One might look at the final tables of Grand Prix Kyoto and think that it was amateur hour in Japan this weekend as 12 relatively unknown local players competed for the ultimate prize in the competition. However, plenty of top-level pros crashed and burned in team trio constructed and the amateurs relished in the spotlight of Standard, Modern, and Legacy battles.

According to on-site reporter Chapman Sim, several powerhouse trios were formed but all failed to make the cut to the top four tables at the end of day two. This is, perhaps, a testament to the challenge that team competition poses as players need to rely on their teammates and not just themselves to advance.

With 2,271 players in attendance this was the largest constructed tournament in the history of Kyoto and very narrowly was almost the largest Magic tournament ever held in the city, very narrowly missing 2016’s team limited event which featured a field of 2,337 players. These are good signs that Magic is as healthy as ever in Japan and that all three featured constructed formats are thriving.

What We Learned About Standard

Even though there was no English-language coverage of the event, we do have access to the day-two metagame breakdown for each format. Standard is looking healthier than it has in a long time, continuing a trend since the release of Rivals of Ixalan. The format remains dominated by a handful of tier-one strategies including Red/Green Monsters, Grixis Energy, and Scarab God Control.

Plenty of other archetypes remain competitive however with decks like Constrictor, God-Pharaoh’s Gift, and Mono-Red right behind the top tier. If there’s anything to be concerned about it might be the prevalence of The Scarab God in multiple archetypes in the top tiers of competition. Standard competitors need to make sure they have a plan to deal with it.

What We Learned About Modern

Modern remains incredibly healthy and diverse with no single deck accounting for more than 9% of the day-two metagame. Among the top-four decks was day two’s only Mono-Blue Time Walks deck, a deck that really looks to empower Jace, the Mind Sculptor, a card that has failed to make a splash in Modern since being unbanned for the first time since the format’s creation.

Modern players will continue to have to prepare for an incredibly varied metagame featuring everything from classic straight-up aggressive decks like Affinity to combo decks like Titan Shift, and everything in-between. Even Jund has settled down some since getting a huge boost from the return of Bloodbraid Elf. It only made up 5% of the day-two meta in Kyoto.

What We Learned About Legacy

Last but not least let’s talk about Magic’s oldest format, Delver of Secrets Legacy. The diversity of the day-two metagame in Kyoto was not as healthy as Standard and Modern and that is certainly cause for concern. Grixis Delver comprised 20% of the field with UR Delver and 4C Delver each taking up 5% of the field.

In total, that meant that on day two of the Grand Prix you had a 1-in-3 chance of facing down Delver of Secrets. Is that a healthy format? Maybe, maybe not. Even though the top of the pack is skewed towards Delver, there were almost 30 archetypes to qualify for day two of competition, indicating a wide variety of viable strategies which is the hallmark of Legacy.

All-in-all, Grand Prix Kyoto was full of indicators of the success of competitive Magic in Japan and the health of all three marquee competitive formats for Wizards of the Coast. This is all good news as Rivals of Ixalan season winds down and we start to get ready for Dominaria season, which is only a month away.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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