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GP Verona and GP Rio Metagame Breakdown
Feature Article from Adam Yurchick
Adam Yurchick
3/12/2013 10:00:00 AM
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Two Standard Grand Prix this weekend means we've been flooded with new Standard information. There are a bunch of great decklists to check out and plenty of metagame data to analyze. Over 1200 players were drawn to Verona, Italy, and there were over 700 competitors in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The top of both tournaments were dominated by the wide variety of known top Standard archetypes on both sides of the globe. Each of these tournaments started with a long, grueling first day of competition composed of 9 rounds. Decks that made it through this day with a strong enough record, 7-2 or better, advanced to the second day. The decks that make the second day are proven enough to draw data from, but the real competition begins on Sunday. The second day is 6 rounds of high level competition that resemble the Pro Tour in Ferocity. From there, the Top 8 compete single elimination for the title.

I've wanted to start mixing up how I do my articles, particularly metagame analysis. I want to get a deeper look and see what is really going on. I did a bunch of calculations for this article to get a great picture of the metagame through various snapshots taken around the globe this past weekend. Here's what I've come up with:

In Verona 177 players made Day Two, with a deck breakdown as follows:

Jund Midrange: 41
American Midrange: 20
Human Reanimator: 19
Jund Aggro: 16
Naya Blitz: 16
Naya Midrange: 13
Junk Reanimator: 11
BR Zombies: 8
The Aristocrats: 7
Esper Control: 6
Orzhov: 5
Gruul Aggro: 4
Wolf Run Bant: 3
Rando Commandos: 8 (the coverage says decks like MonoGreen Ooze, UW Control, Monored, and Bant Auras)

The Top 16 of Verona is as follows:

Jund Midrange: 5
Human Reanimator: 3
Junk Reanimator: 1
American Midrange: 4
Naya Blitz: 1
BR Zombies: 1
Naya Midrange: 1

The Top 8 looked like:

Jund Midrange: 2
Junk Reanimator: 1
American Midrange: 2
Human Reanimator: 1
Naya Blitz: 1
BR Zombies: 1

Here are the numbers for Rio, which had 78 players competing on the second day:

Day Two:

Jund Midrange: 14
American Midrange: 6
Human Reanimator: 5
Jund Aggro: 6
Naya Blitz: 4
Naya Midrange: 7
Junk Reanimator: 10
Zombies: 3
Esper Control: 1
Gruul Aggro: 3
The Aristocrats: 7
Wolf Run Bant: 6
Rando Commandos: 6

Top 16:

Jund Midrange: 3
American Midrange: 1
Human Reanimator: 2
Jund Aggro: 2
Junk Rites: 2
Jund Zombies: 2
The Aristocrats: 2
Gruul Aggro: 1
Esper Control: 1

Top 8:

Jund Midrange: 1
Human Reanimator: 1
Jund Aggro: 1
Junk Rites: 2
The Aristocrats: 2
Gruul Aggro: 1

Combined Verona and Rio:

Jund Midrange: 55
American Midrange: 26
Human Reanimator: 24
Jund Aggro: 22
Naya Blitz: 20
Naya Midrange: 20
Junk Rites: 21
Zombies: 11
Aristocrats: 14
Esper Control: 7
Orzhov: 5
Gruul Aggro: 7
Wolf Run Bant: 9
Rando Commandos: 14

I used that data to calculate the total percentage breakdown of each decks total presence in Day Two, Top 16, and Top 8 of the two events looked at together. Then I looked at how each archetype fared in Day Two, based on Top 16 and Top 8 percentages. If a deck had a higher percentage in Top 8 than it did in Day Two, it over-performed. If it placed a higher percentage in the Top 16 than a Day Two percentage, it slightly over-performed. Decks that fell in percentage from Day Two to Top 16 and Top 8 were under-performing archetypes. Highest weight will be given to the decks that put the highest percentage increase into the Top 8, regardless of Top 16 percentage.

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Decks that over-perform on the Day Two of competition are great candidates to win the event, and, according to this analysis, are the best to be playing. This is a relatively small sample size, 255 total Day Two decks, but let's dig in.

