Metagame Update: Wildcard Round

by Looter-Scooter

The Winners and Losers of Week 7

In the final week of division play, two decks stood at the top of the metagame: Esper Control and Orzhov Midrange. Both decks went undefeated as Esper won 5 matches and Orzhov won 4. These two decks have consistently performed well all season, and are the top choices for anyone looking to play Midrange or Control in this format. The other big winner was Naya Runes, with a 6-2 record. No surprise here, as Naya has been one of the league’s best aggro decks, and the best aggro deck of the week. This week saw a small innovation to the deck, with some players choosing to play main deck copies of Snakeskin Veil Snakeskin Veil or Tamiyo's Safekeeping Tamiyo's Safekeeping , cards normally kept in the sideboard for removal heavy matchups.

Mono White was one of the worst performing decks last week, and continued that trend into this week going 3-5. The deck is still a good choice for aggro players, but it can struggle a lot against Orzhov and Esper. Izzet Control and Jeskai Hinata both had a 1-3 record and Azorius Control went 0-2. Traditional “draw-go” control decks like these have done poorly for most of the season and this week was no exception.

This Week’s Decks

Jeskai Storm being the most popular deck this week is a little surprising, as it was never the most popular deck in division play. However, the deck is very powerful and a majority of the players who submitted it have played it multiple times throughout the season, showing their experience with the deck. The lists are mostly similar to each other and are similar to past week’s lists.

The three Orzhov decks are quite interesting, with all three opting for a different package of cards for their flex slots. Emma Skyeward is playing Shambling Ghast Shambling Ghast , Rite of Oblivion Rite of Oblivion , and Deadly Dispute Deadly Dispute , Samantha Murphy choosing Reckoner Bankbuster Reckoner Bankbuster , Path of Peril Path of Peril , and Henrika Domnathi Henrika Domnathi Henrika, Infernal Seer
, and Mythic Mikaela using Luminarch, Silverquil Silencer, and Concealing Curtains Concealing Curtains Revealing Eye
. While the core of their decks is similar, these changes in flex slots have huge ramifications in gameplay. Mikaela’s deck is the most aggressive, Samantha’s is the most controlling, and Emma’s is in the middle. However, the spiciest take on Orzhov was TheMightyLinguine’s, who is splashing red for Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
, Showdown of the Skalds Showdown of the Skalds , and Bloodtithe Harvester Bloodtithe Harvester . Fable is excellent against Orzhov or Izzet because it can discard excess lands or dead cards in the matchup while giving you two relevant creatures and Harvester is great against Naya or Mono-White as it can kill opposing creatures and help you find your planeswalkers or other removal.

Between the three Mono White decks, there is some variation, though not as much as the Orzhov decks. Beky is the only player with main deck Wandering Emperor The Wandering Emperor , Chaplain of Alms Chaplain of Alms Chapel Shieldgeist
, and the only player not playing Sungold Sentinel Sungold Sentinel . Ariel is the only one not playing Brutal Cathar Brutal Cathar Moonrage Brute
and Mel is the only player playing Battlefield Raptor Battlefield Raptor while not playing Archon of Emeria Archon of Emeria .

While Naya Runes doesn’t have many flex slots, Misha and Skye went in completely opposite directions in filling those slots. Misha is running Circle of Confinement Circle of Confinement , Tamiyo’s Safekeeping, and Rune of Sustenance Rune of Sustenance , planning to shore up the deck’s lack of removal and protection to keep up the pressure. Whereas Skye opted to play Hallowed Haunting Hallowed Haunting , Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr Katilda's Rising Dawn
, and Rune of Speed Rune of Speed , using more expensive threats to better rebuild in a longer game.

The two Izzet decks have the same core of cards, differing slightly in which removal spells to play. The interesting difference is which card draw spells they’re playing. Both decks play Expressive Iteration Expressive Iteration , but Zellybeanz has Unexpected Windfall Unexpected Windfall and Sky has a split of Behold the Multiverse Behold the Multiverse and Memory Deluge Memory Deluge . Additionally, Sky’s list has a mix of various counterspells that Zellybeanz’s doesn’t, though Zellybeanz is playing more copies of Hullbreaker Horror Hullbreaker Horror and Goldspan Dragon Goldspan Dragon .

Overall, the playoff metagame isn’t too different from the division metagame we saw, though there is a lack of “Other” decks. Whether this trend continues into the top 16 round or not will be exciting to see.