Standard Meta Guide: Top Decks for the Week of Oct. 27

rose-emoji breaks down the post-ban meta for Standard best-of-one and best-of-three and explains some of this week's tier list changes.


Each week, we here at PlayingStandard take a deep dive into the Magic Online and Magic Arena results for Standard. We take what data we do have and break down which decks sit where in the overall Standard metagame. These tier lists include a rolling average to ensure decks don’t move too volatility on the tier list after one good week. If you’re looking for an example of that tier list, here is this week’s best-of-three list and here is the best-of-one list.

This metagame breakdown article will accompany that tier list each Thursday and will go over the top decks, why they have seen increases, decreases, or stagnation in play, and cover what stands out for why these decks are contenders in the metagame.

So, let’s break down the various events we are drawing data from this week!


This week we have our standard set of data looking at the Magic Online Pioneer Challenge along with a Magic Online Championship Series Showcase Challenge, and various Preliminary events throughout the week. For the Challenges, we are looking at all decks that earned the same number of points as the player in 16th in each event and for the Preliminary events we are looking at all 4-0 and 3-1 decks.

Data this week was slightly sparce due to MTGO’s transition to the new server / company. This means that our list this week was influenced slightly more than normal by MTG Arena data and our own opinions on how things are placed. We are hopeful that data will resume its normal flow going into next week!

Each of these finishes are called qualified finishes and are part of how we determine which decks have seen success over the past weekend. While the number of finishes doesn’t account for all the purposes of decks moving, it can serve as a backbone to various arguments for moving a deck up or down the rankings.

While we do not take Standard Bo3 Arena ladder results into consideration for the best-of-three tier list (except for this week), we, of course, solely use Arena ladder results for our best-of-one tier list. For this, we use data from players Platinum tier and higher.

Now that we’ve covered our data set, let’s get into the decks that will show up at your upcoming events and on the ladder!

Best-of-One Metagame Breakdown

Even before the Meathook Massacre ban, the best-of-one ladder was much more centered around lower-curve tempo decks and aggro decks than the best-of-three ladder was. Still, Mono-Black Midrange’s dominance of the format was always apparent – and with it always loomed the threat of a Massacre to turn the game on its head. 

As is quick to happen with formats available on MTG Arena, where hundreds of thousands of matches take place every week, the ban was quickly digested by the meta, and Mono-Black Midrange fell from its S Tier slot for the first time this rotation. It has not been replaced. Whether another deck does take its spot in S Tier or best-of-one remains a rather balanced format with several equally-powered decks is yet to be seen, but there is a new set coming in a couple of weeks that will likely shake that up either way.

S Tier

There are no decks in S Tier this week. 

A Tier

Selesnya Enchantments

Skyrocketing to the top of our playrate data this week, Selesnya Enchantments certainly exemplifies what a sweeper-less format allows. There are a few versions seeing play: some slower and based on Hallowed Haunting, some more mid-game, based on Wedding Announcement and even Fight Rigging, and some aggro versions built on Michiko’s Reign of Truth. In best-of-one, the aggro version is seeing the most play.

With the capability to swing in for lethal on turn four, while also having a backup plan of huge lifelink blockers to shut down the aggro decks in the format, Enchantress decks have quickly put themselves in position to take the S Tier slot if trends continue.

Why it’s here: It can recover quickly from early removal in Mono-Black (and can certainly race it down). It puts up a thick wall against Gruul and Mono-Red, and its lifelink subtheme keeps it alive until it’s time to swing in. Though it can’t block the flying creatures in Mono-Blue (unless it’s the Hallowed Haunting version), big lifelink creatures swinging back is just the same. 

Mono-Black Midrange

Losing Meathook Massacre was just enough to knock Mono-Black out of S Tier, as players looking for viable sweepers need to splash other colors (Burn Down the House, Temporal Firestorm, Temporary Lockdown, Depopulate) or play several other colors (Drag to the Bottom).

Still, the deck is strong into the aggro decks – and possibly improved against Mono-Blue Delver) – and maintains its own powerful win conditions in the most aggressive two-drops in the format and, of course, Sheoldred. Its matchups against the go-wide decks like Selesnya Enchantments, Bant Enchantments, Esper Midrange, Azorius Tempo and Mono-White Aggro have definitely suffered. The meta has largely taken this slip into account and has given rise to those decks, hurting Mono-Black further.

Why it’s here: with a plethora of single-target removal, the deck is still able to beat up on “go-tall” decks while still representing an aggressive edge to beat out some of the greedier decks in the format.

Gruul Aggro

We have a free deck guide for this deck on this website, so I won’t go too deep into how the deck functions and what its strengths are, but the deck did finally move into A Tier this week, after spending the entire post-rotation meta in B Tier. This is partly thanks to a better Mono-Black Midrange matchup, and partly due to having a good matchup against the other lower-curve aggressive decks and go-wide decks that have cropped up since the Meathook ban.

Why it’s here: Gruul is fast enough to be the beatdown against the midrange and control decks of the format, while having the ability to hold back insurmountable blockers against Mono-Red until the turn comes to swing in for lethal.

Mono-Blue Delver

A definite contender for the vacant best-of-one S Tier slot, Mono-Blue Delver players became a little more free to commit to the board and tap a little bit more mana than they were able to when they absolutely had to hold up countermagic for Meathook Massacre.

As mentioned above, the amount of cheap, single-target removal in Mono-Black has increased in most lists post-ban, which is tough on Delver. 

