I’ve got a fridge magnet that says: “If life eventually comes full circle, can’t I just wait here?” and it seems like it could apply to the current Modern format.
It’s been a little over fourteen months since the last Modern Mythic Championship if you don’t factor in the team event, and it seems like the War of the Spark MC metagame could look very similar to the one we had in Bilbao for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. It’s not like nothing has happened in the meantime, though, the most notable being the rise and ban of KCI, followed by the emergence and dominance of Izzet Phoenix.
The two most popular decks last year at MC Bilbao among players with six wins or more in Constructed were Mono-Green Tron and 5-Colors Humans, and it’s possible that these two decks, which had been driven out of the format due in part to a bad KCI matchup, will be the most popular decks in London once again. Tron seems to be of the top benefactor of the new London Mulligan rule, and Humans has been everywhere recently online, as well as live. There were two copies in the Top 8 of GP Sao Paulo, one in the Top 8 of GP Calgary, and two more in the Top 8 of the MOCS Playoff. Humans was also represented nine times if you combine the Top 32s of the MOCS Playoff and the Modern Challenge, and was only surpassed by Tron (twelve copies).
While the Modern metagame is still very diverse, we could see a different metagame for the MC and I wouldn’t be surprised to see two or three decks piloted by 10% or more of the qualified players.
I think these are going to be the most popular decks in London this weekend, ranked from least popular to most popular.
This archetype has a notoriously bad win-rate but keeps showing up in decent numbers Modern event after Modern event. Attila Fur, with his Through the Breach variant, even just won GP Calgary. Titanshift also has a favorable matchup against Tron, which could be a big selling point.
1 Swamp 2 Forest 6 Mountain 2 Cinder Glade 1 Blood Crypt 4 Stomping Ground 3 Bloodstained Mire 4 Wooded Foothills 3 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder 3 Simian Spirit Guide 4 Primeval Titan 1 Woodfall Primus 1 Engineered Explosives 3 Summoner's Pact 2 Fatal Push 1 Assassin's Trophy 3 Faithless Looting 1 Prismatic Omen 2 Farseek 4 Search for Tomorrow 1 Scapeshift 4 Through the Breach Sideboard 1 Chalice of the Void 1 Reclamation Sage 2 Tireless Tracker 2 Obstinate Baloth 1 Unravel the AEther 1 Damping Sphere 1 Shattering Spree 2 Slaughter Games 1 Ravenous Trap 3 Leyline of the Void
While I was browsing through the latest batch of 5-0 lists on Magic Online, this list piloted by WD40ROCKS (Wyatt Darby, I believe) caught my eye:
2 Forest 1 Misty Rainforest 6 Mountain 4 Stomping Ground 4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 3 Windswept Heath 4 Wooded Foothills 3 Cinder Glade 4 Primeval Titan 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder 2 Wood Elves 4 Farseek 4 Hour of Promise 4 Scapeshift 4 Search for Tomorrow 4 Khalni Heart Expedition 3 Prismatic Omen Sideboard 2 Anger of the Gods 2 Chameleon Colossus 2 Lightning Bolt 3 Obstinate Baloth 1 Reclamation Sage 4 Relic of Progenitus 1 Shatterstorm
I’m not sure how good this version is but I love that Wyatt cut all the removal spells and went all-in on the ramp. When playing a deck like TitanShift, I feel like often you’re under the illusion that bolting a creature buys you time when the card it costs you ends up hurting you in the long run. As a control player, I’m also terrified of a version with the full four Hour of Promise and this version should do even better against Tron than the ones running a bunch of removal main deck.
Much like TitanShift, it seems like Burn sees way more play than it should if you look at its win percentage. The deck is very popular online, in part because of how cheap it is to build and how fast you can run through a League with it. I wonder if MC London is finally the high profile event where we see Burn dip in popularity due to the fact that it’s probably the deck that gains the least from the London Mulligan rule. My guess is no, but one can always hope.
