2020 SEASON GRAND FINALS METAGAME BREAKDOWN - by FRANK KARSTEN, c/o Wizards of the Coast

by Affinity Games

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October 09, 2020

by: Frank Karsten

 

2020 SEASON GRAND FINALS METAGAME BREAKDOWN

 

It's almost here: The 2020 Season Grand Finals, featuring the Top 16 players from the Players Tour Finals and the Top 16 players from the 2020 Mythic Invitational, kicks off Friday, October 9 at 9 a.m. PDT. They will battle for $250,000 in prizes across Standard and Historic formats, with one Zendikar Rising card "omnifariously" omnipresent in both formats.

 

Standard Metagame Breakdown

Friday and Saturday each feature three rounds of Standard, and Sunday's Top 8 playoff is exclusively Standard format. Here's how the metagame breaks downs:



Deck Archetype Number of Players Percentage of Field
Omnath Adventures 19 59.4%
Omnath Ramp 4 12.5%
Rakdos Midrange 4 12.5%
Gruul Adventures 3 9.4%
Dimir Rogues 1 3.1%
Temur Adventures 1 3.1%

Combining Omnath Adventures and Omnath Ramp, 72% of the field is running Omnath, Locus of Creation in Standard. Across Magic Esports, that's staggering numbers even for a small field. For reference, 69% of the players at Mythic Championship VI registered Oko, Thief of Crowns and 68% of the players at the Players Tour Finals registered Growth Spiral. So when 72% register Omnath it's clear which card is the villain of the current Standard metagame.



Why is Omnath so dominant?

It's a combination of two factors. First, triggering landfall for the second time in a turn is not difficult thanks to Fabled Passage or Escape to the Wilds. After the second landfall trigger has resolved, Omnath is a Loxodon Hierarch with better abilities that didn't cost any mana and didn't cost a card.

Omnath, Locus of Creation
Loxodon Hierarch

Second, despite being so many colors Omnath is not as difficult to cast as you'd expect. Between Pathways, Triomes, Fabled Passages, and mana fixers like Beanstalk Giant or Lotus Cobra, it's possible to consistently cast Omnath on curve without having to make substantial mana base sacrifices.

Fabled Passage
Ketria Triome
Cragcrown Pathway
Beanstalk Giant
Lotus Cobra

Can Omnath decks be beaten? Short answer: unclear, and 72% of players believe it's unlikely.

Going under—attacking early and outracing Omnath setting up—is difficult because Omnath gains 4 life per turn, so aggro decks must be able to deal far more than 20 damage each game. Resource denial strategies also face a tough fight because seemingly efficient answers like Redcap Melee or Heartless Act still leave you down in mana and cards. Trying to go over Omnath implies ramping and therefore playing Omnath yourself, but that just results in joining 'em.

Perhaps the best way to beat Omnath is to counter it and prevent it from ever resolving. However, a counter-heavy control strategy has a hard time beating Edgewall Innkeeper or Lucky Clover, which the majority of Omnath players have access to as Adventures decks, so it's hard to find a viable angle of attack.

Yet, 72% is not 100%. Nine brave competitors decided to face the four-color menace with a non-Omnath deck, and they might just be on to something. All decklists will be published on the 2020 Season Grand Finals event page at the beginning of Round 1 on Friday, October 9.

Let's review what each Standard archetype in the Grand Finals offers.

Lucky Clover
Omnath, Locus of Creation
Edgewall Innkeeper

Omnath Adventures (19 players): Most players agree that the best way to play Omnath is to splash it in Temur Adventures. The core of the deck relies on Edgewall Innkeeper, Lucky Clover, and Fae of Wishes. A sideboard filled with a variety of one-ofs rewards the pilot for good decision making and sequencing. In this deck, Omnath is a redundant engine that synergizes nicely with the Beanstalk Giants and Escape to the Wilds that were already in the deck—and well worth splashing for.

