We began Mythic Championship VI with almost 500 players, several key races waiting to play out, and a Standard format full of Oko, Thief of Crowns with players trying to avoid being turned into Elks. We ended Sunday evening with a Mythic Champion as Ondřej Stráský turned a historic comeback over Hall of Fame member and MPL player Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa into a finals victory.
Here are the biggest takeaways from an exciting Sunday in Richmond.
All About the Finals
Damo da Rosa and Stráský battled their way through two Throne of Eldraine drafts and ten rounds of Standard on their way to the Top 8. Once there, they put on a Simic Food clinic with their crash course carrying all the way through to the finals. Both were playing Simic Food, and both had leveraged the deck's strength all through the weekend. While the Sultai Food builds sought to maximize their value by including cards good in the mirror, the Simic Food decks were as explosive as possible, maximizing tempo with Brazen Borrower and instead leaning on the absurd power of Mass Manipulation in the late game and the mirror, especially when it was powered out by Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
Damo da Rosa began things with a tight match against fellow Magic Pro League member Andrew Cuneo, who was one of the two players not playing a Food deck in the Top 8. All of Damo da Rosa's matches went the distance—he beat Cuneo in five games, his semifinals opponent Sebastian Pozzo in five more games, and the finals would go the distance to five games as well.
Stráský knocked off Louis-Samuel Deltour in the quarterfinals before dispatching Oscar Christensen to secure his berth in the finals. He had proved his mastery at the Food mirrors all weekend, and had one final test in front of him. It was a climatic step for the 24-year-old who just over a year earlier was ready to retire from professional Magic. He famously went on to make the Top 8 at Grand Prix Prague and reinvigorate his career, bringing him back to the Mythic Championship circuit and, eventually, here to Richmond.
Now he was battling for the title of Mythic Champion.
The first two games went quickly and according to plan. Damo da Rosa assembled Gilded Goose and Oko, Thief of Crowns in the first game to pump out a 3/3 Elk every turn and bash Stráský to death in the opener.
"And we're off," Stráský quipped to the two-time Mythic Champion as they shuffled up their cards for the second game. "Lucky Paulo," he added with a grin.
"That's what they call me," the Hall of Famer replied.
Stráský struck back in the second game, putting together the perfect start with a third turn Nissa, Who Sakes the World which dodged a possible Aether Gust, and ended the game just a few turns later to knot things up at one game apiece.
Damo da Rosa fought back to take the third game, and before long he had built a lead in what could have been the deciding fourth game. With planeswalkers, a lead in mana and in life, the Hall of Famer was just a turn or two away from hoisting the trophy.
Stráský was even planning out his congratulatory handshake. Then began one of the best comebacks in Mythic Championship history.
"I stopped myself and said 'You're playing the Mythic Championship and still have a chance.'" Stráský said. "I planned out what I needed to happen to win the game. I would play Nissa to get back into the game, and then have Veil of Summer for when he cast Mass Manipulation."
And that's exactly what happened.
That gave the Czech new life, and a few turns later he had completed one of the most improbable comebacks in Top 8 history to force a fifth and deciding game.
Mass Manipulation is one spooky card 👻👻👻— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) November 10, 2019
So spooky that @PVDDR scoops up his cards and heads to Game 5 against @OndrejStrasky in the #MythicChampionshipVI Finals
TIME FOR A DECIDING GAME 5! https://t.co/GF4H5s6srS pic.twitter.com/DZXiCWnkE0
And for that final game, Damo da Rosa had a trick up his sleeve: Questing Beast. He slammed it onto the table early, and it began to take big chunks out of Stráský's life total. But while the Beast did its work, the Brazilian could find little else to back it up.
Stráský clawed his way back into the driver's seat thanks to a timely Aether Gust. Damo da Rosa finally found a Wicked Wolf to add to the board, but once again the key Simic Food card of the weekend showed up at the perfect time.
And yet again, Mass Manipulation takes it away!@OndrejStrasky steals all of @PVDDR 's best creatures and earns his first Mythic Championship title!— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) November 10, 2019
Congratulations Ondřej! Not even Oko can steal this crown 👑#MythicChampionshipVI pic.twitter.com/pZ9piegJzD
Just like that, Stráský had done the unthinkable—gone from the brink of retirement to Mythic Champion all in the span of just one year.
The Race for Worlds and the MPL Heats Up
Mythic Championship VI had a lot more on the line for dozens of competitors. Yes, there was the not-so-small matter of the $50,000 first-place prize and the title and trophy that came with it. But with the World Championship looming in February, and only a handful of the competitors in Richmond competing at Mythic Championship VII next month, this event represented the final chance for most in the running to lock up crucial Mythic Points.
The ultra-exclusive World Championship field will be made up of the following group:
- The defending champion Javier Dominguez
- Seven earned from Mythic Championships. (In order of qualification, that means Autumn Burchett, Eli Loveman, Matias Leveratto, Thoralf Severin, and Jean-Emmanuel Depraz—whose invite passed down since Dominguez won Mythic Championship V. Now Stráský and the upcoming winner of Mythic Championship VII round out the list.)
- The Top 4 Mythic Point earners from the Magic Pro League
- The Top 4 Mythic Point earners from outside the MPL—known as Challengers
Those races came into much clearer focus with the conclusion of the tournament in Richmond. Leading the way for the MPL slots after Mythic Championship VI are Marcio Carvalho and Andrea Mengucci, while Seth Manfield, Brian Braun-Duin and Damo da Rosa are all tied in the race for the final two slots. With just one more tournament to go, this race will come to an exciting finish in Long Beach at Mythic Championship VII next month.
On the Challenger side, the players bunched at the top of the leaderboard knew the stakes at the final tabletop event of the year. Even Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy was feeling the pressure entering the tournament.
Lévy, at least, didn't fall victim to that pressure. His 11-5 finish gave him a huge lead in the Worlds race. When the dust settled in Virginia, Lévy was joined by Sebastian Pozzo, Luis Scott-Vargas and Chris Kvartek at the top of the standings, with both Gabriel Nassif and Stanislav Cifka—both of whom will be competing at Mythic Championship VII—lurking just behind.
The final race concerns the qualification slots for the partial season MPL and the newly created Rivals League, which will serve as a talent-development league next year. With four MPL spots and eight Rivals League spots up for grabs, there's a lot of room left in these races—and you can always check the current Mythic Point standings to see who's leading the way into 2020.
That's it for us in Richmond. Congratulations again to Ondřej Stráský, winner of Mythic Championship VI!