Hello all! This past weekend was Grand Prix Memphis, and the tournament showcased the fantastic, diverse format that is Standard, with over 10 distinct archetypes in the Top 32. The deck that won the tournament was Tyler Shroeder’s Red-Green Monsters! There is a ton to unpack here, so let’s dive right in.
R/G Monsters, by Tyler Shroeder at Grand Prix Memphis – 1st
1 Magma Spray
1 Struggle // Survive
2 Atzocan Archer
1 Blossoming Defense
2 Carnage Tyrant
1 Chandra’s Defeat
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Deathgorge Scavenger
2 Thrashing Brontodon
This deck is a classic Monsters strategy, with the main focus being to, well, cast big monsters while disrupting the opponent just enough to get ’em dead. The high volume of creatures as opposed to spells in this deck highlights this, and even in the sideboard, we see that the deck doesn’t board in that many non-creature spells.
This gives the deck one huge advantage, which is that you have a close to unlimited supply of threats in your deck. When both players are topdecking, Monsters will be able to stick a sizeable threat much faster than any other deck because all of its creatures are either huge or did you to the larger ones.
A weakness of this strategy is that it has a hard time winning from behind. If you’re playing against Control or another Midrange deck and you’re both topdecking, sure, you are favored, but once they manage to take care of your curve and resolve something like a Glimmer of Genius or flip a Search for Azcanta? Good luck getting out of that one.
Going forward, I think Monsters is a totally fine choice, as the deck is simply quite powerful. Your deck is literally an amalgam of the best on curve threats in Standard, and if your opponent has even a small stumble, I’m confident in saying Monsters can take down any matchup.
Another Top 8 deck I want to talk about is Grixis Energy. While Grixis put three copies into the Top 8, only a single other copy made the Top 32. This is a very strange occurrence, due no doubt to the rise of U/B Control in the metagame. Nonetheless, three Top 8 slots is a ton, and so I think the deck needs to be talked about.
Grixis Energy, by Matthew Kling at Grand Prix Memphis – 3rd
This is the more aggressive, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner based version of Energy, which all three of the Top 8 copies were. I think this deck is good, but I think that there is no argument for playing the more controlling version. If you want to go that route, U/B is simply better, but if you want to play Grixis, this is the list that will do well going forward.
Grixis Energy has all the components of a good Midrange deck, removal, a good curve, and late game staying power. What’s not to love? Well I, for one, don’t love Whirler Virtuoso in this meta. Picture this card: it’s a 2/3 for 1UR, and when it enters, you get a 1/1 Thopter with flying. Seems good? Nah, that sounds like a good limited uncommon, but you wouldn’t play it in this deck. Well, I’m sad to say that the card I’ve just described exists, and it’s right here in front of you on this decklist.
Whirler Virtuoso looks great, but we are too quick to forget that there is no more Attune with Aether + Aether Hub to give us a free Thopter, now, if we want an extra Thopter, we need to stop drawing cards with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner or play an Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning an X-1. Call me crazy, but I think it’s time we start plying a wider variety of two drops, or at least shave a Whirler for something more impactful. Is it good against red? Sure. Is Red in a good spot in the meta right now? God no.
I wont write that much about Mono-Red, mainly because I think the deck is actually unplayable right now, but here’s what I’ve found. I’ve been playing Red in Standard for about 4-5 months now. Ramunap Ruins gave the deck a whole new angle of attack, and led to super interesting games, where you had to decide how to manage your resources and best deal 20 damage before they killed you. Now, the deck’s angles of attack are nonexistent, and it’s actually just one angle, otherwise known as a straight line.
You just attack. Now while this does sound like a bunch of aggro decks from the past, (Zoo, Atarka Red, etc..) it is awful in this meta. All of the answers people are playing simply line up extremely well against the threats Red presents. Take, for instance, Ahn-Crop Crasher. The card was always good for me in the past, and now, if they have a Moment of Craving, the card just says, you lose a turn, and your opponent gains two life. Or even the best card in Standard, Hazoret the Fervent. Quick, name a Standard deck that can’t answer Hazoret.
Right. Vraska’s Contempt, Essence Scatter, Ixalan’s Binding, Cast Out, Thopter Arrest, Settle the Wreckage, must I go on? Especially with Vraska’s Contempt, which so efficiently answers every threat in Standard, it is just not a wise choice to play with Mono-Red right now. Once people start forgetting it’s there and playing anti-midrange/control cards, expect to see me casting some Bomat Couriers and Lightning Strikes. For now, I’ll stick to Torrential Gearhulk (which, for the record, also answers Hazoret).
The final deck I want to talk about is (surprise!) U/B Control. Both Eric Froelich and Heath Vance Top 8d the Grand Prix with versions of the deck, and I think it is incredibly well positioned in the meta right now, as well as just an incredibly powerful deck.
U/B Control, by Eric Froelich at Grand Prix Memphis – 8th
This deck has all the answers, ways to find them consistently, and undeniably powerful threats. The deck is great against most of the other top decks, and I think that at least for now, no one has found a surefire way to beat the deck. I think Tokens actually has a surprisingly good matchup against this deck, so be on the lookout for that if you play to pick up U/B Control.
I Top 8d a PPTQ the weekend before the Grand Prix with it after playing my first game with the deck Round 1, and I fell in love. I’ll be running it back this weekend, and I think the tournament will be a blast! Standard is so diverse right now and in a great place. In all honesty, while these are three of the best decks you could be playing right now, Aaron Barich Top 8d the Grand Prix with a super crazy Hadana’s Climb deck, so I won’t tell you not to just play whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Have a great week of Magic, and see you in seven days!
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