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mtg icon Magic: The Gathering

Standard Metagame Analysis – Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Week 1

Tournaments

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is out, and with it a bunch of cool new cards. The set brings a bunch of new Ninjas, Artifacts, and Enchantments – along with some powerful planeswalkers. There were several tournaments this weekend, and the biggest – one of the biggest in a while – was ‘Crokeyz Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Tournament’, with 585 players. The top deck of this tournament is a bit of a new spin on the Orzhov Sacrifice decks that were popular before the set release. Rather than being all in on sacrifice, the deck leans into blue for Malevolent Hermit and Kaito Shizuki.

esper midrange
standard
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crokeyz kamigawa: neon dynasty tournament
19 February, 2022 - standard - 585 players
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win
rate
vs
esper midrange
vs
orzhov midrange
vs
jeskai hinata
vs
naya runes
vs
Mono White Aggro
vs
Mono Green Stompy
vs
izzet control
vs
azorius control
vs
Mono Red Aggro
vs
selesnya enchantments
esper midrange
129 matches
global 57.4% [48.7%-65.6%]
-
56.7%
30 matches
60.0%
15 matches
60.0%
5 matches
60.0%
5 matches
66.7%
3 matches
66.7%
12 matches
85.7%
7 matches
0.0%
1 matches
57.1%
7 matches
esper midrange
129 matches
global 57.4% [48.7%-65.6%]
orzhov midrange
366 matches
global 56.0% [50.9%-61%]
43.3%
30 matches
-
43.5%
46 matches
42.9%
21 matches
68.4%
19 matches
48.0%
25 matches
58.6%
29 matches
36.4%
22 matches
76.9%
13 matches
87.5%
16 matches
orzhov midrange
366 matches
global 56.0% [50.9%-61%]
jeskai hinata
210 matches
global 50.5% [43.8%-57.2%]
40.0%
15 matches
56.5%
46 matches
-
43.8%
16 matches
83.3%
6 matches
53.8%
13 matches
46.2%
13 matches
70.0%
10 matches
25.0%
4 matches
50.0%
10 matches
jeskai hinata
210 matches
global 50.5% [43.8%-57.2%]
naya runes
86 matches
global 57.0% [46.4%-66.9%]
40.0%
5 matches
57.1%
21 matches
56.3%
16 matches
-
50.0%
2 matches
50.0%
4 matches
100.0%
6 matches
50.0%
2 matches
100.0%
3 matches
50.0%
2 matches
naya runes
86 matches
global 57.0% [46.4%-66.9%]
global 48.2% [37.9%-58.7%]
40.0%
5 matches
31.6%
19 matches
16.7%
6 matches
50.0%
2 matches
-
33.3%
3 matches
66.7%
3 matches
60.0%
5 matches
75.0%
4 matches
40.0%
5 matches
global 48.2% [37.9%-58.7%]
global 48.9% [38.7%-59.1%]
33.3%
3 matches
52.0%
25 matches
46.2%
13 matches
50.0%
4 matches
66.7%
3 matches
-
40.0%
5 matches
0.0%
1 matches
66.7%
3 matches
25.0%
4 matches
global 48.9% [38.7%-59.1%]
izzet control
143 matches
global 46.2% [38.2%-54.3%]
33.3%
12 matches
41.4%
29 matches
53.8%
13 matches
0.0%
6 matches
33.3%
3 matches
60.0%
5 matches
-
33.3%
3 matches
33.3%
12 matches
37.5%
8 matches
izzet control
143 matches
global 46.2% [38.2%-54.3%]
global 50.6% [40.2%-61%]
14.3%
7 matches
63.6%
22 matches
30.0%
10 matches
50.0%
2 matches
40.0%
5 matches
100.0%
1 matches
66.7%
3 matches
-
50.0%
2 matches
50.0%
2 matches
global 50.6% [40.2%-61%]
Mono Red Aggro
68 matches
global 45.6% [34.3%-57.3%]
100.0%
1 matches
23.1%
13 matches
75.0%
4 matches
0.0%
3 matches
25.0%
4 matches
33.3%
3 matches
66.7%
12 matches
50.0%
2 matches
-
0.0%
1 matches
Mono Red Aggro
68 matches
global 45.6% [34.3%-57.3%]
global 47.1% [35.7%-58.8%]
42.9%
7 matches
12.5%
16 matches
50.0%
10 matches
50.0%
2 matches
60.0%
5 matches
75.0%
4 matches
62.5%
8 matches
50.0%
2 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
global 47.1% [35.7%-58.8%]
vs
esper midrange
vs
orzhov midrange
vs
jeskai hinata
vs
naya runes
vs
Mono White Aggro
vs
Mono Green Stompy
vs
izzet control
vs
azorius control
vs
Mono Red Aggro
vs
selesnya enchantments

