After 2018 Nationals, the Top 8 remains a smorgasbord of counterspells, removal and remnants of Energy shenanigans. There isn’t a lot of diversity with Dimir Midrange, Blue control variants and RDW concepts dominating the board. Despite its similarities with the Dimir decks, the Jeskai control deck has some fun play in it. The most common cards I’m seeing are Torrential Gearhulk, Champion of Wits and Scarab God in the control and midrange decks, and the usual suspects in the two RDW decks. And I say two, because the Rakdos Aggro deck is a glorified RDW splashed with some black for Unlicensed Disintegration. So…where’s green? Is it making it in other circuits?
In the current meta, green is often too slow to survive RDW and lacks the answers to compete with control right now. In other high-rank tournaments, RDW has a stronger hold on the meta than the Dimir Midrange/control, but Green is still nowhere to be found in the Top 8 of those tournaments.
However, mono-green aggro has found some footing in some smaller tournaments. The staples are almost universal: Ghalta, Rhonas, Llanowar Elves, Greenbelt Rampager, Steel Leaf Champion, Thrashing Brontodon, and of course Blossoming Defense. Thrashing Brontodon remains one of the most effective artifact/enchantment removals in Standard right now and Blossoming Defense is the strongest answer green has for control at the moment without some splashing.
Ghalta is a card I was hoping, and partially expecting, to see hit some Standard decks because of its potential in midrange aggro in the right deck. Ghalta has found a place in the stompy decks as the finisher, with Steel Leaf and Rhonas leading the charge. I’m curious to see if Ghalta can hold off Gigantosaurus. I recently got into a friendly argument at my LGS over Ghalta’s superiority over Gigantosaurus solely for its Trample. The likelihood of Gigantosaurus needing more turns to be effective due to chump blocking outweighs its 5cmc advantage over Ghalta, in my opinion.
Color splashing isn’t as common as I thought it’d be for green, at least for the decks I saw. Some people appeared to splash black to keep the commonly seen Scrapheap Scrounger fully effective, and others tried to mix in some of that red aggro for a Gruul combo that didn’t look to be reliable. Overall, it’s solely committing to green or not at all.
As Kaladesh cycles out, it will be interesting to see what fills the void of the remaining Energy. It doesn’t seem likely that green will gain a foothold with all of the counterspells and removal that will remain, but perhaps there will be some answers soon to give green some love.