Hopefully, you all have heard about the Pro Tour that wrapped up yesterday. Congratulations to the Champion, Andrew Elenbogen; his winning was hard fought against a seasoned player Luis Scott-Vargas, clinching his Elenbogen's first pro tour victory, at his fourth pro tour appearance. All in all, finding the victory through a tough mirror match the way he did was fantastic.
Speaking of mirror matches, the Top 8 deck lists were very different than I or Jeremy had thought it was going to be. Jeremy rightly thought there would be one dominate deck, but was sure it was going to be Golgari, (at least earlier in the season he did). I rightly thought it wasn't going to be Golgari, but my opinion that the format would be more diverse in the top 8 was flat wrong.
We saw 6 of the top 8 to be variants of Red/White Weenies, an archetype we haven't seen dominate in quite a long time. Focusing on many low to the ground creatures with relatively cheap removal, its no wonder it was able to skirt past single target control match ups. We then saw a Jeskai control list and an Izzet drake list make the top 8 along side. Personally, I would have preferred a meta at the end to be more diverse with 5 or so decks occupying the space at top 8. With so many mirror matches, watching the event can get a little stale.
Pretty much all of the Red/White aggro lists ran the same list of creatures and spells with
varying changes in card quantities. The biggest difference in the decks were the sideboards, it is quite interesting to see what the top players considered bringing, and what they thought they would see at the tournament as their opposition. For instance, Kasper Nielsen's list ran 4 Tocatli Honor Guards in the sideboard, a great answer to mainly Golgari. Where as, Luis Scott-Vargas ran a playset of Experimental Frenzy instead, without much in the way of dealing with Golgari out side of exile effects like Conclave Tribunal or Baffling End. Instead, he seemed to focus more of his sideboard for dealing with control.
As you can see, comparing both Elenbogen's winning list and LSV's second place list, there isn't a lot that is different. The biggest differentiator was the sideboard, and in the end Elenbogen's list won out.
I hope moving forward we will be able to have more diversity of lists in the Pro tour top 8, but that isn't the fault of the players that build these decks. It is still early in this rotation, so I'm confident we'll see shake ups with the next few sets. But it can still be kind of disheartening seeing pretty much the same list dominate a high level event.
Either way, I mention this not to demean Elenbogen's victory. He did a great job fighting his way to the top, and he deserves the win. I only mention it because I'd rather see mirror matches only a small percentage of the time, and to instead have a format that rewards the player base for innovation and deck mastery. I'm just not seeing that in Standard, and haven't really for some time.