One other tournament I want to point out this weekend is the Hooglandia Open. It had 93 players, and while it was an alchemy tournament, a new brew took the top spot. That deck is Naya Runes, which (aside from the Forsaken Crossroads) is standard playable. Playing a bunch of new enchantment matters cards plus the runes from Kaldheim, it reminds me of a “spellslinger” deck more than anything else.

hooglandia open sponsored by coolstuffinc.com & metafy.gg
19 February, 2022 - alchemy - 93 players
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win
rate
vs
naya runes
vs
gruul werewolves
vs
rakdos midrange
vs
azorius control
vs
jeskai hinata
vs
esper clerics
vs
mono-black control
vs
mono-red aggro
vs
orzhov clerics
vs
selesnya clerics
vs
naya enchantments
naya runes
27 matches
global 74.1% [55.3%-86.8%]
-
83.3%
12 matches
66.7%
3 matches
0.0%
1 matches
100.0%
1 matches
50.0%
2 matches
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
-
50.0%
2 matches
naya runes
27 matches
global 74.1% [55.3%-86.8%]
global 53.8% [43.7%-63.7%]
16.7%
12 matches
-
50.0%
12 matches
88.9%
9 matches
70.0%
10 matches
0.0%
4 matches
66.7%
3 matches
50.0%
4 matches
33.3%
3 matches
40.0%
5 matches
60.0%
5 matches
global 53.8% [43.7%-63.7%]
global 55.6% [37.3%-72.4%]
33.3%
3 matches
50.0%
12 matches
-
100.0%
1 matches
0.0%
1 matches
50.0%
2 matches
100.0%
2 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
-
-
global 55.6% [37.3%-72.4%]
global 23.8% [10.6%-45.1%]
100.0%
1 matches
11.1%
9 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
global 23.8% [10.6%-45.1%]
jeskai hinata
20 matches
global 50.0% [29.9%-70.1%]
0.0%
1 matches
30.0%
10 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
-
-
-
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
0.0%
1 matches
jeskai hinata
20 matches
global 50.0% [29.9%-70.1%]
esper clerics
11 matches
global 63.6% [35.4%-84.8%]
50.0%
2 matches
100.0%
4 matches
50.0%
2 matches
-
-
-
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
-
-
esper clerics
11 matches
global 63.6% [35.4%-84.8%]
global 54.5% [28%-78.7%]
-
33.3%
3 matches
0.0%
2 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
100.0%
1 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
global 54.5% [28%-78.7%]
mono-red aggro
10 matches
global 60.0% [31.3%-83.2%]
-
50.0%
4 matches
0.0%
1 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
-
-
-
-
mono-red aggro
10 matches
global 60.0% [31.3%-83.2%]
orzhov clerics
10 matches
global 60.0% [31.3%-83.2%]
100.0%
1 matches
66.7%
3 matches
-
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
0.0%
1 matches
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
-
orzhov clerics
10 matches
global 60.0% [31.3%-83.2%]
global 45.5% [21.3%-72%]
-
60.0%
5 matches
-
-
0.0%
1 matches
-
0.0%
1 matches
-
100.0%
1 matches
-
0.0%
1 matches
global 45.5% [21.3%-72%]
global 66.7% [39.1%-86.2%]
50.0%
2 matches
40.0%
5 matches
-
100.0%
1 matches
100.0%
1 matches
-
-
-
-
100.0%
1 matches
-
global 66.7% [39.1%-86.2%]
vs
naya runes
vs
gruul werewolves
vs
rakdos midrange
vs
azorius control
vs
jeskai hinata
vs
esper clerics
vs
mono-black control
vs
mono-red aggro
vs
orzhov clerics
vs
selesnya clerics
vs
naya enchantments

