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Standard Metagame Analysis – Innistrad: Crimson Vow Week 3

Tournaments

We’re now into week 3 of VOW standard, and this weekend had some larger tournaments to take a look at. Out of the 5 tournaments this weekend, 3 had more than 100 players and, as per usual, the Red Bull Untapped tournament was the biggest of the bunch. This week’s Untapped tournament had 707 players. The top 8 for this tournament was made up of Mono-White, Mono-Green, Izzet decks, and a singular Dimir Control.

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win
rate
vs
mono-green aggro
vs
izzet turns
vs
mono-white aggro
vs
izzet dragons ️
vs
dimir control
vs
jund midrange
vs
orzhov midrange
mono-green aggro
324 matches
global 47.8% [42.5%-53.3%]
-
51.4%
70 matches
30.9%
94 matches
61.1%
18 matches
62.5%
8 matches
42.9%
14 matches
33.3%
24 matches
mono-green aggro
324 matches
global 47.8% [42.5%-53.3%]
izzet turns
497 matches
global 54.5% [50.1%-58.9%]
48.6%
70 matches
-
56.8%
132 matches
71.0%
31 matches
50.0%
24 matches
45.5%
33 matches
68.6%
35 matches
izzet turns
497 matches
global 54.5% [50.1%-58.9%]
mono-white aggro
564 matches
global 49.8% [45.7%-53.9%]
69.1%
94 matches
43.2%
132 matches
-
46.3%
41 matches
52.9%
17 matches
43.9%
41 matches
29.4%
34 matches
mono-white aggro
564 matches
global 49.8% [45.7%-53.9%]
global 50.0% [42.1%-57.9%]
38.9%
18 matches
29.0%
31 matches
53.7%
41 matches
-
50.0%
6 matches
57.1%
7 matches
83.3%
6 matches
global 50.0% [42.1%-57.9%]
dimir control
91 matches
global 48.4% [38.4%-58.5%]
37.5%
8 matches
50.0%
24 matches
47.1%
17 matches
50.0%
6 matches
-
100.0%
1 matches
50.0%
6 matches
dimir control
91 matches
global 48.4% [38.4%-58.5%]
jund midrange
150 matches
global 52.7% [44.7%-60.5%]
57.1%
14 matches
54.5%
33 matches
56.1%
41 matches
42.9%
7 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
62.5%
8 matches
jund midrange
150 matches
global 52.7% [44.7%-60.5%]
orzhov midrange
167 matches
global 54.5% [46.9%-61.9%]
66.7%
24 matches
31.4%
35 matches
70.6%
34 matches
16.7%
6 matches
50.0%
6 matches
37.5%
8 matches
-
orzhov midrange
167 matches
global 54.5% [46.9%-61.9%]
vs
mono-green aggro
vs
izzet turns
vs
mono-white aggro
vs
izzet dragons ️
vs
dimir control
vs
jund midrange
vs
orzhov midrange

One of the other large tournaments this weekend was 日本選手権2021 season3本戦 (the Japan Championship, if Google translate hasn’t done me wrong), with 128 players. The top 8 of this tournament has the decks you’d expect to see – with one exception. An Orzhov Tempo deck made top 8, which is an aggressive leaning deck playing some cards that I can’t say I’ve seen play before. Firstly is Silverquill Silencer, which seems right at home in an aggressive deck, and Wedding Announcement, a delayed anthem for your board which can also help refill your hand.

orzhov tempo
standard
buy from TCGplayer $344.34
日本選手権2021 season3本戦
27 November, 2021 - standard - 128 players
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win
rate
vs
mono-green aggro
vs
izzet turns
vs
mono-white aggro
vs
jund midrange
vs
orzhov midrange
vs
izzet control
vs
mardu clerics
global 43.6% [29.3%-59%]
-
42.9%
7 matches
37.5%
16 matches
0.0%
2 matches
100.0%
2 matches
100.0%
2 matches
100.0%
2 matches
global 43.6% [29.3%-59%]
izzet turns
215 matches
global 50.2% [43.6%-56.9%]
57.1%
7 matches
-
44.9%
78 matches
24.0%
25 matches
68.8%
16 matches
37.5%
8 matches
66.7%
9 matches
izzet turns
215 matches
global 50.2% [43.6%-56.9%]
mono-white aggro
171 matches
global 52.0% [44.6%-59.4%]
62.5%
16 matches
55.1%
78 matches
-
46.7%
15 matches
25.0%
4 matches
66.7%
9 matches
100.0%
2 matches
mono-white aggro
171 matches
global 52.0% [44.6%-59.4%]
jund midrange
75 matches
global 56.0% [44.7%-66.7%]
100.0%
2 matches
76.0%
25 matches
53.3%
15 matches
-
16.7%
6 matches
40.0%
5 matches
25.0%
4 matches
jund midrange
75 matches
global 56.0% [44.7%-66.7%]
global 48.6% [33.4%-64.1%]
0.0%
2 matches
31.3%
16 matches
75.0%
4 matches
83.3%
6 matches
-
-
100.0%
2 matches
global 48.6% [33.4%-64.1%]
izzet control
29 matches
global 48.3% [31.4%-65.6%]
0.0%
2 matches
62.5%
8 matches
33.3%
9 matches
60.0%
5 matches
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
izzet control
29 matches
global 48.3% [31.4%-65.6%]
mardu clerics
24 matches
global 33.3% [18%-53.3%]
0.0%
2 matches
33.3%
9 matches
0.0%
2 matches
75.0%
4 matches
0.0%
2 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
mardu clerics
24 matches
global 33.3% [18%-53.3%]
vs
mono-green aggro
vs
izzet turns
vs
mono-white aggro
vs
jund midrange
vs
orzhov midrange
vs
izzet control
vs
mardu clerics

