With the Qualifier Play-Ins fast approaching and the October Qualifier Weekend being Standard, and now is a great time to understand the meta of Wilds of Eldraine Standard if you want a chance at playing in the Qualifier Weekend and Arena Championship.
Qualifier Play-Ins: What You Need to Know
The MTG Arena Qualifier Play-In is a monthly event where players can earn entry to the Qualifier Weekend. There are two Qualifier Play-Ins per month, a Saturday and a Friday Play-In. The Saturday event is a Best-of-One and the Friday Event is a Best-of-Three. After completing the required amount of wins in either event the player is then eligible to play in the Qualifier Week-end that month.
According to an article by Wizards you must be 18 years old and have the required entry cost (20,000 gold, 4,000 gems, or 20 Play-In points) in order to play in a Qualifier Play-In. Play-In points can be won via being rank 251-1200 on either Ranked Ladder and winning Arena events. Multiple Entries are allowed, but you can only earn entry into one Qualifier Weekend from each Play-In.
Oct 14th Saturday Play-In
This Saturday will be the first Play-In for the month of October. The event will start at 6 a.m. PDT on October 14th and will close at 8 a.m. Sunday the 15th. It will be Standard Best-of-One and to get invited to the Qualifier weekend you have to get 6 wins before 2 losses. For each win there is also a scaling amount of gems as a reward, with the event paying for itself at 4 wins.
- 6 Wins: 6000 Gems + this months Qualifier Weekend Token
- 5 Wins: 6000 Gems
- 4 Wins: 4500 Gems
- 3 Wins: 3000 Gems
- 2 Wins: 1500 Gems
- 1 Win: 1000 Gems
- 0 Wins: 500 Gems
Oct 20th Friday Play-In
The second Qualifier Play-In this month will be Standard Best-of-Three, starting on the 20th at 6 a.m. PDT and ending on the 21st at 3 a.m. To earn the Qualifier Weekend token you have to get 4 wins before 1 loss, with rewards scaling per win. At two wins the event pays for itself.
- 4 Wins: 6000 Gems + this months Qualifier Weekend Token
- 3 Wins: 6000 Gems
- 2 Wins: 4500 Gems
- 1 Win: 2000 Gems
- 0 Wins: 500 Gems
Standard Meta Review: What to Expect
Unlike its predecessor, the Wilds of Eldraine Standard is fairly diverse, with the most popular deck, Domain Ramp, only owning 11% of the field (All statistics from MTG Meta). In order the most popular decks with their percent of the field are:
- Domain Ramp (11.1%)
- Mono-Red Aggro (10.75%)
- Dimir Midrange (8.47%)
- Mono-Black Midrange (6.49%)
- Azorious Soldiers (6.23%)
There are also several slower, powerful Blue-White based builds available, like Esper control, Esper midrange, Esper legends, and Jeskai Dragons. If the numbers from MTG Meta stay accurate into the Qualifier Play-Ins then you should expect to see a reasonably diverse field (unlike Throne of Eldraine) with a good blend of fast and slow decks. Keep in mind these numbers are being pulled from Arena tournaments and are biased to Best-of-Three; Best-of-One will naturally favor more aggressive and robust strategies.
Best Performing Decks
According the MTG Meta the top four best performing decks in the current Standard format are:
- Jeskai Dragons (58.95% win-rate, 0.85% of field - there are not as many games for this deck as the others)
- Mono-Black Midrange (58.34% win-rate, 6.49% of field)
- Domain Ramp (57.36% win-rate, 11.1% of field)
- Esper Midrange (57.02% win-rate, 5.36% of field)
It wouldn't hurt to be prepared to play against these decks going into either Qualifier Play-In as they are likely to be prevalent. Decklists for these decks and other common decks can be found on MTG Meta.
If you are wanting to save wildcards for the upcoming tournament then I would consider Mono-White Aggro at 3 mythics and 27 rares, and Azorious Soldiers at 0 mythics and 33 rares, for both events (click the links for decklists). Both are good, aggressive decks which aim to win early against their opponent and dodge most serious interaction. However, Mono-White Aggro is a faster deck then Azorious Soldiers, but Azorious Soldiers offers more interaction. Mono-Red Aggro at 10 mythics and 18 rares, is a good third option if you don't want to play White; however it is weaker against decks that can sideboard in interaction requires much more mythic wildcards.
These aren't the cheapest decks you can play, but they are good picks in the current meta especially in Best-of-One. My pick would be Azorious Soldiers, because in Best-of-Three you have good sideboard options and in Best-of-One you have interaction against removal, however all of these decks are very good and can punish an opponent if they aren't prepared.
Best of One vs. Best of Three: Meta Differences
Because of the lack of sideboard in Best-of-One, it is a much more aggressive and sometimes much more janky format then Best-of-Three. Sideboards allow you to build niche answers into your deck without sacrificing its general performance, meaning in Best-of-Three it is much easier to counter niche or fast strategies without sacrificing your overall deck quality. Because Best-of-One lacks a sideboard aggressive and niche decks tend to do much better than in Best-of-Three as many slower decks use the sideboard to counter specific strategies. However this isn't to say that slower decks aren't good in Best-of-One.
There are some noticeable differences in the two formats, the big one being that Mono-White Aggro, Mono-Red Aggro, Azorious Soldiers, and Blue Tempo are much better decks in Best-of-One than they are in Best-of-Three. Knowing how to counter these decks without a sideboard and game two will be critical if you want to do well this Saturday. Decklists for Best-of-Three decks will also change for Best-of-One, so if you mainly play one format over the other than be prepared to modify your deck before the Qualifier Play-In.
Good luck if you are planning on playing in the event this Saturday or next Friday, having a gameplan for your deck and how it will play against various strategies will help you in both deckbuilding and playing, and hopefully this article served as a springboard into further research and an overview into what opponents you might face. In conclusion I want to quote arguably the most over quoted author in the history of the internet: "If you know your enemy and know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred [games of Magic the Gathering]" - Sun Tzu (brackets are mine).