The article would not be complete without an actual look at the decks from the events. What I've done is chosen the overall top performing decklists by archetype, looked across both events, when available (only those archetypes that finished within the 16). These tournament-proven decks are great starting points for testing and good lists for the gauntlet. Each representative decklist will come with the performance percentages for that archetype:

Here are the percentages along with the representative decklist:


Hyper-over-performers:

Junk Reanimator:

Junk Rites by Mike Krasnitski
Finished 1st Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
3 Angel of Serenity
3 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Centaur Healer
2 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [24]
4 Grisly Salvage
2 Lingering Souls
3 Mulch
4 Unburial Rites
Spells [13]
2 Cavern of Souls
3 Forest (270)
1 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
1 Vault of the Archangel
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


4 Abrupt Decay
4 Acidic Slime
2 Deathrite Shaman
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Rhox Faithmender
1 Sever the Bloodline
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 8.2%
Top 16: 9.4%
Top 8: 18.8%

Junk Reanimator was the highest performing Day Two archetype on the weekend. Of the 21 pilots, three made it to the Top 16, all three of them with Top 8 records. The deck did great against the Day Two competition, including the Top 8 competition, as it took the trophy in Verona, played by Mike Krasnitski. Junk Reanimator was certainly king last weekend and was positioned at the top of the metagame. The general Standard metagame seems to have polarized between the fastest aggro decks and the slower decks that fight them, like UWR and Jund Midrange. Junk Reanimator can compete with the aggro decks through the midrange lifegain creatures, yet go over the top of the slower strategies with Angel of Serenity and Unburial Rites chains. Unless players pack the requisite graveyard removal, this deck will run roughshod. Even against hate the deck has a solid gameplan of aggression, so does not have a whole lot to fear. The season began with the Junk Reanimator deck on top, and was even played by Kenji Tsumura to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Nagoya in December, but it fell by the wayside as the format adapted. We have come full circle, and Unburial Rites is king for another weekend. The metagame will adapt with a bunch of graveyard hate, but players are slow to change, and either way the deck quite robust in the current Junk configuration. Right now I am full speed on this deck.

The Aristocrats:

The Aristocrats by Jose Francisco da Silva
Finished 1st Place at 2013 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
4 Knight of Infamy
1 Restoration Angel
3 Silverblade Paladin
2 Skirsdag High Priest
2 Zealous Conscripts
Creatures [28]
3 Lingering Souls
3 Orzhov Charm
2 Tragic Slip
Spells [8]
4 Blood Crypt
3 Cavern of Souls
1 Clifftop Retreat
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
2 Plains (250)
4 Sacred Foundry
1 Swamp (260)
1 Vault of the Archangel
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


1 Cathedral Sanctifier
1 Faith's Shield
1 Mark of Mutiny
1 Mentor of the Meek
3 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Rhox Faithmender
1 Sever the Bloodline
1 Skirsdag High Priest
2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
2 Tragic Slip
1 War Priest of Thune
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 5.5%
Top 16: 6.3%
Top 8: 12.5%

The breakout deck from Pro Tour Gatecrash, the Aristocrats, has another trophy on its mantle. It took down Rio in the hands of Jose Francisco Villela. Another copy made the Top 8 of that tournament, so it was clearly a great metagame call for that tournament. The deck has a ton of play and exploits unprepared opponents. This GP win will be sure to turn heads and make players take notice if they had not before. Sam Black said he does not love the deck if players are prepared with cards like Tragic Slip. The thing is, Standard is quite open, so it is impossible to load up on narrow cards. This deck can certainly compete with a little resistance and will be here to stay. If everyone on the block starts using 4 Izzet Staticaster things will get more difficult, but until that point this deck seems perfectly awesome. This might warp some smaller metagames like FNM, will be a role player in larger metagames and online. A potent weapon in skilled hands.

American Midrange:

American Midrange by Piotr Wald
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Thundermaw Hellkite
Creatures [15]
4 Azorius Charm
2 Dissipate
2 Izzet Charm
3 Mizzium Mortars
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Searing Spear
1 Syncopate
4 Thought Scour
1 Unsummon
Spells [21]
3 Clifftop Retreat
1 Desolate Lighthouse
3 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Moorland Haunt
3 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


1 Assemble the Legion
2 Augur of Bolas
4 Boros Reckoner
1 Counterflux
1 Dispel
1 Negate
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Runechanter's Pike
1 Searing Spear
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Thoughtflare
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 10.2%
Top 16: 15.6%
Top 8: 12.5%


This deck did well on the second day and put two players into the Top 8. This UWR deck is on the control end of the spectrum but is a midrange style deck. It is a fish deck that can win with aggressive creatures, but in most matchups takes a controlling role behind the potent Boros Reckoner. This is not a dominant deck but always has game, and will continue to be a player as long as Boros Reckoner exists. This is a fine tournament choice, and is among the hardest decks in Standard to “hate” out in the traditional manner. A solid choice, but I'm not excited about it.

