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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week: #PTKTK Edition


It's Pro Tour Sunday and we've had two days and ten rounds of Khans of Tarkir Standard to settle which decks are real players in the new Standard metagame. This weekend marked a breakout for Dig Through Time, a disappointing showing by Courser of Kruphix and company, and the continued dominance of Mantis Rider. With multiple Pro Tour titans are returning to the sunday stage, the Top 8 of Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir promises to be packed with incredible Magic. Before the action starts at 3 PM Eastern, take a look at five of the decks you'll see battling it out for the title of Pro Tour Champion.

The dominant deck leading into the Pro Tour was a Jeskai midrange deck featuring Mantis Rider, tons of burn, and a handful of powerful five drops and draw spells. It turns out that a shell containing the most efficient threats in the format backed by efficient removal is a good place to start in a new format. The real story of the weekend was the small differences across the 75 different teams brought to the table. Sideboards offer varying degrees of transformation to more controlling or burn-oriented decks and really make Jeskai Wins one of the most flexible and tuneable archetypes in the field.

The huge innovation here by Yuuya Watanabe is Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Most builds start with Mantis Rider, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Seeker of the Way, topped off with some small number of Stormbreath Dragon or Sarkhan. Brimaz is a big deal because it survives both Lightning Strike and Anger of the Gods while providing an efficient threat against control and defensive body against aggro. Brimaz plays exactly into the midrangey, aggro-control plan that this deck has in most of its matchups.

This deck has proven shockingly capable of just dealing the full 20 points of damage with burn spells while forcing you to tap out dealing with its threats. Each threat is capable of winning the game entirely on its own so it's difficult to win in a heads up fight. The problem is that it's hard to go long against a deck that can Dig Through Time to find the last few points of burn. This deck promises to be a serious player in the comings weeks and has the potential to constantly adapt throughout the life of Khans of Tarkir Standard.

Jeskai Wins wasn't the only Jeskai deck people considered heading into the Pro Tour. Jeskai Ascendancy has insane combo potential in both Modern and Legacy, but there was doubt about whether the Standard version had what it took to compete with the raw efficiency of the Gold cards in Khans of Tarkir. Lee Shi Tian put up an incredible performance with his own take on the combo deck, but today we'll get a real look at how fast and resilient the deck is in the face of disruption.

The new technology in Lee Shi Tian's deck really boils down to Nissa, Worldwaker. Other decks rely on a single copy of Altar of the Brood to mill their opponent out. Instead, Lee opts for a powerful Planeswalker that is fine to just ramp into early on in the game, but also serves as a powerful way to end the game. Once you've set up your Sylvan Caryatid, Briber's Purse, Retraction Helix, Jesaki Ascendancy combo, you can loop through your deck until you find Twinflame. Twinflame copies your mana creatures so you can make infinite mana if you weren't already capable of it. Nissa will let you make a hasty, trampling 4/4 that you can pump infintely by contuining to loop your Retraction Helix and Briber's Purse. Worried about removal? Just make extra copies of all your guys with the second copy of Twinflame.

Over the weekend we've seen a number of different takes of this deck, with huge players like Luis Scott-Vargas, Guillaume Matignon and David Williams choosing to give the combo deck a shot. There are a lot of moving pieces that can be very difficult to piece together, particularly through disruption. Sometimes, though, you'll just win on turn four. There aren't many decks that can sneak under a turn four combo kill, which means that this is a deck you have to pay attention to during deckbuilding.

Abzan decks were certainly on most people's radar heading into the Pro Tour, but not many of them looked very much like Mike Sigrist's. People were expecting to see Sylvan Caryatid powerful out Siege Rhino and Elspeth, Sun's Champion. They weren't expecting this more aggressive take featuring all of the most efficient twos and threes available in this color combination.

If people are trying to go big with Nykthos or small with various aggressive one-drops, this is a great place to be. Your creatures are just enormous. Fleecemane Lion and Rakshasa Deathdealer are difficult to beat in the early turns, particularly with their threat-of-activation abilities helping them get in free points while letting you continue curving out. Once those Courser of Kruphixes start getting in the way? Just take to the air with Herald of Torment.

Last season we saw just how powerful a quick clock backed by Thoughtseize could be. Is that going to be enough to dominate this season as well? In just a few hours we'll know for certain.

This weekend we saw a couple of takes on different control decks for this format. The consensus seemed to be that Blue-Black had all of the tools necessary to compete with the midrange decks of the format. Some teams ended up on Perilous Vault plus Pearl Lake Ancient. Ivan Floch and his team took the route of Prognostic Sphinx plus discard instead. Sphinx's Revelation may have rotated, but Dig Through Time seems to be good enough to fill the void left by the powerful Azorius cards we lost in rotation.

The gameplan is the same as it's always been. Chain together cheap answers in the early game into Jace's Ingenuity or Dig Through Time. As long as you can stay ahead of the worst of your opponent's threats, you can leverage your life total as a way to get ahead on cards and land drops and overwhelm your opponent with card advantage and card quality off of Dig Through Time.

We did not see a ton of success from this deck on camera this weekend, but several teams ended up on similar Blue Black builds, which seems to suggest the deck is better than it's looked so far. Today we'll get another chance to see if the combination of card drawing and answers in this format are efficient enough to keep up with the huge range of powerful threats in this Standard format.

When other players are looking to figure out what the right combination of card drawing and answers are for the format, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what the right angle to attack from. Other times you just pack your deck full of the most powerful threats in your color combination and jam threats until your opponent runs out of answers. Ari Lax's Abzan deck is full of incredibly efficient creatures and Planeswalkers that are all capable of taking over a game if they go unanswered. When other people are trying to do cute things, you can just crush them with the raw efficiency of the cards you're playing.

Powerful threats, powerful Planeswalkers, backed by versatility of Abzan Charm and the flexibility of Thoughtseize, Hero's Downfall, and Utter End. Ari has just enough removal and interaction to keep his opponents off of their critical counterspells, threats, and combo pieces backed by resilient and powerful threats to close out the game.

If you can force your opponent to trade one-for-one with your Siege Rhinos and Wingmate Rocs, and Sorins, you slowly start to accrue small edges in life and tokens. When you grind out enough small advantages, you're able to get a big threat like Elspeth to stick and you can close the game out. In his deck tech, Ari says that his plan is just to have his last threat go unanswered. Today, we'll find out if his midrange deck can overpower the rest of the field.

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