After the last round of bans in Standard, the metagame looked relatively healthy and diverse. After trying Temur Ramp and Rakdos Midrange in the ladder, I decided to play the latter because it felt more resilient in various situations. I was eliminated in the second round of this single-elimination tournament run by Channel Fireball.
CFB Pro Showdown is a series of Channel Fireball tournaments for their Pro (paid content tier) members. It is a single-elimination tournament organized via Discord. This time (I think it was the first time for CFB Pro Showdown), it was run in MTGMelee, a significant improvement over the previously used system.
Metagame and Preparation
After the last round of Standard bans (Omnath, Lucky Clover, and Escape to the Wilds were all banned, and Uro was banned before that), the metagame looked quite diverse and creature-oriented. I did not have that much time to play on the ladder, but I looked at the stats, and it was mostly a mixture of Red Aggro, UB Rogues (often crossbred with mill), many green creature decks, sometimes with Red for Embercleave. I did not have a preference, but this week I had some time to invest in testing and playing a few decks. I ended up trying two things: Temur Ramp and Rakdos Midrange; both built on the CFB Pro content.
An Omnath deck without an Omnath, ramping up with Beanstalk Giant, Lotus Cobra, and Cultivate, hoping to win the game with a Genesis Ultimatum or Ugin. I played against Dimir Control, Rakdos Midrange, and Selesnya Enchantments on the ladder.
I overall liked the deck, but it was quite vulnerable to various things: sometimes, the game was all ramp and no payoffs. Counters are bad because they are very efficient against my expensive spells, and I rarely doublespell, even with all the ramp. The hand disruption by Rakdos Midrange is annoying too: the ramp deck tends to keep the expensive spells in hand, and an early Kroxa can devastate all plans.
Also, I was not too fond of the lack of defense against flying creatures and the lack of removal against creatures with 3+ toughness. I tuned the deck a bit (added Shark Typhoons, which are great against both countermagic and flyers). Overall, it felt good when everything went well, but very it was vulnerable.
This deck was a contender even in Omnath times. I kept the deck mostly unchanged, except for the sideboard. I expected a different metagame than for which the deck was built, so I made some changes to accommodate that. I played four matches on the ladder: against Golgari Adventures, Esper Doom, Azorius Control, and Dimir Control. All the matches were hard, but I never felt without any chance to win. The deck is very resilient and can get even from the direst situations. Graveyard hate makes the deck hard, and the Golgari deck beat me with a Scavenging Ooze and Great Henge.
I tuned the sideboard a bit more, adding Feed the Swarm to deal with enchantments, especially in the Doom Foretold deck.
I was expecting to see a lot of Dimir Control, Dimir Rogues (maybe with milling) and Rakdos Midrange, also Mono-Red Aggro (but not that much; it is hard to win eight matches in a row with the current Mono-Red Aggro - the deck is not that consistent).
From the two options I have tried, I selected the Rakdos Midrange one. I liked the resiliency of the deck and its portfolio of answers against pretty much anything. There is plenty of spot removal against creatures, something against planeswalkers, artifacts, and enchantments. Kroxa and other recursive threats help to beat controls. There is no good sweeper, but I was not expecting any go-wide strategies.
Deck 3 Bloodchief's Thirst (ZNR) 94 4 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115 1 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241 4 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244 2 Hagra Mauling (ZNR) 106 2 Heartless Act (IKO) 91 4 Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger (THB) 221 4 Magmatic Channeler (ZNR) 148 4 Mire Triton (THB) 105 3 Mountain (ANA) 8 2 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97 1 Ox of Agonas (THB) 147 3 Rankle, Master of Pranks (ELD) 101 4 Shatterskull Smashing (ZNR) 161 1 Shredded Sails (IKO) 136 2 Spikefield Hazard (ZNR) 166 7 Swamp (ANA) 6 4 Temple of Malice (THB) 247 1 Inscription of Ruin (ZNR) 108 4 Tymaret Calls the Dead (THB) 118 Sideboard 4 Agonizing Remorse (THB) 83 2 Cling to Dust (THB) 87 2 Nighthawk Scavenger (ZNR) 115 2 Shredded Sails (IKO) 136 3 Skyclave Shade (ZNR) 125 2 Feed the Swarm (ZNR) 102
Marius Badea, Orzhov Yorion
I spammed cheap targets for Doom Foretold to make it eat itself, not generate additional value and protect my essential permanents. Both matches were long and grindy, but Kroxa would eventually stick, generate value, and apply pressure. When that happened, the opponent plays the topdeck game. A big problem was a Castle Ardenvale generating chump blockers together with Omen of the Sun. My threats do not trample, so the 1/1 blockers clog the board quite effectively. I boarded on the Feed the Swarm copies to deal with nasty enchantments, and it worked well.
Dana Fischer, Abzan Midrange
OK, this was a match for which I did not have a plan. The matchup itself is from hell, and Dana played well, too. I did not have any answer (even in the sideboard) for Garruk’s Harbinger, Lavabrink Venturer, and planeswalkers! I started on the draw and was decisively beaten to a pulp: T2 Ooze (dammit), T3 Harbinger (Dammit), T4 Questing Beast. No chance. The second game was a bit closer, although my sideboard did not contain many options useful against such a deck. Dana managed the board very well for a Venturer to be efficient and eventually killed me. I felt like I had no real chance in both games, but really, that deck was brilliant against mine, and I was unprepared for it.
The tournament was single-elimination, so tough luck, finished with a 1-1 record in the second round. Ondřej Stráský won the whole thing with Selesnya Yorion, so I guess I at least know what I am meeting in the ladder all the time next week.