The recent bans of Oko, Thief of Crowns, Once Upon a Time, and Veil of Summer have revitalized Standard and brought the metagame into better balance again. Soon, we'll get to see the format in action at Mythic Championship VII which pits together 32 Magic Pro League (MPL) members and 35 Challengers from around the world—all playing on MTG Arena for a total prize pool of $750,000. This three day tournament will start on Friday, December 6 and all rounds will be streamed live on Twitch.tv/magic.
The field is set, with all 67 competitors' decklists available for you to review. Below, you can find the metagame breakdown, and an overview of the most-played cards and the decklists of MPL players already locked for Day Two. Let's start with the metagame.
The Metagame Breakdown
The above graphic lists all archetypes that were registered by three or more players. Together, they make up 86.6% of the metagame. While Jund Sacrifice was the most popular choice among MPL members, Jeskai Fires was the most popular deck overall. As a sample list, here is what Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa, the runner-up at the last Mythic Championship, submitted.
As a general introduction to the format, below you can find a quick summary and analysis for all archetypes that registered by three or more players.
Jeskai Fires – 17.9% The idea of this deck is to stabilize with Deafening Clarion on turn three, get ahead with Fires of Invention on turn four, and cast Cavalier of Flame plus Cavalier of Gales (with mana up to give them haste) on turn five.
Without Oko, Thief of Crowns to turn Cavaliers into Elks this strategy got a lot better, so all Jeskai Fires players relied on Cavaliers as their main win conditions. No one used Sarkhan the Masterless, and only two Jeskai Fires players registered Fae of Wishes. All twelve Jeskai Fires players did include Sphinx of Foresight, which is a departure from the previous Mythic Championship. At that event, there were only two copies of Sphinx of Foresight among all decklists, but after Grzegorz Kowalski showed how Sphinx of Foresight increases the consistency of finding Fires of Invention, it has become a standard inclusion.
Jund Sacrifice – 13.4% The synergies in this deck are driven by the sacrifice engine of Witch's Oven and Cauldron Familiar.
This two-card combo can trigger Mayhem Devil and Trail of Crumbs, generating incremental advantages turn after turn. Jund Sacrifice decks further reinforce the Food theme with Gilded Goose, and in this archetype, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is close to a 7/7 flier that draws three cards the turn it comes down.
Golgari Adventure – 11.9% Golgari Adventure players exploit Edgewall Innkeeper alongside black adventure cards like Foulmire Knight and Murderous Rider.
There is quite a bit of variety among the decks: Four players (Ally Warfield, Autumn Burchett, Mimi Arthur, and Reid Duke) had builds with Lucky Clover and Beanstalk Giant, two players (Chris Kvartek and Jordan Cairns) were planning to curve Rotting Regisaur into The Great Henge, and two players (Allison Maino and Isaak Krut) had more midrange elements.
Golgari Sacrifice – 10.4% This deck has the same core as Jund Sacrifice, but it eschews Mayhem Devil in return for a better mana base. In slots that would otherwise be taken by red cards, most Golgari versions run additional copies of Casualties of War, Murderous Rider, Midnight Reaper, Massacre Girl, and/or Vraska, Golgari Queen. Casualties of War in particular got much better now that Veil of Summer is no longer legal.
Izzet Flash – 9.0% Brineborn Cutthroat can get out of hand quickly when you're casting Ionizes and Ral's Outbursts. Izzet Flash can also exploit Gadwick, the Wizened in conjunction with Brazen Borrower.
When you cast both Petty Theft and Brazen Borrower on the opponent's turn and tap down two of their creatures in the process, it becomes easy to win any damage race.
Simic Flash – 6.0% Playing against Izzet Flash is already difficult, but deciding how to play against Simic Flash may be even more complicated because you never know whether your opponent is keeping mana up for Nightpack Ambusher, Frilled Mystic, or both.
Somewhat surprisingly, only one of the four Simic Flash players chose to include Brineborn Cutthroat and no one included Unsummon, Spectral Sailor, or Wildborn Preserver. Instead, everyone brought Growth Spiral and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Given that, you may also refer to these decks as "Simic Flash Ramp".
