It's been a little over a year since Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, where Luis Salvatto's Lantern of Insight lit the way to victory, and the Modern metagame has gone through a handful of evolutions since then. Pro Tour 25th Anniversary highlighted the rising popularity of Krark-Clan Ironworks, but Wizards of the Coast banned Krark-Clan Ironworks (the card) this past January, effectively cancelling the deck of the same name.
New decks have gained popularity, including Hardened Scales and Whir Prison, while others have fallen out of favor, and, of course, the London mulligan gets its debut this weekend, further shaking up deck choices. With the ground constantly shifting beneath them, where did players' deck choices end up in London?
At Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in Bilbao in January 2018, no deck captured even 10% of the metagame. There, Humans was the most popular deck at 9.3% of the field. At Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, with a smaller number of Modern players, Humans was again the favorite, with 16.36% of players on the deck.
Here, at Mythic Championship II, three decks have captured over 10% of the Modern metagame: Tron, Izzet Phoenix, and the ever-popular Humans. Tron was the fourth most popular deck in Bilbao, with 6.9% of players choosing it, and Izzet Phoenix had yet to become a deck, as it still lacked its namesake card, Arclight Phoenix, introduced in Guilds of Ravnica.
Tron is a whopping 14.6% of the field this weekend, with 75 players on the deck. A perennially popular Modern classic that has always weathered the changing metagame, Tron's surge in popularity is linked, in part, to the introduction of the London Mulligan this weekend. Many players at Mythic Championship II believe that the powerful deck sometimes plagued by consistency stands to benefit the most from the new mulligan rule.
Izzet Phoenix has been on the rise in the months since Guilds of Ravnica and Arclight Phoenix hit the format, and it's been a Modern favorite since then, dancing around 15% of the Day 2 metagame in recent Modern GPs. And the deck isn't only popular, it's also successful, not often missing the Top 8 and sometimes putting as many as four copies there. Blue-Red decks are a frequent Modern favorite, with their access to cheap card draw and burn spells, but Izzet Phoenix's surge to the top of the Modern charts is still impressive.
Humans, which skyrocketed in popularity following the introduction of Kitesail Freebooter and Unclaimed Territory, was the top deck choice at both Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan and Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. It took a hit in popularity in the months since then, however, losing players left and right as Izzet Phoenix's following grew. Humans is obviously still a popular choice, actually representing more of the field than it did in Bilbao. That it's third on this list is more a testament to the surge in popularity for Tron and Izzet Phoenix than it is a knock on Humans.
White-Blue Control. It's still around. It's always around. It's doing its White-Blue Control thing and the people that like it play it and the people that don't, don't. Considering that I'm a huge fan of control, you're frankly lucky I didn't hijack this entire article to talk about the joys of card draw and killing creatures.
Dredge is up from a measly 1.2% at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary and 3.7% at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan to 6.2% and the fifth most popular deck at Mythic Championship II. It's a deck that many players suspect stands to benefit a lot from the London Mulligan, as the deck can function on a smaller starting hand, as long as it has the right cards in it.
Briefly the boogeyman of the Modern format, Grixis Shadow saw a sharp decline in popularity when Humans and then Hollow One arrived in Modern, but has been enjoying a resurgence in recent weeks. It's frustrating mix of hand disruption, countermagic, and creatures that can kill in an attack or two, and its climbing the ranks of Modern once again. Speaking of Hollow One, there's exactly one person on the deck in London, down from a whopping 7.8% of the field at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.
Affinity, 8% of the field in Bilbao, now has only eight players on the once-popular deck. Its decline is linked to the rise of Hardened Scales, which combines some of Affinity's old tools like Mox Opal and Arcbound Ravager into a new, more explosive deck that exploits +1/+1 counter synergies. Hardened Scales, which started putting a copy or two into Grand Prix Top 8s in 2018, is now the seventh most popular deck in London at almost 5% of the field.
Twenty-five players chose to power out Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher with Eldrazi Temple. Eldrazi decks generally used Chalice of the Void as well to stop all the powerful one-mana spells in Modern while not being harmed by the effect themselves. Their colors break down as follows: 7 were a fully colorless variation, 6 were mono-white, 5 were mono-red, 4 were an Eldrazi & Taxes variant, 2 were red-green, and one player was on Eldrazi Tron.
Amulet Titan, always on the fringes of the format since the ban of Summer Bloom, is bouncing back in a real way. The deck that powered out Primeval Titan with the help of Amulet of Vigor and a bevy of lands from original Ravnica like Simic Growth Chamber took a steep nosedive in the Modern metagame after Summer Bloom's ban, but there were a dedicated few who believed that there was still something there. Like Dredge, Amulet Titan is a deck that has the potential to benefit from the London mulligan.
Lantern Control hit the peak of its popularity at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, where it made up 1.9% of the field and, of course, took down the entire tournament. Since then, however, the deck has been in decline, with no Modern players choosing the deck for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. Whir Prison is the newest deck taking Lantern Control's place, and while it's not exactly popular, it's certainly on the rise. The same number of players brought Whir Prison as brought eternal Modern staple Burn, an impressive showing for a recent development.
Jund. It's still around. It's always around. It's doing its Jund thing and the people that like it play it and the people that don't, don't.
As for the “Other” category, it's a mashup of the following:
- Bant Spirits: 3 players
- Devoted Company: 3 players
- Storm: 3 players
- Cheerios: 2 players
- G/W Taxes: 2 players
- Izzet Kiki-Jiki: 2 players
- Lantern: 2 players
- Merfolk: 2 players
- Orzhov Midrange: 2 players
- U/R Wizards: 2 players
- Vannifar Evolution: 2 players
- 8-Rack: 1 player
- Abzan: 1 player
- Abzan Company: 1 player
- B/R Prison: 1 player
- Big Naya Zoo: 1 player
- BridgeVine: 1 player
- Electro-Balance: 1 player
- Elves: 1 player
- Esper Shadow: 1 player
- Hollow One: 1 player
- Hollow Phoenix: 1 player
- Jeskai Control: 1 player
- Jeskai Kiki-Jiki: 1 player
- Jeskai Tempo: 1 player
- Jund Shadow: 1 player
- Living End: 1 player
- Mardu Pyromancer: 1 player
- Mono-Red Prowess: 1 player
- Pyro Prison: 1 player
- Soul Sisters: 1 player
- U/B Faeries: 1 player
- U/B Mill: 1 player
- U/B Shadow: 1 player
- W/U Spirits: 1 player
Many thanks to Frank Karsten for his thorough work archetyping and compiling the Modern metagame data at Mythic Championship II. Check back tomorrow to see what decks make the cut to Day 2, and of course, check out the action live at twitch.tv/Magic!