MTG Arena Standard Decks – Best-of-One (BO1) Metagame Tier List: June 11, 2020 Update
Deck tiers are complicated to assess, particularly in Arena. The metagame is constantly shifting. At the end of the day, the most important thing in climbing the layer is the player, not the deck. A skilled player will be able to be successful with just about any deck in this list. That said, having a strong sense for what you are going to face in an event and knowing how to build to beat it is perhaps the most important skill a player can have. You can show up with the most powerful deck and make all the perfect plays in a match and still get buried if you show up with a deck that everyone is tuned to beat.
Best-of-One (BO1) Standard Tier List – June 11, 2020
Mono Red Aggro
Elton John, he of “Candle in the Wind” fame also wrote a song called “The B—- is Back”, and it sums this deck up pretty well. This is the deck that just won’t die. The Obosh variant is banished to eternity (probably) and Embercleave is back doing its thing. There’s not a whole lot that needs to be said about this deck that hasn’t been said before. Beating monored remains no mystery: well-timed sweepers and key removal of the likes of Torbran, Embercleave, and Anax.
Unsurprisingly the strong decks that were untouched by the bans have remained strong. Jund and Rakdos sacrifice made some use of Companions, but the nerf on Companions didn’t hit the sacrifice decks as hard as some. For starters, a Lurrus Jund/Rakdos deck is still pretty playable, the deck largely held onto Lurrus for late game shenanigans rather than being an essential component played on curve. However, the best builds of sacrifice are the non-Companion versions right now. Jund has more consistency through the use of Trail of Crumbs to draw a ton of cards. On the other hand, Rakdos has more mana consistency. Neither is a deck you can go wrong with as a good pilot.
Cycling is a nightmare in draft and limited and it isn’t far off in Standard Bo1. The deciding factor in a lot of games for this deck is not whether but how many Zenith Flares they draw. The deck pecks away at you with token creatures and Drannith Stinger, or a swole Flourishing Fox, then finishes you with a huge Zenith Flare. The cycling mechanic makes it incredibly consistent. It’s probably the most straightforward deck in the metagame to pilot and the lack of any rares beyond a few multicolor lands also make it entry-level friendly. I find the Jeskai version less consistent in the current metagame as I don’t think Improbable Alliance brings enough value.
Temur Adventures is largely unchanged from the Eldraine days, it’s a bit of a shame the Adventure mechanic is likely a one-off, though if it weren’t the deck might end up overpowered. Some decks have splashed Adventurous Impulse to add some consistency, but usually just one or two. This remains a complicated deck to play, if only because there is a lot of risk of timing out for an inexperienced player. The deck is walking talking card advantage at a level few others can match. The weakness of the deck lies in its speed as it can be pretty slow to get rolling at times, but Fae of Wishes, Brazen Borrower and Bonecrusher Giant ensures it can at least have a chance against aggro decks. If Clover drops on turn 2, this deck can take out any aggro deck on the list on their best days. This deck may be Tier 1, but I can’t quite put it there. Yet.
Mardu Knights Lurrus/Rakdos Knights
This is a deck that can out-aggro mono-red. The key card of this deck from Ikoria is Fight as One, it gives cheap insulation against the sweeper spells that are so common in the metagame. Knights plays off of heavy synergy and the incredible extra value from Tournament Grounds, without which playing this deck as three colors would be impractical. The timing on Fight as One or Unbreakable Formation is what will make or break the play of this deck for its pilot and opponent. Lurrus can still work here as it wasn’t getting played on curve but was more of a card for reinvigorating the deck late in the game. The companionless Rakdos flavor of knights is straight out of Decmeber throwing Embercleaved Rotting Regisaurs at your face. They’re more like second cousins than siblings but take the same mindset to pilot.
The non-ban of Wilderness Reclamation still puzzles many, including myself, but Reclamation is here at least for now. The continuing persistence of Teferi in Standard may present a roadblock for the deck to deal with as well, but for now, it’s one of the best decks in the format. Racing the deck with Aggro or keeping a lid on Wilderness Reclamation with Teferi may be the way to go if you want to beat this deck.
This Bant decktype may have benefitted from the loss of Agent of Treachery as it sometimes felt like it was trying to do too much. Without Winota or Lukka to cheat it out, Agent was good but not amazing. Now I think it feels a little more focused, even for a Deck of Good Things. Teferi is still the most broken and powerful card in the format (and did you know M21 is going to be all about Teferi?). In a format that plays a lot of aggro the only sweepers in the deck being Shatter the Sky (Time Wipe seems to have been relegated to sideboards in Bo3 and gets left out in Bo1) in an 80 card deck means the odds of having the sweeper you need against an aggro deck aren’t as good as the format may require.
To my surprise, Flash seems to be making a surge in popularity even with Teferi remaining in the format and being one of the most commonly included cards in the format. I’m pretty excited as I really enjoy Flash, but the decks still struggle against many aggro builds. Still, it’s a different archetype from everything else in the format and its growth is a welcome addition to the metagame.
Azorius and Esper Control always seem to be almost there these last few months, but just can’t get the footing they need in Best of One against aggro, sacrifice and Fires. With Fires now gone and Reclamation in its place, can Control find a toehold? My Magic 8 ball is saying not yet, but time will tell! An excellent pilot can still be extremely successful in Bo1 with Azorius Control, but it’s a lot harder to do.