Format Health

Good morning and welcome to Frontier Friday. I’m doing a little more of a “meta” post today to discuss some going-ons in the Magic world and how they will affect Frontier. I have talked about the format as a whole in a previous article, and a bit has changed since then: Some changes to the Grand Prix (GP) structure and the state of Standard prime Frontier to grow in popularity. Frontier is quietly on the sidelines right now, yet it still has enough local support to keep the game alive until the following below can propel the game forward.

Channel Fireball

Channel Fireball is one of the biggest proponents in the United States for Frontier as a format. It is one of the few large organizations to acknowledge its existence, and to support side events for it at a GP. At the last Channel Fireball–hosted GP in Pittsburgh there was a bit of a scare that the format was dying due to a lack of events firing, but this was mostly due to a lack of almost all of the side events firing that weekend. This past weekend Channel Fireball hosted GP New Jersey, and it had multiple Frontier side events fire. From what I can tell from online research they had anywhere from 16–24 players for each of the events, with a large variety in the meta. This is a complete 180 from how their previous GP left us feeling. If we can get consistent Frontier side events to fire at GPs, it’ll give us more room to grow the playerbase.

One of the announcements Wizards recently made was that Channel Fireball will be hosting all of their GPs in the upcoming year, as opposed to having various entities put on the events. I don’t want to get into the semantics of the pros or cons of this decision because this is a Frontier article, but having consistent Channel Fireball GPs means more Frontier side events, and more reasons for more people to get into the format. Knowing that the option to fall back on the Frontier side event in lieu of the main event gives people a reason to keep a deck built and to bring it with them.

State of Standard

For those of you who don’t keep up with the format at all, the meta is abysmally stagnant. There had been a lot of huff and gruff about Standard being a three-deck format, and now it has devolved to two decks that take up over 60% of the meta, with a sprinkling of other lists. Looking at MTGGoldfish’s meta page, Mardu Vehicles sits at a little over 37% of the meta, with Four-Color Saheeli at a bit over 25%. For anyone that doesn’t like one-mana 3/2s or turn-four combo decks, the format is insanely stale. Anecdotal evidence is saying that FNM attendance is dropping, but I would take that with a grain of salt. The last time we had the format this bad, Frontier was able to propel itself in the community. And with the no-ban announcement meaning no sign for the format to change, people will be looking for other places to use their time and Magic cards. If Amonkhet does not provide the true answers the format needs—for example, cards that Frontier has like [[Phrexian Revoker]], [[Kolaghan’s Command]], or [[Tormod’s Crypt]]—it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more people jump on board with Frontier.

Wrap Up

Reddit tells me that the format isn’t dead at the local level, and the pieces are falling into place for the Frontier to take off soon. I’m not parting with my decks or cards just yet, but we may have to wait for the big tournaments that I would like. If Frontier continues to grow as a format, the future looks to only get bigger. If you are in the Dallas area and want somewhere to play Frontier, let me know. If you have any questions or want a specific deck or topic covered next week, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @MattPlaysMagic!

Dillon Matthew Baca, "Matt", is a Magic: the Gathering Judge, Modern grinder, and the president of MTGDreamTeam. He has been playing Magic on-and-off since Onslaught, joining the competitive scene in Innistrad Block. Matt enjoys brewing control shells and toolbox midrange lists. "Why win the game when I can draw more cards?"


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