Standard After the Kaldheim Championship: What to Expect Until Strixhaven
Hello everyone! Just like many of you, I kicked back last weekend and enjoyed some masterful gameplay from the best in the game in the Kaldheim Championship. With all the happenings, I think it would be interesting to talk about what you can expect Standard to look like until Strixhaven comes out to shake everything up.
Although Historic is the upcoming Mythic Qualifier format, there’s still plenty of Standard tournaments to play so I wouldn’t be slacking off if I were you!
For the data I’ll be referencing, I’ll be using two tables from the amazing MTG Data team: The win rates from the Kaldheim Championship and matchup data from events during the whole week. Let’s get started.
From the Standard portion, Temur was easily the talk of the tournament. Although it didn’t end up being the highest win rate deck (Gruul taking that accolade in the Championship), to have such a high win rate despite such a high play rate is rare. With that, you can safely expect to see ladder and tournaments flooded by Temur (not that it wasn’t already). This is an example of the most likely list you’ll be seeing, the classic Obosh iteration.
With that, those aren’t the only versions of Temur that showed promising results from this week. Two different iterations of Temur, both eschewing Obosh, have also made strong showings. First is Chris Kvartek’s take on Temur which makes the most of the ability to play even cost cards with main deck counterspells and a sideboard loaded with great answers. This version is very teched out for prolonged mirrors and looks like it can be a great choice moving forward.
Although only sporting one copy in the championship, Temur Lukka has put up strong results already with a #1 spot and a Standard challenge win. The deck looks to utilize Lukka to morph a 3 drop into a Koma as early as turn 4! I can’t say if this list is better or worse than the standard Obosh adventures, but it’s good to know this exists. I’ll link both lists for reference.
Despite just a reasonable performance in the Championship, the masterful piloting of Rogues in the hand of eventual champion Arne Huschenbeth is going to be a large catalyst to a huge uptick in Rogues. Furthermore, with aggro once again having a middling performance and the presumed large increase in Temur’s playrate, Rogues looks to be in a pretty reasonable spot in the metagame right now.
That’s the upside to Rogues though, the downside is that despite it not being a particularly represented archetype (with many lists not teching to hard for it), it’s best performance may already be behind it. Temur is supposed to be a good matchup for Rogues, and it didn’t manage to get over 50% at the Championship (but did overall in the last week of tournament play). To further compensate, Temur players will likely add more Ox of Agonas or Klothys, God of Destiny to swing the matchup further in their favor.
With all this, I would say that unless you are a very adept Rogues player, it’s probably in your best interest to steer clear of it for now.
SULTAI’S SOMEWHAT SAD
I think it may be time to call it for Sultai, no matter how the metagame seems to be shaking up, it still remains to be nothing more than a middling option. This may be weird to say considering 3 copies of it made it to the top 8 of the Kaldheim Championship, but the data isn’t supporting it and it was a split format tournament.
Sultai does beat up on some of the slower decks like 4 Color Yorion, Naya Spirit, and Gruul Food (more on this later), but struggling overall with Aggro decks, Rogues, and splitting games with Temur is not a spot I would love to be in. I wouldn’t say it’s a terribly positioned deck either, but I’m not one to play something that’s firmly in the middle of the pack as the matchup spread can be very swingy. If you think you pilot the deck very well, feel free to keep playing it, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
On that note, I wouldn’t expect Sultai players to be disheartened by the results either. Sultai has fostered a large player base since it’s inception and I don’t believe that they’re going anywhere anytime soon.
Like the title says, I still don’t think it’s aggro’s time to shine. Although more Rogues players is a nice metagame adjustment for fast decks, seeing significantly more Temur is not exactly where you want to be either. Monored had a decent showing at the Championship, but being barely above 50% against Sultai and nearly 10% down against Mono White does not look great for the archetype.
However, having a phenomenal Rogues matchup and a good showing at the SCG $5k on Sunday with sandydog taking second does show Monored will still have reasonable viability. It wouldn’t be my choice, but I wouldn’t necessarily blame someone for registering it either. The real sad story for the Championship was Monowhite Aggro. Putting up a sad 40% win rate and sporting few actively good matchups overall (and not getting above 50% at the Championship), you can expect Monowhite to trend down as well. Couple that with the increase in Temur and the decrease of Sultai, we’re looking at a situation that aggro pilots don’t necessarily want to be in.
GRUUL… IS MEDIUM
Ok so I couldn’t think of a good title with alliteration, sue me. Gruul Adventures didn’t put up great results last weekend factoring in all of the tournaments, but it was the best performing archetype at the Kaldheim Championship. With an uptick of Rogues could Gruul be really well positioned again? Maybe. The Temur matchup is notoriously challenging as they do a similar thing to you, but go a lot bigger in the mid game. Furthermore, although Gruul performed well in the Championship, I can’t say the same for the week as a whole. With a total 46.6% win rate, it may not seem like it’s amazingly positioned, but if Gruul can find a plan to beat Temur more consistently, it could be a great choice.
Despite me initially referring to Adventures, that wasn’t the iteration of Gruul that stole the spotlight this weekend. Kushiro, known to play only the spiciest of lists, brought Gruul Food to the Kaldheim Championship.
Clearly Kushiro wanted to target creature decks, and it worked out rather well for him considering he finished in 4th overall. That being said, I know many people like trying out the new spice, but I would avoid this deck if you’re looking for late month wins. It definitely smacks around creature decks, no denying that, but it’s (presumably) atrocious Sultai matchup and Temur being able to fight it with cards just as powerful as theirs does not spell success for the long term success of this deck. Couple that with Rogues coming back in full force, and you have yourself a rather hostile metagame for this breakout deck.
If you believe you are going to be facing a parade of aggro decks, give this a go, but I would be wary in an open metagame.
CONTROL ISN’T CUTTING IT
For the Championship, the only Control deck to be featured was 4 Color Yorion, but in tournaments overall, Dimir Control has also seen a good amount of play. Unfortunately for both Control archetypes, I don’t think the metagame is right for it.
Yorion is solid against the aggro decks, but really struggles with decks that can over the top of it like Sultai or Temur. Dimir can handle decks looking to go big, but then struggles with aggro decks. The only element that the two control decks seem to share is that they both struggle against Rogues, not a great spot to be in when there’s likely to be a huge uptick in play from Rogues.
I know there’s some die hard Control players, and I say you keep doing you, but be mindful of Temur and Rogues predominately. If you think you can have a plan that can beat them, go for it, but I don’t think that’s the most realistic.
In reality, functionally every archetype talked about here is playable if you’re already well versed with the strategy and the last thing I want to do is dissuade a skilled pilot from playing something they’re already good at. That being said, if you are up in the air about what to play moving forward, I think Temur is the way to go. I think it’s pretty firmly the best deck with very few bad matchups overall. If you don’t want to play Edgewall Innkeeper, you can do worse than Rogues, assuming you’re at all adept with the archetype.
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