Analyzing Standard Metagame

Jeremy Dezani


Hello everyone,

It has been a long time since my last article. I have been quite busy recently with the organization of my wedding and my move from France to Japan. Yes, I’m going to live in Japan again and I am very excited about it.

With that being said I am today going to talk about Standard. The current Standard format is the healthier and most well design we have since a long time. There are so many good decks and it’s very hard to say there is one better than others. Every week the metagame changes, the most popular deck is never the same and you have to pick your deck according to it. It’s just awesome, at this point I feel like it is like the old Extended or Modern when reading metagame is more important than play the best deck and it’s great. Since it’s Standard, match-ups are closer than what it was with these formats but it’s still good to pick up the deck that has few positive percentages against the field.

In this article, I will try to talk about match-ups and how to pick a deck for an event according to the metagame you expect.

The Manabase

Sacred FoundryTemple of Mystery

First thing to analyze is the manabase of the format. To be able to play 3 colors (or more) you have access to Shocklands and Scrylands. Most of the 3 color decks are playing 12 Shocklands and 4-8 Scrylands, even if it is not an issue in slow match-ups, I believe it is the main reason why Mono Red is still strong. These lands are great but free damages and arriving tapped just made your chain slow and this is what Mono Red tries to attack.

In general, in the history of MTG this is how a format works (happened in Modern, Legacy too). You have some mono color linear strategies, 2 color decks are built to beat them, then to go other the top, they had a 3rd color to have an edge in the mirror and then the mono color deck comes back to defeat those slow decks.

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathStorm's Wrath

It’s exactly what happens here. Even if the three color decks play super strong cards against Mono Red like 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, sweeper effects…after all the mana base make the match-up closer.

As you can see this is why some people try to change a 3 color deck (here Temur Adventure) into a 2 color deck.

The problem behind this logic is that in the current Standard, there is only one mono color deck and it is Mono Red. There is no Mono White or Mono Black aggro. So, it is pretty hard to choose a 2 color option, decrease all your match-ups win-rate to increase the match-up against a deck which will never be more than 20 % of the metagame.

What Decks Constitute the Core of Standard right now?

I am not going to talk about Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 since I truly believe it is never the same every week. I think it is better to talk about the 8 top decks in a Tier 1 and then you can adapt to your metagame.

8 Top Tier Decks in the Current Standard

Here is what I believe are win-rate between these 8 decks.

Win-Rate between Those 8 Decks

Jeremy Dezani_Standard Win-Rates

Click to Enlarge

As you can see Temur Adventure is positive against most of all decks from World Championship XXVI, aka Azorius Control, Mono Red and Jeskai Fires. This is why it was the best deck just after Worlds and it won many tournaments.

Then, decks like Rakdos Sacrifice and Temur Reclamation became popular to be able to beat Temur Adventure. After that, to beat Rakdos and Adventures, Bant Ramp arrived.

Top8 Decks from GP Lyon and Sunday PTQ

Here are the top8 decks from GP Lyon and Sunday PTQ last weekend:

Archetype Top8 in GP Lyon Top8 in Sunday PTQ
Bant Ramp 2 3
Mono Red 2 1
Rakdos Sacrifice 2 0
Temur Reclamation 1 2
Sultai Control 1 0
Azorius Control 0 1
Jund Sacrifice 0 1

If the metagame at this tournament was full of Temur Adventure, I do not surprise Rakdos and Reclamation did well. Since Bant had only one very bad match-up, because Sultai Control was not that popular at the moment, I am not surprised good players playing it to reach the top8 too.

Sultai might be the deck to pick up if you don’t concern too much about the Mono Red match-up. At this point, not sure if it’s better to give up the match-up or have 10 cards in the sideboard.

Wrap Up

If you really want a Tier metagame for next week, It’s very possible that it will be something like this:

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Temur Reclamation Rakdos/Jund Sacrifice Jeskai Fires
Mono Red Temur Adventure Azorius Control
Bant Ramp Sultai Control

Maybe it is time for Azorius Control to come back and shine again?

Thank you for reading,

Jeremy (Twitter / Twitch)

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Jeremy Dezani He was the 2013-14 Player of the Year with his crowning achievement taking place at Pro Tour Theros where he won in spectacular fashion with Blue Devotion back in 2013. He has a stunning over 10 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name including 3 wins and Runner-up 4 times. He will also be the first Non-Japanese player to join the ranks of the Hareruya Pros. Read more articles by Jeremy Dezani