Pro Tour Amonkhet Recap

The Pro Tour is over now. It’s in the books, Gerry Thompson took it down with Mon-Black Zombies and earned himself a well-deserved victory, proving again that an aggressive deck is always very good early in the Standard season. The two best performing Constructed decks at the Pro Tour were Mono-Black Zombies and Aetherworks Marvel decks. Mardu was the most represented deck, and while it had a couple of high finishes, it did not dominate like a lot of people imagined. So where do we go from here? What does this mean for Standard? Well, that’s what this article is about. We will be discussing Standard, going over the best performing decks at the Pro Tour, and then we will wrap it up with a deck that is well positioned against the best decks in Standard.

Let’s start things off with the winning Mono-Black Zombies list that Gerry Thompson took to a first-place finish.

Mono-Black Zombie — Amonkhet Standard | Gerry Thompson, 1st Place Pro Tour Amonkhet

Relentless Dead
We’ve seen zombies a lot online and leading up to the Pro Tour it really started to pick up steam. If you read my set review for Amonkhet a while back I kept saying, “I think we have a good zombies deck.” The deck builds itself for the most part, with the exception of ten cards main deck and the Sideboard, especially the Mono-Black version. Gerry and his team decided to go for just Mono-Black and not have the White splash at all. This meant the deck was more consistent and did the same thing basically every game. The consistency came into play by having all your lands come into play untapped and never getting colored screwed. The tradeoff is losing a little power, better sideboard options, and most importantly, reach. The {W}{B} Zombies deck had reach in the form of Wayward Servant. It appears that just being hyper focused and consistent was better for Gerry in the long run.

Mono-Black zombies can build a board presence quick and kill you out of nowhere. Typically, board wipes against aggressive decks are good, but not this one. Things like Relentless Dead, Dread Wanderer, Diregraf Colossus, and Liliana’s Mastery allow you to rebuild your board extremely quickly. Something like Fumigate is just a minor setback. If you like aggro decks or just zombies, I’d recommend playing this deck, but I’d think about cutting the Lost Legacy from the Sideboard since Gerry said it was bad in the Aetherworks Marvel matchup because it just slowed you down too much. Honestly, we saw that when Calcano cast Lost Legacy taking out the opponent’s Chandra Flamecallers and Ulamogs. It ended up not mattering because the deck just turned into a value deck with Aetherworks Marvel and overcame not having access to Ulamog or Chandra Flamecaller.

Speaking of Aetherworks Marvel, let’s look at the new boogeyman in Standard.

Aetherworks Marvel
What’s scarier than an Aetherworks Marvel activation? Sitting across one of the best players in the world activating said Aetherworks Marvel. Yuuya Watanabe finished in second place with his Temur Marvel deck. This deck aims to get six energy by turn four so that it can play Aetherworks Marvel and spin the wheel to either hit an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or to recharge the Aetherworks Marvel by finding more cards that grant energy. Yuuya had a minor control theme in Censor, Negate, and Torrential Gearhulk. Censor and Negate would insure that his opponents couldn’t get an Aetherworks Marvel to stick, even if he was on the draw. We sometimes see Dissenter’s Deliverance in the main deck of Green midrange and control decks as a singleton or maybe even two copies. However, Yuuya went for the full three copies of Dissenter’s Deliverance and it obviously payed off for him. The cycle mechanic is fantastic and what allowed him to do that. If the card was dead in the matchup or he just didn’t need it anymore he could very easily just pay a Green and cycle it away without missing a beat. A lot of Aetherworks Marvel decks only played about 2-3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger so missing on the first activation isn’t unheard of, especially if they’ve drawn any copies of their Ulamogs. This would then allow you to Dissenter’s Deliverance the Aetherworks Marvel and play on.

Shrine of the Forsaken God
Yuuya also had a single copy of Shrine of the Forsaken Gods to help cast Ulamog if he drew it or just help cast any of his colorless spells like Aetherworks Marvel, Kozilek’s Return, and Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot. He also had a great Sideboard for control by bringing in a full playset of Tireless Trackers, three Bristling Hydra, Dispel, full playset of Negates and even Shielded Aether Thief if he wanted to draw more cards. This deck’s hardest matchup has to be control decks and Yuuya was very well prepared to combat any control decks with his Sideboard.

