470 players came to Barcelona, all with a shared goal: to make the Top 8 of Mythic Championship IV. After six rounds of Modern Horizons draft over two days and 10 rounds of Modern, just eight accomplished that goal. These are the players who will return Sunday for a title, as well as the rest of the moments that stood out from Day 2 of the Mythic Championship.
Meet the Top 8 of Mythic Championship IV
Manuel Lenz, from Graz, Austria, is a dedicated player who works hard and likes to see that hard work pay off. He's played Magic since 7th Edition, when his cousin got him into the game. These days, his favorite format is Limited – specifically draft, he's quick to say – because every deck is different.
His favorite draft formats reflect his focus on finishing well. They include Kaladesh, when he was on a winning streak, Dominaria, when he made his first MC Top 8, and now, of course, Modern Horizons. He played Modern Horizons drafts for four weeks to prepare for this weekend, then swapped to Constructed.
In Modern, he and a team of friends tested Urza ThopterSword against a lot of Izzet Phoenix, Eldrazi Tron, and Jund, because those were the match-ups with the most play to them. Lenz was particularly grateful to Immanuel Gerschenson, who first pointed him toward Urza ThopterSword. His favorite moments piloting the deck where when he knew he had the win – Teferi on the battlefield, and combo in hand. "You know, it's tough," Lenz said. "The people here have put a lot of work into preparing, and then you need a lot of luck to get into the Top 8."
Alvaro Fernandez Torres
Alvaro Fernandez Torres comes from humble beginnings. Learning Magic in a small hometown without a local game store, Fernandez Torres moved to a city with one at the age of 18 to begin pursuing his passion for the game. His first Mythic Championship was for Pro Tour Ixalan in 2017. While he didn't win, he did have one major takeaway: "I have to do another one of these."
Battling with hometown friends in the team trios RPTQ, they qualified for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary where they placed 14th—enough to earn qualification through Mythic Championship IV. Now "Varo" can be cheered on by his friends as he fights for the trophy on Sunday.
Entering this Top 8, the Canadian native has a Mythic Championship career record of 22-22-2. Perfectly average. Of course, he was 10-20 coming into Barcelona, so his 12-2-2 performance this weekend – his first Day since his first appearance – was incredibly impressive. That's a wild stat. Even more surprising? He didn't play against Hogaak once this weekend. With a matchup against Mono-Red Phoenix on tap for the Top 8, that streak will continue for one more round, at least.
Gifford streams at twitch.tv/BlinkyMTG and is active in the Canadian Magic scene. He's sure ot have plenty of fans watching from across the Atlantic.
The field may have been full of graveyard-centric decks and new cards this weekend, but Severin kept it simple – he liked his Mono-Green Tron deck. He played it in London, and decided to run it back this weekend with just a single Veil of Summer differentiating it from his Mythic Championship II build.
What's old is good again, and Severin now has his first Mythic Championship Top 8 appearance to show for it. Fun fact: he tried out for the popular singing competition TV show The Voice, and made it quite deep into the process, just one step away from appearing on TV. That's not particularly relevant to his Top 8 run here in Barcelona, but it was enough for him to realize he doesn't enjoy spotlights and cameras – not that you could tell my his incredible run through the feature match area this weekend on his way to the Top 8.
The perennial captain of Australian Magic, David Mines, has led his country to honors. With two World Magic Cup Top 8 appearances and a Grand Prix win to boot, the event Mines dreamed of winning the most was a Mythic Championship. With his last qualification on the line, Mines achieved his dream and looks to take another trophy on his long flight home.
Juan José Rodríguez López
Juan Jose Rodriguez Lopez, from Guadalajara, Spain, is known in Spain as the player who puts in the most hours on Magic Online. He started playing during Tempest, when his cousin introduced him to the game. His favorite format is Booster Draft, "because you never know what you're going to play, sometimes you open a nice card, sometimes you don't open anything and make a horrible deck. But sometimes you win with a horrible deck, and sometimes you don't win any games with what you think is the best deck."
He logged a lot of hours on Magic Online preparing for the tournament. "I prepared really, really hard. I played a lot. When I finish my work, I got to my house and play, play, play. On the weekend, I play, play, play. I go out with friends, then play, play, play. I run, then play, play, play." He added, "it's the only way, I think, to be here. I'm not an amazing player, but I think if you work hard you can do well."
To his friends: "Marquito, Cazadores de Iguanas (esos fenix buenos de Oli) y los q han estado aqui (Javi, Efren, Duri). Me lo merezco :)"
After winning the World Magic Cup in 2014, and earning two Mythic Championship Top 8s at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar and Pro Tour Amonkhet, Martin Müller felt his Magic career was winding down. Thanks to his Mythic Championship Team Series teammates helping him qualify for one last Mythic Championship, Müller put his sights on qualifying for the MPL. Notching his third Top Finish in Barcelona is the required step to winning the weekend and putting the MPL within his reach.
