This Week in Legacy — SCG Worcester


Howdy folks, it's Joe again and we're back with another weekly dose of Legacy content. This week we're going to be talking about the metagame of SCG Worcester!

The Legacy metagame has been a hot topic of discussion as of late thanks to the results of SCG Worcester, so we'll also discuss what that means for the format going forward as well as my own thoughts on it.

The Metagame of SCG Worcester

Let's start this off by taking a brief look at the metagame for this event in the Top 32.

Obviously, we have to point out the real elephant in the room: Grixis Delver. With 11 decks, the deck is 34.375% of the Top 32. This at first feels pretty massive, and the bar chart above certainly makes it feel like it is.

Let's take a further look at the Top 8.

Of the Top 8 lists, half of the decks there were Grixis Delver. At the end of the weekend, it was (surprise, surprise) Grixis Delver that took down the whole thing, with Drake Sasser as its pilot.

Grixis Delver — Drake Sasser | 1st Place SCG Worcester Open 3/3/2018

Creatures (15)
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Gurmag Angler
2 True-Name Nemesis
3 Young Pyromancer

Instants/Sorceries (27)
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
1 Forked Bolt
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Ponder
2 Spell Pierce

Lands (18)
4 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland

Sideboard (15)
1 Abrade
2 Cabal Therapy
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Dismember
2 Flusterstorm
2 Marsh Casualties
2 Price of Progress
2 Pyroblast
2 Surgical Extraction

For the most partbesides a small amount of variance between maindeck and sideboardall four of the Grixis Delver lists in the Top 8 looked pretty much the same. In fact, many of the other seven lists in the Top 32 share most of the same maindeck formula as Drake's deck, which in turn is considered primarily stock as based on Bob Huang's innovations into the deck's design.

A Healthy Metagame?

The results of SCG Worcester have been increasingly polarizing to the Legacy community. Many have argued that Grixis Delver is beginning to show the very same amount of meta percentage that Miracles did in its heyday as the "best deck" and that alone is a sheer reason for concern. Others have argued that the deck is not as oppressive but very well tuned and that it's fine to have such an interactive deck as the de facto "best deck" of the format.

Of course, logically this discussion ends up turning into talking about banningseverything from Deathrite Shaman, Brainstorm, Delver, Gitaxian Probe, and even some people advocating banning Gurmag Angler of all cards!

For me personally, I'm of the mind that we should wait and see. I know this approach was what allowed Miracles to thrive for as long as it did in the top spot, but the Legacy metagame typically moves at a much slower pace than formats like Modern or Standard does, so it's important to not take one piece of data as pure truth. We need to watch the trends and go from there with more data. Oftentimes, the very nature of a StarCityGames event tends to lead to people piloting the "best deck" because of the wish to grind the SCG circuit and being on the best deck provides the best chance to do so. We don't really know that this is the case yet; others still point to other markets such as Europe and Japan as indications that this is something primarily tied to SCG events, but is that because Europe and Japan have different expectations of the format and aren't playing the definitive best deck?

It's unknown still, obviously. Without more data, we can't begin to put together a real pattern. It hasn't even been a year yet since Sensei's Divining Top was banned, and we're having serious discussions about banning a 5/5 creature. I think we need to pull it back a little and let Legacy do what Legacy has always done: Adapt.

That being said, I've always been a solid advocate for the removal of Gitaxian Probe from the format, but that's mainly based on my dislike of Phyrexian Mana spells that generate free advantage/information more than anything. I don't think the card adds anything positive to the format (just like it didn't for Modern), but I'm willing to wait and see if it does become a problem down the line.

Is it fine if there's a "Best Deck"?

This question has come up a lot, and I feel it does need to be addressed. In any format, there's obviously going to be what is considered to be the "best deck." There's no way around thisit's just how we as humans perceive things to be. But there are two kinds of best decks: There are best decks that are strong but are relegated to pilot skill to make them good, and then there are decks that are clearly so strong and linear that pilot skill makes them exceptionally good.

Miracles was the latter, I feel. Despite being a very interactive control deck, its game plan was exceptionally linear in its nature, as the act of establishing Counter–Top lock was primary to its plan of attack.

Grixis Delver, however, feels much more like the former. The deck is incredibly fair and wins primarily on the back of creature combat, but it's also interactive and fun to navigate games with. It's powerful and has enough of a skill ceiling that there's always ways to improve with it.

I think Grixis is fine as the de facto best deck of the format. There's a lot to it, and I think we should be asking ourselves how we can evolve to ensure it doesn't end up like Miracles.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we've got this week folks! I'd be happy to talk to you all and find out what else you'd like to see in my article. In a few weeks here I'll be at Star City Games Cincinnati as part of their Team Trios Constructed Open, along with a few others as we head into battle and representing Team Strictly Average. I'm playing in the Legacy seat, and I'm super excited for this event.

Catch you kids on the flip side!

Joseph Dyer (@volrathxp) is an avid Legacy enthusiast. He's admin of the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit, as well as a regular participant on the Source and MTGLegacy subreddits. His knowledge of the Legacy format is deeply rooted in constant analysis, playtesting, and lots of discussion of the format. Joseph's primary accomplishments include a 10–5 finish at GP Columbus 2016 with Rhino Fit, and a 32nd place finish at a SCG Columbus Legacy Classic with Sneak Fit. 

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