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24, Apr, 24

Pro Tour Thunder Junction Promises Major Metagame Innovations!

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Article at a Glance

Can you feel that rumbling? That’s Pro Tour Thunder Junction, hurtling rapidly down the road ahead of its start date this Friday. Magic’s 100th set has already proven to be as impactful as one would expect from such a milestone product. New cards from Thunder Junction are seeing play in the likes of Pioneer, and even Modern is getting some love. What remains to be seen, however, is how the cards will impact the Standard metagame.

We won’t need to wait long to find out. Pro Tour Thunder Junction, the next major tournament in the Magic calendar, starts this Friday, the 26th of April. Elite players will be facing off in both Thunder Junction Draft and Standard, with $500,000 in total prizes on the line. For those interested in the limited aspect of the event, we’ve already looked at some surprise hits and overpowered options for that format. For those more curious about Standard, stay tuned. We’re going to go over everything you need to know below.

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The Current Meta

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Let’s start by looking at the current Standard metagame, pre-Pro Tour. This was the subject of discussion on this week’s episode of Weekly MTG, where the hosts broke down each of the major players in the current format. Sitting at the top of the totem pole we have Dimir Midrange and Esper Midrange. These two decks play fairly similarly, both relying on disruption, removal, and efficient threats to close out their games. Cards like Deep-Cavern Bat and Preacher of the Schism see consistent play across both. They rely on similar finishers as well, with Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal appearing regularly in both decks. Golgari Midrange is also seeing play with similar lists, albeit in much lower numbers.

These two decks are the bedrock of the Standard format. They’re flexible and powerful enough to hold their own against pretty much any other deck, including mirror matches. That said, there is still considerable competition from other archetypes. Hot on their heels is Boros Convoke, a go-wide Aggro deck that can generate card advantage through cheap Knight-Errant of Eos. This deck has a much more linear game plan than the Midrange options, but it can also win games before they’ve even really started. Cards like Imodane’s Recruiter and Sanguine Evangelist help make these explosive wins happen.

Temur Analyst, sometimes called Temur Control or Temur Worldsoul’s Rage, is another player in the meta. Despite the Control label, this is really more of a Combo deck, built around milling and reanimating a huge number of lands before finishing your opponent off with one huge Worldsoul’s Rage. This deck commands a smaller meta share, alongside Magic stalwart Mono-Red Aggro.

New Toys From Thunder Junction

So that’s how the land lies for now. But how will Thunder Junction shake things up? As Weekly MTG mentioned, both Tinybones, the Pickpocket and Gisa, the Hellraiser were among the most-played cards in the MTG Arena Streamer Event that took place just before the full release of the set. That being said, events like these aren’t fully comparable to real-world Standard.

Following on from this early event, the cards have also shown up in lists for recent Standard Leagues and Preliminaries. Tinybones in particular has shown up regularly, proving their power. The new toys for Midrange decks don’t end there, though, as both Shoot the Sheriff and Three Steps Ahead could very well see play too.

Boros Convoke gets some new cards as well. Inspiring Vantage, the Boros Fastland, is a boring but important addition and will help the early consistency of the list greatly. More interestingly, Nurturing Pixie could shake up the deck, being a cheap early flier that can recycle your ETB effects.

Another major new player is definitely Slickshot Show-Off. By this point that won’t be a surprise to anyone, given how well the card’s doing in multiple formats. The natural home for this is in Mono-Red Aggro, and it’s shown up in 5-0 lists for Standard events already. The card may also have legs in Boros Convoke, though, where an extra hasty body can help you alpha strike or convoke out your Knight-Errant of Eos as needed.

As for the Temur decks, things are looking rough. The Rest in Peace reprint from The Big Score gives Esper Midrange a sideboard option that can completely demolish the deck’s game plan. For this reason, the deck may end up sideboarding linear threats like Bonny Pall, Clearcutter, and maybe even Terror of the Peaks with a Dragon package to adapt post-sideboarding.

New Decks Ahoy?

We’ll almost certainly see some combination of the above decks during Pro Tour Thunder Junction. But what about bold new decks? There are whisperings of these in the air already. The new cycle of ‘Joins Up’ enchantments from Thunder Junction has led to a number of decks focused on legendary creatures. In particular, 5-Color Legends and Esper Legends have been tried out in Standard events since launch.

Despite their similar names, these decks actually play very differently from one another. Esper Legends could probably also be called Esper Crimes. The deck revolves around Crime payoffs like Vadmir, New Blood and Gisa, the Hellraiser, with a shell of powerful legendary creatures and Tinybones Joins Up for easy Crime triggers. It feels similar to existing Esper Midrange lists, but with enough unique flair to stand out alone.

5-Color Legends, on the other hand, is something totally new. It looks like a pile of miscellaneous legends and fixing at first glance. Under the hood, however, beats the wicked heart of a Combo deck. The deck can win on the spot by assembling two Honest Rutstein, a Rona, Herald of Invasion, a Relic of Legends, and a Tinybones Joins Up. Alternatively, it can loop Slogurk, the Overlime with Annie Joins Up and Channel lands to win that way. There’s also a version running around with Rakdos Joins Up, Abuelo’s Awakening, and Hulking Metamorph, which can similarly win out of nowhere.

This new archetype hasn’t seen enough testing for us to say for sure whether it’ll be a contender at Pro Tour Thunder Junction. It’s an exciting new deck though, and one that has the potential to turn the format on its head if it succeeds.

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