Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Aug 25 2020 11:00am

 Hello and welcome back to the State of Standard, our seasonal rendez-vous with all things Standard, to make sure you know everything that's happening in the format. Last check-in with the 2019-2020 Standard season before rotation inexorably kicks in next month.

 The series archive is here.
 Let's start a new ride!


 It took a long time, but they finally did it. On August 3, Wizards of the Coast removed from Standard Teferi, Time Raveler, the card that more than any other impacted this Standard cycle. Of course it was way too late, 15 months since his War of the Spark release in May 2019, but Teferi's early exit at least allowed for the roughly two months left of 2019-2020 Standard to try and experiment with a different meta, as opposed to turning into a mere rotation waiting room. Especially since he wasn't the only card to get the axe: in one of the most massive groups of simultaneous bans in the history of the format (only original Mirrodin era outdid it in 2005, and that was for the most part because the artifact lands were a six-card cycle) Wilderness Reclamation is also gone, signaling the end of Temur Reclamation, as are Growth Spiral from Bant Ramp and, in the only measure that actually matters for next year, Cauldron Familiar from Sacrifice – a variously colored archetype that, as we'll see in a moment, managed to survive the hit for the time being.


 So, how did Standard react to this last-minute purging? Well, for one, it turns out Ramp strategies aren't too easy to stop. Growh Spiral was a great play on turn two, but Uro and Nissa are still there. Losing Teferi just pushed the archetype into abandoning white for black, turning into Sultai Ramp (the core has always been Simic, anyway).


 This move added hand disruption (in the form of Thought Erasure and Agonizing Remorse) and removal, of both spot and mass variety, making it more of a control build than ever before. Born of one of the top deck pre-bannings, the new archetype is now the most played in Standard, and amounted to almost half the Top 16 and three of the Top 8 at the Red Bull Untapped International Qualifier V, on August 15.


 Proof of Rotation: Not great. Most of the key components of the deck will be gone in rotation, namely Nissa, Narset, Tamiyo, and Casualties of War. A deck running Uro and Shark Typhoon will probably resurface soon, but there's also the question of whether or not a three-color list of this kind will be viable when the shocklands won't be around anymore.

 The other top deck of the summer is Temur Adventure, a list already well-positioned that wasn't affected by the bans in the least, so the new meta was essentially its to take.


 Proof of Rotation: Well, this deck is based on the titular mechanic from Throne of Eldraine, so no spell in the maindeck is going to rotate (well, except for Goblin Electromancer, but that one's mostly a spicy inclusion of this particular list, to adventure more times per turn). The questions of the mana base still looms large, though.

 Next, we find a bunch of pursuers trying to keep up with the Big Two. One that's relatively new is Monogreen Stompy, which had seen some variations pre-bans, but eventually coalesced into a midrange-y form, as opposed to the more aggro-based list running pump spells and Syr Faren.


 The amazing curve is this deck's most deadly weapon, as it unloads scary threats on the battlefield at each step, and Gemrazer mutated onto Stonecoil Serpent or Yorvo is a particularly strong play, since it immediately creates a gigantic attacker with a ton of keywords.


 Proof of Rotation: Pelt Collector is leaving, and that's major, because good one-drops are hard to find (and Wildwood Tracker ain't one); Growth-Chamber Guardian's exit, though, not so major, even just Nessian Hornbeetle could be an okay temporary replacement. The biggest hit comes from the imminent loss of Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, because Garruk, Unleashed is nowhere near as good. If the leak about the new Nissa is false, and she's still monogreen rather than Golgari, then we can maintain hope that a new Stompy-friendly four-drop planeswalker is coming in Zendikar Rising. Overall, though, the core of the deck will hold, Garruk's Uprising, Vivien, Monsters' Advocate and The Great Henge are three amazing refueling engines, Questing Beast is never going to not matter, and Scavenging Ooze is the sworn enemy of Uro and Zenith Flare.

 Let's briefly see what else is there in these exciting last few weeks leading to September 25 (which is actually September 17 for Magic Online and Arena), and how these decks are going to face rotation.


