Mythic Championship V Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Archive on October 11, 2019

By Frank Karsten

Mythic Championship V, the second Mythic Championship to be held on MTG Arena, will start on Friday, October 18. The tournament features 32 Magic Pro League members and 36 Challengers who get to test their mettle in Throne of Eldraine Standard. There's a total prize pool of $750,000 on the line and a fresh, post-rotation Standard format to explore.

Once Upon a Time ...

... is the most-played card among all 68 decklists.

No, really, with 169 total copies, Once Upon a Time is the most-played card in the entire event, followed by Hydroid Krasis (156 copies) and Growth Spiral (138 copies). The next most-played cards from Throne of Eldraine specifically are Fabled Passage (128 copies), Questing Beast (98 copies), and Oko, Thief of Crowns (94 copies), so these are relatively safe bets if you're wondering what to spend your wildcards on.

But the most-played cards are merely a sneak peek. I broke down the entire metagame, so follow me on an adventure through the new Standard with a representative list for each archetype from all 68 decklists in the field.

These are all archetypes that were registered by four or more players, and together they make up 79.5% of the metagame. We'll get to the remaining 20.5% later.

What stands out is the dominance of Field of the Dead. At 33.8%, Bant Golos is the most popular archetype by far. And if we add up Bant Golos, Golos Fires, and a single Four-Color Golos deck, then a staggering 42.7% of the players are planning to create a stack of Zombie tokens. Even though Scapeshift rotated out, Field of the Dead is still busted. So let's start by breaking down the number-one deck at Mythic Championship V.

Bant Golos – 33.8%

Seth Manfield - Bant Golos

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Starting with Arboreal Grazer and Growth Spiral, this deck aims to ramp into Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Realm-Cloaked Giant, or Hydroid Krasis as quickly as possible. Once you hit your seventh land (which is easy to do because the deck usually has 28 to 29 lands, most of which having different names) it's easy to keep triggering Field of the Dead, generating a horde of Zombies. Alternatively, you can activate Golos to drown your opponent in card advantage.

Once Upon a Time means you can execute this plan quite consistently, and the never-ending stream of Zombies provides inevitability in midrange matchups. It's hard to go over the top of Bant Golos or to beat them in a late-game attrition war.

The sample list shown above was registered by Seth Manfield, who won his MPL Core Split, which means he's already qualified for Day Two. He's not the only MPL Core Split winner who made this deck choice, as Carlos Romão is also in Day Two with Bant Golos. Their lists are a few cards apart. For example, compared to Manfield, Romão has one more Realm-Cloaked Giant and one fewer Time Wipe, and he has more Beanstalk Giants and fewer Arboreal Grazers. There are also minor differences in the mana base and the sideboard. However, the broad strokes are similar, and both of them are ready for the mirror match with trump cards like Kenrith, the Returned King, which can give Zombies haste, Beanstalk Giants trample, and put any excess mana to good use.

Bant Golos, given its metagame dominance, is clearly the deck to beat in Standard right now. Fortunately, there are ways to beat it. With the right interaction or the right strategy, Bant Golos can be attacked. Let's go over the other archetypes.

Simic Food – 16.2%

Reid Duke – Simic Food

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This archetype may be described as Simic Midrange, but I labeled it as Simic Food because it exploits the best new Food cards from Throne of Eldraine, namely Gilded Goose; Oko, Thief of Crowns; and Wicked Wolf. Any game where you can curve into these three synergistic spells by turn three will be hard to lose. In other games, an enormous Hydroid Krasis fueled by Nissa, Who Shakes the World can easily take it down.

These is some variety between Simic Food decks, but I particularly like this build submitted by Kai Budde, Andrew Cuneo, Reid Duke, William Jensen, Gabriel Nassif, and Shahar Shenhar. The standouts in their build are the four main deck copies of Disdainful Stroke.

Disdainful Stroke seems like a perfect metagame call, because countering a single Golos or Time Wipe represents an enormous swing that can disrupt the opponent long enough for you to close out the game. It's an ideal answer card if you don't expect many players to show up with low-curve aggro decks. Teferi, Time Raveler obviously prevents Disdainful Stroke from being cast, but Simic Food has enough haste creatures to mow Teferi down.

