We’re now into the second week of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty standard, and there’s been plenty of tournaments this week. Between the 21st and the 27th, there’s been over 15 different Standard tournaments. Many of them are fairly small but plenty of them are larger tournaments too. The three biggest tournaments this week were ‘Ashlizzlle $MAGIC Tournament’, the ‘GGToor Arena Cup #2’ and 5CH Latam’s ‘NEO Championship Qualifiers‘.
Of the three, the ‘Ashlizzlle $MAGIC Tournament’ was the smallest with 47 players. The top-8 of this tournament has a wide variety of decks, with plenty of interesting builds. One of the most interesting is a Jeskai Combo deck which uses Show of Confidence to create a ton of mana by targeting Goldspan Dragon. However, the top deck of this tournament is one we’ve seen plenty before – Orzhov Sacrifice.
The next largest was 5CH Latam’s ‘NEO Championship Qualifiers‘ with 122 players. The top-8 of this tournament was a little less diverse, with 4 out of the top 8 spots being taken up by Orzhov Sacrifice and Naya Runes. Otherwise, we see another Jeskai Combo deck, alongside Mono-Green Aggro, Gruul Werewolves and Rakdos Sacrifice. Again, the winner of this tournament was a copy of Orzhov Sacrifice, but this time the more aggressive version.
Finally, the largest of the week was ‘GGToor Arena Cup #2’, with 137 participants. The top 8 of this tournament has a few surprises in it as well. There are two copies of the Jeskai Combo deck, along with two Orzhov decks, but one is much more aggressive leaning with Silverquill Silencer and Humiliate to try and pressure opponents quickly. Of the other four decks three are nothing new: Naya Runs, Mono-White Aggro and Azorius control. The last deck is somewhat different though: A Boros aggro deck, which is mainly white, but plays red for Rabbit Battery and Kumano Faces Kakkazan. Overall though, the winner of the tournament was another Orzhov deck, identical to the one above.
|Deck||NEO – Week 2||NEO – Week 1|
|Naya Runes||8.21%||– – –|
|Jeskai Combo||6.73%||– – –|
This week has seen some pretty heavy shifts in what’s being played. Firstly, Naya Runes, the deck I suggested last week has shot up in popularity. Last week it wasn’t in the top 8, and this week it’s the most popular deck overall. However, many of the other decks have certainly come ready for it, since its winrate has dropped to just shy of 52%. One other large change in the rankings is the emergence of Jeskai Combo. Coming in as the third most popular deck this week, it’s similar to Izzet Control, but dips into white to make bursts of mana with Show of Confidence and Goldspan Dragon.
Overall, the two decks that fell out of the top 8 from last week were Izzet Dragons, and Izzet Control. Izzet Control has dropped by quite a bit (down to 1.15% of the metagame this week), but Izzet Dragons is actually the 9th most popular deck. However, it was one of the worst performing decks this week. One other notable change is that Jeskai Control and Esper Midrange have effectively switched places in popularity, with Jeskai Control (mainly with Hinata, Dawn-Crowned) falling in popularity and winrate.
As I mentioned last week, this deck’s main game plan centres around Hinata, Dawn-Crowned to discount the incredibly strong spells that Jeskai has. In my last article I talked about how the deck is powerful, but could potentially be dismantled by other decks if they can target Hinata, Dawn-Crowned well enough. It seems that people are coming to that conclusion. Not only has the deck become less popular, dropping from around 10% of the metagame to 5%, it’s also one of the worst performing decks of the week. It has the third lowest win rate, with a 47.4% winrate on average.
Worse yet, that winrate is partly bolstered by its performance against mono-red, another deck that performed pretty poorly this week. Otherwise the deck seems to struggle with many of the common decks in the format. It has a 37.5% (8 matches) winrate against the Esper midrange decks, and a 0% (3 matches) winrate against Orzhov Midrange. It fares better against Orzhov Control, with a 55.6% winrate (9 matches), but overall the deck struggles with the sacrifice engines the black and white decks tend to run. On the other end of the spectrum, it has a 33.% winrate (15 matches) against Naya Runes and a 40% winrate (5 matches) against Boros aggro (a slight variation on Mono-White), which shows it’s also liable to be run over by aggro decks.
