Wizards of the Coast confirmed there would be no Standard banlist announcement before the scheduled Nov. 18 Magic: The Gathering update. This means we still have to respect the oppressive Oko, Thief of Crowns decks and analyze the data we have for this volatile format. Luckily, there were two premier Standard events this weekend, MagicFest Nagoya and MagicFest Lyon, with data we can analyze.
Oko and a 57.9 percent metagame share
As expected, Oko dominated this weekend. In Nagoya, Japan, 196 of the 339 decks in the second day of competition were Food strategies. These were predominately Simic and Sultai variants, with a few Bant lists and some even more obscure takes on the archetype. Both events saw innovation with a four-color Aristocrats deck. This used Oko in tandem with powerful engines like Mayhem Devil and Trail of Crumbs to grind opponents out with incremental damage and card advantage. The top eight decks for Nagoya featured seven Food decks: four Sultai, two Simic, and one Bant. The eighth spot was claimed by a player set on playing zero green cards.
Fight cheap Planeswalkers with cheap Planeswalkers
Yiming Zhi managed a second place finish with a traditional Azorious Control deck. Food strategies have brought in more main deck, instant speed removal in Noxious Grasp, Veil of Summer, and Aether Gust. Responding to this, Zhi brought back last Standard’s boogeyman Teferi, Time Raveler. This deck aims to stay alive with Time Wipe, removal spells, and countermagic until quickly taking over the game with recursive Agents of Treachery and a large Mass Manipulation. The deck performed well but ultimately fell to the Simic trickster.
MagicFest Lyon did not look much different. Six out of the top eight decks featured the full four copies of Oko, Thief of Crowns. In addition to another well-performing Azorious Control deck, Andreas Ganz piloted a Rakdos Sacrifice list to a top-four finish. This version of the deck takes a more straightforward approach to Mayhem Devil. Ganz loaded up on Witch’s Oven and Claim the Firstborn to disrupt the opponent’s board and machine gun down their creatures and/or face. Overall, Oko-based strategies represented 44 percent of the day two metagame across both events. This was a more dominant showing than we saw from the previous tier-zero standard deck, Golos Field.
Attacking Standard until Nov. 18
It would be very difficult to justify playing the current Standard format without four copies of Gilded Goose, Oko, and Hydroid Krasis in your main deck. A few heroes from this past weekend showed that it can be done, but it’s an uphill battle. For those hellbent on attacking the current ranked season without geese or crown thieves, some old-fashioned counterspells may be the key to success. This, of course, remains entirely contingent on the popularity of the Bant Food variety, which brings Teferi, Time Raveler back into the conversation. And if there’s one thing a Teferi deck hates, it’s another Teferi deck.
Been following the early stages of the Pioneer format? Be sure to check out our article on the first Pioneer B&R update!