Every week, there is a vast sea of tournament results to be scoured.
One could look to the recent SCG Open or Grand Prix finishes, or you can read through the Magic Online deck dumps. When the concern is Standard or Modern, there is always something to look at and something to learn. But with all the information that comes with this much access, how do you know what to do with it all? My answer to that question is drastically different depending on the format in question.
Modern does not have a metagame. Therefore, gaining value from weekly results is more difficult. There is such a dense card pool that on any given weekend, there are a multitude of different decks that could do well. It is a format that is more defined by it’s best cards and the different archetypes that tend to form around them. There are Aether Vial decks, Ancient Stirrings decks, Faithless Looting decks, and Lightning Bolt decks.
The question is: what to do with these busted one mana cards? There isn’t one “Aether Vial deck” or one “Lightning Bolt deck.” There are several, completely different archetypes of each of these cards. My suggestion to the format is to pick one of these cards, then learn all of it’s viable decks. Personally, I feel like its vital to know your deck inside and out. Once you have done this, the surge of information from weekly results will make sense, allowing you to tune your deck to respond to whichever one mana card did well over the weekend. Based upon last weekends results, the decks that use these one mana cards best are Bant Spirits, Ironworks Combo, Hollow-Pheonix, and Jeskai Control. Picking the deck that beats these, which also plays the card you have specialized in, will allow you to be advantaged most importantly by your deck knowledge, but also on top of the weekly trends.
Standard is where these weekly results will truly come in handy. The card pool for standard is much smaller, and therefore the number of viable decks is smaller as well. My approach to the format is similar in that I simplify it to a list of it’s best cards. Current standard is comprised of Benalish Marshal decks, Carnage Tyrant decks, Goblin Chainwhirler decks, and Niv-Mizzet decks.
Though my approach to identifying the best cards in the format are similar in both formats, I drastically change my deck decision process. The Standard format is cyclical, meaning that the deck that preforms exceptionally this week will falter the next. This happens in a constant rotation and will greatly reward you for identifying which of these four cards you should be playing on a given weekend. For instance, the weekend after the Pro Tour, the Niv-Mizzet decks reigned supreme because they had a favorable match-up against the Benalish Marshal that were popular. The current iteration of the Standard cycle is favoring the Niv-Mizzet decks, but in a different way than before. Instead of playing it in a Jeskai control list littered with board wipes, lists are favoring a “Turbo Niv” approach of ramping out Niv-Mizzet early with Treasure Map and protecting it with Dive Down. When I see this, it tells me that the Benalish Marshal decks will be a good choice for the weekend, because the other decks are starting to disrespect it again. This cyclical nature of Standard is why I am a proponent of learning each of the popular decks, and using the information gleaned from the weekly results to dictate which one of them you sleeve up for the tournament.
How do yo use weekly data to determine your deck choices? Sound off in the comments below!