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.
Standard Showcase Challenge November 5
Standard Challenge November 6
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, 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!
This week’s Standard metagame saw the biggest shakeup since rotation, including the week following the Meathook Massacre ban. This week, the plethora of tier list changes are largely based on a shift in Standard’s rock/paper/scissors meta, which has moved firmly into the “paper” (Grixis Midrange) phase after spending about two weeks in the “rock” (Esper Midrange) phase.
When a meta shifts phases like this, it not only determines the deck(s) on the top of the tier list, but most decks below it as well. Currently in the “paper” phase, players are working to figure out the ideal “scissors” deck, and the numerous changes in the lower tiers reflect that this week.
While it is nice to see this cycle really setting in (it’s usually a sign of a healthy metagame), it’s likely to be broken by the release of Brothers’ War next week, when we’ll see if the cycle is formed once again after the dust settles or one or two decks end up dominating the format with no reprieve.
Between the Top 32 of both weekend Standard Challenges, Grixis Midrange made up exactly half the field, finally pushing Esper Midrange out of S Tier for the first time since rotation.
Grixis has been an S Tier deck since the format rotated, but it really started its definitive rise after the World Championship, where Esper Midrange represented 70% of the field. In response, players took the Grixis helm in droves, dominating the following week’s challenges and continuing into this week in even higher numbers.
While the rest of the meta is adapting to push back against Grixis’ dominance, the optimal matchup hasn’t been found yet – though Mono-Blue Tempo is close.
Why it’s here: Grixis beats Esper, and that matchup alone has been enough to keep Grixis in S Tier – now as the sole deck in the tier. Its matchup is still decent against most of the field, but if there weren’t only one week until the format gets shaken up by a new set, we would expect the meta to find a way to push it out if its playrate were to rise to the levels of Esper Midrange had.
Two weeks after Worlds, Esper Midrange has been successfully hunted out of the top slot by Grixis Midrange and, to some extent, Mono-Blue Tempo.
While its time in the top-most tier is over, it still maintains a very good matchup against the entirety of the rest of the field, and when the field finds a way to beat up on Grixis, Esper is likely to come rushing back. Assuming some new tools for the lower-tier decks (or even entirely new archetypes) in Brothers’ War, this could happen sooner rather than later.
Why it’s here: In a vacuum, Esper Midrange is still likely the best deck in Standard, but it’s been walking around with a huge target on its back since Worlds, and that hasn’t quite let up enough to see it remain in S Tier this week.
Jund Midrange is still seeing a great deal of play, though it’s not been extremely well-represented in the top brackets of the Standard Challenges.
With an about even matchup with Grixis Midrange and Esper Midrange and a bad matchup against Mono-Blue, it’s struggling to find solid ground, but remains in A Tier again this week, held up by the scourge of Jund fans that would play this deck no matter how well-positioned it is.
Why it’s here: Despite having a tough week, Jund Midrange is a very powerful deck, representing the best home for Unleash the Inferno – one of the most powerful removal spells in Standard – and good midrange threats like Graveyard Trespasser, Workshop Warchief and Soul of Windgrace.
With lists approaching full optimization, Mono-Blue is tearing up Standard Leagues right now and has made a significant dent in Standard Challenges and the Arena ranked ladder.
Certainly the top contender to represent the “scissors” role in the meta cycle I won’t stop mentioning, Blue Tempo represents the fastest deck that doesn’t just fold to the black-based midrange decks at the top of the tier list; in fact, it does quite well against all three of them.
Why it’s here: Mono-Blue is strong into Jund Midrange and some of the greedier decks below it on the tier list. With a suite of low-curve permission spells and removal evasion in Slip out the Back and Fading Hope, it easily gets under control decks and can even slip under Esper and Grixis Midrange.
Best-of-One Metagame Breakdown
Best-of-one hasn’t budged much in two weeks, with one very notable exception: Mono-Black Midrange is back!
While the Meathook Massacre ban put a pause on Mono-Black’s best-of-one dominance, it was, in fact, just a pause.
Mono-Black Midrange shot up to represent the top-played deck on the Arena ladder this week by a significant margin – likely in response to Selesnya Enchantments’ recent rise to power and some of the aggro decks going a bit taller rather than wider.
This week, it joins Selesnya Enchantments in S Tier rather than replacing it, but over the course of the next week, one will likely win out just in time for Brothers’ War to shuffle everything around again.
There it is! The top decks in Standard right now. While this is kind of a “lame duck” week heading into a brand new set release, a lot happened to the meta that will still likely remain relevant at least for a little while into the new set. Until then, have fun brewing your way around Grixis Midrange!