BR Zombies:

BR Zombies by Andreas Nilsson
Finished 2nd Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Blood Artist
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Gravecrawler
2 Hellrider
4 Knight of Infamy
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
4 Vampire Nighthawk
Creatures [31]
2 Brimstone Volley
1 Mark of Mutiny
1 Searing Spear
2 Tragic Slip
Spells [6]
4 Blood Crypt
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Dragonskull Summit
2 Rakdos Guildgate
9 Swamp (260)
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


2 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Duress
3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Mark of Mutiny
2 Pillar of Flame
3 Rakdos Charm
1 Slaughter Games
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 4.2%
Top 16: 9.4%
Top 8: 6.3%

This deck comes in both Rakdos and Jund versions, with the Rakdos version taking second in Verona. This is one of the fast aggro decks in the format. It can be built to maximize consistency, as in the Rakdos build, or power, as with the Jund build. Both are solid aggressive choices that are particularly well positioned in a world without Pillar of Flame.

Gruul Aggro:

Gruul Aggro by Wellington Cordeiro
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Flinthoof Boar
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Hellrider
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Stromkirk Noble
Creatures [31]
4 Brimstone Volley
1 Pillar of Flame
4 Searing Spear
Spells [9]
12 Mountain (265)
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
Lands [20]
Deck Total [60]


2 Blasphemous Act
3 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Mizzium Mortars
4 Skullcrack
2 Traitorous Blood
3 Volcanic Strength
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Similar to the original Saito Gruul deck, this uses the best red cards while dipping into the power of green. Among the most consistent aggro decks, it will do similar things every game and mulligan well. Those are the strengths over the archetype over something like Naya Blitz.

Day 2: 2.8%
Top 16: 3.1%
Top 8: 6.25%


Slight-over-performer:

Jund Midrange:

Jund Midrange by Jérémy Dezani
Finished 3rd - 4th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
2 Arbor Elf
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Olivia Voldaren
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [13]
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
3 Liliana of the Veil
Planeswalkers [5]
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Dreadbore
4 Farseek
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Murder
2 Rakdos's Return
1 Staff of Nin
1 Tragic Slip
1 Ultimate Price
Spells [17]
4 Blood Crypt
3 Dragonskull Summit
2 Forest (270)
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]


1 Abrupt Decay
2 Acidic Slime
1 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Duress
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Rakdos's Return
3 Slaughter Games
1 Tormod's Crypt
1 Tragic Slip
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Jund Midrange is a fickle creature. It plays a lot of answers, so it needs to be built precisely for a metagame. Wrong answers mean losing. The polarized metagame is a good thing because it can accurately attack what is going on. Even then, drawing the wrong answers at the wrong time means losing, and Jund often will draw the wrong cards in the wrong matchups and still lose. This doesn't have crushing matchups against anything, but it has game against it all. The biggest weakness is being easy prey for Unburial Rites decks, which will only rise in popularity going forward. Be sure to pack plenty of Tormod's Crypt, Grafdigger's Cage, Slaughter Games, and any other hate you can muster. Ground Seal is a solid option that can even be played in the maindeck.

All that being said, Jund plays some powerful creatures in Huntmaster of the Fells and Thragtusk, so it will win games against just about everybody. Consider it plays Kessig Wolf Run, a game winner. It is also quite robust in construction. For those reasons I think Jund is always going to be a reasonable choice in Standard, just be sure to do your homework.

Top 16: 25%
Top 8: 18.8%


Under-performers:

Human Reanimator:

Human Reanimator by Walter Filho
Finished 3rd - 4th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Angel of Glory's Rise
3 Burning-Tree Emissary
2 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Fiend Hunter
3 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Undercity Informer
Creatures [18]
3 Liliana of the Veil
Planeswalkers [3]
4 Faithless Looting
4 Grisly Salvage
4 Mulch
4 Unburial Rites
Spells [16]
4 Blood Crypt
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Clifftop Retreat
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Rootbound Crag
2 Stomping Ground
3 Temple Garden
1 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


4 Abrupt Decay
3 Falkenrath Aristocrat
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Rolling Temblor
3 Thragtusk
2 Zealous Conscripts
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


This deck is solid and capable of beating anybody. It fares worse against hyper aggro than Junk, and the endgame is more powerful but seems to be “win-more” against midrange, so I don't see any reason to play this deck over Junk Reanimator except in control heavy metagames.

Day 2: 9.4%
Top 16: 8.6%
Top 8: 7.8%

Jund Aggro:

Jund Aggro by Artur Villela
Finished 2nd Place at 2013 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
3 Dreg Mangler
4 Experiment One
4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Mogg Flunkies
4 Rakdos Cackler
Creatures [31]
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Dreadbore
2 Searing Spear
Spells [7]
4 Blood Crypt
2 Dragonskull Summit
2 Forest (270)
1 Mountain (265)
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
2 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [22]
Deck Total [60]


1 Abrupt Decay
3 Cremate
2 Domri Rade
1 Kessig Wolf Run
2 Olivia Voldaren
1 Searing Spear
3 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Wolfir Silverheart
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 8.6%
Top 16: 6.3%
Top 8: 6.3%

Jund Aggro combines the aggressive creatures of Gruul and Zombies with the high end of Zombies, creating a very powerful creation, but it comes with a painful and sometimes awkward manabase. A solid aggressive choice on par with the other aggressive builds.

