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Players Tour Online 3 Day One Metagame Breakdown

June 20, 2020
Frank Karsten

Last weekend, Temur Reclamation dominated: It was the most popular deck and won both Players Tour Online 1 and Players Tour Online 2. With an additional week to figure out how to fight back, where did the Standard deck choices of the 151 competitors in Players Tour Online 3 end up?

Archetype Companion Players Percentage
Bant Ramp   37 24.5%
Temur Reclamation   36 23.8%
Rakdos Knights   13 8.6%
Bant Flash   10 6.6%
Jund Sacrifice   10 6.6%
Orzhov Yorion Yorion, Sky Nomad 5 3.3%
Sultai Ramp   5 3.3%
Mono-Red Aggro   3 2.0%
Four-Color Reclamation   3 2.0%
Mardu Knights   3 2.0%
Esper Control Yorion, Sky Nomad 2 1.3%
Simic Flash   2 1.3%
Rakdos Sacrifice   2 1.3%
Esper Control   2 1.3%
Four-Color Control   2 1.3%
Mono-Green Stompy   2 1.3%
Mono-Green Monsters   2 1.3%
Other   12 7.9%

Twelve singletons comprised the "Others" category: Azorius Control, Azorius Yorion, Bant Ramp (Yorion), Boros Cycling (Zirda), Forests, Golgari Artisan, Gruul Adventure, Gruul Aggro, Mono-Black Aggro, Mono-Black Devotion, Rakdos Sacrifice (Jegantha), and Temur Flash.

As a note, I made a distinction between Mono-Green Stompy decks with Gingerbrute, Syr Faren, the Hengehammer, and Giant Growth and Mono-Green Monsters decks with fewer one-drops and a more monstrous top-end.

All decklists are available here.

Unsurprisingly, Growth Spiral Was the Most-Played Non-Land Card

The most-played non-land cards in Players Tour Online 3 were Growth Spiral, Mystical Dispute, Shark Typhoon, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, and Aether Gust, in that order. Growth Spiral and Uro in particular allow you to play the most powerful top-end threats in Standard ahead of the curve, and since they always draw a card, your mana accelerants are never dead in the late game. As such, these ramp spells were considered by many to be the best cards in Standard, and it was not surprising that base blue-green decks were dominant.

What was surprising, however, was that the top spot in the metagame chart was taken not by Temur Reclamation but by Bant Ramp. For reference, here is a sample list as registered by Rivals league member Jessica Estephan.

The consensus belief is that Bant Ramp has a good matchup against Temur Reclamation—the deck that everyone was gunning for after last weekend. This is mainly because Teferi, Time Raveler is basically the best card you could have against Temur Reclamation. It nullifies their counterspells and prevents them from casting enormous Explosions in their end step. In the late game, Bant Ramp players can get an edge with Elspeth Conquers Death to exile Wilderness Reclamation and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

But this wasn't the only way to build Bant. Ten players decided that they'd rather play the game at instant speed rather than at sorcery speed.

Bant Flash decks generally include close to zero copies of Elspeth Conquers Death, Shatter the Sky, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Hydroid Krasis, and other expensive sorcery-speed spells. Instead, they rely on Nightpack Ambusher, countermagic, and Brazen Borrower to respond to the opponent at will. The dividing line between Bant Ramp and Bant Flash is somewhat thin—I ultimately classified a deck as Bant Flash if and only if it included 4 main deck Nightpack Ambusher and had no more than four sorcery-speed plays costing 4 mana or more. But the way the two decks play out in practice is night and day.

"Classic Bant has to tap out for threats like Hydroid Krasis or Nissa, which exposes you to the opponent untapping with Wilderness Reclamation. This is quite weak if your Teferi plan doesn't work," MPL member Lee Shi Tian explained. "Martin Jůza posted a Bant Flash list, and I figured it might be better against Temur Reclamation. The play pattern against Temur has been pretty good during my testing with Jéremy Dézani and Christian Calcano. Also, Nightpack Ambusher finishes games in a faster way, which fits better to my play style. Also, I don't think Shatter the Sky should be main deck right now, and Nightpack kind of replaces that slot which is so much better in the meta."