Golgari Adventure – 8.8%

Piotr Głogowski – Golgari Adventure

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The Adventure mechanic, which many players initially assumed was just meant for Limited, has proven more than powerful enough for Constructed. Edgewall Innkeeper and Lovestruck Beast are a match made in heaven, and Murderous Rider is one of the best removal spells in the format.

Piotr Głogowski recently won the Sapphire Division of the MPL Eldraine Split with Golgari Adventure (which qualified him for Day Two at Mythic Championship VII in December), so it makes sense that he stuck with the same deck. Legion's End remains an excellent answer to Zombie tokens. He has cut Assassin's Trophy to make room for Vivien, Arkbow Ranger since then, but by and large his list is similar to the one he found success with in his MPL Split.

Lucky Clover is not included because the Adventure theme is not that heavy (indeed, you could also label Głogowski's build as Golgari Midrange with an Adventure sub-theme) which means that there aren't enough Adventures worth copying. And freeing up slots for an evasive threat like Rankle, Master of Pranks that can fly over Zombie tokens is worthwhile too. However, Takeshi Senoo still had faith in Lucky Clover; he registered a Golgari Adventure list with the artifact and Smitten Swordmaster, which can set up a deadly drain combo.

Bant Ramp – 7.4%

Stanislav Cifka – Bant Ramp

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Over the past year, some of the biggest Standard developments have come out of a house in Prague, the Czech Republic, that is home to both Stanislav Cifka and Ondřej Stráský. Decks like Four-Color Dreadhorde, Bant Scapeshift, and Kethis Combo were either innovated or popularized by the pair, with Cifka in particular having a great feeling for how to tune decks and change cards around so that things make sense. When both of them qualified for the Mythic Championship via the grueling MCQW—where they bested thousands of Mythic-ranked competitors—all eyes were on them for Standard innovation in the new format.

They teamed up with Martin Jůza, Grzegorz Kowalski, and Oliver Tiu to prepare for Mythic Championship V, and their solution to the format was this Bant Ramp deck that is built to maximize turn-three Nissa. Indeed, with four copies of Gilded Goose and Once Upon a Time, two copies of Arboreal Grazer and several two-mana accelerants, this busted-dream start can happen with startling consistency. And when you can't grind out Field of the Dead in the late game, going faster is a great plan. Their ramp plan is supported further by main deck Agent of Treachery, which can steal Field of the Dead as early as turn four.

The white splash is mainly for Deputy of Detention, which is one of the best answers in the format to an army of Zombie tokens. They can even bounce it with Teferi, Time Raveler to exile all Zombie tokens once more.

Although their list features a minor Food theme in Gilded Goose and Oko, Thief of Crowns, they don't have main deck Wicked Wolf, which sets their list apart from Bant Food decks. All in all, the Czechs told me that they are confident in the deck; they believe they have a decent matchup against Golos, and a good game overall against everything.

Golos Fires – 7.4%

Autumn Burchett – Golos Fires

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Circuitous Route; Golos, Tireless Pilgrim; and Field of the Dead are familiar, but this archetype (registered by Mythic Champion Autumn Burchett, amongst others) plays out notably different from Bant Golos.

The red splash most importantly grants Fires of Invention. The enchantment is reminiscent of Wilderness Reclamation in terms of mana potential, and it even circumvents colored mana requirements, which can lead to some busted draws. For example, you could play Fires of Invention, immediately sweep the board with Deafening Clarion, and use Fae of Wishes to grab and cast Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God on the next turn. Getting Unmoored Ego from your sideboard and naming Field of the Dead can also be quite effective.

In the meantime, Fires of Invention keeps all your lands untapped, allowing you to sink that mana into Kenrith, the Returned King to accrue further resource advantages.

Gruul Aggro – 5.9%

Javier Dominguez – Gruul Aggro

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You know what is good against an army of Zombie tokens? Evasion!

You know what's good against Time Wipe or Cast Off? Haste!

Gruul Aggro, the deck chosen by World Champion Javier Domínguez and three Challengers, combines both of these aspects. Evasion could take the form of flying in Skarrgan Hellkite, unblockability in Questing Beast, or trample in Gruul Spellbreaker. But no matter which creature you draw, their evasive abilities tend to match up well against a horde of 2/2 Zombies.

