Wow, it is so hard to believe that not only is Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir upon us; but day one is already in the books and so much has happened already. Normally I write the article Searching Standard but this weekend it is my pleasure to be covering the Pro Tour (#PTKTK for those on Twitter) and bringing you three articles worth of takeaways from the event. If you want to watch the PT yourself you can tune in at twitch.tv/magic to see it live!
Here is a quick rundown of the PT and what happens. Day 1 (already in the books) contains three rounds of draft and then five rounds of standard. If you are lucky enough to have enough wins to make day 2 then it is the same day three draft rounds and 5 rounds of standard. Sunday, the final day is our Top 8 rounds. Each of these players and matches are showcased and streamed live meaning you get seven rounds of the greats magic players in the world today going toe to toe in full on constructed. The review that I am bringing is a look at what happened in the feature match area and what we can expect in day 2.
Let’s dive right into some magic gold:
1. This might easily be the most influential standard set that has ever been printed. Every single deck that we saw in feature match play was heavily influenced of Khans of Tarkir, never in my memory has one new set come in and some completely dominated how decks were built. Even the few decks that used Khans as the compliment set (and there were MAYBE two of them) their decks were only enabled because Khan’s existed.
2. Even if you have the best draft imaginable, things can go wrong. Reigning Player of the Year and one of my personal favorite players Jeremy Dezani was one of the featured drafters on day one and nothing could have gone more right. He was being passed cards like Bear’s Companion at the end of packs, nobody was drafting into Temur, he had all of the power. I boldly predicted a 3-0 as did pretty much ever expert calling it the best draft they have ever seen. But the vast variance and power of Khans wouldn’t let that happen and Dezani went 2-1 in the draft portion of the day. PS: Mana bases are super important in Khans.
3. Jeskai is a powerhouse. Folks, get used to hearing the word Jeskai because it was EVERYWHERE yesterday. It was also the most varied deck of the groupings featuring a Jeskai Tempo deck, a Jeskai Tokens deck, a Jeskai Burn deck, a Jeskai MAC (midrange aggro control) deck, and yes of course Jeskai Ascendency Combo. These decks were varied, quite often featured, and were dominate. One of the 8-0’s coming out of the day was a Jeskai Tempo deck.
4. Jeskai Ascendency is the REAL DEAL. When you look at players who went say 6-2 and think okay, so the Ascendency deck is beatable it is important to remember that three of those games were played in draft. Jeskai Ascendency had at least three different people who piloted it to a 4-1 in the constructed portion of the day and it had a very consistent turn 3-4 win if you were unable to disrupt the combo. The new phrase players should be most dreaded to hear in Standard is “You’re tapped out?” When you hear it accept that you are about to be MILLED … that is right, MILLED in standard.
5. We knew with Team Cabin in the Woods in attendance that there was going to be a control deck and apparently at least half of Channel Fireball Pantheon was thinking the same thing as they showed up rocking UB Control, although slightly different builds. But in the feature match area this deck went 0-6 unable to pick up a single round in the spotlight. My guess would be that Day 2, when the more random decks the could be paired against are gone and the competition is more intense these decks are going to get swept under the rug. One for one removal is just not where you want to be in this standard format, there is just too much gas.
6. Mardu & Abzan are not the stories they were expected to be. Now don’t get these decks are around and they are winning games and looking very healthy coming into day two; they just didn’t dominate the midrange and control game like it was expected they would. Mardu Planeswalkers and Mardu Control seemed to be the Mardu flavor, while the most frequent Abzan deck was the midrange version … one other cropped up but I’ll save that for later.
7. Everyone came built to be Courser and the green decks. The green devotion decks are still playing well as they are easily the most powerhouse decks in standard, but everyone came with the thought of beating that deck in mind. Players are going to have to quickly adjust in the hands they keep as manadorks are being targeted, Courser’s are being taken out left, right, and center; plus the one for one removal in this format is staggering.
8. A surprise build; tokens. Now I expected tokens to show up, but not to play as well as they did heading out of day one. Hordling Outburst appears to be the real deal and pairs so well with Rabblemaster. Jeskai also had a very interesting token build running around that will certainly be featured on Searching Standard in the very near future.
9. This one is my deck of the day and a little shout out to myself as nobody really saw it coming, but a certain article writer who profiled the deck a while back … Abzan Aggro. This deck showed up yesterday and it went to a perfect day one and the 5-0 was in a pretty convincing fashion. At the end of the day a couple builds did go 5-0 but only two players went 8-0 on the day with Jeskai and Abzan Aggro. Aggro, it is the other thing to fear in Standard.
10. Dig Through Time is as broken as we thought it would be. Decks are just straight up running the four of now, control, combo, aggro … if your deck runs blue then your deck is running Dig Through Time and is winning games and making opponents sigh every time they see it. This card is just as good as it gets, regardless of my own personal love of Treasure Cruise.
What to expect from Day 2
In Day 2 of any Pro Tour the competition gets a lot more intense. Right now from the feature match area alone I can confirm that Jeskai Aggro, Jeskai Tokens, UB Control, Jeskai Burn, Abzan Midrange, Mardu Walkers, Green Devotion, RW Tokens, Abzan Aggro, Mardu Midrange, and Jeskai Ascendency will all be in day two. If you are counting that is 11 different decks and I am sure there are others that I am sure I haven’t even seen yet. Day 2 will begin to narrow the field and help us define what the best decks in standard are, at least for this event.
We can also expect to see some disappointment as a lot of good players and constructed decks can be bounced from a top 8 chance if they are unable to keep up in the draft. We can expect to see a lot more crazy decks that we never even began to think of and some interesting twists on the decks that we thought we knew. We can expect to see some of the best magic in the world and a lot more detailed review of day two and preview of the top 8 matches!
You can follow me on Twitter @Josh_Bickle for live updates and interaction from the feature match area. Or once again, tune in to twitch.tv/magic to watch it live yourself!