Season 8 Week 2 Metagame Update

by Looter-Scooter

Last week marked the opening week of season 8, and showed us what decks the 128 competitors brought to an unknown metagame. Esper and Grixis Midrange were the most popular archetypes followed by Izzet and Mono Blue Tempo. Did they live up to their hype as the best decks or fall short? What about the “Other” decks, how did they fare? Today we’ll look at last week’s results as well as what players submitted this week.

Last Week’s Results

While Mono White looks like it completely took over the week, only three people submitted it and was tied for with Mono Black Midrange for the fewest copies outside of the “Other” decks. Though Mono White is a good deck, it has the smallest sample size making it hard to judge how good it is from the data alone. 

Of the most popular decks, Grixis Midrange performed the best with a 14-7 record. This isn’t too surprising, as a lot of people had their eyes on Esper going into the season, but Grixis emerged as the best deck right before decklists were submitted, leaving people with not a lot of time to adjust. 

Speaking of Esper, the deck was perfectly average, going 15-15. Despite being the number one threat going in, the deck is so flexible and able to adapt well to any metagame or strategy. 

Selesnya Enchantments was definitely a sleeper pick in the meta, but it did very well with a 4-2 record and took a few games off Esper and Grixis. Being both a great aggro deck and still keeping up in the late game is a valuable trait for any deck, and Selesnya does a good job of it

Rakdos Midrange rounds out our winners, though only slightly with a 3-2 record. While I do think the deck is worse than Grixis, the Red Black Midrange shell is so good it’s still a solid choice for those wanting a more consistent manabase.

Mono Blue and Izzet Tempo were slight losers, both going 6-7. Tempo decks like these are often difficult to play with most games won on thin margins, but one mistake can cost the entire game. These decks are still good options if one wants to play a Tempo deck in this format, though I would personally rather play Izzet for the better removal and burn.

“Other” decks were one the worst performing decks last week, with an 8-20 record. A lot of the decks consisted of Aggro decks that hated Esper’s multiple maindeck lifegain and removal spells or Midrange decks that couldn’t keep up with Esper and Grixis’s card advantage. With these two decks being such important pillars of the format, knowing how to beat them will likely be what separates the good brews from the bad ones. 

Mono Black Midrange tells the opposite story of Mono White, going 1-2. Having the most consistent manabase is not worth the many good cards you lose from other colours, and the deck feels like a worse Rakdos deck.

Orzhov Midrange had the single worst record of last week with 1-3. Orzhov was very good last Standard and looked like it should still be good, but it misses a lot of the Blue cards from Esper. It can lean into Lifegain synergies that I’m more optimistic about, but I don’t like the traditional Midrange build that was good last Standard.

Week 2 Decks

Grixis takes the top spot over Esper following its excellent performance last week. Both decks are excellent choices for any given week. Esper is the more flexible deck and is harder to fight as a result. However, Grixis has the advantage specifically in the Midrange matchup thanks to Invoke Despair Invoke Despair and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
. Though I don’t believe Grixis will stay the more popular deck forever. Rather, I predict the two decks will trade places multiple times throughout the season. 

“Other” decks took a huge loss this week. Part of this is due to more people picking up last week’s “Other” decks, pushing them into the actual metagame (Bant Midrange, Mono Red Aggro and Esper Legends as examples), but also they did not perform well last week which likely caused players to switch to more established archetypes. 

Interestingly, Izzet Tempo has one more deck this week while Mono Blue lost three decks. My best guess for this is people love playing Izzet Tempo-style decks and are sticking with it throughout the season, whereas Mono Blue doesn’t have that same appeal. My prediction for these two decks is Izzet will stay at relatively the same copies each week, but Mono Blue will slowly decrease in decks. 

Jund Midrange is a newcomer to the decks at six copies. This is partly due to me consolidating the two builds into one archetype, and also because more people actually submitted Jund decks. The first Jund deck is a Red-Black based Midrange deck similar to Grixis that gains Workshop Warchief Workshop Warchief , Unleash the Inferno Unleash the Inferno and Riveteers Charm Riveteers Charm at the cost of Corpse Appraiser Corpse Appraiser and counterspells. The second is a Reanimator build that uses Bloodtithe Harvester Bloodtithe Harvester , Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
and Liliana of the Veil Liliana of the Veil to discard Titan of Industry Titan of Industry and reanimate it with The Cruelty of Gix The Cruelty of Gix or ramp into it with Soul of Windgrace Soul of Windgrace . Four people registered the Reanimator version (up from one person last week) and two people registered the Midrange version (same as last week), I personally prefer the Reanimator version because Titan of Industry Titan of Industry is a powerful card that Esper and Grixis have trouble beating while the Midrange version is trying to play the same game, but with worse card advantage than Esper or Grixis.