Omnath, Locus of Creation
Lotus Cobra
Escape to the Wilds

Omnath Ramp (4 players): This deck playing Omnath does not run Edgewall Innkeeper or Lucky Clover. Instead, the goal is play Lotus Cobra on turn two, Omnath on turn three, and to put almost your entire deck onto the battlefield on turn four. Both Escape to the Wilds and Genesis Ultimatum help trigger landfall, which Lotus Cobra and Omnath turn into more mana. With a good draw, the battlefield can explode quickly.

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
Tymaret Calls the Dead
Bonecrusher Giant

Rakdos Midrange (4 players): Rakdos Midrange is a relatively new deck, but it's sweet one. Besides the spot removal and discard spells that are typically seen in midrange decks, the deck makes particularly good use of its graveyard. Tymaret Calls the Dead sets you up perfectly to escape Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, which acts as the main win condition. Mire Triton and Magmatic Channeler also synergize with this graveyard-based plan. There's no raw card draw, but a large number of modal double-faced cards prevent mana flood.

Edgewall Innkeeper
Embercleave
Gemrazer

Gruul Adventures (3 players): This is the only aggro deck in the field. Edgewall Innkeeper provides some staying power, but the deck does not contain many adventure spells as the main idea is to curve out and drop a quick Embercleave. While this archetype has been around in Standard for a year, the builds registered by Autumn Burchett, Emma Handy, and Luis Salvatto are spicy. For example, Questing Beast, a longtime mainstay in this archetype, has been replaced by Gemrazer. This makes sense because the metagame has more Lucky Clovers than planeswalkers. Another tweak is that Brushfire Elemental and Stonecoil Serpent, which are perfect bodies for both for Gemrazer and Lovestruck Beast, became the early drops of choice. I like the build and believe in the 'Cleave.

Lucky Clover
Edgewall Innkeeper
Fae of Wishes

Temur Adventures (1 players): This deck, registered by Grzegorz Kowalski, could be described as Omnath Adventures with Mystical Dispute instead of Omnath. "I believe consistency and better mana curve is worth more than Omnath, so I would rather counter it for one mana in the mirror, than play it myself," he explained. That's a hot take but given that he was holding the #1 Mythic rank he also may just be right.

Soaring Thought-Thief
Drown in the Loch
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Dimir Rogues (1 players): This particular version of Dimir Rogues is the spiciest brew in the field. Surprisingly, the only Rogues in the deck are Thieves' Guild Enforcer and Soaring Thought-Thief, so there is no reliance on Zareth San, the Trickster. Instead, the mill theme is emphasized with Vantress Gargoyle, Into the Story, and Drown in the Loch, and the lean creature base enables Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a companion. I am looking forward to seeing how this deck will perform against Omnath.

Historic Metagame Breakdown

Friday and Saturday each feature three rounds of Historic, which was also shaken up by the release of Zendikar Rising. Previously, the three biggest decks in the format were Jund Sacrifice, Mono-Red Goblins and Sultai Midrange. With a new set in the mix, this is how metagame breaks downs:



Deck Archetype Number of Players Percentage of Field
Omnath Ramp 11 34.4%
Jund Sacrifice 7 21.9%
Four-color Midrange 6 18.8%
Neostorm 3 9.4%
Azorius Control 2 6.3%
Rakdos Arcanist 1 3.1%
Mono-Red Goblins 1 3.1%
Bant Control 1 3.1%

The good news is that it's "only" 34% of decks are playing Omnath, Locus of Creation. The bad news is that Omnath is powerful in Historic as well. But Omnath and Lotus Cobra are not the only Zendikar Rising cards that made an impact: Sultai Midrange splashed Yasharn, Implacable Earth to turn into Four-Color Midrange, and Sea Gate Stormcaller enabled an entirely new combo deck with Neoform.

Like the Standard decklists, all Historic decklists will be published on the 2020 Season Grand Finals event page at the beginning of Round 1 on Friday, October 9. For reference, I provide a quick summary description of every Historic archetype below.

