With less than a month before Core Set 2020 releases, this may be the last time that Esper Control reigns supreme in MTG Arena. Looking through the meta statistics on MTGGoldfish for both the Standard format and MTG Arena format, four decks stand above others. If you’ve been playing online the past few months than the Tier One decks should come as no surprise. Thankfully, there is a little more variety with the Tier Two decks, some of which may become more prominent following Core Set 2020’s introduction.
Remember, just because a deck is labeled as Tier One or Two doesn’t mean that’s all you should play. Some of the best matches come from wild, unorthodox decks. These are simply what a lot of people are playing and subsequently winning with.
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The bane of many player’s MTG Arena experience, Esper Control has been a comically dominant force since the printing of Tefari, Hero of Dominaria. Revolving around keeping the board clear of threats so your planeswalkers can take control of the game, this deck is exceptionally dangerous. Backed by powerful creatures such as Thief of Sanity, Bascillia Bell-Haunt, and Hero of Precinct One, it’s quite easy to overpower most decks in the format. Esper Control’s sheer amount of card advantage and removal options is second to none. There’s a reason it’s the top dog in MTG Arena.
A personal favorite, Mono-Red Aggro is about killing your opponent before they even have a chance to establish their board. Full of low-cost creatures and potent burn spells, this deck can go from 0 to 100 in a single turn. Cards like Ghitu Lavamancer, Fanatical Firebrand, and Legion Warboss can apply pressure early on. Throw in a few Shocks, Lightning Strikes, and Skewer the Critics to shatter your opponent’s life total. While this deck can run out of steam quickly, Mono-Red Aggro’s sheer speed and volatility make it a tier one contender.
Looking for a nice mix between control and aggro decks? Sultai Mid-Range focuses on deploying strong threats that only become stronger as the match progresses. Wildgrowth Walker pairs perfectly with Jadelight Ranger making it a persistent early and late game threat. Hydroid Krasis is a tenacious card that allows you to pull ahead of your opponent in one turn. Command the Dreadhorde is a terrific late game spell and your diverse planeswalker suite offers this deck a lot of flexibility. Fantastic against most aggressive decks in the meta, Sultai Mid-Range is all about squeezing value out of your cards.
If you are looking for a slightly more controlling aggro deck than Mono-Blue Tempo is for you. Even though this deck is about deploying a ton of cheap, early game creatures, the way it goes about combat is completely different. Instead of just burning your foe’s monsters, Mono-Blue Tempo is filled with tricks to bounce, evade, and counter any threats. Merfolk Trickster and Exclusion Mage give your creatures an opening, while Faerie Dualist makes blocking a nightmare. Pteramander can get comically powerful if left unchecked and the deck runs over 8 counterspells. Unless you have ways to deal with the constant flow of creatures, Mono-Blue Tempo can easily run away with the match.
These are the decks that are great but not format warping. Izzet Pheonix is one deck that hasn’t taken flight on MTG Arena despite being a powerhouse in the paper version. There are a few variations floating around, some with black, but the general strategy of beating a foe to death with big lightning birds remains the same. Another curious, but fun deck is Four-Color Gates. Built around the Ravnica Guildgates, this deck seeks to deploy obscenely impactful cards like Gate Colossus and Gatebreaker Ram. Wholly unique, this deck is wildly entertaining to pilot and should do well after the fall rotation.
One deck that will most likely vanish in the fall is Grixis Control. Despite lacking the consistency found in Esper, Grixis Control is by the numbers deck that boasts some great creatures and removal spells. A slightly more aggressive version of its control counterpart, Esper Midrange can be quite deadly in the right match-ups. It has a fantastic creature package that boasts a lot of versatility in and out of combat.
Prediction for July
Core Set 2020 is introducing a ton of great cards, but one that isn’t getting enough attention is Goblin Ringleader. Capable of digging four cards deep, this critter can give a Goblin tribal deck needed momentum. Fanatical Firebrand, Skirk Prospector, and Goblin Banneret are terrific one drops that can become problematic. Ember Hauler and Goblin Instigator fill the two drop slot. Goblin Chainwhirler, Legion Warboss, and Goblin Warchief build upon our aggressive foundation.
Rounding the deck out is Goblin Trashmaster to pump up our creatures, Goblin Ringleader to help fill our hand, and Siege-Gang Commander to round out our curve. Even though the deck will lose a lot of utility in the fall, we suspect that there is a powerful deck just waiting to be brewed between now and the next big expansion’s release date. Besides, who doesn’t want to put Esper Control in its place with a bunch of feisty goblins?