If you like Aetherworks Marvel, free wins, or just the excitement of “spinning the wheel,” then this deck is for you. I really do hope Aetherworks Marvel doesn’t become as oppressive as Felidar Guardian was.

Now, a lot of people expected Mardu Vehicles and expected that it would do well at the Pro Tour. It was the most represented deck at the tournament but we didn’t get a single copy into the Top 8. The reason for some of this is because some of the Mardu players had a solid finish in Standard but ended up not doing too well in Limited.

This Mardu Vechiles list had a very strong finish and was played by Sebastian Pozzo. Let’s have a look at that list.

Veteran Motorist
With the decrease of Liliana, the Last Hope, Sebastian went to an older version Mardu with the full playset of Veteran Motorists and two extra vehicles to crew with the motorist in the form of Cultivator’s Caravan. He even had Pia Nalaar like the first iterations of Mardu. One thing that made me scratch my head was Archangel Avacyn. I really thought she’d end up being better in the Sideboard and that Glorybringer would take her place, but Sebastian chose to go with Avacyn and it obviously paid off for him. To be fair I imagine Sebastian was expecting zombies to see play and knew of its existence and Archangel Avacyn can really shine in that matchup. Everything else looked the same. We see the full playset of Heart of Kirans, Gideons, and the transformational Sideboard into a control/midrange deck for the mirror match and other grindy decks like {B}{G} Delirium.

Not much to say about this deck, it’s been here awhile and is still a contender, I don’t expect it to go anywhere anytime soon. I would say play this deck if you like aggro/midrange decks but . . .  DON’T DO IT TO YOURSELF! It’s kind of strange. I’m not sure which I dislike more, Mardu or Aetherworks Marvel. Probably Aetherworks Marvel . . . 

So now that we know Aetherworks Marvel, Mardu, and Zombies are the decks to beat in Standard, what deck has a good matchup or game against all these decks? Well, Peter Vieren did extremely well with his {U}{R} Control deck and I think it’s an excellent starting point. Especially for the foreseeable metagame.

Commit // Memory
Having access to Magma Spray, Harnessed Lightning, and Sweltering Suns is where you want to be against Zombies, and this deck has all those cards main deck and even has three Sweltering Suns. Against the Aetherworks Marvel decks Peter had a plethora of countermagic to counter Marvel in Censor, Negate, Void Shatter, and Disallow. Unlike the {U}{R} control decks we’ve seen on Magic Online though, Peter didn’t have any Commit // Memory in the main deck which means you really need to be careful with your Torrential Gearhulks and Wandering Fumaroles since you can’t rebuy them all with Memory. People have concluded that Glimmer of Genius is better in a Torrential Gearhulk deck over Hieroglyphic Illumination. What I find funny though is Peter is not just playing four Glimmer of Genius but also just playing the full playset of Hieroglyphic Illumination. Which is awesome, especially if you love drawing cards as much as I do.

The only things I would want to change is to just play the fourth Disallow over the first Void Shatter, especially since I imagine Aetherworks Marvel well be everywhere. This is the deck I’m looking to play-test and I really hope it’s as good as it looks. I’m tempted to have an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger somewhere in the 75 since this deck aims to drastically slow the game down with its removal and countermagic and Ulamog is the ultimate end game. It’s the only thing I’m worried about. I don’t want the game to go on forever against Aetherworks Marvel because eventually they’ll be able to just hard cast their Ulamog and our control will be for naught.

Well hopefully you’ll have a deck you like by now. I’ll work on {U}{R} Control and I’ll look at {U}{G} Ramp/Fog again because it has a good matchup against aggro and control but not against Aetherworks Marvel. If I’m able to solve that matchup for {U}{G} Ramp then we’ll be in a good spot.

As always, thank you for reading guys and gals and I’ll catch you all later!

Much love,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter

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