Omnath, Locus of Creation
Lotus Cobra
Escape to the Wilds

Omnath Ramp (11 players): This is pretty much the Standard version of Omnath Ramp beefed up. Historic-legal cards like Explore and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath make it even easier to trigger Omnath multiple times per turn and to play Genesis Ultimatum ahead of the curve. As a result, all Omnath players in Historic opted for the Ramp plan rather than the Adventure plan.

Mayhem Devil
Witch's Oven
Cauldron Familiar

Jund Sacrifice (7 players): Sacrifice is still strong as Mayhem Devil, Cauldron Familiar, and Witch's Oven provide a powerful and synergistic engine. Green provides mid-game staying power, but there are two mutually exclusive approaches: Three players run Trail of Crumbs, while four players rely on Collected Company instead.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Thoughtseize
Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Four-Color Midrange (6 players): The missing color is red, so there are no Omnaths here. Four-Color Midrange is an evolution to Sultai Midrange with a white splash for Yasharn, Implacable Earth. Yasharn's static ability means that a Jund Sacrifice player can't sacrifice creatures to activate Woe Strider or Witch's Oven, and a Goblin player can't activate Treasures or sacrifice creatures to Phyrexian Tower or Skirk Prospector. As Yasharn is a Boar, the deck has already earned the affectionate nickname "Turbo Pig" which will only grow if someone brings home the bacon with it.

Sea Gate Stormcaller
Neoform
Dualcaster Mage

Neostorm (3 players): This Temur combo deck was made possible by Sea Gate Stormcaller. The plan is to trigger its enters the battlefield ability and follow up by sacrificing it to Neoform. The copy fetches Dualcaster Mage, which copies the original Neoform that's still on the stack. This copy fetches yet another Dualcaster Mage, and the chain continues. When the Dualcaster Mages run out, Glasspool Mimics take over, and before you know it, you have seven 3/3s on the battlefield. Finally, the original Neoform fetches Tuktuk Rubblefort, which grants haste and sets up a lethal attack out of nowhere. It's a powerful two-card, four-mana combo that can win before Omnath Ramp puts its entire library onto the battlefield. Although assembling a two-card combo and four lands by turn four is not trivial, Valakut Awakening provides a substantial consistency boost.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Wrath of God
Grafdigger's Cage

Azorius Control (2 players): Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Wrath of God, and Censor form the core of a traditional control strategy. One notable aspect is that both Azorius Control players run main deck Grafdigger's Cage, which is a good metagame call. The artifact stops Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath; Cauldron Familiar; Neoform; Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger; and Muxus, Goblin Grandee, so it's great against everything but the mirror.

Dreadhorde Arcanist
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger

Rakdos Arcanist (1 player): Rakdos Arcanist is arguably the best Thoughtseize deck in the format because of the synergy with both Young Pyromancer and Dreadhorde Arcanist. This deck ups the discard angle with Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, which can be milled by Stitcher's Supplier or returned via Claim // Fame or Lurrus of the Dream-Den.

Bant Control (1 player): This is basically Azorius Control with a green splash for Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Growth Spiral, passing on Grafdigger's Cage because that would stop its own Uro.

Muxus, Goblin Grandee
Skirk Prospector
Krenko, Mob Boss

Mono-Red Goblins (1 player): At the Mythic Invitational, Goblins was by far the most popular deck, but it posted a below-average win rate. Accordingly, it saw a sharp popularity drop. Nevertheless, with Skirk Prospector it's still possible to cast Muxus, Goblin Grandee as early as turn three. If you're lucky enough to hit both Goblin Chieftain and Krenko, Mob Boss too then you may be able to attack for lethal right away.

Tune In!

In total, twenty players registered Omnath in one of the two formats, seven players registered Omnath in both formats, and five heroes registered Omnath in neither. I'll be rooting for our heroes to prevail.



Catch the broadcast live on twitch.tv/magic, starting at 9 AM PDT each day, October 9-11, to see if Rakdos Midrange, Gruul Adventures, or Dimir Rogues can triumph over all the Omnath decks in Standard, to see the Neostorm deck combo off in Historic, and to see 32 amazing players show off their skills as a new champion is crowned!

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