Biggest Deck(s)

DeckNEO – Week 1
Orzhov Midrange13.30%
Jeskai Control9.94%
Esper Midrange5.70%
Azorius Control5.41%
Orzhov Control5.26%
Mono-White Aggro4.82%
Izzet Dragons4.82%
Izzet Control4.39%

Despite being a new format, and there being some cool new brews, a lot of familiar faces still exist in Kamigawa Standard. The most popular deck this week was Orzhov Midrange (or Orzhov Sacrifice as I like to call it), which may look familiar to those of you who follow my Alchemy articles. As well, even with Alrund's Epiphany banned, Izzet Dragons and Izzet Control are still a healthy portion of the metagame.

Unlike those decks, Jeskai Control was a more fringe deck in VOW, but makes it on the list here. However, it looks very different from its previous version thanks to new Kamigawa cards. 

Finally, other decks in the format have definitely waned in popularity. While Mono-White is one of the top 8 most played decks, the previously popular Mono-Green doesn’t even make the list.

Orzhov Midrange/Control

orzhov midrange
52.7% global win rate
10.28% metagame share
best against
vs selesnya lifegain
87.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs naya werewolves
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs izzet giants
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs five-color ramp
28.6% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs temur control
28.6% win rate
21 tracked matches
vs naya aggro
16.7% win rate
6 tracked matches

As I mentioned previously, Orzhov Midrange/Control are still here, and they’re still doing well. Honestly, the line between these decks is starting to blur a little bit, but the defining difference is the midrange version plays more creatures to chip away faster, while the control decks tend to come with more wraths and recursion to prolong the game

In the case of both the decks, the centrepiece is The Meathook Massacre. It helps keep aggressive decks at bay by taking out small creatures, and then sits around and drains the opponent. Even against control it’s not dead, as it can be cast just to start pressuring the life total of the control decks. 

From here the decks tend to play plenty of small value creatures or token generators like Eyetwitch, Shambling Ghast and Wedding Announcement. The decks tend to use these creatures to further themselves in the games using Deadly Dispute to generate mana and cards, while Rite of Oblivion helps deal with troublesome permanents. As well the decks play some of the best cards in white and black, with Vanishing Verse being one of the most efficient removal spells in the format and powerful Planeswalkers like Lolth, Spider Queen.

Jeskai Control

jeskai control
46.8% global win rate
0.18% metagame share
best against
vs esper midrange
50.0% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs orzhov midrange
50.0% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs izzet control
40.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs naya runes
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches

This deck has been completely revitalised by one of the more unique rares in the set: Hinata, Dawn-Crowned. This card is incredibly powerful if it sticks, as it’s taxing ability helps protect itself, and the discount is incredibly strong with the tools that Jeskai has.

Naturally, one of the best spells cast off the back of Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is Magma Opus. With a 3 mana discount, at minimum, you can cast Opus the turn after Hinata resolves, which can let you stifle your opponent’s mana, draw cards, and develop the board. As well, as you target more things, the spell gets even cheaper, so you can effectively “pay 1 life” to bring the cost down further. One other key thing to keep in mind is that the majority of counterspells target, which means Negate and Jwari Disruption only cost a single blue mana, while your opponent’s end up costing 3 mana total.

Esper Midrange

esper midrange
52.4% global win rate
10.37% metagame share
best against
vs izzet dragons ️
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs izzet tempo
75.0% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs dimir control
75.0% win rate
8 tracked matches
worst against
vs Mono Blue Tempo
30.0% win rate
10 tracked matches
vs abzan midrange
28.6% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs gruul aggro
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches

The Esper Midrange deck feels like a cross between the Orzhov Midrange deck and a blue tempo deck. The deck still has the main game-plan of attrition through The Meathook Massacre, sacrifice fodder and sacrifice outlets, but dips into blue for some cards. The two big adds are Kaito Shizuki and Malevolent Hermit.

Malevolent Hermit has proven to be an incredibly powerful card in the right metagame, and the current metagame may be a place for it to shine. With many decks being control or playing heavy hitting non-creature spells, Malevolent Hermit helps slow those decks down. As well, the deck plays a fairly high number of non-creature which it’s backside helps push through countermagic.

