As we head into Mythic Championship III Las Vegas, Standard continues to shift and adapt. And now that the full decklists for each competitor have been released, we can look at some niche cards that could tilt matchups in their pilot’s favor.

Deck choices can be pivotal to your results at any given tournament, but format knowledge will truly give you an edge over the competition. Format knowledge enables you to make specific tech choices in your 75, playing cards which your opponent wouldn’t necessarily expect and ultimately make minor mistakes such as sideboarding incorrectly. Tech choices also can provide solutions to problematic permanents or deck defining cards. For example, Legion Warboss is packed in almost every red sideboard currently as it is great against Teferi, Time Raveler.

With this in mind let’s look at a few potential tech choices for Standard! I’ve chosen three cards that could be poised for success this weekend and in Standard going forward. Two of them in fact show up in some Mythic Championship III Las Vegas decks, while the third may be good if the metagame shifts further after this event.

Ripjaw Raptor

Standard has not been too kind to Ixalan block, with the Dinosaur creature type barely featuring in the format. Largely relegated to the sideboard, the likes of Thrashing Brontodon and Deathgorge Scavenger have been staples of green decks; but with the increasing popularity of red aggro decks an alternative needed to be found.

Ripjaw Raptor is perfect in that sense. Five toughness is key when the big burn spell in Standard deals four damage, which means that Ripjaw Raptor is almost always going to take two removal spells. And the enrage ability draws you a card for each one! The resources required to take down Ripjaw Raptor are resources that the opponent must waste on your creature rather than their preferred target: your face.

Ripjaw Raptor also lines up incredibly well against the White aggro decks, being able to defend well against Adanto Vanguard, Venerated Loxodon, and even History of Benalia. For a deck that plays Snubhorn Sentry, lets show them what real dinosaurs look like!

Decks that want Ripjaw Raptor: Gruul Aggro, Simic Manipulation
Decks that fear Ripjaw Raptor: Mono Red, Wx Aggro, Gruul Aggro

As for the Mythic Championship this weekend, seven competitors have included Ripjaw Raptor in their 75, with examples in both Gruul and Ramp/Dreadhorde decks.

Fight With Fire

Fight with Fire used to be a permanent fixture in red sideboards due to the flexibility it offers. Along with that, it was the cleanest answer to Lyra Dawnbringer—at the time the finisher of choice for many decks. As the metagame has changed, becoming either faster or more combo-centric, there have been fewer copies of Lyra to answer.

With the introduction of War of the Spark however, the format has started to slow down. Planeswalkers dominate the format, which has led to the resurgence of Mono Red as the top deck of the format. Lyra has started to re-emerge from the shadows. Is this the time for Fight with Fire to regain its sideboard slots?

Decks that want Fight with Fire: Mono Red, Gruul
Decks that fear Fight with Fire: Wx Aggro, Esper Midrange, Bant Midrange

Indeed, seven competitors included Fight with Fire in their decks, mostly in Mono Red. But Gruul, Phoenix, and a Jund deck also feature copies.

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

Lavinia was one of the more hyped cards from Ravnica Allegiance. While Lavinia seemed most likely to make waves in Vintage, I predicted that Lavinia could also be a player in Standard to stop Nexus of Fate or maybe Electrodominance. The metagame ended up shifting away from the cards that enabled Nexus of Fate to be problematic, such as New Horizons and Wilderness Reclamation.

But one single card from War of the Spark has pushed them aside and has brought ramp back. Nissa, Who Shakes the World (Or Shakes up Standard) is an extraordinary planeswalker, with probably the second-best static ability of all planeswalkers in WAR. With her high starting loyalty, you are almost guaranteed to untap with Nissa in play; and that is when the nonsense begins.

Nissa enables turns where you start casting enormous Mass Manipulations, Command the Dreadhordes or even Finale of Glory. Lavinia punishes this by not only being a clock but also preventing the deck from functioning correctly. Negate and Dovin’s Veto are still good cards, but why not attack the deck from a different angle?

Decks that want Lavinia: Azorius Aggro
Decks that fear Lavinia: Ramp, Wilderness Reclamation decks

In this instance, Mythic Championship III Las Vegas will be sans Lavinia. No copies anywhere. But only one player brought Azorius Aggro to the table, with most Wx decks leaning toward Boros instead. And while Simic Manipulation and related Ramp decks show up in the metagame, only four players brought Nexus of Fate and only three of those have Wilderness Reclamation. Perhaps Lavinia’s services were simply unneeded? Nissa may have thoughts.

The incredibly small size of the tournament means it is a perfect opportunity for players to take advantage of the potentially inbred metagame by making the correct tech choices. What key tech will make the difference? We shall see soon enough!

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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