The last large tournament this weekend was one of the Latam Series tournaments, with 110 players. The top 8 of this tournament mostly has the decks you’d expect to see, plus two Orhzov decks and a Grixis Turns (which is mostly Izzet turns splashing for The Meathook Massacre). One version of the Orzhov deck does something really interesting: it plays a playset of Test of Talents in the sideboard, along with a single Snow-Covered Island. With the deck having Environmental Sciences and its suite of ‘Learn’ creatures it hopes to easily find its blue through those cards.

orzhov midrange
standard
buy from TCGplayer $183.16
5ch inter tiendas by 5ch latam series vol. v
27 November, 2021 - standard - 110 players
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win
rate
vs
mono-green aggro
vs
izzet turns
vs
mono-white aggro
vs
izzet dragons ️
vs
jund midrange
vs
grixis turns
vs
azorius control
vs
orzhov midrange
global 51.8% [39%-64.3%]
-
54.5%
11 matches
60.0%
10 matches
80.0%
5 matches
40.0%
5 matches
-
100.0%
3 matches
20.0%
10 matches
global 51.8% [39%-64.3%]
izzet turns
62 matches
global 56.5% [44.1%-68.1%]
45.5%
11 matches
-
45.5%
11 matches
11.1%
9 matches
50.0%
6 matches
100.0%
3 matches
100.0%
2 matches
40.0%
5 matches
izzet turns
62 matches
global 56.5% [44.1%-68.1%]
global 44.8% [33.5%-56.6%]
40.0%
10 matches
54.5%
11 matches
-
57.1%
7 matches
42.9%
7 matches
66.7%
3 matches
100.0%
2 matches
33.3%
6 matches
global 44.8% [33.5%-56.6%]
global 62.5% [47%-75.8%]
20.0%
5 matches
88.9%
9 matches
42.9%
7 matches
-
66.7%
3 matches
100.0%
3 matches
50.0%
2 matches
66.7%
3 matches
global 62.5% [47%-75.8%]
jund midrange
36 matches
global 52.8% [37%-68%]
60.0%
5 matches
50.0%
6 matches
57.1%
7 matches
33.3%
3 matches
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
40.0%
5 matches
jund midrange
36 matches
global 52.8% [37%-68%]
grixis turns
16 matches
global 6.3% [1.1%-28.3%]
-
0.0%
3 matches
33.3%
3 matches
0.0%
3 matches
-
-
-
0.0%
5 matches
grixis turns
16 matches
global 6.3% [1.1%-28.3%]
global 23.5% [9.6%-47.3%]
0.0%
3 matches
0.0%
2 matches
0.0%
2 matches
50.0%
2 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
global 23.5% [9.6%-47.3%]
global 72.7% [58.2%-83.7%]
80.0%
10 matches
60.0%
5 matches
66.7%
6 matches
33.3%
3 matches
60.0%
5 matches
100.0%
5 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
global 72.7% [58.2%-83.7%]
vs
mono-green aggro
vs
izzet turns
vs
mono-white aggro
vs
izzet dragons ️
vs
jund midrange
vs
grixis turns
vs
azorius control
vs
orzhov midrange

Biggest Deck(s)

DeckMID – Week 7VOW – Week 1VOW – Week 3
Mono-White Aggro14.70%20.39%21.78%
Mono-Green Aggro22.25%15.46%10.47%
Izzet Turns10.99%12.61%6.79% (14.43%)
Izzet Dragons18.01%6.14%4.81%
Dimir Control1.99%5.59%3.98%
Jund Midrange3.44%2.96%5.37%
Rakdos Vampires– – –2.85%2.12%
Esper Control1.06%2.30%2.26%
Orzhov Midrange– – –1.97%4.95%

Going from a while back, we can see the meta start to shift again. One thing to clarify is that Izzet Turns has two numbers. 6.79% is for decks marked ‘Izzet Turns’, and the 14.43% are decks marked ‘Izzet Control’. These decks are incredibly similar as some play more into the card Alrund's Epiphany, while others play more into the Hullbreaker Horror. Together they make up 21.22% of the meta, which is a huge uptick from the start of the format, with an increase just shy of 8%.

