Standard Digest: Pro Tour Ixalan

Pro Tour Ixalan has come and gone bringing with it a bunch of data. Unlike most large events like opens and Grand Prix, the coverage team for the Pro Tour provides a bit more in-depth data. Specifically they tally the total numbers of each archetype played in the field.

While everyone was expecting energy decks to be the most played deck at the Pro-Tour, I think most were surprised by just how popular the deck was. Temur and Four-Color Energy decks made up 196 of the 445 decks entered in the Pro-Tour, which means they were 43% of the field. In addition to these Red based energy decks, there were also 23 people who played Sultai Energy. This means nearly 50% of the field registered four copies of Attune with Aether, Longtusk Cub, and Rogue Refiner.

While a large portion of the field showed up playing these energy based decks, the question we want to ask ourselves is: how did they do? Well looking at the data without putting much thought into it, it looks like the energy decks had a fairly average event. 48.1% of the day one metagame turned into 48.7% of the day two metagame, which turned into 50% of the top 8 for the event.

While these numbers imply an unimpressive performance, there are two key things we need to keep in mind. First, the Pro-Tour is a split format event. This means that even if a Constructed deck is powerful, it can sometimes be held back by its pilot's Limited ability. The second thing doesn’t come up often — when a deck has a large portion of the field, its win rate will move toward 50%. This means even if a deck is strong, its win rate is going to be lower than it would be if we measured it against non-mirror matches. Unfortunately, while the Pro-Tour gives us more data than normal, we do not get the data of what each player played every round, so it is hard to know what the Energy decks win rates were against the rest of the field.

Digging for Gold

All that energy talk aside — there were a number of interesting decklists with success in the Standard portion of Pro Tour Ixalan. Today, I would like to dig through some of the sweeter decks that finished 6-4 or better in the Standard portion of the Pro Tour.

As someone who likes to durdle, let’s start by taking a look at the most interesting control deck from the Pro Tour. This deck finished 8-1-1 in Constructed:


I mentioned in my Standard round up before the Pro Tour that Fumigate seemed like it was well positioned and I think that is still true after the Pro Tour if energy continues to be popular. This deck is not only playing three copies of Fumigate in the main deck, but also playing three copies of Settle the Wreckage as well. While we are clearing the board and cycling cards, the deck’s namesake Drake Haven create an army of fliers for us to close with:

Drake Haven

While I named this deck “Esper”, you will notice there are not actually any Black cards in the main deck. In the sideboard, however, we find a copy of Duress and a pair of The Scarab God. I like the inclusion of another resilient threat post board just in case our opponent’s board in enchantment destruction or something like Lost Legacy.

This deck seems fairly well positioned against an expected field of Mono-Red and Energy. The six sweepers in the main deck clean up against the midrange decks nicely. Four Renewed Faith in the main deck alongside four Authority of the Consuls and four Sunscourge Champion are bound to give Mono-Red a hard time.

Next up we have a deck that was featured a couple of times on camera toward the end of the event. Finishing with an 8-2 record in the Standard portion:


This is easily one of my favorite styles of deck in TCGs. It has an aggressive slant, while also having a number of interactive piece like Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding. Oketra’s Monument and Angel of Invention let this deck go wide around other aggressive decks, while also making spot removal much worse. Aviary Mechanic has nice synergy in this deck not only with Oketra’s Monument, but also with picking our Legion’s Landing back up so it can be replayed to make another Lifelinking Vampire.

One of the biggest upsides to playing a deck like this is how clean the mana base is. Nothing screams consistency like 15 plains and four Shefet Dunes. Speaking of Shefet Dunes — that is another large payoff for our deck that is going fairly wide. Thanks to the copies of Scavenger Grounds we should have enough desserts to anthem our team multiple times most games.

One of the more appealing things of this Mono-White deck is its ability to board into Dusk // Dawn. Much like Fumigate being well positioned, I think Dusk is a powerful tool to have access to, and the fact that Dawn gets back literally every creature in the main deck doesn’t hurt either.

Next up we have another White based aggressive deck that finished 7-3 in the Standard portion of the Pro Tour:


As opposed to looking to build an advantage by going wide like the Mono-White deck, this {W}{G} deck is looking to generate card advantage while being aggressive on the back of token producers:

Resilient Khenra
Adorned Pouncer
Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter

The use of Eternalize creatures lets us trade aggressively in combat early while providing us with something reasonable to do when we inevitably flood out a little bit toward the end of longer games. Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter is fantastic on turn one when followed up by Resilient Khenra, but also just a source of pure card advantage as a game goes long.

While they are not always strict card advantage, this deck rounds out its 2-drops with Merfolk Branchwalker and Adanto Vanguard. Branchwalker either draws us a card or is a 3/2 for two that provides a pseudo scry. Adanto Vanguard seems like an excellent threat in these aggressive decks. Our aggressive decks often have extra health, so a 3/1 attacker that cannot die in combat if we offer up a few points of life seems great.

Rounding out the interesting successful decklists from Pro Tour Ixalan, we have a Mono-Black Aggressive deck with some interesting card choices:


Once again, if you are a fan of consistent mana bases, this is a fantastic deck choice for you. Twenty lands that produce Black mana means a hand that has lands and spells is going to be able to play a game of Magic. The most interesting about this decklist is the inclusion of three copies of Bontu’s Last Reckoning in the main deck.

While a sweeper effect like this is normally potent against aggressive decks like this one, it plays many resilient creatures that do not mind being swept away:

Dread Wanderer
Scrapheap Scrounger
Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Yahenni, Undying Partisan is especially deadly in conjunction with Bontu’s Last Reckoning. Not only does it survive the blast, but it grows larger for every creature your opponent had that got blown away. An aggressive deck like this also suffers less from not untapping their lands for a turn since they still get to untap their remaining creatures and attack again the following turn.

In addition to having a low curve and plenty of interaction, this deck is also likely decent against Mono-Red thanks to its main deck removal in Fatal Push and three copies of Aethersphere Harvester to buffer its life total.

Wrapping Up

While it is certainly an energy world, there are very clearly a number of other reasonable options for those of us who are not interested in casting Longtusk Cub. I am looking forward to kicking the tires on these aggressive decks to see how they fair against the rest of the field.

What decks caught your eye at the Pro Tour this past weekend? Was it something that made the Top 8 or one of the other lists that is hiding among the 6-4 and better decks? Let me know in a comment below!

Cheers,
—Jeff Hoogland


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