I’ll try not to rant in this part of the article, but I wanted to talk a little bit about the Team Unified Standard RPTQ that I played in this past weekend. My team and I went 5-0 in this swiss which allowed us to double draw into top 8 at 5-0-2. Our A seat played Mono-Red Aggro, our B seat played B/G Constrictor, and I played U/W Approach sitting in our C seat. The swiss rounds were pretty much a breeze, as our Mono-Red player, Mark Webb, went 4-0 or 5-0 in quick fashion (I honestly don’t remember what his record exactly was, but he didn’t lose a round), and both our B/G Constrictor player, former Spellsnare-ian Peter Rawlings, and myself went 4-1 each.
In the top 8, I lost my game 1 fairly quickly against R/b Aggro (Scrapheap Scrounger as the only black card) after my opponent played well around what I had in my hand. In game 2, I stabilized but was unable to draw any card of relevance for 6 or 7 turns and was defeated by a few medium draws for my opponent. Meanwhile I lost just in time to tag-team our Mono-Red player’s game 3 against Esper Control, which we promptly won after the opponent mulliganed to 5 cards. Fortunately for us, but perhaps unfortunately for my stress levels, our B/G Constrictor player had evened up his match against G/W Midrange (an unfavorable matchup for the little snakes). In game 3, we had a rather anemic draw that died to a series of topdecks that it could not compete with.
It was bitterly disappointing to make it so far, with the Pro Tour so close, and fall just that little bit short. Huge shoutouts to my teammates for making it an awesome weekend and one that I’ll struggle to forget, and the rest of Team Nigel for the testing and encouragement. Unlike some tournaments when I fall that little bit short, I’m not discouraged by this one. I’m happy with my testing and the list I landed on, and I don’t feel like I could have played better (although I’m sure my play wasn’t perfect). And most importantly, unlike other tournaments that end in the disappointment found in oh-so-close-ville, I’m encouraged by this past weekend. Anyway, here’s the list I played:
U/W Approach by Jonah Gaynor at RPTQ – Top 8
Non-Creature Spells (33)
2 Search for Azcanta
4 Seal Away
2 Essence Scatter
1 Blink of an Eye
3 Settle the Wreckage
3 Cast Out
3 Glimmer of Genius
4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
2 Approach of the Second Sun
I don’t think I would change this list, but if I had to pick something it would be taking out the Blink of an Eye in favor of a Forsake the Worldly OR taking out the sideboard copy of Sorcerous Spyglass (it’s just not where the format is right now) in favor of an Invoke the Divine. That being said…
DO NOT PLAY THIS DECK
Well, that’s a bit of an overreaction. This deck is absolutely playable and I think my list is pretty much exactly where this deck wants to be, but it simply will not win you that Grand Prix or SCG Open. It is fully capable of winning a FNM or PPTQ, but not much more. Why? Well unfortunately this deck is very, very strong against people that don’t know how to play against it, but is very, very weak against those who do. I’m intentionally leaving out saying that you shouldn’t play this deck due to matchups, because I believe that that is not this deck’s downfall. Every single deck in this format has a very positive matchup against U/W if the pilot knows how to navigate the matchup. In terms of matchups, I think that U/W is favored against every deck if the opponent does not know how to navigate the matchup, save perhaps U/B Midrange, which has a very negative matchup against Teferi and co. game 1, but pretty much can’t lose games 2 and 3.
What You Should Play Moving Forward
Red is the best deck in this format. Like by a lot. I’m more or less lumping together the R/B Midrange, R/b Aggro, and Mono-Red decks all into one, because they realistically play very similarly to one another, and it would be pretty silly to not call any of these matchups a mirror match. Essentially the point we’ve gotten to in this format is that nothing truly beats Red. It has decent matchup against everything in the format, save perhaps G/W Midrange, which I’ll get to in a second. Here’s the list I’d play going forward:
Mono-Red Aggro by Jonah Gaynor
This may look very similar to some (if not all) of you, and that’s because this deck has basically not changed since the Pro Tour winning performance from Wyatt Darby. In fact, this deck is 74 of the 75 that Tobias Maurer used to win Grand Prix Copenhagen this past weekend. The one change I made was taking out a Glorybringer from the sideboard in favor of a Reckless Rage, which was a tech that my teammate Mark Webb and Brian Benns came up with for the RPTQ this weekend. It essentially operates as the 4th copy of Chandra’s Defeat, but has amazing applications against B/G Snake as well as G/W Midrange, which I expect to make a run at being a real tier 1 deck very soon. Goblin Chainwhirler, Hazoret the Fervent, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Rekindling Phoenix, and Soul-Scar Mage can all take the 2 damage, so that drawback is rarely relevant.
I’m planning on going to Grand Prix Pittsburgh next weekend, which means that Standard is still very much on my mind. Red is where I’m leaning right now, although I could certainly be convinced to play something else, perhaps G/W Midrange, Esper Control, or B/G Constrictor. What I know (almost for certain) is that I will not be playing U/W Control of any variant. If you want to win whatever Grand Prix you are attending, I suggest you do the same.
Until next time,