This past weekend featured the Strixhaven Championship and for the first time in a while, a completely new deck dominated the event. You can replay all the featured matches on twitch.tv/magic and check out some more coverage pieces at magic.gg. One interesting piece of data that I want to mention before we dive into the Historic Power Rankings is that Brainstorm decks went 58% vs non-Brainstorm decks at the event. There were 31 copies of Brainstorm in the Top 8. If you want to win in Historic right now, the combination of Brainstorm and Steam Vents seems like the way to go.
1. Jeskai Turns
What started as a brew from Zachary Kiihne turned out to be one the most powerful thing to be doing in the Historic format and at the top of the Historic Power Rankings. Zach basically broke it two months ago. The reason why this deck is so powerful is that you have a turn four combo, but you can also easily play the long and grindy game. You have a lot of card selection and removal, so you don’t mind if the game goes long, especially after sideboard where you can just sit on Shark Typhoons and Commence the Endgame and just make tokens at the end of turn while holding countermagic. This deck had the highest win rate of the top decks in the tournament and has a whopping 63.6 percent win rate on Untapped.gg between Platinum and Mythic.
Izzet Phoenix continues being a great choice for any Historic event. It’s one of the most powerful and consistent decks thanks to all the card draw spells and it’s excellent at finding its one-ofs and sideboard cards while also having both a strong early game and a great late game. A 57.7 percent win rate on Untapped.gg is about what I would expect.
This deck is playing a lot of similar cards to Jeskai Turns, but uses them for different effects. While Jeskai Turns usually wants to use Prismari Command to make a Treasure and dig deeper into the deck for its combo pieces, Jeskai Control will usually use it as a removal spell and make the opponent discard two cards without drawing any thanks to having Narset, Parter of Veils in play. Instead of having the Indomitable Creativity/Velomachus Lorehold combo kill, Jeskai Control wants to finish the game with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Shark Typhoon. If the metagame shifts towards players having a lot of main deck answers to Creativity, for example Abrade or Brazen Borrower, it might be good to rely on planeswalkers again instead. A 55.6 percent win rate on Untapped.gg between Platinum and Mythic tells you it’s a pretty safe choice right now.
As far as Tier 1 decks go in the Historic Power Rankings, this is pretty much it at the moment. Jeskai Turns is a little bit ahead of everything else, followed by Izzet Phoenix mostly for its consistency, then another slight drop to Jeskai Control which is still a solid pick. There are a lot of other playable decks, but after these three, everything else in the Historic Power Rankings is Tier 2 or worse.
Hatebears like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Archon of Emeria seem quite appealing in a Jeskai/Phoenix format. Anger of the Gods is not your friend though and unfortunately you’ll find at least three copies of that card in most red decks right now. Still, this deck keeps putting up some decent numbers and Untapped.gg even has it at 60.9 percent win rate on the Arena ladder, which is a number I would not expect from this deck in a big Historic tournament.
Autumn went 6-0 against Phoenix at the Championship with this really new cool take on Niv-Mizzet that makes the deck look more like Esper Control than an actual five-color deck. Crushing Phoenix is something that makes me quite interested in the deck, though I’m not sure of the matchup against Jeskai Turns where your removal spells like Vanishing Verse and Lightning Helix won’t do anything. Untapped.gg has this list at just over 49.9 percent, which signals that the rest of the matchups are probably not as great, but I would like to check that out for myself first before I make any conclusions.
Usually, if you’re trying to beat combo or slow control decks, one of the best strategies is to use a really fast aggressive deck with disruptive discard spells. Mono-Black Aggro even adds a Faceless Haven to this mix and has Doom Blade or Heartless Act to kill Velomachus Lorehold even if they managed to get it into play. At the same time, discard spells are not nearly as good as they used to be now that Brainstorm is the most played card in the entire format. Untapped.gg shows the win rate for this deck is 59%, which is a bit too high in my opinion.
7. Gruul Aggro
Gruul is a fine deck if you want to play something aggressive right now, but without any interaction in Game 1, you’re just at the mercy of the Turns deck most of the time. It had a 55.3 percent win rate between Platinum to Mythic on Untapped.gg.
8. Jund Food
In the last CFB Pro showdown, we saw that Jund Food can have a pretty good matchup against Phoenix, which has a hard time dealing with a Mayhem Devil. At the same time, you shouldn’t expect to beat the Jeskai Turns deck with cards like Cauldron Familiar, Binding the Old Gods and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. If you want to play Jund Food right now, I would at least suggest adding some Abrades to the main deck and trying to come up with a good plan against Turns. Platinum to Mythic at Untapped.gg has this deck at 59.1 percent, which isn’t something I would expect from this deck moving forward.
9. Dimir Control
We saw some of the top players like Carlos Romao bring Dimir Control to the Championship and I think there’s a way to tune this deck well to have a great matchup against the Jeskai decks. I’m not sure how do you deal with multiple copies of Arclight Phoenix though, as Baleful Mastery seems a bit too expensive to me, but I’ll definitely try to find out. This deck doesn’t appear to be popular enough to have a win rate on Untapped.gg either.
10. Azorius Auras
I thought Orzhov Auras was one of the best, if not the best deck in the format before the Mystical Archive, but now that Izzet Phoenix plays a bunch of Shocks and Lightning Axes and Brainstorm makes your discard spells look a lot weaker. I’d just set the deck aside for the time being as it’s not good enough.
At the Strixhaven Championship, I got reminded by one of my opponents that you don’t need to play black though and that blue still exists, which I thought made a lot of sense. Instead of discard spells, you can now go back to playing interaction like Spell Pierce and Dovin’s Veto, which are both great against Jeskai Turns. Like Dimir Control, this wasn’t popular enough to have a win rate on Untapped.gg either.