Rakdos Sacrifice – 4.5% Along with Ovens, Cats, and Devils, this deck can exploit the powerful combo of Priest of Forgotten Gods and Claim the Firstborn, which can devastate opposing battlefields out of nowhere.
Out of the three Rakdos Sacrifice players, Teruya Kakumae has the most unique and most aggressive build, as he rounded out his list with Stormfist Crusader, Rix Maadi Reveler, and Rankle, Master of Pranks.
Temur Reclamation – 4.5% This archetype has been around since Ravnica Allegiance. The main idea is to use the mana from Wilderness Reclamation to fuel enormous, game-winning Explosions in your own end step.
Simic Ramp – 4.5% I could have just as well labeled this archetype as "Simic Elementals" because all versions use Risen Reef, Leafkin Druid, and Cavalier of Thorns.
A particularly sweet interaction is to mill Quasiduplicate with Cavalier of Thorns. But the reason why I chose Simic Ramp as the deck name is that everyone had ten or more mana ramp spells and had Nissa, Who Shakes the World plus Hydroid Krasis as ramp payoffs.
Azorius Control – 4.5% This deck says no to spells with Absorb, no to permanents with Planar Cleansing, and eventually wins by attacking with Brazen Borrower and/or Gadwick, the Wizened. Of note is that Planar Cleansing was favored over Time Wipe as the main sweeper effect.
This makes a lot of sense when Trail of Crumbs and Fires of Invention are the two main engine cards in Standard, so simply sweeping creatures is not enough. You might think of Planar Cleansing as the white Casualties of War.
The above graphic lists all archetypes that were registered by one player or two players. Together, they make up 13.4% of the metagame and inject some extra spice into the competitive Standard metagame.
Five-color Fires – 3.0% Fires of Invention not only provides a powerful mana boost but also ignore any colored mana requirements. When you can use Fires of Invention as a mana fixer, why not play all five colors? That's exactly what Shota Yasooka and Ken Yukuhiro deck. Yasooka registered a list with Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, while Yukuhiro relied on Niv-Mizzet Reborn. In any case, both of them will be able to activate all five abilities of Kenrith, the Returned King.
Sultai Ramp – 3.0% Daniel Vega and Luis Salvatto brought a deck that may be best described as Simic Ramp with a black splash for Casualties of War. It may seem extreme to splash a double-colored card, but when Trail of Crumbs and Fires of Invention are everywhere and battlefields can get clogged up with all permanent types, then Casualties of War is the perfect answer to the format. To fix their mana, their Sultai Ramp list relies on Circuitous Route.
Temur Adventure – 1.5% Jean-Emmanuel Depraz may have been feeling lucky, as he put his faith in Lucky Clover. The artifact enables busted starts like double Fertile Footsteps followed by either double Stomp or double Petty Theft, all on turn three.
Escape to the Wilds and Hydroid Krasis can keep the adventure train rolling, and Depraz can pull off stylish wins by making a big Bonestalk Giant and then using Fae of Wishes to grab a lethal Fling from his sideboard.
Gruul Adventure – 1.5% Esther Trujillo is using the Edgewall Innkeepers and Embercleaves that her compatriot Javier Dominguez found success with at Mythic Championship VI. The loss of Once Upon a Time greatly hurt the colored mana consistency of the deck, necessitating the inclusion of Paradise Druid to compensate, but the strategy is still powerful and capable of aggressive starts.
Rakdos Fires – 1.5% John Rolf registered one of the sweetest brews at Mythic Championship VII. His deck, designed by Ben Weitz, is an amalgamation of a sacrifice package (Witch's Oven, Cauldron Familiar, Mayhem Devil, and Midnight Reaper) and a Fires package (Fires of Invention, Cavalier of Flame, and God-Eternal Bontu).
This enables gorgeous, game-ending cross-synergies, either by sacrificing Cavalier of Flame to Witch's Oven or by combining God-Eternal Bontu with Mayhem Devil. In both cases, you might one-shot your opponent out of nowhere. Finally, the inclusion of Steam Vents in a red-black deck just to enable Covetous Urge is a stroke of genius. Rolf's deck is simply awesome.
