Martin Deng has you fooled. Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir ended in a dominating performance from his Red (green) deck, but Deng didn’t win the Pro Tour by choosing the best deck: he did it by gambling on a standard deck (with a good metagame read) and going 5-1 in limited.

Now, I don’t mean to say that Deng’s deck wasn’t very good: and certainly he piloted it well. But have a look at the top standard decks and you’ll see only one Red deck. Bram Snapvanger’s brought an aggressive green devotion deck, and performed very well with it, but he was the only one on that list.

That’s it for successful aggro decks: Deng, Christiano Christo, and Snapvanger’s. The next week in Krakow, the top 8 contained 24 copies of Silumgar’s Scorn. Twenty-four!

Young formats are usually where aggressive decks shine: and there’s no question that the new set has had a huge impact on Standard, but the format’s new bogeyman and break-out deck is the deck aggro decks usually prey on!

I have left a deck out of this analysis of course: and it’s the deck I played at the Pro Tour, Abzan Aggro. Two of my teammate took our deck to excellent finishes: Brad Nelson and Austin Bursavich both make appearances on the top standard decks list.

Really, though, this deck is misnamed. The only reason we call it “aggro” is to distinguish it from the more controlling Siege Rhino decks. This deck plays 26 lands! It has exactly two one-drops! This is not aggro. This is a mid-range deck with a slight aggressive lean.

So, is there hope for aggro in standard? One has to imagine that after Deng won the Pro Tour, and Red Aggro’s best match-up was the hot new deck, that a lot of folks were excited to cast [casthaven]Zurgo Bellstriker[/casthaven] in Krakow, right? Poor Zurgo, though, made basically no impact in Poland.

All is not lost, though! Snapvanger’s deck made an appearance in the Krakow top 16 in the hands of PT Fate Reforged champion Antonio del Moral Leon. Any deck playing 22 lands and two copies of [casthaven]Aspect of Hydra[/casthaven] can make a claim to the “aggro” moniker—just pretend you never saw those [casthaven]Elvish Mystics[/casthaven].

Gabe Carleton-Barnes has been playing Magic for over 20 years, mostly as a PTQ grinder and intermittently as a Pro Tour competitor. Currently based in Portland, Oregon, where he is an Open Source web developer by day, Gabe lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for three years. While there, he failed to make a documentary about competitive Magic but succeeded in deepening his obsession with the game. Gabe is now a ringleader and community-builder for the competitive Magic scene in Portland, wielding old-timey slang and tired cliches to motivate kids half his age to drive with him to tournaments.

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