 Izzet Spells was the winner of the Red Bull Untapped (list by Anthony Arevalo). It's based on Sprite Dragon, Stormwing Entity and Riddleform, which are all quite recent additions to the pool, so it has some good staying power – it just needs to find some more cantrips and cheap spells, but that shouldn't be an issue, and Opt is not leaving, which is a relief. However, it must be said, this specific performance at the Red Bull Untapped is not really indicative of the current power level of the archetype.

 Boros Cycling (2nd place list by Oliver Frith) is in the process of renovating itself by adding powerful synergy cards like Irencrag Pyromancer, Splendor Mare and Yidaro, so it's in full experimentation phase. And it's the one mechanical fruit of Ikoria that still matters (since mutate unfortunately didn't perform as well as expected in a competitive environment, and the companion decks were nerfed), so basically Sacred Foundry is the only card in this list that's going away.


 Monored Aggro (7th place list by Christian Bartl) is never not relevant in the meta. It'll lose Runaway Steam-Kin, Light Up the Stage and some of the one-drops, most notably Scorch Spitter, but the overall amount of power should still prove high.

 Monoblack Aggro (3rd place list by Reamonn Behal) has started popping up in the upper echelons of the meta, but it might be a flash in the pan, since soon Rotting Regisaur will not be there to carry Demonic Embrace anymore, and so are many of the most efficient beaters like Knight of the Ebon Legion, Gutterbones and Spawn of Mayhem. Enjoy it while it lasts.


 Even with the cat in the oven gone, Rakdos Sacrifice is alive and kicking. This list by well-known streamer crokeyz has reached Mythic #1 on Arena this month. Of course, with Priest of Forgotten Gods, Mayhem Devil and Gutterbones all on their way out, any potential sacrifice-based archetype is going to look very differently next fall.

 Simic Flash became Temur Flash (sample list by Alexei Sukhikh), just to be able to run Bonecrusher Giant; but losing Nightpack Ambusher, Frilled Mystic, Brineborn Cutthroat and Spectral Sailor is going to spell a definite game over for the archetype.

 Same goes for Temur Elementals, which was based on cards from Core Set 2020 and is currently experiencing a little bit of a comeback before the final curtain: this list by JiRock was also at #1 Mythic this season. At least we'll meet Omnath again in Zendikar Rising, apparently sporting a brand-new additional white component.


 Remember the Yorion decks? They dropped blue and transformed into Orzhov Control (sample list by David Besso). They're going to lose some good removal spells, like Mortify, Despark and Oath of Kaya, plus all the disruption creatures to flicker (Burglar Rat, Yarok's Fenlurker), but the main shell of Doom Foretold and Treacherous Blessing will stay, and so will Charming Prince and Yorion itself, so there's a bit of hope this is going to morph into a recognizable new version of the archetype.

 Honorable mentions: Gruul Aggro (sample list by Immanuel Garcia), which is just not consistent enough mana-wise right now (and it's probably only going to get worse post-rotation) to be preferable to its two separate monocolored constituents; Rakdos Knight (sample list by Norisuke Iwahashi), which comes mostly from Throne of Eldraine and yet has to come to terms with the loss of the same heavy hitters used by Monoblack, namely Regisaur, Ebon Legion and Spawn of Mayhem; and Mardu Winota (sample list by Bruno Beca), which is probably going to be the last competitive deck in the meta to make use of Venerated Loxodon – and some of its other pieces aren't rotation proof either, though of course Winota herself is, but she hasn't been the same since the painful divorce from Agent of Treachery. Will she meet someone new on Zendikar?


 We'll see what happens!


 Currently 8 sets out of 8: Guilds of Ravnica (Fall 1), Ravnica Allegiance (Winter 1), War of the Spark (Spring 1), Core Set 2020 (Summer 1), Throne of Eldraine (Fall 2), Theros: Beyond Death (Winter 2), Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths (Spring 2), Core Set 2021 (Summer 2).

 Next rotation, back to 5 sets: Zendikar Rising (Fall 3, becoming new Fall 2) releases on September 25, 2020, triggering rotation of Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, War of the Spark, and Core Set 2020.


 Last revised: August 3, 2020

 Total banned cards: 10 (Ravnica Allegiance: 2, War of the Spark: 1, Core Set 2020: 3, Throne of Eldraine: 4)

 See you in the in the mid-fall, when rotation will have changed everything and Standard will be at its nadir!