Esper Control – 1.5% Alexander Hayne must have felt that the ban of Veil of Summer opened up Thought Erasure and Dovin's Veto once more, so he registered these spells in an Esper Control shell.
His list has no Kaya's Wrath, instead relying more on spot removal. His end-game is Bolas's Citadel, which allows him to spend life instead of mana, and Kenrith, the Returned King, which allows him to spend mana to gain life. This combo will quickly drown the opponent in raw card advantage.
Jund Fires – 1.5% Elizabeth Rice combined Fires of Invention with Casualties of War. Bond of Flourishing helps find the enchantment, while Cry of the Carnarium cleanly answers Cauldron Familiar and Midnight Reaper.
But the dream will be to cast double Casualties of War to destroy ten permanents in a single turn.
The Most-Played Cards
The following table provides an overview of the 30 most-played cards among all 67 decklists.
|Casualties of War||80||12||92|
|Temple of Epiphany||78||78|
|Teferi, Time Raveler||71||1||72|
|Fires of Invention||64||64|
|Trail of Crumbs||64||64|
|Cavalier of Flame||55||55|
Some interesting things of note:
- White is not popular, as there are far fewer Plains than any other basic land. (There are only 28 Plains among all submitted decklists.) Fabled Passage is the most-played non-basic land.
- Mystical Dispute is the most-played non-land card, even though it's mostly a sideboard card. One-mana interaction is always valuable. This is also the reason why Duress is the second-most played sideboard card.
- Casualties of War is the most-played card among main decks, underlining its power in the current format. Mythic Championship competitors can dream of the quintuple destruction of Witch's Oven, Mayhem Devil, Trail of Crumbs, Castle Locthwain, and Vraska, Golgari Queen. Blowing up Teferi, Time Raveler, Fires of Invention, Cavalier of Flame, and Castle Vantress is just about as good. The card is well-positioned right now.
- Teferi, Time Raveler is once again seeing a lot of play, which may make things difficult for the Temur Reclamation players.
- Bonecrusher Giant is the second most-played card among main decks, so get ready for some astonishing plays this weekend. For example, did you know that a Shifting Ceratops that blocks a 4/3 Brineborn Cutthroat will die when Stomp annuls damage prevention? We might also see a player Stomp their own creature to counter an opponent's Stomp, denying the opponent the ability to cast Bonecrusher Giant later.
The Day Two Decks
Four MPL Split winners have already locked up their slot in Day 2. You can find their decklists below.
It's noteworthy that both Márcio Carvalho and Piotr Głogowski opted for Jund Sacrifice. While their builds have essentially the same core, they chose different cards to fill out their decks. Carvalho put in a few Thrashing Brontodon, Wicked Wolf, and District Guide, which is a more common approach among Jund Sacrifice players.
Głogowski has a bit more of an outlier build with Murderous Rider, Beanstalk Giant, and Massacre Girl. These differences might appear small, but they have a huge effect on what you might be able to find with Trail of Crumbs when the sacrifice engine starts rolling.
Absent: Aggro Decks
Surprisingly, no one registered Rakdos Knights or Mono-Red. In fact, there is only only competitor who registered main deck Embercleave. Esther Trujillo, a member of the Spanish team that won Grand Prix Ghent 2019, is carrying the torch for aggro fans decks across the globe. And I believe that she did it with the right deck.
Generally speaking, aggro players are in a tough spot right now because early creature rushes are weak to Deafening Clarion, because large creatures keep getting chump blocked by Cauldron Familiar, and because Food tokens make it difficult to close out games with burn spells. But Gruul Spellbreaker, Questing Beast, and Embercleave all dodge Deafening Clarion while trampling over Cauldron Familiar, so Gruul has the right tools to cleave through the format.
As a personal fan of Embercleave strategies, I'll be rooting for Esther. But no matter whether you like aggro, midrange, or control, there is something for everyone in the competitive Standard format, and I can't wait who will climb to the top of the standings. The Mythic Championship VII livestream will start live from Long Beach at 9 a.m. PST (12 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. UTC) on Friday, December 6 at Twitch.tv/magic. In the meantime, be sure to check out all 67 decklists and find your champion.