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By: Pyrosin, Matt Rossi
Nov 20 2008 12:47am
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States &

Grand Prix Atlanta


 Welcome to the Highlight Reel, where this week we'll get to take a look at the new Standard metagame that came out of last week's States.  We've got the Top 8 decklists from 44 events across the USA and Canada, and a boat-load of information to sift through.

Then once we're done with that, we'll see what happened at Grand Prix Atlanta with more Shards of Alara limited play, and bear witness to an amazing acheivement in the Top 8. 

 All right, first things first.  Let's see the breakdown of all those States Top 8s.

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
  Faeries                                 21%
Cruel Control                         14%
  Demigod Aggro                      13%
  Kithkin               11%
Ajani Vengeant                   6%
  Bant    4%
  Naya     3%
  Merfolk       3%
  Control        3%
  Elves          3%
  Jund 2%
  Blightning Beatdown     2%
Elementals 1%
  Beats   1%
  Beats   1%
     Fellowship of the Rings    1%
  Other        5%

  - 1st   - 2nd   - 4th   - 8th

I've linked a representative of each winning deck to the cooresponding page, so you can click on the little red circle with the blue square around it to see each winning archetype.  You can wade through all the decks yourself by starting here.  A couple of the links don't work, but hopefully Wizards will fix that.

Comparing the pre-rotation Standard at the Big National Championships and the full Lorwyn Block at GP Kobe with our States metagame, we see that the best deck in Standard is still Faeries *sigh*.   The deck lost practially nothing from the rotation other than Ancestral Vision, which most often has been replaced by Jace Beleren; and from Shards the deck gains the versatile removal spell Agony Warp.  So it's no surpise to see Faeries take more than 20% of the spots in the Top 8 and more than 33% of the wins.

Behind Faeries, we have three archetypes bunched in the low teens.  First let's look at Demigod Aggro, which lost Magus of the Moon but added Hell's Thunder that combined with Demigod of Revenge gives the deck the potential for as many as eight big fat,hasty, flying, recurring monsters. 

It's sometimes been difficult over the last year to classify all of the five color control decks running around; is that Quick'n Toast or Ten Commandments or Mannequin or what?  Well at least now, all these 5CC decks play atleast one copy of everyone's favorite seven mana sorcery Cruel Ultimatum.  So now we can just call them all Cruel Control.  Above, I've linked you to Ohio-winner Steven Grueshaber's deck.  He plays 3 copies of the Ultimatum, which was the max I saw from these decklists.  He also plays Nucklavee as a way to recur the "red" sorcery.  The contents of these Cruel Control decks vary greatly, so if you want to, you can spend a lot of time checking out different versions to find what you think is the best way to survive long enough to get up to 7 mana (or 9 for Negate backup) and lay down your Ultimatum.


The third deck in the clump is the hero of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Constructed, and the scrouge of Faerie decks everywhere, i.e. Kithkin.  Kithkin was able to rank up the second highest number of wins, which is surprising to me since all of last year this looked like a deck that could only succeed in Block.  But as you can see from the list linked above, the only Shards of Alara card that Chris O'Bryant used to win at Kentucky is Elspeth, Knight-Errant; everything else is right out of Lorwyn block.  Now some of the builds were a little less Kithkin-esque, and the Goldmeadow Stalwarts and Wizened Cenn were replaced with Knight of the White Orchid and Sigiled Paladin, but any way you look at it, this is the strongest we've seen white weenie in Standard since the Rebels of Mercadian Masques.

Others like Adam Schaff in Maine decided to take their white weenie in a Boris Deck Wins way with the new Lightning HelixAjani VengeantChar is now Flame Javelin, and Figure of Destiny is still ridiculous.  I expect to see the numbers of this type of deck increase, because although its not as explosive as the Spectral Procession / Windbrisk Heights in the straight Kithkin build, the  deck is more consistent since it can pretty easily just burn out an opponent for 6 or 7 life.



On the Shards of Alara-inspired deck front, we see some Bant, Naya, and Jund builds that revolve around their CDE (meaning three colored mana symbols of different types) casting cost creatures and charms; like Steven Gardiner who finished third in Manitoba riding 4 Rhox War Monk and 4 Bant Charm.  Or we have Dan Huffman who won Montana with Woolly Thoctar and Naya Charm.  But what I really love about this deck is that it plays Bloom Tender and  Realm Razer.  Its Wurmageddon all over again, with the Razer acting as both Wurm and Armegeddon.  I saw no love for any Esper or Grixis themed deck.  Affinity must still have R&D scared of making strong artifacts for now, and I guess Grixis just isn't good in any format.

Rounding out the deck from States, we see three players won their respective tournaments with versions of the Planeswalker-filled Fellowship of the Ring deck as featured at Pro Tour Berlin.  I was surprised to see the meger showing by  Elves.  The winner of PT Hollywood and several GPs over the past year just doesn't seem to be as popular without Tarmogoyf anymore.  The same can be said for the

Doran decks, which only had three 8th place finishes and were relegated to "Other" status.  MIA are the Reveillark combo decks which went extinct with the passing of Body Double and  Tokens, which don't work too good without Greater Gargadon.

Well that does it for this week's look at Standard, Faeries is still on top, so we'll just have to see over the next few weeks before Worlds whether or not any of these Shards decks can rise to prominence, or whether the best answer is still Kithkin.  Alright, now on to limited...


Grand Prix Atlanta

We had 682 players showed up for Grand Prix Atlanta and the 9 Rounds of Sealed on Day One.  With no major events going on in Europe or Asia, a number of big name Pros, including Nakamura, Saito, Wafo-Tapa, and Bucher, decided to make the trek across the oceans to experience some of that famous Southern hospitality.  Day One played out as expected as those that opened mana fixing and bombs did well, while those without did not.  And at the end of the day, most of the big names made there way to the Top 64 and advanced to Day Two.  Sitting on top of the heap were Marcio Carvalho, Yoel Izsak, and Eric Whitted, who each went 9-0 with their sealed pools.  You can see their decklists here.