Mono-White Aggro has had a very good week. Overall, it has a 63.0% winrate between the largest of the tournaments, which is an incredibly impressive amount. The deck is able to get under many of the control and midrange decks, boasting 60%+ winrates against many of the archetypes in the format, including Jeskai Combo, Esper Midrange and, an offshoot of the deck, Boros Aggro.
However, two decks which Mono-White isn’t favoured against are the two Orzhov decks: Orzhov Midrange and Orzhov Control. Against the control version, it has a 43.8% winrate (16 Matches) and against the midrange version it fares even worse with only a 16.7% winrate (6 matches). This is to be expected since the Orzhov decks want to try and slow the game down and then slowly choke out the opponent, slowly draining their life. What does surprise me is that the control version’s matchup is more favourable for Mono-White. If I had to take a guess as to why, it’s that the Midrange version has a few more options to be able to turn the corner and take on the role of the aggressor sooner than the control decks.
Despite being one of the more popular decks, the Esper Midrange decks haven’t quite stuck the landing. The deck only ended up with an average winrate of 48% this week, which is a substantial drop from last week. As I mentioned, I think the deck is an evolution of Orzhov Control, meant to be better in the mirror. That did prove true, with it having a 55.6% winrate (18 matches) against Orzhov Control, however it struggled more against Orzhov Midrange, with only a 33.3% winrate (9 matches).
One other thing that spells trouble for the deck is its performance against some of the aggro decks in the format. Against Mono-Green it has a 44.4% winrate (9 matches), while against Boros Aggro it does slightly worse at a 40% winrate (5 matches). Against Mono-White it really suffers, with only a 28.6% winrate (14 matches). I think this is something similar to how Grixis Turns ended up slowly getting edged out of the previous standard format. While it had access to collectively more powerful cards, the deck struggled with finding the right mana, making it easier prey for aggro decks. Considering this style of deck is supposed to try and stymie aggression, failing to do so is a sign that it may not last very long.
LIke I said in last week’s article, Orzhov Midrange/Control are still here, and they’re still doing well. Both of these decks did well this weekend, with the Control version having an average winrate of 53.7%, while the midrange version had an even more impressive average winrate of 58.2%. One thing that’s important to point out is that the decks, while being fairly similar, have drastically different good matchups based on the cards that do change between them. However, two matchups both decks struggle with are Mono-Green Aggro and Izzet Dragons, with each Orzhov deck having a 33.3% winrate or less against both. As well, both decks have good matchups against Mono-White, with the Midrange build being incredibly favoured.
Out of the two decks, Orzhov Control actually has more negative matchups, but those matchups are closer to 50% than Orzhov Midrange’s. As mentioned previously, the deck struggles against Esper Midrange, but also against control decks in general. Orzhov Control only has a 40% winrate (5 matches) against Azorius Control, and a 44.4% winrate (9 matches) against Jeskai Control. One of it’s best matchups however, is Naya Runes. Against it Orzhov Control has a 60% winrate (20 matches). I have a feeling that the deck’s inclusion of wraths is a large part of why the matchups are unfavoured against control and favoured against runes.
Orzhov Midrange on the other hand had almost all positive matchups. It performs positively against both of the other black-white sacrifice-centric decks. However, unlike its control version Rakdos Midrange has a poor matchup against Naya Runes, with only a 25% winrate (8 matches). However, it’s much more favoured against control with a winrate of 75% (4 matches) against Azorius Control, and 100% against Jeskai Control (3 matches). The big reason Orzhov Midrange deck struggles with Naya Runes is that the runes deck can make a large lifelinker. If that lifelinker has trample, then it’s even worse, as the Orzhov deck can’t block and sacrifice the creature to prevent the lifegain. Gaining a large chunk of life undoes a lot of the pressure the Orzhov deck applies, making it much harder to close out the game.
Naya Runes was the most popular deck of the week, just edging out Orzhov Midrange, though despite it being popular it’s results were middling. With only an average winrate of 51.9%, the deck was decidedly average compared to last week’s performance. Most of the deck’s power comes from being able to create and protect a large creature with lifelink and trample, and if that game plan is good against the opposing deck, Runes does well. However, if the deck can’t adequately protect it it suffers.
For example, against both Mono-White and Boros Aggro, Naya runes did poorly with only a 25% winrate (12 matches). A large part of this is due to ”Thalia, taxing the deck, but also that the white decks have plenty of interactive creatures that can keep the Runes deck from assembling its plan while also applying pressure. The Runes deck also does poorly against Orzhov Control, with only a 40% winrate (20 matches), and Azorius Control with a 42.9% winrate (7 matches). With the amount of removal, and especially wraths, these decks have, Naya Runes simply struggles to get under the decks, as it’s not a traditional aggro deck. While it can have fast starts, it is trying to assemble an engine of sorts, and control decks have the tools to disrupt it.