Why it’s here: Mono-Blue can put a 3/2 flyer on the battlefield at the beginning of their turn two, while holding up countermagic and protection spells to keep it there. The pressure that Delver of Secrets itself can apply in the early game, backed up by chonkier threats like Haughty Djinn and Tolarian Terror down the line – just when your opponent thinks they have dealt with you – is bound to keep the deck in the upper tiers in best-of-one.

Mono-Red Aggro

A staple of best-of-one formats (and, of course, Magic the Gathering in general), Mono-Red looks to be the fastest deck in the format and largely accomplishes that, barring some perfect opening hands from Gruul or Mono-Blue Delver. 

While it still really struggles against a Sheoldred, the loss of Meathook Massacre as a boardwipe and stabilizing tool did wonders for Mono-Red’s viability, and we expect it to remain in the top tiers here until the new set releases (and probably after that with some new additions).

Why it’s here: While not as interactive as Mono-Blue or strong in the mid-game as Gruul, Mono-Red is a powerful aggro deck that basically has a bye against some of the bigger, greedier control decks that are starting to pop up recently. It has a better Delver matchup than Gruul does, and its best opening hand against Mono-Black is better than Gruul’s. 

Best-of-Three Metagame Breakdown

The format is still a battle of the midrange decks; though, some of the midrange decks are starting to get a little bigger lately, and one wouldn’t be too far off if they referred to them as control decks. The Meathook Massacre ban brought a bit of diversity to the midrange piles and the go-wide decks beneath them that were struggling to remain viable. While we haven’t seen a resurgence in pure aggro decks at all post-ban, decks like Five-Color Domain, Jeskai Midrange and Orzhov Midrange have moved up the list as players look to replace the sweeper slot (Drag to the Bottom in Domain, Temporal Firestorm in Jeskai and Depopulate in Orzhov) in their sideboards.

S Tier

Esper Midrange

Esper has spent the entire rotation in S Tier, and with Wedding Announcement becoming more than just meat for the hook, the deck’s matchups have largely improved.

In most cases, it has become slightly more aggressive and tempo-based than it was three weeks ago, which has made it well-suited to go underneath the newer, bigger decks like 5C Domain. In the most recent challenge data, which came late, it did appear as though Esper is being hunted out of its S Tier spot, though, with an increasing number of copies of Unleash the Inferno and Path of Peril in mainboards and sideboards across the top 16.

Why it’s here: Esper Midrange nearly doubled the qualifying results of the next-highest deck (Jund Midrange) in last weekend’s challenges, but dropped off significantly in this weekend’s results. The way we maintain a rolling average of challenge data kept Esper in S Tier this week, but one more poor weekend showing could drop it down for the first time this season.

A Tier

Mono-Blue Delver

Delver was the deck to beat this weekend (and it’s still a ~$50 deck!), putting six copies into the top 16 of Sunday’s Standard Challenge.

The deck has some of the fastest starts in Standard, and can protect a flipped Delver through most of the game. When the opponent finally nabs the Delver, Haughty Djinn and Tolarian Terror are there to carry you through the mid and late game. 

Why it’s here: With many decks in the format going bigger and bigger, Delver is acting as the “fun police”, with cheap countermagic, early, consistent pressure and big mid-game threats. Some builds of the deck are rentable under ManaTraders’ free subscription, which might be putting more copies of it on the MTGO ladders on its own.

Grixis Midrange

Grixis was all over the top 16s of both challenges this weekend, with most lists going up on maindeck counterspells, largely to deal with Jund and the mirror match.

Grixis still has access to some of the best cards in the format, from Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to Sheoldred and countermagic. 

Why it’s here: While Grixis fell from its S Tier slot recently, it’s very possible that there will not be an S Tier next week, de facto putting Grixis in the top tier. The deck looked like it was slipping two weekends ago, but saw a bit of a revival this weekend.

Jund Midrange

With many iterations, from lower-curve beatdown to bigger reanimator subtheme versions, Jund was another deck that was all over the top 16 charts this weekend, including a 14th-place finish by PlayingStandard’s own Cabezadebolo!

Much like Grixis, Jund Midrange has access to the best the format has to offer, trading Fable of the Mirror-Breaker for Workshop Warchief, Unleash the Inferno and Soul of Windgrace.

Why it’s here: Between last weekend and this weekend’s challenges and Arena ladder data, Jund was very close to sneaking into S Tier this week, but we are giving it one more week to see how things shake out. Jund has trouble against countermagic, and many of the top decks are going up in numbers of Make Disappear and Out of the Way specifically to tackle Jund. This is certainly a deck to keep an eye on for next week.

Deck to watch

Esper Legends

From its position as an “off-meta” deck last week, Esper Legends quietly entered D Tier this week, and the justification for C Tier could have been an easy one to make after this weekend’s challenge data finally came in.

Esper Legends
Buy on TCGplayer $412.25
12 mythic
36 rare
2 uncommon
10 common
Planeswalkers (4)
Kaito Shizuki
Instants (10)
Infernal Grasp
Make Disappear
Destroy Evil
Enchantments (4)
60 Cards
Spell Pierce
Cut Down
Siphon Insight
Void Rend
15 Cards
  • rose-emoji

    Network Administrator/Publisher

    rose-emoji started playing Magic: The Gathering during Battle for Zendikar, then took a break from the game until Throne of Eldraine. Pioneer got him back into Magic full-force, and the launch of Arena on mobile hooked him in forever. Now that his favorite format is working its way onto Arena, he can be found grinding the format to death. Only ever Grixis colors, but sometimes he can have a little Jund as a treat.

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