1. We've finally achieved a Standard format that will stay healthy for a while.
Tom Ross: Fact. The best decks are interactive creature decks like W/U Monument, Temur Energy, and Mardu Vehicles that do have aggressive openings but also tend to go long and have a lot of play on both sides.
- 3 Bristling Hydra
- 2 Champion of Wits
- 4 Glorybringer
- 4 Longtusk Cub
- 4 Rogue Refiner
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Whirler Virtuoso
- 2 Rhonas the Indomitable
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 2 Glorybringer
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 4 Veteran Motorist
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
"Oops, I win" has been banned out of the format. I really believe that Standard should remain healthy until Ixalan releases and we get a few sets rotating out.
Todd Anderson: Fact. This Standard format is chock-full of interesting, diverse strategies to the point where I don't even know where to start. Even some of the lesser-known archetypes, promoted by some of the writers here at StarCityGames.com®, are making waves. If you look at the lists that made the Top 64 at #SCGCIN, you'll find some real gems that just need a little love before they become diamonds.
This is the first time in a long time that I've been genuinely excited about Standard. Without Aetherworks Marvel, Felidar Guardian, or even Emrakul, the Promised End looming over the format, a lot of decks have the capability to open up. We saw that at the Season One SCG Invitational, and we're continuing to see progress with the release of Hour of Devastation. While some decks might end up taking charge of the format, it feels like all of the top dogs have some sort of kryptonite to keep them (mostly) in check.
I, for one, can't wait to keep playing this format, and to see what people who up with at #PTHOU next weekend.
2. Champion of Wits is the best card in Hour of Devastation.
Champion of Wits is fine and all, and it does upgrade the Emerge decks, but those decks were all mainly metagame calls that would be decent without the champ.
Todd Anderson: Fact (somewhat). For now, I think more people are playing with Champion of Wits than any other card from Hour of Devastation, but there are quite a few key players out of the new set that aren't to be forgotten. Eternalize is a powerful mechanic, and we've already seen Earthshaker Khenra make an appearance on the big screen. I'd look at some other creatures with Eternalize to make an impact in the coming weeks. The ability is definitely underrated at this point.
But eternalize isn't the only thing Hour of Devastation has going for it. In fact, the card Hour of Devastation is quite strong, but I'm mostly looking toward Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh to make a bit more noise. While it did put one copy in the winning decklist at #SCGCIN, I figured we'd see a bit more of it on camera. The card is vulnerable to a lot of things, but it is one of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed. I will be expecting quite a few more decks to play it over the next two weeks.
3. W/U Monument will be the most-played Standard deck at SCG Atlanta.
- 4 Bygone Bishop
- 4 Cloudblazer
- 4 Hanweir Militia Captain
- 4 Selfless Spirit
- 4 Spell Queller
- 4 Thraben Inspector
Team events tend to have players leaning towards safe choices as to not ruffle any team feathers with personal brews. And I don't think anyone's teammates will be mad at them for picking this one up.
Todd Anderson: Fiction. I think that people saw Jadine Klomparens get lit up by B/G Energy too many times to think it's the best deck in the format. Sure, she wasn't playing Cloudblazer, and maybe got a little unlucky by flooding out, but when people see the bad side of the deck, it tends to turn them off a (relatively) new archetype.
W/U Monument was a phenomenal deck when people didn't play around Dusk // Dawn and when no one had much of a clue as to what the deck was doing. Now that the deck is firmly on the radar, it is easier for them to play around Spell Queller, Metallic Rebuke, etc. While it will definitely be in the top three or four decks that show up at #SCGATL in the Standard portion, I think it will hover around third or fourth in the ranks behind B/G Energy, Mardu Vehicles, and Torrential Gearhulk variants (if you lump them together).
4. The winning team's Modern player will be piloting Death's Shadow.
Tom Ross: Fiction. Death's Shadow decks are still good and may even be the most-played archetype, but it doesn't have a big enough share of the metagame for me to think it has over a 50/50 chance of being the winning deck. I expect a Modern deck that beats up on Death's Shadow pretty good to be on the winning team.
Todd Anderson: Fiction. If I've learned anything over the last few months of playing Modern, it's that Death's Shadow players always think they are playing the best deck. That might change with Modern's version of Death and Taxes taking down the last two major Modern tournaments, but I think Death's Shadow definitely has a Splinter Twin vibe going on. People who are "good" at Modern think that playing a deck like Death's Shadow will let them outplay their opponent.
While Death's Shadow, in all forms, is certainly a powerful shell in Modern, I do think it can be picked apart. My pick for the deck that wins is Eldrazi Tron. Not only will it be very popular, but I don't know of too many genuinely bad matchups. It has a lot of powerful starts, decent disruption in the form of Chalice of the Void, and reasonable topdecks as the game goes late.
5. Mono-Red Aggro will be a Tier 1 deck in two weeks.
Tom Ross: Fact. Mono-Red Aggro has been putting up Magic Online results for nearly a month now. It broke through into the Top 8 of #SCGCIN and I can only expect for the trend to continue. It's fairly cheap to build and has plenty of room for customization. I expect Mono-Red Aggro to be the second most represented deck at this weekend's team tournament in Atlanta and also expect it to be very popular at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.
Todd Anderson: Fact. I firmly think Mono-Red Aggro is one of the best decks in Standard. With the addition of Ramunap Ruins, you can build the deck in a number of ways, including adding in Eldrazi like Thought-Knot Seer and even Reality Smasher (as we saw with Jonathan Job's list). But mostly, I just don't think too many decks are prepared to beat a Jackal Pup right now.
It has been forever since we've had a true Mono-Red Aggro deck tearing up the Standard format. I'm not the biggest fan of the archetype in general, but I've been known to cast a Goblin Rabblemaster or two in the past. If the deck starts to pick up some steam over the next week, or someone finds the missing piece(s) to put it over the edge, it will for sure become a staple of Standard. Patrick Sullivan fans rejoice!
Mono-Red Aggro is my pick to be the breakout deck of the Pro Tour, but I think it will take a little more time to catch on. If it dominates the Standard portion of SCG Atlanta, I'd look to have it become one of the most-played archetypes at #PTHOU.