In contrast, Mono-Green’s presence has dwindled considerably. At the end of MID it was one of, if not the, most popular deck. Now it has less than half the presence it did. With that said, the deck is still good and does make it into top 8’s, but the rest of the field has definitely come more ready for the deck. In contrast, Mono-White aggro is the most popular deck of the format now, and has been gaining a ground with each week. However, I’m not sure how much longer it’ll continue to grow, with the meta starting to shift.

Finally, Orzhov Midrange has been gaining some traction as well. The deck simply didn’t exist in MID standard, and wasn’t in the 8 most played decks at the start of the VOW Standard. This week however, it’s the 6th most played deck in the Untapped tournament. I mentioned a little bit about the deck in last week’s article here:


Izzet Control

izzet control
46.1% global win rate
0.74% metagame share
best against
vs grixis turns
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs dimir control
63.6% win rate
11 tracked matches
vs izzet dragons ️
52.6% win rate
19 tracked matches
worst against
vs mono-green aggro
37.0% win rate
54 tracked matches
vs orzhov midrange
35.7% win rate
14 tracked matches
vs mono-black control
33.3% win rate
9 tracked matches

I think Izzet Control is the deck to beat. It’s something like a sibling or evolution of Izzet Turns, and I consider it to be the better version. While the deck often plays Alrund's Epiphany, the big card that defines the deck is Hullbreaker Horror. This card is the control finisher that most decks dream of: A big body that’s difficult to interact with; it helps handle your opponent’s onboard creatures; and it bounces their spells on the stack. You can see just how powerful the card is by comparing winrates of decks with it in the main against decks without it.

I consider Hullbreaker Horror to be an inclusion in any good control deck, as without some sort of ‘destroy’ or ‘exile’ removal to point at it as soon as it hits the board, it’s never leaving the field. Izzet decks can only hope to bounce it, since their alternative is using two or three burn spells to kill it – an obvious disaster waiting to happen. Similarly, a wrath can kill the creature, but is expensive enough that after untapping, the wrath shoudn’t ever be able to resolve. So, in addition to the lynchpin of control decks in a solid control shell, Izzet Control still gets to play Alrund's Epiphany, letting it go over all the other control decks – just as it used to.

The deck still can be a little slow to start, so one of the best ways to beat it is to play an aggro deck and go under it, but that still isn’t easy to do. With plenty of cheap bounce and burn, Izzet control can do a pretty good job at buying time to deploy its bigger threats. As well, the deck can trim down it’s curve a lot by using its sideboard. It can bring in cheap and powerful creatures in Smoldering Egg, and cheap sweepers in Cinderclasm. So, between it being favoured in the control matchups and having a reasonable plan against the aggro decks, I think this deck will be the deck to define the format, even more than Izzet Turns was.


Orzhov Midrange

orzhov midrange
49.8% global win rate
1.80% metagame share
best against
vs rakdos control
100.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs mono-black zombies
80.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs jeskai control
80.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
worst against
vs izzet dragons ️
28.9% win rate
45 tracked matches
vs selesnya ramp
28.6% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs azorius control
28.6% win rate
14 tracked matches

Orzhov Midrange is a deck that’s gaining popularity, and I can understand why. While it’s called Midrange, it leans more into the control side than the aggro side, with sweepers like Blood on the Snow and The Meathook Massacre. It also plays plenty of small value creatures like Eyetwitch, Shambling Ghast and Professor of Symbology, which can chip in for damage or hold off opposing aggro decks. One of its strongest cards is Edgar, Charmed Groom, a 4/4 for 4 mana which anthems any vampires, and is an absolute pain to remove. If it would die, it flips into an artifact which makes 1/1 lifelinking vampires, and then flips back into the 4/4 after 3 turns. To truly deal with it requires exiling it, or a two-for-one where you kill it and then remove the artifact.

