The 32 players competing in this weekend’s Magic: The Gathering 2020 Grand Finals are entering their first post-Uro Standard and Historic tournament facing the decision on whether to play Four-Color Omnath or attempt to break the metagame.
Since the release of Zendikar Rising in September, Omnath, Locus of Creation has dominated Standard and established a strong position in Historic. Both formats are featured in the 2020 Grand Finals tournament, which takes place from Oct. 9 to 11 on the Magic esports Twitch channel. Many players have already announced their decklists ahead of the tournament.
It should come as no surprise that most of the field is playing a deck featuring Omnath. Omnath primarily finds itself in two decks that dominate standard in Omnath Ramp and Four-Color Adventures.
Omnath Ramp is a pretty straightforward ramp strategy that looks to power out Omnath on turn three with the help of Lotus Cobra. Once Omnath is out, the synergy between it and Cobra’s landfall triggers lead to explosive turns with Genesis Ultimatum and Escape to the Wilds that overrun the opponent with value. Terror of the Peaks also established itself as a strong finisher in the deck.
Post-sideboard Omnath Ramp can shift gameplans by bringing in Felidar Retreat to go wide with creature tokens. This deck is not without its weaknesses, however. Omnath is a powerful card that enables explosive turns and provides staying power against aggro decks. Omnath is also the only real consistent win condition in the deck. Genesis Ultimatum, Kenrith, the Returned King, and Terror of the Peaks each become weaker when Omnath isn’t able to stick on the board. Aggro strategies like Gruul Aggro and Dimir Rogues can deal with Lotus Cobra early, slowing down Omnath Ramp enough to potentially secure the hasty victory.
These limitations are why Omnath Ramp is the weaker of the two Omnath variations. Four-Color Adventures provides all the power of the traditional Omnath strategy while clearing up the weaknesses.
Four-Color Adventures is essentially Temur Adventures, another strong deck in Standard, but splashing white to play Omnath. Four-Color Adventures doesn’t rely on Omnath to win games but uses Omnath as another win condition alongside its other powerful engines Lucky Clover and Edgewall Innkeeper. With multiple value engines and win conditions, Four-Color Adventures never runs out of things to do. Fae of Wishes continues to be an all-star in Adventures strategies. The ability to find a silver bullet in the sideboard makes Four-Color Adventures great in game-one situations. Facing Rogues? Find a Storms Wrath or Blazing Volley to clear the board. Have to deal with an opposing Omnath in the mirror? Red Cap Melee or a well-timed counterspell can deal with that.
Four-Color Adventures is the dominant deck in Standard, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other viable strategies.
Dimir Rogues is a standout non-Omnath deck. The ladder powerhouse is an aggro strategy with a mill subtheme. Thieves’ Guild Enforcer and Soaring Thought-Thief are threats that must be respected and if left unchecked can finish the game. It’s important to mill the opponent for eight to boost the team and strengthen Drown in the Loch. If Dimir Rogues gets a slow draw and can’t effectively mill the opponent the deck doesn’t have comeback potential, especially against Omnath.
2020 Mythic Invitational top-eight finalist Luis Salvatto is bringing Gruul Aggro to the Grand Finals. Aside from the classics like Bonecrusher Giant, Stonecoil Serpent, and Lovestruck Beast, the Zendikar Rising version of Gruul Aggro is different from its recent variations. The once-dominant Questing Beast sees no play now because of a poor matchup against Omnath decks. Brushfire Elemental and Kazandu Mammoth made their way into Salvatto’s list. Both cards get significantly stronger when landfall is triggered. Brushfire Elemental acts like a Questing Beast in the sense that it can’t be chump blocked. Gemrazer gives Salvatto a main-deck way to deal with Lucky Clover.
Historic is much of the same with Omnath dominating the format based on early decklists revealed by pros. Historic Four-Color Omnath isn’t muich different than the Standard version. It still looks to create overwhelming value with Genesis Ultimatum and Omnath. The Historic variation has access to Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath which is a huge boon for the deck. Many lists also play one or two copies of Yasharn, Implacable Earth which is a strong counter against sacrifice-based strategies.
Interestingly, Mono-Red Goblins has fallen completely out of favor in the metagame. So far, only Chris Palmiotti is playing the deck that was the list to beat in the 2020 Mythic Invitational. Jund Sacrifice is also a strategy that put up a strong performance last month but is nowhere to be seen in the Grand Finals.
Full decklists for each player will be published at the beginning of round one on Oct. 9.