Javier Villouta, 8th place at Grand Prix Sao Paulo
3 Mountain 2 Sacred Foundry 4 Wooded Foothills 3 Bloodstained Mire 3 Arid Mesa 4 Inspiring Vantage 4 Monastery Swiftspear 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel 4 Goblin Guide 1 Grim Lavamancer 4 Skewer the Critics 4 Searing Blaze 4 Boros Charm 4 Rift Bolt 4 Lava Spike 2 Light Up the Stage 4 Lightning Bolt 2 Lightning Helix Sideboard 1 Lightning Helix 3 Path to Exile 2 Rest in Peace 4 Skullcrack 2 Stony Silence 3 Wear/Tear
A deck that probably won’t be as popular as it should be, Whir Prison really shines in matchups where Ensnaring Bridge is good, and it’s a favorite against Tron. It could also be one of the big open deck lists rule winners as you play a lot of silver bullets, and you’ll know when you’re looking for a fast Bridge and when you’re not. One of its biggest weaknesses is a very poor U/W Control matchup, which could scare people away from the deck. It can also get one-shotted by cards like Shatterstorm after sideboard.
Susurrus_mtg, 5-0 on Magic Online
1 Ipnu Rivulet 1 Island 1 Snow-Covered Island 4 Spire of Industry 1 Tectonic Edge 4 Tolaria West 1 Academy Ruins 3 Glimmervoid 1 Inventors' Fair 4 Botanical Sanctum 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Whir of Invention 1 Bottled Cloister 4 Chalice of the Void 1 Crucible of Worlds 1 Damping Sphere 3 Engineered Explosives 4 Ensnaring Bridge 4 Mishra's Bauble 4 Mox Opal 1 Pyrite Spellbomb 2 Sorcerous Spyglass 1 Tormod's Crypt 4 Welding Jar 1 Witchbane Orb Sideboard 2 Sorcerous Spyglass 1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Jester's Cap 2 Sai, Master Thopterist 4 Spellskite 3 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas 1 Torpor Orb 1 Unmoored Ego
Louis-Samuel Deltour recently finished second in GP Bilbao with the deck but I decided to honor Susurrus_mtg, who pretty much created the deck, or at the least brought it to the front of the competitive scene with repeated trophy wins on Magic Online. He also streams his Leagues daily on Twitch.
A few players, including my teammate Edgar Magalhaes, have been claiming that this is the best deck in Modern. They say that it has #nobadmatchups and they’ve been putting their money where their mouth is, crushing event after event for months now. It is not the easiest deck to pick up and it will be interesting to see if Amulet Titan finally rises in popularity on the big stage and if not, how well the few adepts of the deck end up doing in the tournament. Similar to Tron, it also benefits hugely from the mulligan rule and the deck is capable of going off on turn 2 off a five-card hand.
As I’m writing this a week before deck lists are due, Amulet Titan is on my very short list of contenders but I’m not sure I can get to a point where I’m comfortable playing the deck in time for the tournament. Just yesterday, I ran a League with it and went 3-2, but I should have won all 13 games I played.
The deck had a dominant performance in Cleveland a few weeks ago, placing first and third, and an even more ridiculous one at a local event in Canada last week where it placed five copies in the Top 8 and four in the Top 4.
Matthew Dilks, 3rd place at SCG Open Cleveland
4 Forest 1 Vesuva 1 Botanical Sanctum 1 Cavern of Souls 1 Slayers' Stronghold 1 Khalni Garden 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Kabira Crossroads 1 Boros Garrison 1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion 4 Gemstone Mine 4 Selesnya Sanctuary 4 Simic Growth Chamber 3 Tolaria West 1 Walking Ballista 4 Azusa, Lost but Seeking 4 Sakura-Tribe Scout 4 Primeval Titan 2 Hive Mind 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Amulet of Vigor 3 Coalition Relic 4 Summoner's Pact 1 Pact of Negation 1 Engineered Explosives Sideboard 1 Ramunap Excavator 1 Tireless Tracker 1 Hornet Queen 4 Path to Exile 2 Negate 1 Chameleon Colossus 1 Pact of Negation 1 Ghost Quarter 2 Engineered Explosives 1 Reclamation Sage
While Dilks’ list is probably the “stock” one, Serum Visions has made a comeback in some lists, and it is unclear which version is better.
