it to great success. Keep an eye on this going forward. This might be secretly one of the top decks in the format even though it didn’t make it to the Sunday stage.
That said, the problem for this archetype seems to be based on the fairly small sample size of matches. While it absolutely crushes Mardu Vehicles (~80% ) it seemed to be a slight dog to both Aetherworks Marvel (~44%) and Zombies (~43%) which might make it not the best deck going forward given that both of those decks are likely to be pretty popular moving forward.
The next best conversion rate comes from the newcomer in the format, Zombies, which had a 72% conversion rate. With the Mono Black version outperforming the Bw version in almost every way, including more than 7% higher win rate, it would seem like Mono-Black is the best version going forward. If we look closer though, we see that this mostly stems from Bw’s seemingly horrendous Mardu Vehicles matchup, likely due to the added inconsistency from running an additional color.
Bw Zombies performed better in the mirror and against Marvel Aethworks though, which makes sense. The white provides ways to keep Ulamog in check with Binding Mummy and Anguished Unmaking is able to deal with either the Eldrazi or Aetherworks Marvel. Wayward Servant also provides a huge leg up in the mirror, generating extra swings in a race, providing a way to slowly whittle an opponent down in a stall, and making their own Cryptbreakers better with the extra life gained. The best performing Zombies list also happens to be Bw in the hands of Chris Fennel.
Bw Zombies by Chris Fennel (9-1)
The best performing version of Mono Black Zombies is the one that won the whole thing by Gerry Thompson. And while he may have won the whole shebang, Joshua Cho actually ended up with the best Swiss record.
Mono Black Zombies by Joshua Cho (8-2)
Going forward I would recommend testing the Mardu Vehicles matchup with Bw Zombies to see if it is really as bad (~28%) as it seemed at the Pro Tour or whether that low win rate was due to the small sample size of the event. Even then, which version to play might also depend on whether you expect a lot of Mardu Vehicles at the event you’re playing in. If so, perhaps stay away from Bw and stick to Mono-Black. In the end though, if you don’t expect much Vehicles either way Bw seems like the way to go over mono-Black due to seemingly better matchups against Aetherworks and the mirror.
The third best performing deck was one of the most played decks from Day 1, Aetherworks Marvel, which had a conversion rate of 71% in total. The best performing version in terms of conversion rate came from the Danes, putting Martin Mueller into the Top 8 among others. Their version ran four Chandra, Flamecaller as their plan B which proved extremely efficient. This might become the stock version going forward.
Temur Aetherworks by Martin Mueller (7-2-1)
The list competing for the top spot is the Japanese version of the deck in the hands of the masterful Yuuta Takahashi who outperformed the Danes by going 9-1 although his team’s collective conversion rate was a bit worse at 86% (12 out of 14) compared to the Danes 100% (7 out of 7). The Japanese chose to opt for a more spell-heavy version featuring Censor, Glimmer of Genius and a few Dissenter’s Deliverance, foregoing Servant of the Conduit and Chandra, Flamecaller to focus more on the combo.
Aetherworks Marvel by Yuuta Takahashi (9-1)
Temur Aetherworks as a whole seemed to be the best performing archetype in terms of win percentage against the other top decks aka Aetherworks, Vehicles and Zombies. The Danes’ Flamecaller version overall outperformed the spell heavier version by almost 5% in win rate over decent sample sizes. This percentage was mostly based on dominating the mirror although the deck does lose a significant percentage against the Mardu Vehicles decks it seems. This is likely due to not having access to Censor, which might otherwise defend against the powerful early development of Vehicles, and instead having slow, clunky cards like Chandra, Flamecaller which are not only expensive, but also not capable of interacting with a board split between creatures, vehicles and planeswalkers. These two lists’ Zombies matchup seems to be comparable since Chandra can interact much more profitably to make up for the lost tempo early and the archetype in general seems a bit more soft to what Aetherworks is doing. Both versions are above 50% win rate against all three of the major archetypes while the mirror seemingly significantly favors the Flamecaller version due to having more threats giving it an overall higher power level and an alternate angle of attack.. Going forward this might be the deck to beat for now.
Mardu Vehicles, the most popular macro archetype alongside Aetherworks Marvel Day 1, had a comparably bad conversion rate at 58%. The deck managed to come in at a total win rate of 50% with around 50% or less against the big three decks (one being the mirror). Notably, it fared significantly poorly against all Aethworks variants combined at ~41% win rate. The best finishing Mardu lists came in the hands of Sebastian Pozzo and Noah Walker.
Mardu Vehicles by Sebastian Pozzo (8-2)
Mardu Vehicles by Noah Walker (8-2)
Not a lot has changed here except that Mardu seemingly went from the second best deck to mediocre trying to keep up with the rest of the format. This deck just does not seem like a good choice right now with no major archetype to prey upon and very mediocre performances across the board. I would likely stay away from this for now.
The last archetype I want to take a look at is Black-Green specifically Black-Green Energy. While the deck was not that popular, and Black-Green variants as a whole only had a 55% conversion rate, the Energy variant did better at 60%. The other noteworthy thing is that the deck actually performed pretty well with the third highest overall win rate (if you lump together the two major Aetherworks variants as one) at roughly 55%. The best performing Black-Green Energy variant came from Ken Yukuhiro who also made it into the Top 8 with it.
Black-Green Energy by Ken Yukuhiro (7-3)
The deck actually had a pretty good win rate against all Aetherworks variants (59%) and even against Mardu Vehicles (50%). Unfortunately, its Zombies match-up seems severely lacking (40%). If you find a way to improve the Zombies matchup this might be a solid choice going forward, especially if you are looking something outside of the big three especially to battle with.
Based on these stats and results, I personally would recommend to go with Bw Zombies if I had an upcoming Standard tournament this weekend. It gives you a leg up in the mirror and did reasonably well against Aetherworks lists. I might simply rock the best performing deck, Flamecaller Aetherworks, if I was feeling a little more adventurous.
Wow that was a lot of data! Hope you guys enjoyed this through analysis thanks to the great pre-work of Frank Karsten on the mothership.
Thanks for reading,
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