The Top 16 decks of Grand Prix Denver were extremely diverse. With seven completely different archetypes represent in the Top 16, the Standard format continues to have a wide open metagame. Here is a brief breakdown by archetype:

4 x Ramunap Red
3 x Temur Energy
3 x URW God-Pharaoh’s Gift
2 x Mono-Black Zombies
1 x UW God-Pharaoh’s Gift
1 x UW Oketra’s Monument
1 x UR Emerge
1 x Mono-White Eldrazi

After Black’s dominance at Grand Prix Minneapolis, only two Zombies decks and no GB Constrictor decks managed to make it into the Top 16 and GP Denver. Instead, Temur Energy and God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks seem to be on the rise.

God-Pharaoh’s Gift

On Day 1 of Grand Prix Denver, the talk of the tournament was that many of pro players had brought UWR God-Pharaoh’s Gift to the event. Here, for example, is Owen Turtenwald’s list:

Owen Turtenwald's UWR God-Pharaoh's Gift from Grand Prix Denver

Creatures (27)
Angel of Invention
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Champion of Wits
Insolent Neonate
Mausoleum Wanderer
Minister of Inquiries
Trophy Mage
Walking Ballista

Spells (4)
Cathartic Reunion

Artifacts (6)
Gate to the Afterlife
God-Pharaoh’s Gift
Lands (23)
Aether Hub
Inspiring Vantage
Ipnu Rivulet
Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Mausoleum Wanderer
Chandra’s Defeat
Chandra, Torch of Defiance

God Pharaoh’s Gift won the MTGO PTQ right before Pro Tour Hour of Devastation and looked to be the breakout deck of the tournament, until everyone realized Ramunap Red was likely the strongest deck and had an amazing matchup against Gift decks.

But after a few weeks of metagame shifts, many pros concluded that it was best to attack the tournament was from Level 3: bring the deck that beats the decks that beat the “best” decks in the format. The Gift deck is extremely soft to Ramunap Red—but if most of the field is trying to beat Red by playing a Level 2 deck like Zombies, GB, or some other midrange deck, then Gift decks will be well-positioned. As a Level 3 deck, its goal is to beat the Level 2 decks that are designed to beat the “best” deck in the format, Ramunap Red, while hoping that enough of the field is on Level 2 to avoid too many matchups with Ramunap Red.

This metagame prediction turned out to be fairly accurate and Gift decks made up four of the top 16 decks at Grand Prix Denver.

Temur Energy

Temur Energy occupies an unenviable position in the Standard metagame. As players start to adjust their decks to beat the best decks in the format, like Ramunap Red or Mono-Black Zombies, Temur can get incidentally hated out from the splash damage. But Brad Nelson, Corey Baumeister, and Brian Braun-Duin chose the right weekend to play a fairly stock version of the deck.

Brad Nelson's winning Temur Energy from Grand Prix Denver

Creatures (24)
Bristling Hydra
Longtusk Cub
Rhonas the Indomitable
Rogue Refiner
Servant of the Conduit
Whirler Virtuoso

Spells (14)
Attune with Aether
Harnessed Lightning
Magma Spray
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Lands (22)
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Game Trail
Lumbering Falls
Sheltered Thicket
Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
Chandra, Flamecaller
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Confiscation Coup
Radiant Flames
Tireless Tracker

There’s nothing spicy about this list. And, honestly, it’s difficult to tell if the Temur Trio™ were successful because of an excellent metagame call or because they are all great players that mastered a solid deck.

But either way, Temur Energy lives in Level 3 along with the Gift decks, but has the added advantage of having a decent Ramunap Red matchup. With eight removal spells in the main, Temur is well set-up to take on the aggressive creature strategies of Red and Zombies, while also playing powerful value creatures that can win the game if unchecked.

Ramunap Red

The best deck from Pro Tour Hour of Devastation is still a force to be reckoned with. While many players are trying to win with Level 3 decks, players like Sam Pardee realized that Ramunap Red could do well in Denver, as most Level 3 decks are weak to Red’s aggressive starts.

Sam Pardee's Ramunap Red from Grand Prix Denver

Creature (26)
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Bomat Courier
Earthshaker Khenra
Falkenrath Gorger
Hazoret the Fervent
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Village Messenger

Spells (10)
Incendiary Flow
Lands (24)
15 Mountain
Ramunap Ruins
Scavenger Grounds
Sunscorched Desert

Sideboard (15)
Aethersphere Harvester
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Cut // Ribbons
Magma Spray
Pia Nalaar
Sweltering Suns

Pardee and two other players made the Top 8 with similar lists, taking advantage of the fact that many decks had started to look beyond the Red deck as one of the biggest threats in the format. To drive that point home, Pardee achieved the rare turn three win against Paul Rietzl playing UW Approach—a deck designed to beat the decks that beat Red, while conceding the awful Red matchup.

The Full Day 2 Metagame

When we zoom out beyond the Top 16, the Grand Prix Denver begins to looks a little more like the expected Standard metagame, with Ramunap Red and Mono-Black Zombies being the two most popular decks.

The Day 2 metagame at Grand Prix Denver.

Meanwhile, BG decks have fallen out of favor for Temur Energy and God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks. Control decks, such as UR Control and Approach of the Second Sun decks, continue to make up around 10% of the metagame. Finally, Mardu Vehicles is sticking around, at about 7% of the Day 2 field, while Ramp decks made up around 5%.

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