Kaito Shizuki is an interesting addition to the deck, but I think it’s a surprisingly good one. The mirrors between Orzhov decks tended to revolve around card advantage and Kaito Shizuki does a lot to help on that front. His +1 is a mini Chart a Course, which in a deck full of tokens you want to die, isn’t difficult to enable. As well, he can make tokens, which while are somewhat expensive to produce, can help push through a stall or maintain an advantage.

Azorius Control

azorius control
49.5% global win rate
2.42% metagame share
best against
vs esper control
75.0% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs esper planeswalkers
71.4% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs selesnya enchantments
66.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs naya humans
29.4% win rate
17 tracked matches
vs grixis control
28.6% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs dimir control
16.7% win rate
6 tracked matches

With Kamigawa Azorius has got some cool new toys for control. Between The Wandering Emperor, March of Otherworldly Light, Farewell, Otawara, Soaring City and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire, there are plenty of upgrades and tweaks to be made to the classic control shell.

Since this is true, there are plenty of versions of the builds floating around, but most of the old cards you’d expect to see are there. Hullbreaker Horror is still a beast of a card and a must-include in any control deck, while Doomskar is still a great way to stave off early aggression. Jwari Disruption, Saw it Coming and Memory Deluge are all still played as well, being a solid backbone to the “draw-go” style of control Azorius is known for.

Mono-White Aggro

Mono White Aggro
51.8% global win rate
5.86% metagame share
best against
vs simic ramp
87.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs temur werewolves
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs gruul werewolves
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs Mono White Control
28.6% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs Angels
26.3% win rate
19 tracked matches
vs izzet dragons ️
14.3% win rate
7 tracked matches

Mono-White Aggro hasn’t changed much from it’s previous iteration. Many of the cheap white creatures in Kamigawa are more value oriented than aggressive, which means that not much changes with the creatures in the deck. The deck still plays plenty of aggressive creatures which also tax and interact with the opponent, like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Elite Spellbinder and Brutal Cathar.

Like Azorius, Mono-White is interested in The Wandering Emperor, as a card that plays well offensively as well as defensively, and helps the deck keep gaining value once it’s exhausted it’s hand. Another small upgrade for the deck is Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire, which while small is pretty significant. Having a land which can be used like a spell is big in a deck that doesn’t have much control over it’s draws. As well, with decks often playing Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar it’s one of the few decks where the cost will be reduced.

Izzet Dragons

izzet dragons ️
44.9% global win rate
0.52% metagame share
best against
vs Mono White Aggro
85.7% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs Jeskai Combo
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs orzhov midrange
45.2% win rate
31 tracked matches
worst against
vs esper control
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs esper midrange
16.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs Mono Green Stompy
9.1% win rate
11 tracked matches

Izzet Dragons isn’t a particularly new deck, but is one that fell out of favour in previous standard for the more ‘go-over-the-top’ Izzet Turns. Now, it makes its return with a new Mythic Dragon from Kamigawa: Atsushi, the Blazing Sky. This card is another good efficient threat, being a 4/4 flying trample for 4. As well, when it dies, you can either ‘impulse’ two cards off the top of your library or make three treasures.

Naturally, being an Izzet deck, you have the standard suite of Fading Hope, Abrade and Expressive Iteration. As well, being a dragon deck, plays the ever-present Goldspan Dragon along with Dragon's Fire for more efficient removal. The deck also leans further into the dragons and spells theme with Smoldering Egg, which is a threat that control and aggro both have to deal with. 

Izzet Control

izzet control
47% global win rate
3.46% metagame share
best against
vs esper planeswalkers
87.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs golgari midrange
75.0% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs temur control
70.0% win rate
10 tracked matches
worst against
vs gruul werewolves
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs grixis control
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs temur werewolves
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches

Izzet Control is a close sibling to Izzet Dragons. It too plays the standard suite of Fading Hope, Abrade and Expressive Iteration, which is one of Izzet’s biggest draws. These cards, among others, are likely the best suite of interaction in the format, especially when backed up by wraths and counterspells.

