Pro Tour Ixalan begins this Friday, November 3rd, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and players from Team Cardhoarder, and Team Cardhoarder Brazil are gearing up to play in this the last Pro Tour of 2017. This event will feature a mix of Standard Constructed, and Limited Draft play. Here’s a quick rundown of the current Standard metagame, and players to watch going into the event.
On September 28th, the Standard format once again rotated, meaning that cards from Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows Over Innistrad, and Eldritch Moon are no longer legal. This is an exciting time for most players, but especially players like me who weren’t interested in Standard at the time, and are hoping rotation will shake things up a bit. So far, the metagame has been shaped by Nationals, SCG Dallas, and the World Championship, with surprisingly few cards from Ixalan making an impact. Despite that, the Standard metagame going into this Pro Tour is more established than we have seen in years.
Currently, Energy decks of various stripes are sitting at the top of the heap of decks you can expect to see on camera. Temur Energy started off as the default after Aetherworks Marvel was banned, but the printing of The Scarab God in Hour of Devastation soon made a four color version the deck to beat. Players who prefer this archetype are typically divided into two camps. Those who lean more heavily on The Scarab God, and those who don’t, and seek to punish those who do. It will be interesting to see which version the pros decide is best, and which one, if any will be seen at the top tables.
Ramunap Red lost little from rotation, and in fact, Mono-Red decks are often seen as a safe choice going into an uncertain format. When established decks rotate out, their pilots can oftentimes find themselves scrambling to find something just as good, or that they are as proficient with. These new, or untested decks make easy prey for a Mono-Red deck. Mono-Red also punishes slower Control decks, and may explain why we haven’t seen as much UB Control as we did at the World Championships.
While we can expect to see established decks like Temur Energy, and Ramunap Red at Pro Tour Ixalan, there is also a chance that we could see one of the many fringe decks out there rise to the top. Various Token-based strategies, Gift of the God Pharaoh decks, and others have popped up here and there, and even Mardu Vehicles is threatening to once again rear its ugly head. It really is anyone’s game at this point, and I can’t wait to see what exciting, and powerful decks the pros take with them to Albuquerque.
Speaking of the pros, we here at Cardhoarder are proud to have not one, but two teams of pro players representing us at Pro Tour Ixalan: Team Cardhoarder, and Team Cardhoarder Brazil. Players from both teams spent the past weekend getting some last-minute practice at various Grand Prix, with Cardhoarder Brazil’s Bernardo Santos making an impressive run at Grand Prix Liverpool, and finishing in fourth place. The 24 year old is no stranger to competitive Magic, having played in a Magic Online Championship Series event, four Pro Tours, and the 2016 World Magic Cup, but this is his first big finish. I look forward to seeing if Bernardo’s recent hot streak will continue at Pro Tour Ixalan.
Noah Walker is also no stranger to competitive Magic, what with several strong finishes on both the SCG Tour, and the Grand Prix circuit, including a first place finish at Grand Prix Columbus in 2016. I tend to associate Noah as more of a Legacy expert, as he has had tremendous success in that particular format, specifically with Grixis Delver. However, after spending some time with Noah this past weekend at Grand Prix Phoenix, I got to see that Noah’s skill for the game translates across multiple formats. He’s been putting in a lot of practice for this particular Pro Tour, and I’m eager to see if it pays off.
Shaheen Soorani’s success across multiple formats can usually be attributed to his love for Control decks, and it’s rare that you see Shaheen sleeve up something that doesn’t include Blue cards. He has racked up multiple Top 10 and Top 32 finishes with decks like Esper Stoneblade in Legacy, Grixis Control in Standard, and U/R Delver in Modern. As mentioned earlier, Control has been in a bit of a low point since the World Championship where UB Control reigned supreme. Will Shaheen try to put Control back on the map with something like Approach of the Second Sun? Or will he join the ranks of those hoping to keep Control down by playing something like Longtusk Cub?
As always, be sure to Follow @TeamCardhoarder for all the latest updates on Pro Tour Ixalan, including pictures, standings, and much more!