Mythic Championship I Day One Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on February 22, 2019

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the Good Luck High Five podcast and an adjunct professor at Tolarian Community College. She loves Limited, likes Modern, and dips her toes into each Standard season. She's decidedly blue and is the #1 hater of Siege Rhino in the Multiverse.

In the month since Ravnica Allegiance made waves in Standard format, a different deck has topped the standings and ruled in the court of public opinion each week. From midrange to aggro and Nexus of Fate to Crackling Drake, players had a mountain (or Island) of viable options for Mythic Championship I in Cleveland.

Here's exactly where they ended up.

Archetype Number of Players Percentage of Field
Sultai Midrange 107 21.5%
Nexus of Fate 71 14.3%
White Aggro 62 12.4%
Mono-Blue Tempo 60 12%
Esper Control 45 9%
Izzet Drakes 30 6%
Red Aggro 28 5.6%
Rakdos Midrange 18 3.6%
Selesnya Tokens 10 2%
Gruul Midrange 10 2%
Temur Reclamation 9 1.8%
Izzet Phoenix 7 1.4%
Esper Midrange 5 1%
Grixis Midrange 5 1%
Gates Midrange 4 0.8%
Mardu Aggro 4 0.8%
Abzan Angels 3 0.6%
Golgari Midrange 3 0.6%
Merfolk 3 0.6%
Simic Midrange 3 0.6%
Bant Midrange 2 0.4%
Dimir Midrange 2 0.4%
Jund Midrange 2 0.4%
Dimir Tempo 1 0.2%
Jeskai Control 1 0.2%
Jeskai Drakes 1 0.2%
Naya Midrange 1 0.2%
Orzhov Midrange 1 0.2%
Sultai Reclamation 1 0.2%

Midrange decks are the clear favorites of the weekend. Sultai Midrange usurped its cousin Golgari's spot at the top of the format. In Sultai Midrange, Hostage Taker and RNA all-star Hydroid Krasis join classic Golgari staples like Llanowar Elves, Jadelight Ranger, Vivien Reid, and Find // Finality for a deck that balances hard-hitting creatures with versatile removal spells. Access to Negate out of the sideboard doesn't hurt either.

It's a classic midrange recipe, and a handful of players have taken it in other directions. Some went Grixis to include disruption like Thought Erasure plus Nicol Bolas, the Ravager; others went into Esper (white-blue-black), Bant (green-white-blue), or Naya (red-green-white), most often so they could play Hero of Precinct One to pair with their gold cards.

Rakdos Midrange, piloted by Jody Keith, won Grand Prix Memphis last weekend. It was a stunning finish for a deck that had yet to make waves, and players took notice. With removal like Lava Coil and Cast Down, hand disruption like Kitesail Freebooter, and big threats like Rekindling Phoenix; Angrath, the Flame-Chained; and Siege-Gang Commander, the deck is poised to attack the field from a few different directions.

Next are the Nexus of Fates decks, where Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin and Wilderness Reclamation create a powerful deck engine. Simic Nexus was the preferred build by a wide margin, with 43 copies. The Simic build incorporates a few interactive spells like Frilled Mystic or Sinister Sabotage, which earlier builds of Nexus decks shied away from but have proven necessary against a growing number of counters in the field.

There were fourteen copies of the deck being called Nexus of Gates, which uses Guildgate-centric cards like Gates Ablaze and Guild Summit to keep the board clear and their hand full, plus a sprinkling of Bant and Temur builds floating around the room. Across builds, Hydroid Krasis is the preferred way to win the game in the majority of Nexus of Fates decks, though Expansion // Explosion is another popular choice.

White Aggro decks, which took Atlanta by storm at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica last November and are still thriving with the addition of Ravnica Allegiance, make up a little over twelve percent of the field. Azorius Aggro has mostly forgone Deputy of Detention in the main deck, but still packs sideboard copies of Negate and Disdainful Stroke. Flooding the board with cheap creatures and then using a counter to hold on long enough to kill the opponent is an effective game plan against control. This is the preferred White Aggro build of the tournament, beating out mono-white decks by fourteen copies.

There are also two copies of Boros Aggro. Although one includes Heroic Reinforcements as its only red in the main deck, and both pack Experimental Frenzy and Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice in their sideboards, they're still light enough on their red cards and similar enough to other builds in the tournament to fold into the White Aggro archetype.

Mono-Blue Tempo has floated around the fringes of Standard on and off for months, and now it's ready to take center stage in Cleveland. The deck has amassed popularity in the past few weeks, especially after Alexander Hayne piloted it to the #1 ranked Mythic spot in early February. The deck wants most to slap a Curious Obsession on a cheap, evasive creature and then protect it with Siren Stormtamer, Dive Down, and counters like Spell Pierce and Wizard's Retort. It's a quick clock and an overwhelming amount of card draw, and there are a lot of players who think it's the best way to run away with the weekend.

Control decks have shifted back and forth across the color pie over the past few months, with Azorius, Jeskai (blue-red-white), Izzet, and Esper builds at times leading the archetype. With the addition of Kaya's Wrath in Ravnica Allegiance, the bulk of control decks have settled into Esper colors. Black offers cheap and flexible removal in cards like Mortify, Moment of Craving, and Vraska's Contempt, blue brings card draw and counters, and, of course, Teferi lends his helping, card-drawing hand to the cause. Cry of the Carnarium is also joining the ranks of Esper Control, as players turn to it for an answer to Dauntless Bodyguard and Adanto Vanguard.

Izzet Drakes is still menacing the Standard skies. Cheap spells fuel big fliers, and these decks can often kill an unsuspecting opponent in just one or two attacks. Dive Down makes the giant Drakes difficult to contend with, and being able to protect them from a single removal spell often gives the fliers enough time to win the game. Access to Niv-Mizzet, often out of the sideboard but occasionally in the main, also provides a way to fight through control decks and their host of counter spells and removal.

Red Aggro decks aren't as popular in Cleveland as they are on MTG Arena, but they still have a respectable showing. Most are mono-red, but seven of them have access to green for Cindervines out of their sideboard, while two are Rakdos for Carnival // Carnage or Judith, the Scourge Diva. On the other hand, midrange Gruul decks are on the rise, making a home for Gruul Spellbreaker and Growth-Chamber Guardian. Gruul threats are divided between the cheap, like Zhur-Taa Goblin, and the slightly more expensive, like Rekindling Phoenix and Siege-Gang Commander.

The field is still wide open, and any of these decks might rise to the top. Join us this weekend to watch Standard's top contenders, live at twitch.tv/magic!

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