Naya Blitz:

Naya Humans by Samuele Estratti
Finished 3rd - 4th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Boros Elite
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Experiment One
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Frontline Medic
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Mayor of Avabruck
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Creatures [36]
4 Searing Spear
Spells [4]
4 Cavern of Souls
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Rootbound Crag
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
Lands [20]
Deck Total [60]


4 Boros Charm
2 Boros Reckoner
2 Fiend Hunter
2 Flames of the Firebrand
2 Nearheath Pilgrim
3 Pacifism
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 7.8%
Top 16: 3.1%
Top 8: 6.3%

On the aggressive deck spectrum, Naya Blitz is the least consistent but the most powerful. In this analysis it did the poorest of the fast aggro decks, so it seems consistency is a better attribute than power. The fast aggro draws from fair decks are often good enough. They win on slight margins, but they win. Naya Blitz tends to completely Annihilate an opponent or never mount a real offense. This seems like a weak tournament choice against the prepared, but will easily punish those who do not know what's going on.

Naya Midrange:

Naya Midrange by Yann Belmer
Finished 9th - 16th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
1 Aurelia, the Warleader
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Gyre Sage
4 Loxodon Smiter
1 Restoration Angel
3 Thundermaw Hellkite
Creatures [29]
4 Domri Rade
Planeswalkers [4]
3 Mizzium Mortars
Spells [3]
4 Clifftop Retreat
2 Mountain (265)
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


2 Assemble the Legion
4 Boros Charm
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Pacifism
3 Rest in Peace
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 7.8%
Top 16: 3.1%
Top 8: 0%

Naya Midrange occupies a role above the fastest aggro decks. In theory it is a little slower with better creatures, so it should beat them. Things are not that simple, but it is in fact favored against the fast aggro decks. Hasted flyers can be a problem, but this deck is fully capable of racing. The most controlling decks, Wolf Run Bant and Esper, have fallen from the map, a good thing for Naya, but it is quite weak to Junk Reanimator.

Esper Control:

Esper Control by Welder Pereira
Finished 9th - 16th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro - 3/9
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Augur of Bolas
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Snapcaster Mage
Creatures [8]
2 Jace, Memory Adept
Planeswalkers [2]
4 Azorius Charm
2 Detention Sphere
2 Devour Flesh
2 Dissipate
3 Sphinx's Revelation
4 Supreme Verdict
3 Terminus
3 Think Twice
1 Ultimate Price
Spells [24]
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island (255)
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Nephalia Drownyard
3 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains (250)
Lands [27]
Deck Total [61]


1 Dissipate
2 Duress
2 Negate
1 Psychic Spiral
2 Rest in Peace
2 Syncopate
3 Tragic Slip
2 Witchbane Orb
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Day 2: 2.8%
Top 16: 3.1%
Top 8: 0%

Esper has to answer way too many problems from way too many angles, and the rise of Reanimator only makes things harder. The Jund matchup is also a huge grind that ends up being a coin flip. I would stay away until further notice.

Wolf Run Bant: 9

Day 2: 3.5%
Top 16: 0%
Top 8: 0%

Going forward I would play a creature heavy version of Wolf Run Bant with four Restoration Angel and four Thragtusk, along with Loxodon Smiter, but this is not where I want to be.

Orzhov: 5

Day 2: 2%
Top 16: 0%
Top 8: 0%

Rando Commandos: 14

Day 2: 5.5%
Top 16: 0%
Top 8: 0%

The biggest takeaway from all this?





Standard is open! Standard is huge! There are a lot of really good cards, meaning there are a lot of really good decks that take advantage all of them. Almost everything is tournament viable, and a lot of success seems to come down to metagaming. It can be daunting, but the huge number of available decks falls into a few categories. There are the hyper aggressive decks like Zombies and Humans, the midrange like Jund and UWR, to the control like Esper and BW, including some UWR builds, to the graveyard decks that look to go over the top of everybody. The Aristocrats fills an interesting niche in there, somewhere between aggro and midrange. It presents its own unique problems, which makes it a potent threat. Going forward I recommend Junk Reanimator and the Aristocrats as powerful decks that present unique threats to the format while sitting in great metagame positions.



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