Top Stories of Mythic Championship I

Posted in Event Coverage on February 25, 2019

By Corbin Hosler, Adam Styborski, and Meghan Wolff

It's been a wild weekend here in Cleveland at the first Mythic Championship of the season. Nearly 500 players competed in a wide field, but that didn't keep the best from coming out on top. Sunday's star-studded Top 8 featured players with a combined total of more than 20 Mythic Championship Top 8s. It all came down to an epic finals match between the two-time English National Champion Autumn Burchett and Japanese pro Yoshihiko Ikawa, who notched the second Mythic Championship Top 8 of his career.

Burchett Makes History

Let's start with the tournament. Burchett came to the Mythic Championship with the Mono-Blue Tempo deck that not all that long ago was scoffed at by many but has bloomed into one of the best decks in Ravnica Allegiance Standard. With all the Mist-Cloaked Heralds, Siren Stormtamers, Merfolk Tricksters, and Tempest Djinns you can handle, the deck sliced through the field in the hands of Burchett, who expertly piloted it through dozens of tricky game states and pressure-packed moments.

Their finals match against Ikawa showcased that perfectly. Most of the games in the five-game match were extraordinarily tight affairs that came down to one or two decisions. And despite playing in their first-ever Sunday at a premiere tournament, Burchett was cool and collected. They earned rave reviews from pros watching the finals as they put on a clinic for playing the deck. Even after falling down two games to one and having their back against the wall, Burchett just could not be stopped this weekend.

For viewers, the Mythic Championship ends with the final game. But for winners, there's one more thing they've been doing for the last 15 years—an interview with Brian David-Marshall, who himself was retiring from coverage after this event. It's a moment neither of them—and none of us—will ever forget.

LSV and Ikawa Leap Back

Sunday's Top 8 competitors represented decades of Magic experience. These players have seen the Sunday stage together before, and likely will again. Nothing brought the shared history of Magic to life, however, quite like the photo unearthed by Pro Tour Dragon's Maze Champion Craig Wescoe.

We're thankful for a look at this moment of joy (and a truly incredible jump).

The Mirror Match That had Us on the Edge of Our Seats

Before the semifinal began, Magic Pro League player Shahar Shenhar accurately forecasted that the match between Reid Duke and Autumn Burchett would be a spectacular show of Magic prowess.

It was a tense match from beginning to end, with Duke and Burchett battling for advantage and players gaining an edge just to lose it again.

With a pair of Tempest Djinn in play, Duke was on his way to victory in Game 4. Then, Burchett lured a Djinn to their side of the battlefield with an Entrancing Melody, and there wasn't a Siren Stormtamer or Dive Down in sight to stop them.

In that same game, Duke chipped away at Burchett's life total until they were down to 1 life, but Burchett built a team of blockers in just enough time.

Duke tried again and again to land a creature that would put the game away, but he just couldn't, and Burchett was finally able to launch a lethal attack of their own to win the game and the semifinal match.

Mono-Blue Breakout

While Sultai Midrange topped the field in percentage of players on the deck, it was Mono-Blue Tempo that ran away with the tournament. 60 players, many of them part of the Magic Pro League, brought the deck to Cleveland. Three copies made it into the Top 8, while every other archetype there was represented by a single copy.

Mono-Blue Tempo has danced around the fringes of premier play for months. Ken Yukuhiro brought it to the 2018 World Championship, but the deck was seen as a rogue choice last fall.

Then, in early 2019, the deck's popularity skyrocketed. Alexander Hayne piloted the deck to the #1 Mythic rank on MTG Arena in the first weeks of February, and it became a top pick for players trying to replicate his success.

Mono-Blue Tempo ruling the Top 8 metagame didn't come as much surprise to players who tested the deck in the weeks leading up to the Mythic Championship. Members of the MPL who settled on the deck were certain it would fare well in a field of Sultai Midrange. Focusing on the magic of Curious Obsession, cheap creatures, and ways to protect them, Mono-Blue Tempo doesn't mind players trying to cast expensive sorceries that easily fall prey to Spell Pierce, or removal spells casually thwarted by a Dive Down.


Autumn Burchett and Reid Duke face off in a thrilling mirror match to decide a seat in the finals.

Players who believed in the power of Mono-Blue Tempo proved prophetic, as the deck only lost to itself in the Top 8. Autumn Burchett first defeated Julien Berteaux, and then Reid Duke, who were the other two players relying so heavily on basic Islands on Sunday.

A Historian's History

After more than two decades of attending, supporting, and covering the highest level of competitive Magic, Brian David-Marshall bid his farewell to the Mythic Championship team. More importantly, he's ushered thousands of players through tournaments halls—from their first to their Hall of Fame induction ceremony—and touched the lives of countless of Magic players.

From the players and staff here in Cleveland to the viewers and fans around the world, Magic will forever—and fondly—recall the guiding hand Brian David-Marshall lent Mythic Championships.

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