Bant Midrange is a new take on a midrange deck that doesn’t include Black. Its main plan is to ramp into Storm the Festival Storm the Festival with Katilda, Dawnhart Prime Katilda, Dawnhart Prime and other humans and use Storm Storm the Festival to cheat powerful planeswalkers such as Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset , Elspeth Resplendent Elspeth Resplendent and Wrenn and Seven Wrenn and Seven into play. Grafted Identity Grafted Identity also shows up as a way to steal opposing creatures and if it’s hit off Storm Storm the Festival doesn’t require a creature sacrifice. The best way to beat Esper and Grixis is to go over them rather than under, and Storm Storm the Festival is an excellent way of doing that.

Esper Legends is a modified version of Esper Midrange that leans into Ratadrabik Ratadrabik of Urborg to help protect its other legends like Sheoldred Sheoldred, the Apocalypse or Raffine Raffine, Scheming Seer . Ratadrabik Ratadrabik of Urborg is quite powerful, but comes with a huge deckbuilding cost. Esper Legends can’t play a lot of the noncreature spells that traditional Esper does like The Wandering Emperor The Wandering Emperor and Wedding Announcement Wedding Announcement Wedding Festivity
. I’m honestly not sure how to feel about the deck, without Ratadrabik Ratadrabik of Urborg in play the deck is mostly a worse Esper Midrange deck, but Esper Midrange is so good that it’s worth losing the consistently good spells for higher upside when you do draw Ratadrabik Ratadrabik of Urborg

Mono Red is our last new deck and it’s exactly like you’d expect Mono Red to look like. Phoenix Chick Phoenix Chick , Rabbit Battery Rabbit Battery and Kumano Faces Kakkazan Kumano Faces Kakkazan Etching of Kumano
put damage in early while Squee Squee, Dubious Monarch , Reckless Stormseeker Reckless Stormseeker Storm-Charged Slasher
and Thundering Raiju Thundering Raiju top out the curve. The rest of the deck is filled with burn spells like Lightning Strike Lightning Strike and Play with Fire Play with Fire . While I don’t like Mono Red against Esper with all its lifegain, I do like it vs Grixis as the deck only has Sheoldred Sheoldred, the Apocalypse to gain life and not every build is on her. 

Orzhov Midrange had 5 players this week, though like Jund, there are two different builds. A Midrange version which plays like Esper without the Blue cards, and a Lifegain version utilizing Voice of the Blessed Voice of the Blessed and Traveling Minister Traveling Minister for powerful synergies. 3 people played the Midrange version and 2 played Lifegain. Like I said about Orzhov in last week’s results, I’m much more a fan of the Lifegain build as it’s not just a “Blueless Esper” deck like the Midrange build. 

Featured Decks

Our first deck is Jeskai Taxes by Ash. At its core, this is a Red White aggro deck using cards like Thalia Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , Mage's Attendant Mage's Attendant , and Anointed Peacekeeper Anointed Peacekeeper to slow the opponent down. Red is included for a couple top end threats in Thundering Raiju Thundering Raiju and Sunrise Cavalier Sunrise Cavalier , as well as removal spells like Flame-Blessed Bolt Flame-Blessed Bolt and Torch Breath Torch Breath . Blue is only a light splash for Hinata Hinata, Dawn-Crowned and some sideboard counterspells, but I like the list as an aggro deck with a few disruptive tools to prevent the opponent from catching up.

Rayne brought Sultai Mill this week. The deck is built around Urborg Lhurgoyf Urborg Lhurgoyf , the best named card in Dominaria, and plays 31 creatures to maximize its power. Deathbonnet Sprout Deathbonnet Sprout Deathbonnet Hulk
, Vilespawn Spider Vilespawn Spider and Old Stickfingers Old Stickfingers help with the milling and are additional payoffs in the late game. Mirrorshell Crab Mirrorshell Crab , Ertai Ertai Resurrected , and Colossal Skyturtle Colossal Skyturtle give the deck some interaction while keeping the creature count high. I’m almost always a fan of Green Black graveyard decks and Rayne did not disappoint. You can find her streaming at

Our last deck is another Jeskai deck, this time Jeskai Tempo from Talia. Stormchaser Drake Stormchaser Drake is the main threat, drawing a ton of cards as you pump it with Ancestral Anger Ancestral Anger or Angelfire Ignition Angelfire Ignition . Phoenix Chick Phoenix Chick and card name=”Balmor, Battlemage Captain” set=dmu cn=196] show up as additional cheap threats, while The Wandering Emperor The Wandering Emperor , Hinata Hinata, Dawn-Crowned and Reservoir Kraken Reservoir Kraken are late game cleaners. Hinata Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is quite good, reducing the cost of Angelfire Ignition Angelfire Ignition , Destroy Evil Destroy Evil and Take Up the Shield Take Up the Shield while making it harder for opponents to interact with you. Stormchaser Drake Stormchaser Drake and Ancestral Anger Ancestral Anger felt close to being good in Standard and this deck is a good home for them.