Wraths and counter spells are exactly where this deck diverges from Izzet Dragons. Rather than try and be aggressive and close the game, it sits back using Burn Down the House to clean up large boards and Memory Deluge and Unexpected Windfall to see more cards to try and stay ahead. Then, it uses Goldspan Dragon and Hullbreaker Horror to try and lock out games.

Naya Runes

naya runes
53.2% global win rate
5.92% metagame share
best against
vs grixis control
90.9% win rate
11 tracked matches
vs Mono Red Aggro
85.7% win rate
14 tracked matches
vs esper planeswalkers
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs Mono White Aggro
30.1% win rate
133 tracked matches
vs temur control
28.6% win rate
14 tracked matches
vs Mono White Control
0.0% win rate
8 tracked matches

While not one of the top 8 of the most played decks, I want to mention this deck for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a brand new deck made possible in large part thanks to new Kamigawa cards. Secondly, the deck did incredibly well over the weekend boasting the highest winrate out of the decks.

To me, the deck is absolutely wild. It takes a bunch of mediocre cards, jams them together and makes something great out of it. The big thing the deck does is stack runes on top of runes on top of runes. I can’t blame you if you don’t know what I mean when I say ‘rune’, but I’m talking about these uncommons from Kaldheim: Rune of Sustenance, Rune of Speed, and Rune of Might. On their own, they aren’t so great, but with Runeforge Champion they become cheaper and easier to cast. Even at this point that may not be very impressive, but with the addition of Jukai Naturalist they become free spells. Add in Generous Visitor or Kami of Transience and each time you cast a spell you buff your creatures even further. In the right situation this can kill the opponent out of nowhere.

Meta Predictions

At the start of a format it’s hard to tell exactly where things will go. However, there’s a few things I feel strongly about. Firstly is that Orzhov is still a driving force in the metagame. There aren’t any cards printed that absolutely make the deck collapse in on itself, so I think it’ll continue to be played. It will also continue to be good, as its performance this week shows. If that’s the case, that means that any creature-based deck is going to have to be incredibly quick in order to get under the deck effectively. Secondly, and similarly, is that I don’t think the release of Kamigawa has made Izzet directly worse either. Its suite of cards is still incredibly strong, with good interaction, ramp and card advantage. It also has one of the best late-game cards in Hullbreaker Horror which is still the gold-standard of control finishers.

Since I don’t believe there’s any new cards that are good enough to directly target the best decks of last standard, that means that the new decks need to be able to rise to beat them. I do think that’s possible, with one of the breakout decks being Jeskai Control starring Hinata, Dawn-Crowned. I think the deck is likely to perform well enough, but may end up being too fragile since it’s fairly focused on one card. Similar can be said of Naya Runes – if left unchecked it will be good, but I can see other decks coming more prepared for it. I also think with some of the new white cards that Azorius control has a chance to see play again, but I’m not 100% convinced that white pairs better with blue than red does right now.

If there’s one thing that I do have hope for, it’s that the meta will continue to stay diverse going forward. Many of the decks that are popular feel a little unpolished, and as they get refined should become better. Even as they get better, they’re different enough from each other that I think they shouldn’t converge into one standard shell with a few different flavours. If the decks are strong enough, that means we’ll see additional archetypes in the metagame, which should make things a bit more diverse. If not, then it’s likely Standard will look pretty similar to how it has for a while.

What I’d Play

While I’m not sure how long this deck will be able to compete, I think if there’s a time to play it it’s now. Part of the reason I’m recommending the deck is because it can be incredibly explosive with the right draw. The other part is that the deck is mostly made up of uncommons (or 25 cents cards in paper), so if the deck falls out of favour as the format evolves over the next week or two, it’s a small loss. Also, the idea of spell-slinging Runes has me grinning as hard as Gates being good did.

I’ve chosen this particular version as I think the inclusion of Kami of Transience is a good one. Considering how quickly the deck can churn through enchantments, it gets big very quickly. Additionally, unless it’s exiled, it’s able to come back to hand multiple times which means that you’re always likely to have a threat on board. Kami of Transience also makes it so that you’re a little more able to spread out your threats among multiple creatures, as this will grow alongside whatever other creature it is you’re enchanting. It naturally having trample also makes it a good target to put everything on it if you’re confident your opponent doesn’t have a way to interact, letting you close the game with surprising speed.

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