Crucible of Words – Standard Through National Events by Cyrus Bales

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Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales

 

First off, I’d like to apologize for not having written an article recently. I usually aim to produce them more often, but I had been busy building and testing for Nats and PT Phily, and since my testing for Phily got thrown out the window with the Modern change, my time was even more pressed. Anyway, I thought I’d make time to get an article out before Nats about the format at large, enjoy.

This weekend saw an incredible event in the standard metagame, two national tournaments (Spain and Germany), both of which had not a single UW Caw-Blade deck in their top 8. Yes, there was a Esper-Blade deck in Spain, but even so, that’s an incredibly result considering the consensus amongst a lot of players.

GERMAN TOP 8.

RDW
Pyromancer’s Ascension
UB Control
RDW
UB Control
Valakut
RDW
Goblins

This top 8 is rather interesting, RDW has been considered dead by many players thanks to Timely Reinforcements and the abundance of Caw-Blade decks. However in Germany, it seems alive and well, taking up most of the top 8 spots.

SPAIN TOP 8.

UR Twin
Steel
UR Twin
UR Twin
RUG Pod
Grixis Twin
Esper-Blade
UG Mill

This top 8 is very much slanted towards Twin, without a single UB or RDW deck in sight. What does this mean? Either the field was unprepared for the Twin archetype, or Twin is just the go-to popular deck in Spain, much like Caw is in the US.

So, in terms of information that is usable for us in the UK, what can we get out of these results? Clearly, Caw-Blade is not “The Best Deck” as many people would lead you to believe, but rather it is one of many viable archetypes in the field. Each metagame around the globe seems to be different, and I expect the UK to be the same, with its own most popular deck, Valakut.

Valakut has always been popular in the UK, and holds a larger portion of the field than in other countries, and I believe that if any deck is the best in the format at present, it’s Valakut. The reason I say this is because there are a surprisingly different amount of ways to build the deck, from Green Sun’s Zenith, Oracle of Mul Daya, Solemn Simulacrum to threat heavy decks packing extra Inferno Titan and even the variable removal suite of Dismember, Lightning Bolt, Slagstorm and Beast Within. A lot of Valakut decks stay with one build, rather than altering for the metagame, and there are a lot of people who play the deck because they think it’s a good autopilot deck, these bring the overall performance of the archetype down, since there are a lot of decisions to be made with the deck. This versatility gives it the ability to beat just about any deck, as well as it’s staple good match ups of Steel and Caw Blade.

A good example of a good Valakut builder/player was shown to me over the last week or so, watching some friends of mine test. The Valakut player was against UB control, and boarded into a huge amount of threats, so even after a Memoricide, his deck able to have the power to beat down and win the game. This shows how the perceived bad match up of UB can be improved with clever building and sideboarding, to the point where he removed a couple of Primeval Titan to make Memoricide less back breaking, but still had an effective six titans thanks to Green Sun’s Zenith. People describing Valakut as a glass canon against black decks and putting it down to the match up, or those who do something about it are the difference between those who’ll be getting some Pro Points this weekend, and those who won’t.

Just to finish off, there was another national event this weekend just passed:

PHILIPPINES TOP 8.

Caw Blade
Caw Blade
UR Twin
RUG Pod
Vampires
UB Control
Valakut
RB Goblins

This last top 8 shows us a lot about the format, many decks are viable, even some that are a little more rogue, like Goblins. But with Valakut, Caw, Twin, Pod and UB, this is probably a great snapshot of the current standard format overall, with each country skewing it slightly towards its preferred deck.

There we have it; I’ll see you in Sheffield this weekend.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.

Cyrus

 

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