Grand Finals Standard Matchup Analysis
Hello everyone! With the Grand Finals occurring today, I just couldn’t wait to see how things were going to pan out, so I have recruited my friend and testing partner, Chris Kvartek, to test out the major matchups with me. As I’m typing this, Magic Esports just released the Metagame Breakdown and the results are, let’s just say, about as expected.
With this knowledge, we decided that we would test every deck that sported more than one copy in the Standard portion of the tournament, which ends up being: Omnath Adventures, 4C Omnath, Rakdos Midrange, and Gruul Aggro.
With 4 decks in contention, that gives us 6 different matchups that we need to test. How we approached this was we gave each matchup at least 2 matches, or until we can agree on how it felt, spend some time discussing how the games went, and make our deliberation in which matchup we thought was favored. For the sake of simplicity, all the decks on the left side of the matchup are the ones that I played and the ones on the right side are the decks Chris played. The records will be posted from my perspective. I’ll post all the lists below that we used. With that in mind, let’s jump straight into the matchups.
Lastly, I want to explain my rationale for the matchup comparisons.
- 50/50: As it says, a 50/50 matchup
- Slightly Un/Favored: A 55/45 or a 60/40 matchup
- Moderately Un/Favored: A 65/35 to 70/30 matchup
- Heavily Un/Favored: A 75/25 matchup, I don’t believe most matchups could exceed this win percentage in most metas and matchups
4C OMNATH VS 4C CLOVER (2-1)
At first I expected this matchup to be relatively even, but the games proved otherwise. Every match seemed extremely lopsided and I lost the first match due to having 2 extremely anemic hands. However, in match 2, I mulled to 5 game one with a few lands, a Beanstalk Giant, and an Omnath, and easily rolled Clover over. Being the bigger deck in an midrange matchup really paid dividends here and I very much like Kanister’s chances of doing well in the tournament if he faces a lot of Clover. Last point of note, Chris wanted one more match of this matchup than others to solidify his opinions on it but for the rest it’s going to be a maximum of 2 matches.
4C Omnath moderately to heavily favored against 4C Clover
RAKDOS MIDRANGE VS 4C OMNATH (2-0)
This was the matchup that actually surprised me the most. Although I felt super unfavored just from the lists, the RB deck performed way better than I expected. If you find enough hand disruption, 4C Omnath has a pretty hard time finding its stride, which is more or less what happened in both of the matches. Despite the 2-0 sweep, I still believe that this matchup is AT BEST 50/50 for Rakdos. Chris admittedly made a few mistakes and had a less than stellar draw which pushed the wins my way. With that in mind though, Rakdos performed way above my expectations and seems like a much better choice than I initially gave it credit for.
Rakdos Midrange slightly unfavored to 50/50 against 4C Omnath
RAKDOS MIDRANGE VS 4C CLOVER (1-1)
This, however, was the bigger issue I had with RB Midrange. Although I took a match off of Chris, I felt highly unfavored the entire time. Clover has so many ways to accrue card advantage and RB needs to have every specific answer along the way to deal with them or it feels like RB crumbles. With that in mind, it’s not like it’s impossible for Rakdos to win of course. If you have a few discard spells and a way to deal with Clover the turn it comes in, you definitely have a shot, but not much more than a shot.
Rakdos Midrange heavily unfavored against 4C Clover
GRUUL VS 4C OMNATH (2-0)
Once again, I got one over on my good friend. Despite Omnath being a huge problem card for Gruul to contend with, with some good plays and good draws, the matchup is more than winnable. The entire matchup functionally predicates on whether or not an Omnath can stick on the board, something I didn’t allow Chris to do in either of the matches. That being said, I also think Kanister’s build, although very good against Clover and likely the mirror, made some serious concessions against aggressive decks to make that happen. Going into this tournament with an aggro deck was an extremely bold choice so I don’t blame Kanister for building his deck that way, but that’s the way the chips fall sometimes. That being said, I would rate Gruul as likely being 50/50 in this matchup most of the time and likely slightly favored against Kanister’s build specifically. I had rather good draws which propelled me to clean wins but you can’t let the records dictate how the matches felt.
