SCG Dallas was this past weekend and, as usual, Team MetaGameGurus.com crushed it! Not only was it held in a city we've been very successful at in the past, but it was also Ixalan release weekend. Andrew Jessup earned a second trophy with Sultai Energy, and (again, as usual) he had the deck of the weekend for opening the format.
Can I just take a moment to talk about how good Andrew Jessup is? I mean, he has two trophies on the SCG Tour®, but that two could easily be five with so many finals losses. One of those losses was to yours truly, so you can't blame him for getting outplayed there, but…
Andrew is likely the best Constructed player on Team MetaGameGurus.com. I specify Constructed because Frank would wreck us all in Limited if given the chance.
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
- 4 Hostage Taker
- 4 Longtusk Cub
- 4 Rogue Refiner
- 4 Winding Constrictor
- 2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
- 1 The Scarab God
This deck was similar to the deck that I had posted in last week's article; however, this is a fair amount lower to the ground. This deck features a similar shell to Temur Energy but sports black for some value in Hostage Taker and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Another card I can see being put in the sideboard of this deck is Carnage Tyrant. It is really insane in the mirror match of this deck and it is quite good against U/W Approach if that deck rises in popularity.
This combo won Andrew a lot of games throughout the weekend. Hostage Taker is the real deal. Being able to protect it with Blossoming Defense is quite nice as well. Blossoming Defense is just an all-around great Magic card that really puts opponents to the test.
One thing that Andrew and Dan did mention was that they really were fearing the card Glorybringer all weekend.
Glorybringer seems like it would be quite good against this deck, as does the card Solemnity. I am quite confident that if there is a proactive white strategy with Solemnity and Authority of the Consuls in the sideboard, it would do quite well. I also think Four-Color energy can play both Glorybringer and Hostage Taker, but then you have to lose the Blossoming Defenses. Let's take a look at what that might look like:
- 3 Bristling Hydra
- 2 Glorybringer
- 3 Hostage Taker
- 4 Longtusk Cub
- 4 Rogue Refiner
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 Whirler Virtuoso
- 1 The Scarab God
Another card that Andrew talked about being insane for him all weekend was Deathgorge Scavenger. I only managed to fit one copy into the sideboard here, but I suspect it should be higher. I think Deathgorge Scavenger is going to start seeing a lot more play, as it is good against both Ramunap Red and random graveyard synergy decks like Gift. This deck is mostly the Four-Color Energy deck playing Hostage Taker, which I suspect is what will happen going forward. Blossoming Defense is really insane, but I suspect that finding the best shell for Hostage Taker will take us away from that. Maybe I'm wrong.
Andrew and Dan weren't the only ones on Team MetaGameGurus.com to do well this weekend, however. Jim Davis made Top 8 with U/W Approach, a deck that I am not surprised to see Jim play despite having Andrew's awesome list at his disposal. Jim is a control player at heart and by far that is what he is most comfortable playing. I do feel sorry for Jim's opponents that had to wait between the first Approach of the Second Sun and the second, though, because Jim is one of the slowest players on earth.
This is Jim's list from this past weekend. I didn't get a chance to watch him, but I did see David Thomas play against Tad Macaraeg in the semifinals. Settle the Wreckage had never looked so bad than when I saw it played in that match. Having four in this list is likely just a mistake, but I'm also curious how this deck can evolve.
I really like the inclusion of more Authority of the Consuls over Regal Caracals as well. I have played many Regal Caracals against Ramunap Red, and while it's good, sometimes it doesn't matter in the slightest. Authority of the Consuls is definitely more of a game-breaking card against the deck.
So how can U/W Approach evolve over the next two weeks? My natural inclination is to make the mana worse to add black. This gives you an edge in the mirror and gives you more early action against creature decks. It would likely look something like this:
The mana is definitely a little rough and maybe it isn't worth it. However, I really think that adding black to this deck gives it a lot of tools to fight different decks. Duress has always been a control breaker and it is quite good against a variety of different decks. I think this deck needs one or two more reasons to splash black, perhaps once Rivals of Ixalan hits, that will be the case. Until then, maybe U/W Approach is the way to go, but I would err on the side of two Settle the Wreckage maximum/.
One thing that kind of surprised me from this weekend was the lack of Dinosaurs. On the one hand, if you take a look at the entirety of the Top 8 from SCG Dallas, we don't really see anything crazy.
2 Sultai Energy
2 U/W Approach
2 Four-Color Energy
1 Ramunap Red
1 Esper Gift
Nothing here is really that innovative, as most of the shells were already in place from the previous Standard. I'm certainly not knocking these decks; however, I am curious to see what new decks emerge at the World Championship and at Pro Tour Ixalan. Are the Energy decks and Ramunap Red really strong? Yes.
Are they the strongest decks? It's quite possible, but I have to admit I am a bit skeptical. We live in a world where Magic has tons of pressure on it from so many people testing online. However, I do think people aren't as exploratory as they should be. People see existing strategies do well, and they don't stray too far from them.
I do really believe that Naya Dinosaurs would have done well in this past weekend's tournament. I likely would have just played Sultai Energy alongside Andrew and Dan, but if I were to be playing at the Pro Tour, I would start working here:
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 2 Carnage Tyrant
- 4 Deathgorge Scavenger
- 4 Drover of the Mighty
- 4 Regisaur Alpha
- 4 Ripjaw Raptor
The only white cards in this this are in the sideboard. I considered a main deck Huatli, Warrior Poet, but it is a lot of mana. After doing some thinking, I realized that playing white in Dinosaurs only really makes sense for the sideboard cards. That being said, I still think it might be correct.
I have a strong feeling that, if you want to do well in this format, Solemnity is the card to play. Once it resolves against the Energy deck, the deck goes from a 10/10 power level to around a 6/10 power level. It can just close the game out completely.
If Dinosaurs isn't the way to go going forward, then I am also still curious what Vampires has to offer. It's a bit surprising to me that no tribal decks were even in the Top 32 of the event. This leads me to believe that not many people showed up with them. With the World Championship this weekend, I'm sure we will see a lot of innovations from the top players.
If I had to pick a player for this weekend, I would have a really tough time. With so many good players in the tournament, you never know. I do have some predictions for this weekend, though!
Prediction #1: Gerry Thompson, Owen Turtenwald, or Seth Manfield will take it down!
Prediction #2: At least one member of Peach Garden Oath is in the Top 4.
Prediction #3: At least two new decks will emerge (tribal decks are new decks in this prediction).
Prediction #4: Hostage Taker will be the most-played nonland card in the tournament.
Prediction #5: Deathgorge Scavenger will be in the finals.
Let's see how many I get right! I'm aiming for five out of five! What are your predictions for the World Championship this weekend?
One last thing: for those of you that have been looking forward to me streaming, I promise it is coming! Hopefully I will have it up and running by the time this article is published. There have been a few minor difficulties in setting up the stream, but I am hoping to get past them soon!