Last week started with some controversy and ended with a champion. The new weeks starts with Modern Horizons and a Banned and Restricted list update. Here is your Magic news brief.

Magic Pro League Changes

Last week Yuuya Watanabe was suspended from competitive Magic for two and a half years, ejected from the Hall of Fame, and removed Magic Pro League. This created an opening in the league. On May 13th, another opening was created when Gerry Thompson resigned from the League.

Thompson, the champion of Pro Tour Amonkhet, sat out last year’s World Championship tournament in protest of the conditions facing professional Magic players. Thompson resigned from the MPL for different reasons outlined in this post. Thompson cites the lack of clarity on qualifying for next year’s league, the limbo faced by players outside the league with regards to staying qualified for professional level events, the inability for members of the league to negotiate their contracts, the lack of research put into the character of inaugural members, and poor communication from Wizards of the Coast to the competitive player base.

With Yuuya Watanabe and Gerry Thompson no longer active in the Magic Pro League, there were two empty spots. These two openings were filled by Jessica Estephan and Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen. Estephan made the Top 16 of the Mythic Invitational and Mikkonen made the Top 4. Estephan and Mikkonen will play make up matches to catch them up to the other competitors.

The same announcement introduced 16 discretionary slots at upcoming Arena Mythic Championships. These slots will be used to further the goal of inclusivity of underrepresented groups. Despite moving from 52 to 68 competitors, the prize pool for Arena Mythic Championships remains at $750,000.

Speaking of Arena and the Magic Pro League, week 2 of the Spark Split is in the books. Leading the field with 3-0 records are Eric Froehlich and Andrew Cuneo from the Pearl Division, and Seth Manfield, Brad Nelson, and Martin Juza from the Emerald Division. No players from the Ruby or Sapphire Divisions have 3-0 records through two weeks of competition.

Mythic Championship III

The third Mythic Championship of the season, and the first to be held on Arena has been announced. Mythic Championship III will be held June 21st-23rd at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. The format will be traditional best-of-three Standard Constructed. Day 1 will feature modified Swiss, with 12 players making the cut to Day 2. There they will join the Magic Pro League Spark split division leaders and play in double elimination. The Top 4 will then also compete in double elimination on Day 3.

June 21st-23rd is the same weekend as MagicFest Seattle, which will feature Modern Horizons Limited. While not the first time there is a MagicFest concurrent with a Mythic Championship, it will be the first time they are held in two separate cities.

More information has been released about how players can qualify to play in Mythic Championship III. The Top 1000 Mythic players in Limited and Constructed will be invited to the Mythic Qualifier Weekend. The MCQ Weekend Day 1 will require players to register by 7am Pacific Time on May 25. Once registered, players will have until 4 PM (Pacific Time) on May 25th to complete their matches to either 8 wins or 2 losses.

Banned and Restricted List Updates

The May 20th Banned and Restricted List announcement completely changed Pauper. Gush, Gitaxian Probe, and Daze are now banned. In explaining the decision, Ian Duke cited the dominance of Dimir Delver on Magic Online, as well as the way these “free” cards allowed the decks that ran them to cheat on lands and run effectively more spells. Duke went on to say that they will be monitoring the metagame closely to see if other archetypes or strategies—namely Monarch and Tron—rise to a similar level of dominance.

There were no changes to other formats. Duke added a note that if the London mulligan is adopted there will be no preemptive bans. The next Banned and Restricted List update is scheduled for July 8th, 2019.

Arena Updates

The May Arena update is bringing some new features and events. The War of the Spark Chronicles are an in-game series of events tied to the story of the latest expansion. These events, which are free to enter, have a reward track—the more you play, the more you can win. The prize for the Chronicles are alternate art stained glass planeswalkers. These events start on May 23rd. The May update also brings the opportunity to choose the art for your basic lands and will introduce a best-of-three match clock. The clock will give each player 30 minutes to complete the game, for a total of 60 minutes.

Modern Horizons Previews

Modern Horizons preview season has officially begun. This year, the schedule for official spoilers has been released. The link will update regularly with the cards that have been revealed. Already we know the set will include a whole slew of returning mechanics, including buyback, convoke, entwine, flashback and storm (to name a few), while also including full art basic snow lands.

The Magic Online Championship

24 players descended on Seattle last weekend to participate in the 2018 Magic Online Championship. Playing Standard, Modern, and War of the Spark Draft, the player pool included MPL members Autumn Burchett and Marcio Carvalho, previous two-time winner Dmitry Butakov, fan favorite Kenji Egashira, and more.

In the end, Egashira and Carvalho made the Top 4 along with Bernando Torres and Mattia Oneto. The Top 4 was best two-out-of-three matches. One match would be Standard and one Modern. If a third match was needed, the higher seed would select the format. Egashira and Torres played a three match set, with Kenji forcing the third match after taking a mulligan to four with his Modern Tron deck and locking Torres out of the game with Karn, the Great Creator and Mycosynth Lattice. Egashira then won the third match.

The other side of the bracket had similar drama. Oneto took Standard while Carvalho used Humans to win the Modern match. Carvalho was the higher seed and selected Modern for the decider. In match 3, Oneto’s Izzet Phoenix flew to victory as Carvalho kept a no land hand and never got there.

The finals were quick affair. Oneto’s Azorius Aggro ran over Egashira’s Jeskai Control deck. Then Blood Moon made short work of Tron. And just like that, Mattia Oneto became the 2018 Magic Online Champion!

Azorius Aggro (Standard)

Mattia Oneto, 1st place

Izzet Phoenix (Modern)

Mattia Oneto, 1st place

3 Island
2 Mountain
3 Steam Vents
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Spirebluff Canal
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
4 Arclight Phoenix
4 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror
2 Crackling Drake
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Serum Visions
4 Faithless Looting
1 Flame Slash
1 Set Adrift
4 Manamorphose
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Gut Shot
1 Lightning Axe
4 Thought Scour
2 Pyromancer Ascension
4 Opt

Sideboard
2 Blood Moon
2 Spell Pierce
1 Shatterstorm
4 Ravenous Trap
1 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
2 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Abrade
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Looking Forward

This week is all about Modern Horizons previews. Then this weekend is the Team Limited Grand Prix at MagicFest Providence and the MCQ Weekend on Arena.