While the deck has creatures that can attack and apply pressure, it’s designed more to combat the aggro decks of the format. Its approach is working, with an over 66% winrate against both Mono-White and Mono-Green. Many of its creatures and spells tend to eke out value little by little, giving you more breathing room against the aggro decks, finally clearing things away with a sweeper. Even the sweepers of the deck come with added value, where Blood on the Snow can bring back a creature or planeswalker, and The Meathook Massacre gains you life while draining the opponent. Eventually, the deck simply smothers the aggro decks in value, leading to a victory.

However, while the deck does well against aggro, it tends not to compete so well with the Izzet decks. Against Izzet Control, the deck has an abysmal 18.2% winrate. The value the deck accrues is incremental, and while that’s good at stopping aggro, the Izzet decks can simply go way over the top. As well, the wraths aren’t particularly good against Izzet, as either the deck is taking multiple turns in a row, or the deck has Hullbreaker Horror down, which can bounce the expensive wraths back to hand. Until the deck can shore up this weakness, I’m not sure how successful it can be with such a poor matchup against such a popular section of the metagame.


Mono-White Aggro

mono-white aggro
54% global win rate
14.28% metagame share
best against
vs selesnya blink
100.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs esper epiphany
100.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs jund control
100.0% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs izzet tempo
33.3% win rate
9 tracked matches
vs mardu fury
33.3% win rate
15 tracked matches
vs rakdos tokens
12.5% win rate
8 tracked matches

Mono-White Aggro is undisputedly wearing the aggro-king crown. Its current metagame share is over double what Mono-Green Aggro’s is, and I suspect that will only continue to increase. While Mono-Green is able to produce more value and stats with its cards than Mono-White can, the deck has much less interaction and disruption. While both aggro decks fold to Orzhov Midrange, Mono-Green also folds to Mono-White, which makes the option of which to choose fairly straightforward.

As well, Mono-White provides interaction which is crucial against some of the other decks in its attempt to get under them and deal the last few points of damage. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben helps slow down the interaction from control decks, be that targeted removal or sweepers, and Elite Spellbinder taxing critical cards can be the difference between winning and losing in some games. Additionally, Mono-White has Skyclave Apparition and Brutal Cathar to help interact with more creature based decks, helping to more cleanly deal with cards like Edgar, Charmed Groom.


Meta Predictions

Right now, I think the meta is in a bit of a shift with two decks really twisting the format in different directions. Firstly is Orzhov Midrange, which absolutely demolishes the aggro decks of the format, but folds to most of the Izzet decks. The deck absolutely trounces aggro decks but folds to some of the Izzet deck badly. I think more people will pick up Orzhov Midrange, even if it’s only good against the aggro decks. In turn, this will directly push Mono-Green further out of popularity, and will likely lessen Mono-White’s popularity too.

The other deck that’s changing the fabric of the format is Izzet Control. Izzet Control is effectively Izzet Turns which plays a few Hullbreaker Horrors, but that card is a seriously powerful card. It is a trump card against most control decks, and single-handedly stifles any Turns deck trying to resolve an Epiphany. As well, if the control deck can survive long enough to deploy Hullbreaker Horror, it should be able to close out the game against any aggro deck too, bouncing and blocking creatures with ease. The Izzet Control deck is likely the best control deck, and like Turns, has the ability to completely go over other control decks. Like Izzet Turns, I think Izzet Control will push other control decks out of the metagame over time.

Innistrad Championship is being held this weekend, which may potentially be the biggest catalyst to shaking up the current metagame. Over 250 players will be participating involving 8 rounds of Standard, so hopefully we will see some innovation there!


What I’d Play

My choice for next weekend would be Izzet Control. While Orzhov Midrange had a higher win-rate this weekend, I don’t think it’s the better deck. Orzhov Midrange’s best matchups are aggro decks, which are Izzet Control’s worst matchups. As well, Orzhov Midrange is itself Izzet Control’s best matchup, and with Orzhov Midrange’s popularity going up, it will likely reduce the number of Aggro decks. Based on all that, I think Izzet Control is a great way to capitalize on how the metagame will likely shift.

In a Tournament

I think you’re less likely to see aggro here, and more likely to go up against other Izzet or Control decks, making Hullbreaker Horror your best card in these matchups. Starting two main, with various ways to ramp in Unexpected Windfall and Prismari Command seems like a good way to get ahead of the mirrors and other control decks.

On Ladder

I suspect on ladder you’ll end up seeing more aggro decks, so I like to trim down on the ramp along with a Hullbreaker Horror for some extra interaction and early plays. Smoldering Egg is a great card in an aggressive matchups since it effectively demands an answer. It blocks well, and if left unchecked, it can eventually turn the tide of the game, hitting in the air and bolting creatures with each spell. I like having one copy of Cinderclasm main, as getting rid of multiple smaller things can be a bit of a pain, and other than that the deck only has two sweepers in Burn Down the House

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