Hello everyone! My name is Efrain. I go by Hollywood Pizza on the internet & I host the Pizza Box Tournaments. In my first article for MagicJank.com I’ll be going over this past Sunday’s Pizza Box Open: Standard. A little bit about me, I started playing in 2005 & I was a pizza maker for over 10 years. Now I stream MTGA 4 days a week on twitch and have my own YouTube channel with videos either daily or every other day. Enough about me though let’s dive in and see how this tournament went.


The Meta

Congratulations to The Dark Stream who was able to take down this event with Mono Black Aggro. As we see here in this pie chart Esper, with 37 decks, was the most represented archetype with 28.7% of the meta share. Mono Black comes in second with 14.7%. 5 Color Atraxa variants are third most played with 10.9%. Azorius comes in 4th most played at 10 decks, 7.8% of the meta. Rounding out the event we have 7 decks of each Selesnya Variants & Dimir Variants at 5.4%. Mono Red with 6 decks 4.7%. Mono Blue, Orzhov, & Mono White with 5 decks at 3.9%. Bant was also represented with 4 decks 3.1% of the meta share. Then we have the rest of the field, Rakdos Midrange, Grixis Midrange, Izzet Dragons, Jeskai Control, Naya Humans, Gruul Aggro & Jund sacrifice all with 2 or less decks in the field.


Top 8 does include: 2 Azorius Control, 2 Mono Black decks, 2 Esper Control, 1 Mono White Aggro & 1 Orzhov Control


Let’s take a look first at the winning deck list: Mono Black Aggro. That’s right Aggro is back on the menu this time though it’s Mono Black that shows it’s still one of the best decks in the format even through a ban on Reckoner Bank Buster & Invoke Despair. With a 52% win rate overall Mono Black was able to take two players into the top 8, including the eventual winner The Dark Stream.


As we can see from their deck list they made necessary adjustments to where the meta has been going: Control decks. 2 main deck Duress & Phyrexian Arena, 4 main deck planes walkers in 3 Liliana of the Veil & Sorin the Mirthless, & 4 Mishra’s Foundry all mean that Dark Stream is able to get an edge in game one against control decks. The decks get even better vs those strategies after sideboard with 2 extra copies of both Duress & Phyrexian Arena. Additionally Pilfer gives extra hate to get through counter spells, removal, or even opposing planeswalker before they hit the battlefield. Rounding out their sideboard they have multiple removal spells & extra threats in an additional Sorin & Phyrexian Fleshgorger. Dark Stream in the Swiss played against in order: Mono Blue, 4 Color Ramp, Mono White Aggro, 2 Esper Control, & a mirror match with the other Mono Black that made top 8.  Only losing to one of the Esper Control decks in Swiss. They also took down two Esper Control decks in top 8 including the finals.


 The other Mono Black deck was more of a straightforward list with a full playset of Phyrexian Fleshgorger. Even main decking 3 Gix’s Commander to help with grindy games or main deck board wipe vs opposing Aggro decks.


With about a 61% win rate Esper Control makes it to the finals & brings another copy into the top 8 as well. The 2nd place deck list above plays 4 main deck copies of The Wandering Emperor & splits its board wipes with 3 Sunfall & 1 Farewell. Interestingly enough this deck has some main deck silver bullets in Disdainful Stroke, Negate, & March of Otherworldly Light. Void Rend makes an appearance as a 2 of which helps against some of the ward creatures running around including Fleshgorger & Graveyard Trespasser in Mono Black. This deck does play creatures in the board though to bring in when the opponent cuts their removal in 2 Chrome Host Seedshark, 2 Sheoldred, & even 2 Razorlash Transmogrant which can be a great recursive threat against midrange or other control strategies.


 The other Esper deck that made top 8 plays two additional walkers in Kaya & Liliana. An additional copy of Void Rend bringing it to 3 main deck. Surprisingly only 2 main deck board wipes in 1 Sunfall and 1 Farewell.


5 Color Ramp the next highest represented deck comes in at only about a 42% percent win rate. No decks made it into the top 8. Surprising enough this is a deck that took down the first two tournaments I hosted in a post ban standard. To see it fall not only out of top 8 but, to only have the highest placing deck at 23rd means that Atraxa might not be the unbeatable threat that some see it as. This 23rd placing deck list is a pretty stock version of the deck. We do see 2 copies of Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines to help in the mirror. Even though the deck wasn’t so hot this week I predict it’s not a deck going away anytime soon & can have a big bounce back at the next Pizza Box standard tournament. The rise of control and Aggro does mean that the deck will have to work more for its wins rather than relying on a resolved Atraxa to carry the game.


Azorius Control shows that last week’s win wasn’t a fluke. Granted eyLDS does play the deck exceptionally well, including a win in last week’s tournament. The deck is no fluke though, preying on decks like 5 Color Midrange which can just lose to well-timed counter spells, as well as Aggro decks with efficient removal spells Lay down Arms & Ossification. With a 55%-win rate it’s safe to say this is deck is here to stay with a Meta full of Midrange & 5 Color piles.


Not much difference in the other top 8 Azorius Control list outside of a few extra planeswalkers & main deck Temporary Lockdown to help against aggressive or token-based decks. Main deck Chrome Host Seedshark does mean that the opponents removal spells are live game 1 so this is definitely something to consider when running the shark main deck.

Decks that missed top 8 due to breakers include 2 Bant decks: Midrange & Toxic. 2 Rakdos Midrange. A Jeskai Control deck, Selesnya Enchantments & Dimir Tempo which is a deck we’ve seen grow in popularity thanks to fellow MagicJank teammate Cfavretto_jr taking the deck to Mythic on the MTGA ladder as well as making the finals of a recent Pizza Box Tournament. A few Esper Control, Orzhov Control & Mono White Aggro also missed due to breakers.

All deck lists can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/July-16th-PBO


What does the future hold?

Going forward we can say that the standard format is in a great place. A rock, paper, scissors meta in Aggro, Control, Midrange highlights the current healthy state of the format. With over 10 different archetypes in this event alone, finding a deck that suits your play style shouldn’t be difficult. We’ll see if the Next Pizza Box Open: Standard continues this trend. Until next time thanks so much for reading let me know what you think about this article and what you want to see/read going forward.

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