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Pro Tour KTK: Day 1 Wrap-Up, Day 2 Preview

Day 1 of the Pro Tour is over and we now have better insight in the post-RTR standard environment. Randy Buehler called it "the most impactful standard rotation in history" and I have to agree. We saw a wide variety of decks on display from aggro, to midrange, to control... to combo! Let’s look at the WoTC metagame breakdown and see what archetypes were on top!

Jeskai Aggro



Abzan Midrange



Mardu Midrange



Green-Black Devotion



Jeskai Ascendancy



Green Devotion



Blue-Black Control



Red-Green Monsters



Sidisi Whip



Mardu Planeswalkers




The New Decks

The most powerful deck that not too many people really saw coming was the functional and absolutely powerful Jeskai Ascendency combo deck. The list I saw was pretty far from the list that was showing up and destroying people in the Pro Tour. The most impressive feature match we saw all day was a pair of Turn 4 kills by David Williams on Ascendency Combo vs. Fabian Thiele on Green Devotion.

How does the deck work? It's a four card combo involving a mana creature (e.g. Sylvan Caryatid, Retraction Helix, Astral Cornucopia, and Jeskai Ascendancy. You start by having Jeskai Ascendancy and your mana creature (e.g. Sylvan Caryatid) in play. You cast Retraction Helix on Sylvan Caryatid, and then cast Astral Cornucopia with X=0. This will allow you to untap Sylvan Caryatid and draw a card then discard (Jeskai Ascendancy's ability). You can then tap Sylvan Caryatid and use the new ability granted by Retraction Helix to bounce Astral Cornucopia. You repeat the same thing over and over until you loot your way into Altar of the Brood. You cast Altar of the Brood and do the same trick of bouncing/recasting Astral Cornucopia to mill out your opponent with Altar of the Brood. The rest of the deck contains draw spells/cantrips to help find your combo.

There aren't really words I can use that can use that describe how impressive this deck actually is. What I think I can safely say is that combo is back in Standard with a bang!

As long as UB exist as colors in magic, there will always be UB Control. The deck aims to one-for-one you until it can cast a big spell (Dig Through Time). Interestingly, the deck went 0-6 in the feature match area.

Mike Sigrist had a very interesting take on Abzan. There were many Abzan decks being piloted at the Pro Tour, but most of them ran the green powerhouses Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix. Mike's list ran 0. Instead, he took a much more aggressive stance playing Fleecemane Lion, Herald of Torment and Rakshasa Deathdealer. The new KTK mythic guild leader Anafenza, the Foremost even makes an appearance! This was good enough to net Mike a 5-0 record through Standard leaving him at an impressive 8-0.

An artifact deck in Standard?! Ensoul Artifact is the main engine behind this deck. You want to be casting it on Darksteel Citadel or Ornithopter and going to town with your 5/5 for 1U. It may not have done extremely well but the archetype itself shows a tremendous amount of potential.

Other Decks

One list is the expected Jeskai Aggro / Tempo deck that has been making waves before the Pro Tour, and continues to justify its popularity at the Pro Tour. It was at least good enough to take Yuuya Watanabe through the five rounds of Standard without losing a match. The deck runs Mantis Rider and Goblin Rabblemaster to put your opponent on the backfoot and finishes them off with burn. The impressive thing about this deck is its resiliency. Dig Through Time gives you so much late game. It was crazy seeing the deck on camera go toe-to-toe with a control deck in the later turns. It was the Jeskai player with all the gas and the UB player with no cards in hand.

Big Financial Winners from Day 1


Top Winners
1 +4.86 Jeskai Ascendancy 9.00 +136.00%
2 +4.46 Mantis Rider 7.79 +128.00%
3 +4.05 Dig Through Time 11.31 +56.00%
4 +3.54 See the Unwritten 6.65 +132.00%
5 +2.91 Rakshasa Deathdealer 4.01 +434.00%
6 +2.56 Anafenza the Foremost 7.28 +64.00%
7 +2.53 Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker 27.32 +10.00%
8 +2.11 Perilous Vault 7.40 +42.00%
9 +2.09 Sorin Solemn Visitor 16.16 +15.00%
10 +2.02 Pearl Lake Ancient 2.84 +246.00%

Day Two Watchlist

#1. Jeskai Ascendency


The combo deck is important to watch because its success or failure on this stage will really impact the metagame for the rest of the standard cycle. Past that you have to still keep an eye on Jeskai Tokens, which was running 4 Jeskai Ascendency as a fair card in the deck rather than as a combo piece. If you have Jeskai Ascendency out with 5-6 tokens in play, you can follow it up by casting Jeskai Charm to give +1/+1 and lifelink to your team, which then triggers Jeskai Ascendancy’s +1/+1 giving your team a pseudo Elspeth ultimate.


#2. Pearl Lake Ancient:

Going into the Pro Tour we had this card sitting at about $0.90 as a mythic. It started popping up in sideboards everywhere, especially in the U/B control deck that’s taking up a good portion of the metagame. From a financial perspective it’s definitely a card to consider, but from a competitive aspect there is a very good chance that this card will be completely ignored until it actually makes the top eight.


#3. Dig Through Time

This card was obviously going to see play, what wasn’t obvious was that it was going to see play in what feels like every blue deck that hit the Pro Tour. All in all this card shot all the way up from $5 to $15 in less than 24 hours. Everything from Jeskai Aggro to Jeskai Combo is running 4 Dig Through Time. This card has clearly established its dominance in standard over a card like Treasure Cruise for a very simple reason: card selection. It’s likely to remain as a staple standard card for the duration of its legality. I would definitely look out for how many copies of this card make top eight.


Conclusion: Day 1 of the Pro Tour was mindblowing. It’s especially exciting to see all of these decks that are really enabled purely by Khans of Tarkir cards. I know I can’t wait to start watching coverage of Day 2 of Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir. I’ll see everyone at 12:00 PM Pacific for Day 2.


As always thanks for reading, you may follow me on twitter @MTGSnackattack if you like the content I’m making.

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