However, the deck does have some very good matchups as well. Interestingly enough, one of its better matchups is Orzhov Midrange, with a 75% winrate (8 matches) against it. Naya Runes also did incredibly well against a similar style of deck, Rakdos Tokens, with a 90% winrate (10 matches). Naya Runes does well against both of these decks, as they want to try and drain out the opponent, and a large lifelinker counters that plan very well. Also both decks have a limited amount of removal, with the Rakdos deck in particular running damage-based removal, which is quickly outsized..
I’m not going to do a deep dive on this deck, especially when it’s the worst performing deck of the week with an average winrate of only 42.7%, showing that it’s not exactly a great choice at the moment. What I do want to mention though is that this deck has a positive matchup against the Orzhov decks. Given that, it’s a deck that should be kept in the back of your mind if the meta ever shifts very heavily towards Orzhov decks.
Similarly, this deck is one that’s gained some popularity this week. Overall it had a 57.9% winrate, which while good, isn’t as good as the Mono-White deck it’s based on. The sample sizes and winrates between it’s matchups and Mono-Whites are either very similar, or so small that one win tips the scales drastically. However, for the comparable matchups, dipping into red doesn’t seem to give the Boros deck any edge over simply being Mono-White. As such, I think the deck will see play because it wins, but I think Mono-White is likely just better.
This is a deck that’s new this week which is centred around tokens and sacrifice, which has done well this week with an average winrate of 56.1%. It’s a low to the ground deck which is trying to drain out the opponent, in a somewhat similar way to Orzhov’s game plan, but it leans into the new ”Oni-Cult. At its core, the deck plays a bunch of small creatures which create artifact tokens, then converts those tokens into more resources, be that better creature tokens or cards.
Some of the key cards in the deck are the aforementioned ”Oni-Cult, along with the new ”Sokenzan and some of the Blood Token producers from VOW. The deck is flexible, being able to take on an aggressive start and then settle into a longer game, trying to drain the last few life out of the opponent, or can settle in for a grindier game from the start. One card that supports this flexibility is ”Voltage. It can either be used as a ”Shock” to clear a path for early aggression, a ”Demon against a bigger threat, or just as a sac outlet for an artifact to synergize with the Anvil.
I think the new Rakdos Tokens deck and the Jeskai Combo deck are going to see more play next week, while Naya Runes, Esper Midrange, Jeskai Control and Izzet Dragons fall off by a decent bit. Also, given how well Mono-White has done, I think it will be played more, but the format will also be more ready to handle it. Overall, I think we’re going to see some of the more powerful decks from previous Standard fight it out against one or two of the new decks, but if I had to pick a side my money would be on the old Standard decks. In particular, I feel like Orzhov Midrange is going to be the biggest winner next week, since I think it’s two worst matchups are going to end up seeing less and less play.
Overall, the format is still incredibly diverse, with many people trying out new things. The 8 most popular decks don’t even make up 50% of the metagame right now, but I suspect that won’t last for long. While there are some newer decks showing promise, many of the new decks are starting to struggle to win more than average. However, when over 50% of the metagame is “fringe” decks, you can expect to see a decent amount of variety for a few more weeks, just on numbers alone. Seeing the results of the tournaments this week, I do worry that we’re headed back to a similar standard from before, but it’s still possible some new brew is able to hold its own.
What I’d Play
Given how the meta is shaping up, and in particular which decks are gaining in winrate or popularity, I think Orzhov Midrange is a safe bet to play. The deck has good matchups against many of the decks in the field, and I think some of its worst matchups are likely to see less play based on their performances. As well, many tournaments were won by an Orzhov Midrange deck, which makes me believe it’s still the best thing to be doing until another deck manages to soundly topple it.
This is the version I’d bring to a tournament. It has plenty of early plays which both buy time and generate card advantage which means it can be more flexible against control or aggro matchups. It also runs four Rite of Oblivion, which has become a staple of the decks – and for good reason. Against lower to the ground decks it can be used to clear out a particularly large or troublesome creature, and in slower matchups being able to flash it back is incredibly powerful.