This weekend is the SCG Invitational, a split event comprised of both Modern and Standard constructed formats. While Modern is fairly well established, we have essentially a new format without a new set release thanks to our first midseason Standard banlist update. Without Marvel lording over us, there is more room for midrange decks to breathe. Cards like Glorybringer and Fumigate have gone from borderline unplayable to format-defining.
While we have yet to have any major events heading into this weekend, we do have a collection of both online data and smaller tournaments like IQs that have been reported with decklists to have an idea of the relatively best known decks heading into this weekend. Even if you’re looking to focus on beating the best decks like me, it is generally a good idea to read up on them to know what to expect.
The Temur Energy deck is the best deck in the current Standard format based on available data. Thanks to things like Harness Lightning and Magma Spray, this archetype has the tools to deal with smaller, aggressive decks like Zombies. Thanks to a diversity of threats such as Tireless Tracker and Bristling Hydra, this deck also has the tools to give most control decks fits.
There is still a good deal of variation in these decklists as the format iterates towards a “best” version. Some of them are playing copies of Channeler Initiate over Longtusk Cub to accelerate into their top end more consistently.
Another variation in the lists involves the removal suite they are playing. While all versions play four copies of Harnessed Lightning, some lists, like the sample one above, are playing two copies of Cut // Ribbons. This is a reasonable removal spell that hits things like Glorybringer while also acting as a Fireball in the late game thanks to Aether Hub and Servant of the Conduit making black mana for us.
While these decks all feature four Glorybringer, the remaining cards at the top end vary. Some Hydras and Chandra, Torch of Defiance are common place, but a few lists have started playing copies of Elder Deep-Fiend for the tempo swings it can generate.
The number two deck in the room is old faithful: Mardu Vehicles. The core of the deck is the same as it has been for some time:
These cards allow us to have aggressive curves to run people out of the game. The main variation in these Mardu lists is the removal suite they play. Four Unlicensed Disintegration is a must, but the number of Fatal Push and Cut // Ribbons past that will vary.
The jury still seems to be out on what the ideal five-drop is in Mardu in the new format. Some are playing Avacyn while other play Glorybringer. Some, like our sample list here, are playing one of each.
The biggest draw to the Mardu deck is the “leveling” that gets to be done between players post sideboard. With additional planeswalkers and copies of Fumigate, these decks can turn into a full blown control deck which lines up well against what decks like Temur and Green-Black Energy are trying to do. Speaking of Green-Black Energy:
The best decks in most Standard formats are the ones doing objectively powerful things and this deck most certainly is doing just that. Specifically, curving these two guys into each other is fairly insane:
In addition to having a strong, proactive game plan and quality removal in the form of Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness, Green-Black also has a very consistent mana base between only playing two colors alongside four copies of Attune with Aether.
In addition to everything else this archetype has going for it, it also gets to draw a pile of extra cards thanks to these two:
In the context of this deck, Siphoner is basically a better Dark Confidant in many ways. Not only does our opponent not see the card we are drawing every turn that only costs us one life, but Siphoner also has evasion thanks to Menace.
The successful Green-Black Energy decks probably have the least variation of all the archetypes we are looking at here today. Some have fun-ofs like Ob Nixilis Reignited or Rhonas the Indomitable, but the core of these decks is pretty much the same as listed above.
Mono Black Zombies
The last deck that has 10% or more of the metagame share on MTG Goldfish as of my writing of this article is the Mono Black Zombies list that honestly is not much different than the one Gerry Thompson used to win the last Pro Tour.
This archetype feels like it is fairly poorly positioned in the new format where Red-based energy decks are popular. I do not have enough experience to comment on how Zombies lines up against Green-Black or Mardu, but those decks seem like they have the tools to beat Zombies if they want to as well.
Past the four deck, we have a variety of lists vying to become top competitors with the right tuning. Two of these lists are interesting combo-ish lists that have put up a number of results:
Grixis Metalwork Colossus
This deck was popularized a bit by streamer Brennan Decandio who streamed a 5-0 session with the deck. It is doing objectively powerful things by chaining Metalwork Colossuses into each other on the back of Sanctum of Ugin. The singleton copy of Elder Deep-Fiend gives the list some utility to punch through clogged boards as well.
This list is certainly unrefined and I have not played with it much yet myself to know exactly which direction it should go in. It’s worth noting that there was a straight Blue-Red variation that did well in a league recently that featured several copies of Fling to close out games even faster with the giant 10/10s.
RG Energy Pummler
The last list that caught my eye that has been consistently putting up results is this aggro-combo Electrostatic Pummeler deck. There are a lot of payoffs for having fistfuls of energy, but the best one has to be killing our opponent with a Pummeler. For those who are unfamiliar with this archetype, we target our Electrostatic Pummeler with Invigorated Rampage or Larger than Life and then use six energy to attack for twenty trampling power or nine energy to attack with forty trampling power.
Post-board, this deck can pivot off of its combo game play to be more of a “fair” midrange energy deck on the back of cards like Glorybringer and Lathnu Hellion.
The first four decklists make up about 60% of the successful decklists heading into the Invitational which gives those of us looking to brew a very reasonable metric of what we should be looking to beat heading into this event. It will be interesting to see if there is new technology to be had this weekend or if much like the last Pro Tour and the event will be mostly defined by the decks that saw play online in the weeks prior to it.
What do you think will come out on top in this standard format before Hour of Devastation hits? Will it be one of the already established decks here or something brand new? Let me know in a comment below.
* One SCG Invitational Top 8
* Two SCG Invitational Top 16
* 14 SCG Open series Top 8s
* One GP top 16