The bans are in the books and we have a new format. The January 22 and January 23 Challenges were the first major events to take place since the ban of Atog, Bonder’s Ornament, and Prophetic Prism. Affinity won Saturday’s tournament while Cycling Songs took down Sunday. Here is a breakdown of the Top 32:
It is still too early to draw conclusions and realistically the format is likely to change again in a few weeks once Neon Dynasty hits the digital shelves. That being said there are a few nuggets of data worth exploring.
Affinity is alive and well
The goal of the Atog ban was to bring Affinity back to the rest of the pack. While it is only two tournaments, that seems to be the case at least in the early returns. Affinity is still a powerful deck but definitely lost a step. It will be interesting to see which build reigns supreme – already we’ve seen Glaze Fiend and Resculpt make appearances – but don’t skimp on your artifact hate just yet.
Where is Tron?
One of the critiques of the Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism ban was that it would hurt other decks more than Tron. However, Tron did not put up any result this weekend while Pestilence Control – one of the decks that was considered collateral damage – put up two strong finishes including a finals appearance. I don’t anticipate this being a regular occurrence. Instead once people figure out how to build Tron for the current metagame I fully expect it to make a return. I also anticipate Pestilence to take a decline as people adjust to fight Boros Bully.
Bullying the Metagame
Boros Bully appears to be the early deck to beat. It had a solid weekend and players are still figuring out the optimal composition of the deck. It is possible that as Affinity sees a decline Thraben Inspector can make a return. However if creatures are running rampant having an extra blocker in Lunarch Veteran might be just what the legion ordered.
The Crown in the Room
On Saturday 12 of the Top 32 decks were running the Monarch. On Sunday 16 of the Top 32 decks featured the mechanic. Overall that’s nearly 44% of the Top 32 metagame. Out of the Top 16 decks, 9 were running at least one Monarch enabling creature. While this is not a cause for alarm – the decks were relatively varied in strategy – it is something that should be noted if the trend continues for the next several weeks.
This is compounded by the fact that one of the strategies that can best leverage the Monarch are those built around Spellstutter Sprite. Dimir and Izzet Faeries combined for a dozen Top 32 finishes and went unscathed in the last round of bans. The question that remains is not whether or not these decks will succeed, but rather their win share. The reemergence of Stompy, at least for a moment, gives me hope that the metagame can apply enough pressure to Faeries to keep them in check.
But time will tell on that one.