Affinity hasn’t been very popular lately but according to Tobi Henke, it had the third best win percentage in GP Bilbao and I’ve been impressed by the addition of Experimental Frenzy. Hardened Scales has put up good results too but is very weak to Izzet Phoenix, and access to Galvanic Blast might be key in the current metagame.
Tsuji Naoto, 1st place at Weekday Modern Hareruya
1 Plains 4 Spire of Industry 4 Inkmoth Nexus 4 Blinkmoth Nexus 4 Darksteel Citadel 3 Steel Overseer 2 Glint-Nest Crane 4 Ornithopter 4 Vault Skirge 4 Signal Pest 4 Arcbound Ravager 2 Master of Etherium 2 Memnite 4 Springleaf Drum 4 Mox Opal 2 Blind Obedience 4 Dispatch 4 Cranial Plating Sideboard 1 Ghirapur Aether Grid 3 Rest in Peace 2 Etched Champion 2 Rule of Law 2 Blood Moon 2 Bitterblossom 3 Wear/Tear
I was looking around on the internet for a recent Affinity list expecting to see Experimental Frenzy and Galvanic Blast, but what I got instead was Dispatch and Blind Obedience. I had not planned on giving Affinity a go, and with less than a week left I’m not sure it’s reasonable, but the archetype has always had a special place in my heart and might be a good pick right now with artifact hate at an all-time low.
_Shatun_, 9th place at MOCS Playoff
1 Mountain 4 Blinkmoth Nexus 4 Darksteel Citadel 1 Glimmervoid 4 Inkmoth Nexus 3 Spire of Industry 4 Arcbound Ravager 1 Master of Etherium 2 Memnite 4 Ornithopter 4 Signal Pest 4 Steel Overseer 4 Vault Skirge 4 Galvanic Blast 4 Cranial Plating 4 Mox Opal 4 Springleaf Drum 2 Welding Jar 2 Experimental Frenzy Sideboard 1 Experimental Frenzy 2 Ancient Grudge 2 Damping Sphere 2 Dispatch 2 Etched Champion 2 Ghirapur Aether Grid 2 Rest in Peace 2 Spell Pierce
This is a more standard version and from a U/W Control player’s perspective, Frenzy is terrifying. I think I might actually have a losing record with U/W against Frenzy Affinity in what has historically been a great matchup.
Straight green-black was already somewhat popular before the printing of Assassin’s Trophy and it’s been even moreso since. I was skeptical a card like Trophy could be good in combination with Liliana of the Veil but it seems to be working. Well, working might be a loose term, as some of the stats we have access to show that The Rock’s win percentage is among the lowest in the format, but as a Blue-White Control player, I can see the appeal of a deck that’s going to have a fighting chance in most games it plays.
If I were to go the midrange route, I would rather go with Jund, which I believe has had fewer top premier event finishes lately and is way less represented in the meta but is likely the better choice right now and a better deck in general.
Luca Finazzi, Top 8 at Grand Prix Calgary
1 Swamp 2 Hissing Quagmire 2 Overgrown Tomb 2 Snow-Covered Forest 2 Treetop Village 3 Snow-Covered Swamp 4 Field of Ruin 4 Blooming Marsh 4 Verdant Catacombs 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 2 Dark Confidant 3 Tireless Tracker 4 Tarmogoyf 4 Scavenging Ooze 1 Maelstrom Pulse 2 Nihil Spellbomb 2 Collective Brutality 2 Thoughtseize 3 Assassin's Trophy 4 Liliana of the Veil 4 Inquisition of Kozilek 4 Fatal Push Sideboard 1 Grafdigger's Cage 3 Fulminator Mage 1 Engineered Explosives 1 Duress 2 Deglamer 1 Damping Sphere 1 Damnation 1 Collective Brutality 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 3 Surgical Extraction
QBTurtle15, 5-0 on Magic Online
4 Blackcleave Cliffs 1 Blood Crypt 2 Bloodstained Mire 1 Blooming Marsh 2 Overgrown Tomb 4 Raging Ravine 1 Stomping Ground 1 Treetop Village 1 Twilight Mire 4 Verdant Catacombs 1 Forest 1 Mountain 2 Swamp 4 Bloodbraid Elf 4 Dark Confidant 3 Scavenging Ooze 4 Tarmogoyf 1 Dreadbore 3 Liliana of the Veil 1 Liliana, the Last Hope 3 Inquisition of Kozilek 1 Maelstrom Pulse 3 Thoughtseize 1 Abrupt Decay 1 Fatal Push 2 Kolaghan's Command 4 Lightning Bolt Sideboard 2 Alpine Moon 2 Ancient Grudge 2 Collective Brutality 3 Fulminator Mage 1 Huntmaster of the Fells/Ravager of the Fells 3 Leyline of the Void 1 Terminate 1 Tireless Tracker
I’m not sure how popular Tron is going to be. The deck is solid and should benefit hugely from the London Mulligan, but it has very little play to it and a target on its back. It was by far the most played deck in the MOCS Playoff, but didn’t do especially well.
