Let’s See the Results of the Two Standard GPs!

Pascal Vieren

Pascal Vieren


Last weekend, we saw the first two GPs with the new Standard format: GP Lille 2018 and GP New Jersey 2018. In the early weeks of a new format, these tournaments give as a good idea of what the decks to beat are. I’ll take a look at the top 8 decks from both tournaments.

Early Metagame

Runaway Steam-KinRisk FactorExperimental Frenzy

In the earliest days of the new format, the usual first deck to show up is an aggressive deck. In this case, it was a straightforward red deck, making use of new cards such as 《Experimental Frenzy》, 《Runaway Steam-Kin》 and 《Risk Factor》. Next to the almighty 《Goblin Chainwhirler》, this was easy to build, but very potent deck.

Wildgrowth WalkerDoom Whisperer

A couple of weeks in the format, we saw the second online PTQ, which featured a top 8 with no less than six Golgari midrange decks. These lists were initially designed to prey on the mono-red decks, with 《Wildgrowth Walker》 and an explore engine. The eventual winner, Elliot Boussaud, had the full playset of 《Doom Whisperer》 on top of that. This gives the deck a fast clock the red decks can’t really handle.

Coming up to the GPs, Golgari seemed to be the deck to beat, but several other decks existed and the black-green deck didn’t seem unbeatable. Another question was how Golgari decks got the upper hand in the mirror match.

Top 8 Metagame

First off, only looking at top 8 decks doesn’t give a full picture, but it gives a nice sample of what to expect in your upcoming tournaments. After all, these decklists are the most featured and are the first ones people will look up when choosing a deck.

Deck Number of TOP8
Jeskai Control 5
Golgari Midrange 2
Izzet Phoenix 2
Selesnya Tokens 2
Mono Red Aggro 1
Mono Blue Tempo 1
Boros Angels 1
Boros Mentor 1
Selesnya Angels 1

Looking at these numbers, it seems Golgari is indeed beatable. While the deck was the most played deck in both tournaments, it converted rather poorly into top 8.

A Look at Different Decks

Golgari Midrange

In Lille, we saw World Champion and fellow Hareruya Pros Javier Dominguez get another top 8 piloting Golgari midrange.

The key here is the 《Carnage Tyrant》. This card popped up as the way to beat Golgari mirror matches. Paired with 《Finality》, it’s an unstoppable force in the mirror matches. Needless to say, it is also really good versus control decks. However, it does pretty poorly versus mono-colored aggro decks, the two finalists in Lille.

Carnage TyrantAssassin's Trophy

Dominguez also chooses to play only a single copy of 《Assassin's Trophy》. While initially seen as an automatic four-of in every Golgari list, the cost of giving your opponent a free land is real. This is especially true in Standard, where decks play bigger spells.

DuressDeathgorge Scavenger

In his sideboard, Dominguez seems prepared for Jeskai Control and Izzet Phoenix, with 《Duress》 and 《Deathgorge Scavenger》. With mono-blue and mono-red taking the top two spots in Lille, more cheap answers to creatures might be needed however.

Boros Angels

In New Jersey, constructed mastermind Brad Nelson made top 8 with Boros Angels. This deck seemed almost non-existent in Lille, but when Nelson plays something in Standard, you better believe it is good.

The full playset of 《Tocatli Honor Guard》 gives this deck an angle the Golgari decks just can’t handle. Paired with some of the most efficient creatures in Magic, this deck attacks fast, dealing large chunks of damage. It should be noted that the flyers, together with 《Adanto Vanguard》, make this deck very good against Izzet Phoenix.

Tocatli Honor GuardAdanto VanguardResplendent Angel

Another important change from previous Boros Angels lists you may have seen, is the 25 land. This allows Nelson to play his more expensive cards on the curve. With a deck full of high impact cards, just being able to cast your spells on time is paramount. 《Resplendent Angel》 also gives you a nice way to spend your mana in the late game.

It should be noted that the entire Peach Garden Oath (Duke, Jensen, Turtenwald) played this deck. That alone is reason enough to believe this deck is the real deal…

Izzet Phoenix

The talk of the town leading up to last weekend was the new Izzet Phoenix deck. My friend and Hareruya Pros Arne Huschenbeth made top 8 in Lille with this deck.

This deck is capable of some of the most unfair things in Standard. An unanswered 《Goblin Electromancer》 gives you some of the most unfair starts possible in the Standard. Next to that, both 《Enigma Drake》 and 《Crackling Drake》 are some very high-powered threats which require an immediate answer.

Goblin ElectromancerEnigma DrakeCrackling Drake

The Drakes paired with 《Maximize Velocity》 also give the deck instant speed wins, seemingly out of nowhere. Golgari Midrange interacts mostly at sorcery speed, but even Control decks need to make sure never to tap out and die to this combination.

It should however be foolish to only see this deck as an aggressive combo deck. With so much card filtering and the staying power of 《Arclight Phoenix》, this deck is capable of playing out a long, grindy game.

Jeskai Control

Lastly, I want to take a closer look at the winning decklist in New Jersey: Eli Kassis‘ take on Jeskai Control. With 5 lists in top 8, Jeskai Control should be called the winner of the weekend.

Kassis doesn’t fool around with creatures but has a full playset of both 《Expansion // Explosion》 and 《Azor's Gateway》 in his main deck. This gives the deck a way to quickly finish a game, while also rendering your opponent’s removal spells useless.

Azor's GatewayDivinationExpansion // Explosion

This list seems very well tuned and I definitely recommend giving it a try. It also features 2 《Divination》, which is my favorite card, in a Draft that is. But I think Kassis is considering his curve and the need to really hit every land drop with this deck.

Rekindling Phoenix

In his sideboard, Kassis has a suite of creatures, which keep the opponent guessing what’s going on. Anyone trimming lots of removals can die quickly to 《Rekindling Phoenix》.

Some Finals Notes

As for myself, I finished 12-3 at GP Lille with Izzet Phoenix, good for 13th place, 3 pro points and $1000. I loved the deck and believe it is the real deal.

As always, if you have any questions, hit me up on twitter: @VierenPascal

Pascal Vieren

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