Monday, October 31, 2011

SCG Open Series Kansas City 2011 and GP Hiroshima 2011 Standard Review

What a great weekend for Standard!  We had 2 big tournaments being held at opposite ends of the world.  States side we had Star City Games Open Series in Kansas City and in Japan we had a Grand Prix in Hiroshima. 

Take a quick glance at the top deck lists:
SCG Open Kansas City
GP Hiroshima

SCG Open Kansas City:

Week after week we see growing meta here in the states primarily due to the Star City Games Open Series with an almost weekly live coverage of the event.  In the early round this weekend we saw the rehashing of the previous weeks deck lists coming out in full force.  We had Solar Flare, Mono Black Infect, Tokens, Wolf Run Ramp, and several Blade strategies attempting to make it to the top 8. 

Now in the top 8 of this event we still have 6 Wolf Run Ramp strategies comming out.  Thing to note is that two of these deck feature White as either a primary color in this deck trying to capitalize on one of the most powerful plays in standard; a turn 2 mirran crusader or a more solid removal splash as in this deck.  Either way, this new addition of white seems to give this deck the added "something" it needed to survive in this evolving meta-game.

Also, we had several Solar Flare decks holding on to their last breaths.  Over the weeks we have seen this strategy fall out of favor primarily due to its horrendous mana base.  Sure when you are getting every land drop, things are Magical Christmasland, but when you stumble in a couple rounds in a 9 round tournament, you tend to look elsewhere.  Something interesting about these two lists (here and here) is the small counts on Snapcaster Mage.  While I know Snapcaster Mage is one of the most broken cards printed in recent years (on the level of JTMS, Stoneforge, and BBE) he most likely is not needed in this style of deck.  What you need here is more chances to draw your answers and removal rather then get card advantage out of replaying these cards.

Gavin stated on the live coverage, he was shocked at how few UW Humans decks were represented at this tournament as they were rocking the MTGO ques like crazy.  Unlike MTGO, acquiring cards is always more of a pain in the ass in person, thus most people had sleeved up these decks last week and spend this week refining them and had no intention of changing at the last moment.  That is just something paper magic always has to deal with, most local shops do not carry an endless inventory of cards. 

Also, props to those guys playing Necrotic Ooze Combo!  While I know you didn't go all the way, you put up a good running.  The combo seemed excellent to me and the fact you go some live coverage of it was great.  While I am not convinced that spell-less and a green splash is the way to go, you may have something going there.

Grand Prix Hiroshima

Last standard Pro Tour(Jace/Stoneforge) the Japanese pros found that UW non-caw was a very effective deck while the American Pros had settled on Stoneforge/Squadron Hawk and both styles were ahead of the curve for that particular PT.  I assume the same players post rotation were looking at this strategy and grinning with delight.  With UW Humans rocking the MTGO ques, many players sleeved it up and took it to victory.  One thing I really enjoyed about the coverage of this event was the breakdown of the top 10 decks at different rounds of the event.  While they are easy to get from the coverage, I am just going to put them in order so that people can see them easily:

Round 1

Round 4

Round 7

Round 10

Round 13

I take no credit in putting these together, they were all the work of the Wizards Coverage Staff, but they were so cool I had to share them.  You could see that after the first few rounds UW Humans kept dominating presence at to top tables.  I think most MTGO players would look and see this as a standard "standard que". 

My big take away from this is that Mirran Crusader is just completely bonkers when it comes to power plays in this format.  He is hard to deal with for most the decks, he sets up a clear path to victory if not dealt with, and he is currently a great choice for the meta.  Four of the top 8 decks from this event featured him and this means coming this friday you will need to be prepared to deal with him at your local FNM.  Playing UB?  Find some way to put more mass removal in, Life's Finale might need to get played.  Playing Wolf Run Green?  If you do not up your red, your resolved Garruk most like is dead.  Add some Inferno Titan, I hear he is good. 

So that wraps this up, a great weekend of a developing meta game!  I can't believe its over 5 weeks of Innistrad and we are still getting new blood into this meta.  While I think we are going to get the "best decks" up soon, we are still going back to the brewing tables to get that needed edge.  Keep it up Magic!

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