I_Know_quack_fu, 5th place at MOCS Playoff
4 Forest 1 Perilous Vault 1 Ghost Quarter 1 Sanctum of Ugin 1 Scavenger Grounds 4 Urza's Mine 4 Urza's Power Plant 4 Urza's Tower 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 2 Walking Ballista 3 Wurmcoil Engine 4 Karn Liberated 3 Relic of Progenitus 1 Karn, Scion of Urza 2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Sylvan Scrying 4 Chromatic Sphere 4 Chromatic Star 4 Expedition Map 3 Oblivion Stone Sideboard 1 Emrakul, the Promised End 2 Nature's Claim 1 Seal of Primordium 1 Spatial Contortion 2 Surgical Extraction 3 Thought-Knot Seer 3 Thragtusk 2 Warping Wail
I_Know_quack_fu had a few unconventional choices in his main with a copy of Karn, Scion of Urza, Perilous Vault, and Scavenger Grounds. Unfortunately, despite the extra graveyard hate and the exile clause of Vault, he still got dispatched 2-0 by Dredge in the quarterfinals.
While I don’t think Dredge is necessarily the best deck in the format, it could be on any given weekend if the hate isn’t there. It has been putting up good results, winning the MOCS Playoff just recently and I expect it to show up in numbers and do well.
I’ve talked a bit about the impact of the new mulligan rule but haven’t talked at all yet about the fact that MC London will be played with open deck lists, meaning that starting with the second round of Modern, you will know your opponent’s exact main deck, as well as the cards in their sideboard before the match begins. While Dredge probably benefits a lot from the mulligan rule, it could be one of the biggest losers of open deck lists in a format where people are maindecking cards like Surgical Extraction and Nihil Spellbomb. The mulligan rule could backfire, with players aggressively looking for their hate cards.
Perolemetemosbrutal, 1st place at MOCS Playoff
2 Arid Mesa 2 Blood Crypt 2 Bloodstained Mire 4 Copperline Gorge 1 Gemstone Mine 1 Ghost Quarter 1 Mana Confluence 2 Stomping Ground 2 Wooded Foothills 2 Mountain 4 Bloodghast 2 Golgari Thug 4 Narcomoeba 4 Prized Amalgam 4 Stinkweed Imp 4 Cathartic Reunion 2 Conflagrate 4 Creeping Chill 4 Faithless Looting 4 Life from the Loam 1 Darkblast 4 Shriekhorn Sideboard 3 Ancient Grudge 1 Assassin's Trophy 1 Engineered Explosives 3 Lightning Axe 3 Nature's Claim 2 Ravenous Trap 2 Thoughtseize
This is the list I believe Fabrizio Anteri used to qualify for the MOCS last weekend. As far as I can tell, the list is fairly stock, with the exception of the Ghost Quarter main deck that people usually don’t run.
My current front-runner, the deck has been picking up steam, thrust into the top 3 slots in a recent big Modern event in Japan. While most tier 1 archetypes have fairly stock lists, U/W Control is all over the place and there are almost as many versions as people who play the deck.
Pros have, for the most part, always shied away from control decks in Modern, but MC London could be a whole different story with open deck lists. No more wondering if your double Path to Exile, Supreme Verdict opening hand is going to be great or if you’ve effectively just kept a four-card hand.