On to Day Two and the draft portion of the event, where you can read a Draft recap for Paul Cheon, which he went 1-2 with on his way to a 27th place finish.  There's also a Draft recap on the deck Tomoharu Saito put together to see himself into his second Top 8 in as many weeks.  The 3rd place finisher from Pro Tour Berlin, was also joined in the Top 8 by the man who beat him in Berlin and eventual winner, Luis Scott-Vargas.  After a 7-2 record on Day One, LSV went 5-0 on Day Two before IDing the last round to get back into the Top 8.  And if that's not enough Pros for you, we also had Gerry Thompson, winner of GP Denver, make Top 8.  You can see the rest of the Top 8 profiles here, and the decks they drafted here

Again, no draft viewer for this event, but the Wizards staff did follow along and watch LSV's draft, with Gerry Thompson to his left, and Steve Wolansky on his right.  You'll see that while Wolansky went Bant after opening a  Battlegrace Angel, and Thompson went with Naya after a third pick Woolly Thoctar, LSV read the signals and settled down as the only Esper drafter at the table, leaving him a silly number of powerful artifacts like Master of EtheriumSharding SphinxSphinx Sovereign, and 3 Capsules.

Top 8


Well Wizards themselves did a recap of Quarterfinals, so you can just read the synopsis of each match here.


Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Chris Fennell 

LSV's and his Esper deck were up against Fennell's Naya build featuring the powerful Ajani Vengeant.  Game 1 was a lopsided affair, where Fennell drew just about all his removal along with a couple 5-power fatties that prevented LSV from gaining any board position.  LSV used a couple of Sanctum Gargoyles in Game 2 to recur Tidehollow Strix and limit Fennell's hand.  Then LSV found Sphinx Sovereign, which was too much of a life swing for Fennell to control, even with Ajani in play.  In the decider, LSV had an early Master of Etherium forcing Fennell to use a lot of resources on.    Fennell tried to remove the artifact lord with a Soul's Fire  on a blocking Jund Battlemage, but LSV had Agony Warp, allowing his creature to live another turn and making Fennell use a Bloodpyre Elemental on the following turn.  But by this time, Fennell was too far behind on board position, and LSV used his flyers to finish off his opponent.  LSV advances 2-1.


Gerry Thompson vs. Steven Wolansky

Thompson's Naya deck was short on mana to begin Game 1, while Wolanksy built an army of exalted creatures such that when Thompson finally started playing creatures he was forced to simply race.  The game ended when Wolansky had a Bant Charm to counter Thompson's  Sigil Blessing, leaving Wolansky free to attack back the next turn FTW.  Wolansky got stuck on two lands, while Thompson played out his army, and the match was quickly tied.  Thompson mulliganed to five to start Game 3, but a Turn 1 Wild Nacatl gave him the start he needed.  Both players amassed a small army, but Thompson had the oppurtune Sigil Blessing to create some unfavorable blocking situtations.  Thompson then had a Welkin Guide to force the last points of damage through the air.  Gerry Thompson advances 2-1.




Gerry Thompson vs. Luis Scott-Vargas

Thompson had a Turn 3 Mayael the Anima off a Turn 2  Druid of the Anima, while LSV had Master of Etherium.   Naya Charm took down the artifact lord, but LSV just replaced with a Sharding Sphinx followed by Tower Gargoyle.  Thompson only had the removal to deal with one of the two flyers, and LSV took Game 1.   Executioner's Capsule from LSV and Soul's Fire from Thompson kept the board clear early on.  Then LSV got the some card advantage with a Sanctum Gargoyle for Tidehollow Strix, while Thompson had Mosstodon.  After a few turns, Vithian Stinger and Infest cleared the board of everything except LSV's two Gargoyles.   Thompson found a Welkin Guide to block, but LSV had a Capsule to remove it and the Gargoyles flew over FTW.  Luis Scott-Vargas defeats Gerry Thompson 2-0 to win Grand Prix Atlanta and get his second win in a row.

Congratulations to Luis Scott-Vargas,
Winner of Grand Prix Atlanta.


Top 20 in the 2008 Player of the Year Standings 
Following Grand Prix Atlanta

Ranking Player Points
1 Shuuhei Nakamura *


2 Tomoharu Saito 48
3 Luis Scott-Vargas ** 47
4 Olivier Ruel 43
5 Marcio Carvalho 42
6 Raphael Levy 39
7 Mario Pascoli 37
7 Martin Juza 37
9 Yuuta Takahashi ** 34
9 Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 34
9 Manuel Bucher 34
12 Robert van Medevoort 33
12 Jan Ruess 33
12 Paul Cheon * 33
15 Joel Calafell 31
15 Gabriel Nassif 31
15 Matej Zatlkaj 31
18 Yong Han Choo 30
18 Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 30
20 Brandon Scheel 29

* 2008 Event Winner


Player of the Year Race

Back to back wins or back to back Top 8s have allowed LSV and Tomoharu Saito to close the gap on Shuuhei Nakamura, who could only manage a "mediocre" 22nd place finish in Atlanta.

Next week we've got Grand Prix Okayama and more Shards of Alara limited.  You know Nakamura and Saito will be there to defend the home turf, so we'll just have to wait and see if LSV is going to try and make a run at this PotY.

See you next time. 





There is a need to track it. by kimshin900years at Thu, 02/09/2017 - 07:18
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There is a need to track it. These values matter. - Steven C Wyer