Surprisingly, Rakdos Knights Was the Third-Most Popular Archetype

Last weekend, there was only a single player across Players Tour Online 1 and Players Tour Online 2 on Rakdos Knights, but he did perform well against Temur Reclamation. Now at Players Tour Online 3, the deck had jumped to 8.6% of the field.

Dylan Nollen, who had won Grand Prix Portland six months ago with Rakdos Knights, was one of the players who was inspired by Gonçalo Pinto's success in the previous weekend and brought back the deck he knew best.

"I played the past couple days and rarely lost to Temur Rec, so I locked it in," Nollen explained. Indeed, with 12 strong one-drops alongside the game-ending Rotting Regisaur + Embercleave combo, this deck can overpower Temur Reclamation before they have a chance to set up. This creature base sets its apart from such decks as Mono-Red Aggro, which has fewer good one-drops and whose Anax, Hardened in the Forge is too easily answered by Temur Reclamation's Scorching Dragonfire. All in all, the perceived great matchup against Temur Reclamation was one of the main reasons why many players settled on Rakdos Knights.

Several MPL and Rivals Members Brought a Spicy Orzhov Yorion Deck

The breakout deck of the event was a brew unlike any other. I was not expecting to see Charming Prince, Treacherous Blessing, and Doom Foretold this weekend, but an 80-card deck built around these cards was the most popular choice among MPL and Rivals members at Players Tour Online 3.

Rivals league member Eric Froehlich discovered the idea in a recent Magic Online Standard Challenge, where __Noob__ finished in the Top 8 with Burglar Rat and Yarok's Fenlurker. "I had been working on decks with 4 Yorion and I thought a lot of the things from that list could attack the metagame in both a good and fun way," Froehlich explained. And the list he referred to had all kinds of awesome synergies, such as Doom Foretold getting rid of Treacherous Blessing or sacrificing permanents whose main value lies in their enters-the-battlefield abilities.

Orzhov Yorion had some decent results in last week's Last Chance Qualifiers as well, and Froehlich spent three days tweaking it together with MPL player Brad Nelson. "We played around with the mana, removal, and Rat numbers," Nelson said. "We added Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis on theory because Basilica Bell-Haunt is medium."

With 24 hours to go until the deck submission deadline, Seth Manfield from the MPL and Ben Stark from Rivals jumped aboard as well. An additional fifth player, Ben Dixon, independently registered a list that was very close to __Noob__'s original.

The core idea behind the deck is to reuse enters-the-battlefield triggers via Charming Prince or Yorion, Sky Nomad. "The filthy thing is Prince/Yorion loops," Nelson explained. Indeed, suppose you cast Yorion while you control Treacherous Blessing, Oath of Kaya, Burglar Rat, and Charming Prince. By blinking all these permanents, which doesn't actually target Treacherous Blessing, you will draw three cards, drain three damage, and force your opponent to discard a card. Moreover, Charming Prince gets to blink Yorion, allowing you to do it all over again in your opponent's end step. And the Charming Prince / Yorion will keep happening turn after turn. Once the blink engine gets rolling, it's hard to beat.

"The deck's engine is great against Bant and Sultai, and the removal is amazing against Rakdos and good against Jund," Nelson said. "Bant and Rakdos both seem well positioned, and this deck is amazing versus them. The deck is 50-50ish versus Temur, maybe behind with perfect information." Froehlich said that others were posting very good records against Temur and Sultai, and overall they felt that the deck was well-positioned against the metagame they expected.

In conclusion, Standard at Players Tour 3 is defined by Growth Spiral, but Embercleave-wielding Rotting Regisaurs and value-generating Yorion, Sky Nomads are trying to take on the Bant and Temur decks. Follow the action live at twitch.tv/Magic, and check back tomorrow to see which decks made the cut to Day Two!

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