The finishing power of this deck is also absurd, thanks to Embercleave and Collision // Colossus. Suppose your opponent is at 17 life and blocks your Questing Beast with a 4/4. Seems pretty safe, right? Well, if both the Equipment and the pump spell come down, then Questing Beast turns into a 9-power double-striking deathtouch trampler, which (due to the interaction between trample and deathtouch) means that all of a sudden the attack is lethal. Don't underestimate the damage output potential of this deck.

These are all archetypes that were registered by three or fewer players. Together they make up 20.5% of the metagame and add to Standard's competitive diversity.

Bant Food – 4.4%

Andrea Mengucci – Bant Food

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This deck is fairly similar to Bant Ramp, with the main difference being that it doesn't go all-in on the turn-three Nissa plan and instead has a heavier Food component in main deck Wicked Wolf. The players on such a list are Márcio Carvalho, Jessica Estephan, and Andrea Mengucci.

Mardu Knights – 4.4%

Ben Stark – Mardu Knights

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One of the best ways to beat Bant Golos is by going under it, and this deck exceeds at that. This means that you need to go blazingly fast, which implies running a lot of one-drops. Thanks to Tournament Grounds, this list can support one-drop Knights in three colors and get out of the gates extremely quickly.

Ben Stark, who settled on the above list together with Eric Froehlich, even has Weaselback Redcap to up the one-drop count to sixteen! Since Stark won his MPL Core split, he's already through to Day Two. I'll be honest, Weaselback Redcap is not a card I had expected to see in Day Two of a Constructed event, but since it has the right creature type for Inspiring Veteran and Acclaimed Contender, here we are.

In the sideboard, I want to point out Tectonic Rift as sweet tech. Not only does it destroy Field of the Dead, it also prevents existing Zombies from blocking for a turn.

Another notable sideboard card is Rotting Regisaur, which could pick up Embercleave to turn into an unstoppable threat. Ken Yukuhiro, who submitted his own take on Mardu Knights, actually included 4 Rotting Regisaur and 4 Embercleave in his main deck, putting even more faith in this devastating combo.

Selesnya Adventure – 4.4%

Christian Hauck – Selesnya Adventure

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Selesnya Adventures (chosen by Mark Donaldson, Christian Hauck, and Stephan Schwarz) combines Edgewall Innkeeper with Faerie Guidemother. Speed is the name of the game, as their builds have an explosive number of one-drops and eschew main deck March of the Multitudes in favor of Questing Beast.

Since this list has as many as eighteen one-drops (including Heart's Desire), Venerated Loxodon can be convoked out consistently on turn three, allowing you to build a massive battlefield presence very early in the game. If the board stalls, then Shepherd of the Flock can return the Elephant to dish out even more counters, or Faerie Guidemother can give Lovestruck Beast wings to swing for the win in the air—no matter how many Zombie tokens your opponent controls.

Four-Color Golos – 1.5%

Kenji Egashira – Four-color Golos

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Kenji Egashira's list represents a small departure from the stock Bant Golos list, as he runs Deafening Clarion along with three copies of Oko, Thief of Crowns.

His sideboard contains three copies of Ashiok, Dream Render, which means that he's well-prepared for other Field of the Dead decks. A single Ashiok can prevent Golos, Tireless Pilgrim; Circuitous Route; and Fertile Footsteps from grabbing any lands, thereby shutting down a big part of the deck.

Jeskai Fires – 1.5%

Janne Mikkonen – Jeskai Fires

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I already highlighted the power of Fires of Invention (alongside Fae of Wishes and Kenrith, the Returned King) in a Field of the Dead shell, but the enchantment is also perfectly fine in a Jeskai Control shell. One benefit of the Jeskai build is that its mana base enables Narset, Parter of Veils and Drawn from Dreams, which ensure you'll be able to keep chaining free spells and won't run out of gas.

Another card that fits into the Jeskai mana base is Sarkhan the Masterless, which is a scary threat to face for Bant Golos players. In conjunction with other planeswalkers, Sarkhan threatens a fast clock, can't be blocked by Zombie tokens, and can't be touched by sorcery-speed sweepers.

One final note: In a Jeskai shell, it seems even more amazing to grab Casualties of War from your sideboard and cast it without controlling a single green or black land. Fires of Invention definitely enables some cool plays.

Jund Midrange – 1.5%