Congratulations to Autumn Burchett for taking down the first Mythic Championship with Mono-Blue Tempo! Going from a budget FNM Hero deck to winning one of the toughest competitions in Magic over the course of one set has certainly been an upgrade for the deck. The kicker is that the best cards were already here. Curious Obsession and Tempest Djinn let you play a very interactive and aggressive deck while not skimping on power cards.
While Mono-Blue won the day and Sultai Midrange failed to find a Top 8 finish, it should be noted that Sultai Midrange remained a respectable chunk of the winner’s metagame. Hydroid Krasis is a big reason for that finish and gives midrange decks the longevity required to battle decks like Esper and other midrange strategies. While Mono-Blue may be enjoying top honors, don’t expect Krasis to be going anywhere.
Alright explore package, I’m kind of tired of seeing you in a successful midrange deck. There seems to be a theme with Wildgrowth Walker—the format comes out and is aggro-heavy so Wildgrowth Walker is great. Then the format over corrects and decks try to bully midrange or make cuts to make midrange go bigger, so Wildgrowth loses value and people write think pieces on cutting them. Then inevitably by the time the Pro Tour / Mythic Championship rolls around the meta stabilizes and everyone runs 3-4 Walkers anyway and nobody cuts them for the rest of the season. Just keep a playset in your 75 and skip the question altogether next time.
While Simic Nexus may have been kept in check, it was by no means a pushover this past weekend. Simic builds ended up being the go-to and Michael Bonde had the best finish of all of them with a Top 8 berth. The base build seems to have been settled on and with that I can safely say Growth Spiral allows for so much of the degeneracy. Growth Spiral allowing the deck to turn 3 a Wilderness Reclamation or sneak around Spell Pierce due to being an instant is one of the biggest strengths in the deck. It looks unassuming but Growth Spiral is the key piece that keeps this deck from being a turn too slow against aggro.
Thief of Sanity
In a way the sideboard plan from Esper involving Thief of Sanity is almost scarier than their game 1 configuration. In the matches where Thief is good, it is game-changing and one of the best threats in the format. It allows the deck to take a much more effective, proactive approach post-board than Simic Nexus while doing the same things. It also ends up with quite a bit of value in matches you may not otherwise want it, meaning you always need to respect the possibility of Thief.
Negate is basically the only reason Simic Nexus and Wilderness Reclamation in general haven’t already dominated this format. Instead of another dumpster fire of a format we have quite possibly the best Standard format of all time and cards like Negate and Duress are a big reason why. To put it in perspective, there were 284 copies of Negate in the top finishing Standard decks with nearly 3/4ths of the field packing them in some capacity. While it does skew the format a bit blue heavy, with the good mana we enjoy that’s not really much of a complaint.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
While Ikawa was defeated in a close finals match, it showed that Esper Control is plenty viable and that despite many Arena complaints you don’t really need a win condition (except to beat Nexus) besides Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. In case it hasn’t already been established, Teferi is probably going down as the 2nd or 3rd best planeswalker of all time and arguably is more relevant in Modern than its predecessor, Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
While Azorius Aggro and WW didn’t quite live up to the billing they had going into Championship Weekend, it still netted plenty of players 6 wins or more and the Elephant is a big reason why. It’s by far the best card in aggro mirrors as it limits vulnerability to spot removal and plays well with the mono 1-drop plan many of the decks are taking. Shout outs to players who thought skipping 2-3 points of damage was a deal breaker on the best pump spell in the deck.
Standard Rankings Updated: February 25, 2019
Tron and Ironworks dominated GP Vegas, and the full Top 32 results didn’t look any better for those arguing that this card is remotely fair while Preordain and Ponder sit on the sidelines. It isn’t so much that the card should be banned, though you could make the argument. It’s that it feels so strange that colorless-heavy decks get such a strong filter card.
Opal was always broken, but besides banning Matt Nass from Modern, the correct play may be to finally axe it out of the format. Affinity with Karn, Scion of Urza is so close to crossing the line that only the sheer number of other linear decks is keeping it in check. Meanwhile Krark-Clan Combo continues to gain traction and wins every Modern GP that Matt Nass deigns to enter. Opal or Stirrings will likely be the next to go if these results continue… or until people start playing Stony Silence.
Despite the number of combo and Tron decks in the Vegas Top 32, Company decks continue to put up results. It’s almost a given at this point that when you look at a major Modern tournament, you’ll see a handful of Counters Company decks. Access to such a strong toolbox, along with a combo kill, is just good. Now all it needs are a few more ways to fight Tron.
It’s difficult to overstate how dominant Tron was this past weekend. Six of the Top 16 were Tron decks and while the Top 32 flattened it, a full 25% of the Top 32 is a great rate in a format like Modern. This is not a common occurrence and as a result, midrange decks just don’t exist right now.
Speaking of card draw spells that are better than anything blue has access to, Faithless Looting has slowly spread from exclusively combo decks to every deck that can mitigate pitching cards to the graveyard. Mardu Pyromancer and Grixis Shadow both jamming Looting alongside Hollow One should speak to just how good this card is.
Humans did its usual thing, putting up a bunch of numbers, but didn’t look that impressive in the effort. The Top 32 was dominated by Humans and it continues to be a solid choice, but the prime time for Humans has passed as people continue to play silly linear decks that make you dead and keep winning.
Gerry Thompson just keeps going at it with Mardu Pyromancer, and while it isn’t quite the connection that Matt Nass has to obscure combo decks, it’s starting to be a safe bet that Gerry is showing up with Bedlam Reveler. Mardu Pyromancer is one of those weird decks that’s hard to pin down. It doesn’t seem to see play in line with its strength, much like KCI was ignored until Matt Nass started crushing every GP with it. Perhaps we’ll see it pick up as people continue to jam Humans in droves for every Modern event.
Despite being outright bad against half of the Top 32, Lightning Bolt continues to remain the most popular card in Modern to the shock of no one. This is a nod to that fact, and not how well it lines up against the top decks in Modern. In fact, you should probably be eyeing decks that don’t run this all-timer.