Over the 10 years Zhiyang Zhang has played Magic, he's picked up several solid results. With five Grand Prix Top 8s, including his win at Beijing in 2018, he's looked to improve his results at Mythic Championships. Testing through Magic Online with teammates spread across several countries, Zhang has taken Magic more for fun than anything else. Breaking through to a Mythic Championship Top 8 is something he feels is "lucky" for him, but it's still absolutely fun.
The Metagame and Top 8 Decks
There's no way around it – on average, the Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis deck was the most dominant of the tournament. It accounted for 24% of the Day 2 field – more than double the next – but it takes more than a Modern deck to make the Top 8 of the Mythic Championship. Six rounds of draft were included in the 16-round tournament.
Here's how the Top 8 shook out:
- 2 Jund
- 1 Hogaak
- 1 Urza ThopterSword
- 1 Hardened Scales
- 1 Eldrazi Tron
- 1 Mono-Red Phoenix
- 1 Tron
Hogaak was the dominant deck of the tournament, but it appears plenty of players showed up prepared to beat it – the return of Jund thanks to Wrenn and Six has been one of the biggest storylines that's flown under the Hogaak radar since the release of Modern Horizons, and the printing of Urza, Lord High Artificer also reinvigorated the Thopter Foundry – Sword of the Meek combo decks (sacrifice Sword to Foundry, return it to play, rinse and repeat) that have popped in and out of Modern since its creation. With Urza in the mix, the combo goes from a value engine to a win on the spot.
Izzet Phoenix, which a few months ago was seen by many as the deck to beat, actually put zero players into the Top 8 – but Arclight Phoenix showed up anyway. Juan Jose Rodriguez Lopez piloted Mono-Red Phoenix to the Top 8, replacing the blue cantrips like Serum Visions and Opt with Gut Shot and and Light up the Stage. What it loses from not having Thing in the Ice, it gains in speed with Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-[autocard]Scar Mage[/autocard].
The other deck worth mentioning is Thoralf Severin's Tron. That is, traditional Tron. No (small) Eldrazi. No Karn, the Great Creator. The only addition is one sideboard copy of Veil of Summer from Core Set 2020.
"It's the deck I felt most comfortable with," Severin explained. "And it's good against decks like Humans and Eldrazi Tron that people were bringing to try and beat Hogaak."
Marit Lage Comes to Modern
Dark Depths may not be legal in the format – it's been banned since Modern's inception – but that doesn't mean Marit Lage couldn't make an appearance this weekend.
It came thanks to Magic Pro League member Christian Hauck, who drafted one of the more unique draft decks you'll ever see. His green-blue deck leaned heavily into the snow theme of Modern Horizons, but this wasn't a Frostwalla-focused beatdown deck. Instead, Hauck leaned on four Iceberg Cancrix and a deck stocked with snow cards to mill out opponents.
If that didn't work, well, there was always Marit Lage's Slumber, and there's really no better way to do what Hauck pulled off in the feature match en route to a Top 16 finish than a simple before-and-after.
MPL member Christian Hauck found Marit Lage where she slumbered...
But with enough snow permanents in play, she slumbers no more.
Hauck's opponent, meanwhile, went to sleep with the fishes soon after.
Finkel Makes a Run
While he ultimately fell out of the Top 8 hunt and finished in 21st place, longtime Magic fans were able to spend Saturday afternoon watching one of the most legendary players in the game make a deep run into the tournament.
Jon Finkel is famous for his utter dominance – his 17 Top Finishes are by far the most of any player ever – and any tournament is made better when the GOAT is doing well.
But this weekend it had even more significance, as it came on the heels of Finkel's onetime rival and living legend Kai Budde – who owns the most Mythic Championship wins in the game's history – made the Top 4 of the MTG Arena Mythic Championship III event last month in Las Vegas.
The house that Finkel and Budde built is stronger than ever, and 26 years after the game's release they still have what it takes to win at the highest level – and it will always be a treat to watch.
Best Moments of the Day
The Power of the 'Gaak
In case you were wondering why so many players gravitated toward the Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis deck this weekend, look no further.
While the deck put only one copy into the Top 8 – Jelger Wiegersma won the game above but lost the next two in his win-and-in – the incredibly powerful starts couldn't be denied.
Thoralf Trolls his Way to the Top 8
Thoralf Severin not only made his first Mythic Championship Top 8 with his trusty Tron deck, he did it in style, executing a perfectly timed joke on his friend and Arena Boys partner Riley Knight, who just so happened to be in the booth doing commentary on his friend's match.
Next up is Top 8 play on Sunday morning – the broadcast goes live at 9 a.m. local time at Twitch.tv/Magic!