Yuuta Takahashi, 1st place at God of Modern
6 Island 2 Plains 2 Hallowed Fountain 4 Flooded Strand 4 Celestial Colonnade 2 Glacial Fortress 4 Field of Ruin 1 Ghost Quarter 4 Snapcaster Mage 4 Path to Exile 2 Oust 2 Spell Pierce 2 Surgical Extraction 2 Logic Knot 1 Mana Leak 1 Negate 3 Cryptic Command 3 Terminus 1 Relic of Progenitus 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 4 Opt Sideboard 2 Vendilion Clique 2 Disdainful Stroke 2 Rest in Peace 2 Engineered Explosives 1 Ceremonious Rejection 1 Surgical Extraction 1 Celestial Purge 1 Disenchant 1 Negate 1 Relic of Progenitus 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Yuuta opted for a Terminus version and some very bold main-deck choices with two Spell Pierce and two Surgical Extraction. He also went all the way up to six planeswalkers, which is not common at all. I’m not a big fan of the Relic of Progenitus that having been showing up lately in U/W. The card is kind of weak but it at least has the benefit to giving you an extra instant-speed cantrip to hit a Terminus.
Darthnius, 2nd place at MTGO Modern Challenge
6 Island 2 Plains 4 Celestial Colonnade 4 Field of Ruin 4 Flooded Strand 1 Ghost Quarter 2 Glacial Fortress 2 Hallowed Fountain 2 Snapcaster Mage 2 Wall of Omens 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 4 Serum Visions 2 Supreme Verdict 2 Condemn 3 Spreading Seas 3 Cryptic Command 1 Logic Knot 1 Mana Leak 1 Negate 4 Path to Exile 1 Remand 1 Settle the Wreckage 2 Surgical Extraction 1 Detention Sphere 1 Search for Azcanta/Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin Sideboard 1 Negate 1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk 2 Celestial Purge 1 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Disdainful Stroke 1 Dispel 1 Lyra Dawnbringer 2 Rest in Peace 2 Stony Silence 2 Vendilion Clique
Darthnius’ list is close to the one I’ve been testing. I was never really sold on the whole miracle side of U/W and I’ve been really liking the 4-mana sweepers in the current metagame. It’s a really tough matter to settle as the miracle upside of Terminus is so hard to quantify, but Supreme Verdict really shines against Grixis Death’s Shadow and Humans, and it’s better against Burn and Amulet Titan. I think it’s even better against Izzet Phoenix, which might be counter-intuitive at first glance.
I’ve also really liked the way the deck plays out with Spreading Seas, but I think you can go either way and still have a favorable Tron matchup even without them as long as you pack enough sideboard cards.
I’ll probably write a detailed U/W primer for CFB after the Mythic Championship, but in the meantime, Tobi crunched some numbers and wrote an interesting piece on the archetype.
Grixis Death’s Shadow
GDS feels like the perfect “pros” deck. It’s proactive, has a lot of play to it, and has game against everything if you know your way around each matchup.
Oracle88, 2nd place at MOCS Playoff
2 Blood Crypt 4 Bloodstained Mire 4 Polluted Delta 2 Scalding Tarn 1 Steam Vents 2 Watery Grave 1 Island 1 Swamp 4 Death's Shadow 4 Gurmag Angler 2 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy/Jace, Telepath Unbound 3 Snapcaster Mage 4 Street Wraith 2 Inquisition of Kozilek 4 Thoughtseize 2 Dismember 4 Fatal Push 4 Stubborn Denial 2 Temur Battle Rage 4 Thought Scour 4 Mishra's Bauble Sideboard 2 Abrade 1 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Collective Brutality 1 Disdainful Stroke 1 Engineered Explosives 2 Kolaghan's Command 4 Leyline of the Void 2 Liliana, the Last Hope
Oracle88, a.k.a. Etienne Busson, who defeated me in the finals of GP Lille last year, couldn’t quite close the deal this time and fell one game short of qualifying for the MOCS. His list was one card off Sam Pardee’s GP Calgary 2nd-place deck, only replacing a sideboard Explosives with a Ceremonious Rejection, which was a smart call given how popular Tron was in the small-field tournament.