Gruul 50/50 to slightly favored against 4C Omnath
GRUUL VS RAKDOS MIDRANGE (0-1)
This, in the nicest way possible, was a slaughter. Chris is a master and navigated this matchup excellently, but boy was I hilariously unfavored. Chris was on a mull to 5 on the play and still won against a good 7 on my end. We didn’t even need another match to make up our minds on how this matchup panned out. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible for Gruul by any stretch, especially since Michael Jacobs didn’t even have that many early removal spells, but you definitely have to get a bit lucky to win it. However, if you take into consideration Montserrat Ayensa’s version of Rakdos, I would say this would be next to impossible.
Gruul heavily unfavored against Rakdos Midrange
GRUUL VS 4C CLOVER (1-1)
Once again, I will say that you shouldn’t let the record fool you, this matchup seemed quite bad for Gruul. Between Bonecrusher Giants, Brazen Borrowers, Lovestruck Beasts, and now Omnath, 4C Clover has so many good cards against you. This is what surprised me the most about Emma, Autumn, and Luis bringing Gruul to this event as the Clover matchup seems very bad. With actually playing it out, it didn’t feel as bad as I anticipated and I definitely felt I had some chance to win, but it takes a pretty clunky draw from the Clover opponent, some stumbling, or an absolutely perfect hand to have a reasonable chance in my opinion. Despite that, sometimes going 1, 2, 3, Embercleave is just good enough as well.
Gruul moderately to heavily unfavored against 4C Clover
So with all this information in mind, let’s review. First of all, I had a stellar 8-4 matchup record against Chris and Wizards didn’t even offer me his MPL spot. Although I’m insulted, I’ll have to live with it. More importantly, let me quickly go over how we like each deck’s positioning for the Grand Finals, then who I think has the highest likelihood of winning the whole thing.
4C CLOVER WAS THE BEST SAFE CHOICE
This wasn’t a surprise to pretty much anybody as this was considered the deck to beat. Having the highest win rate in a few tournaments out of every archetype, I absolutely can’t blame anybody for bringing this to the Grand Finals, as 19/36 did. What surprised me was that Grzegorz Kowalski was the lone dissenter believing that Temur was more consistent than the 4C version. While I certainly see his point, I believe losing Omnath is going to prove more problematic for him than gaining marginal consistency.
4C OMNATH MAY BE THE BEST DECK OF THE TOURNAMENT
Although many believed that Clover was the best deck in Standard, an opinion I share, 4C Omnath may very well be the best deck for this tournament. Especially with Kanister’s version, he gave up a lot of equity in other matchups to beat Clover and it definitely showed. I believe that this choice can pay off well for the 4C players if they predominantly face Clover, but may struggle if they face a lot of the other stragglers.
RAKDOS PERFORMED BETTER THAN ANTICIPATED, BUT CLOVER PRESENTS ISSUES
I was convinced that Rakdos was not even close to being good enough, but it seems I was too hasty with that decision. When playing Rakdos today, it felt way better than I gave it credit for. I figured that Omnath matchup would be extremely challenging for Rakdos, but it panned out better than expected. Perhaps Michael Jacob’s declaration that Rakdos was the “Omnath Killer” may have been less of an exaggeration than I thought. However, Clover definitely delivered in the extremely challenging department for Rakdos. Thus, I don’t like the positioning of Rakdos in this tournament, as if they face a plethora of Clover players, they’ll likely be in big trouble.
GRUUL IS NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE
I don’t have confirmation on this, but from what I can parse from Emma’s Twitter account, it seems that Gruul was a late night audible for Luis Salvatto, Autumn Burchett, and Emma Handy. Although Chris and I are famous for our 3 AM audibles, I think this was a mistake for this tournament. Gruul performed better than I expected, but literally every matchup seems unfavored to 50/50 for Gruul in testing, despite what the records indicated. With that, I’m even more confused that they were convinced that Gruul was a good choice when Clover was likely going to be the most popular deck. Maybe they can pull off a Javier-like miracle with Gruul, and it’s likely they know something that I don’t, but I don’t have high hopes.
Overall, with the lists we have access to right now, who do I believe is the most likely to take down the tournament? I would have to go with Piotr Glogowski. Kanister is an absolute monster, easily one of the strongest MPL members, and has brought my two favorite decks for the event. Although I wasn’t super convinced by Omnath in my Historic Snapshot, I really like Kanister’s build of it. It’s a shame we don’t have access to everybody’s lists, but I think picking Kanister for taking down the event is a relatively safe choice.
That’s all I have for today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Furthermore, make sure you follow Chris’ Twitch channel as well! Enjoy watching the Grand Finals and we’ll be following up with our usual text coverage!