It is the weekend after Worlds, and you sleeved up the event winning Standard deck for FNM. You end up going 1-3 for a single pack, upset and confused how the deck can win the most prestigious event ever but can’t do well at a casual local. This is a common problem that happens after Pro Tour events, Player’s Championships, and World Championships.

Why not sleeve up Paulo Vitor’s Azorius Control deck for your next Standard tournament? This week we will go over why copying the winning Standard deck is not a good strategy, and what to do with the results from these events going forward.

Smaller Metagames

A quick overview of what these events are so it is easier to put in perspective of what we will be discussing this week. These high level events have a unique metagame that diverges from what you might face at lower-level tournaments. Consider this Tweet from Brian Braun-Duin leading up to the World Championship.

This tweet highlights the guessing game for tournaments with small player fields. Competitors in these events can guess which decks from the metagame are less likely to be played in a small field, and then choose their strategy or sculpt their sideboard to take advantage of being able to miss facing off against a powerful deck. Chris Kvartek was hoping for no Mono Red in the field right after Seth Manfield told BBD that he’s chosen to play Mono Red.

If you asked Chris if he would make the same assumption for a MagicFest or SCG Open, I doubt his plan to beat Mono Red would be to avoid playing against it at all. When facing a larger field, he will have a real plan against the deck. That is one big problem with copying the full 75 from a Worlds deck. I think his Temur Reclamation list was fine for Worlds, but the deck is not well-positioned against the full Standard metagame.

Maindeck Sideboard Cards

During the painful reign of Oko, Thief of Crowns in Standard, playing four copies of Noxious Grasp in your maindeck was strong and practically a necessity. In a healthy and broad metagame that won’t be good strategy. In current Standard, we don’t need to play maindeck Aether Gust or Mythic Dispute. And yet, all the Azorius Control and Fires of Invention decks in the World Championship played some form of those cards in their starting 60.

In a small field, you can gamble that most decks will be vulnerable to these targeted sideboard cards, and calculate that you get more of an edge against vulnerable decks in game one than you lose when the cards are not good. A three-mana Mana Leak isn’t too exciting against most decks, but the mana discount makes it great. Using the Standard metagame on MTG Goldfish, if you are playing against Rakdos Aristocrats—which makes up 8.2% of their metagame—holding a bunch of Mana Leaks against one drops feels very bad. The Standard metagame these days remains open enough that you can’t assume you’ll be against the same deck every round.

Adapt and Pivot

Now what do we do about all of this? We can harness the tournament results to prepare for the Standard metagame to come. The decks from Worlds are still good decks; you can use their shells to choose your 75 for Standard this weekend and beyond. The core of these decks are built very well, and these shells represent the best thing to do in that archetype. Take the insight from these decks. For example in the Fires decks, playing two copies of Cavalier of Gales to make room for two copies of Dream Trawler. You can copy that if you choose to go down that road.

Looking at Paulo Vitor’s winning Azorius Control list, his choice to focus his deck around enchantments was probably the correct direction for the archetype. Being an enchantment-based control deck gives you powerful card advantage from Thirst for Meaning, and those enchantments are powerful cards. That core will work well—just change the flex spots.

Adaptation is the name of the game. You must adapt to the future metagame that will arise from major events. Worlds gives us a major starting point for Standard in the future. Now you also know that other players will simply copy the decks from Worlds—that’s why I’m telling you not to do it in the first place. Being ahead of the metagame means you know what mistakes others will make. You know what other people will be playing, so you should tune your decks from the shell of your choice to play best against the latest strategies. Figure out the best ways to beat both Azorius Control or Jeskai Fires—either with a tuned version of one of those decks or with a different archetype. Hone toward beating those decks, and keep track of what you see that does well against them. That way, you are on the front of the metagame as it adapts afer Worlds.

Did you watch the Worlds coverage? Which deck do you want to adapt to be ahead of the curve?

Zack a veteran grinder at this point plays most of his magic online nowadays. That doesn’t mean you won’t find him occasionally slinging spells at an Open or Grand Prix. Catch him streaming on Twitch to find where he’s at with all the formats.

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