It seems like Mishra’s Bauble is stock at this point and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is a neat addition, especially with the resurgence of Humans. It’s actually a card I’ve liked in the past in the U/W sideboard for the creature matchups as it filters a few draw steps, gives you a “free” block the turn it flips, and usually transforms before you cast your sweeper. It’s also a nice, flexible sideboard slot that you can bring in for grindier matchups.
Humans was the most played deck in the last Modern PT and while it probably won’t be this time around, the deck has been picking up steam, putting up top finishes. It seems to be none other than Kanister’s frontrunner as I’m writing this (he even just 5-0’d a League on his stream).
Humans being back is somewhat of a mystery to me as it doesn’t seem to have favorable matchups against some of the top meta decks like Izzet Phoenix or Tron, but it’s possible that it is not an underdog by too much in its bad matchups, and punishes the fringe decks more heavily. This could mean it ends up being a poor choice for this weekend.
_IlNano_, 3rd place at MOCS Playoff
1 Island 1 Plains 4 Ancient Ziggurat 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Horizon Canopy 1 Seachrome Coast 4 Unclaimed Territory 1 Anafenza, the Foremost 4 Champion of the Parish 1 Deputy of Detention 4 Kitesail Freebooter 4 Mantis Rider 4 Meddling Mage 4 Noble Hierarch 3 Phantasmal Image 4 Reflector Mage 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben 4 Thalia's Lieutenant 4 AEther Vial Sideboard 2 Deputy of Detention 4 Auriok Champion 2 Damping Sphere 1 Dismember 1 Gaddock Teeg 2 Knight of Autumn 2 Militia Bugler 1 Sin Collector
This list is very stock but I’ve also seen versions trimming Ancient Ziggurat for lands like Gemstone Mine or Mana Confluence, which allows you to cast noncreature sideboard cards like Chalice of the Void or Damping Sphere more consistently.
When I started writing, I legitimately thought Humans and Tron might be the two most represented decks in London but after taking a closer look at recent results, I think the trend will continue and Izzet Phoenix will be the most played deck this weekend.
The deck was unstoppable when it first came out, earning my teammate Eli Kassis two GP Top 8s, including a win in the first three months of 2019. The deck looked so strong that even Shaheen Soorani set aside his control cards for a weekend and was rewarded with a GP Top 8 of his own.
While the deck keeps putting up impressive results, it does seem like it has been in part out of sheer representation most recently even though the deck still performs well win-rate wise.
TiuTangClan, 12th place at MOCS Playoff
3 Island 1 Mountain 1 Flooded Strand 1 Misty Rainforest 4 Scalding Tarn 4 Spirebluff Canal 3 Steam Vents 4 Arclight Phoenix 4 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror 4 Faithless Looting 4 Serum Visions 4 Sleight of Hand 4 Lightning Bolt 4 Manamorphose 3 Noxious Revival 4 Thought Scour 4 Pyromancer Ascension 4 Opt Sideboard 2 Abrade 4 Alpine Moon 2 Crackling Drake 1 Echoing Truth 2 Lightning Axe 2 Ravenous Trap 2 Spell Pierce
This is an interesting take from Oliver Tiu that cuts Crackling Drake from the main and Surgical Extraction altogether, maxes out on Pyromancer Ascension, and plays three copies of Noxious Revival, which lets you go infinite.
I’m assuming that we’ll see a lot of slightly different versions of the deck in London. Phoenix is the most likely deck to show up in the Top 8.
I personally love playing Modern and I think the format is in a good place right now. My first impression of the London Mulligan has been positive and I think the rule will stick. Most matchups are really interesting and closer than they might seem. What reinforces that belief is that two good players will often have a different opinion on how an X vs. Y matchup should go depending on which side they’re playing while also agreeing that “it’s close.”
While I’m worried about my Limited preparation given the prerelease nature of the format and I don’t have especially high expectations for the MC, I’m excited to play some Modern and battle with what will probably be good old Blue-White Control.
Wish me luck!