Wow, what a great weekend of Magic! The MTG World Championship occurred over the weekend, played on MTG Arena with three rounds of booster draft and seven rounds, plus the top 4, all being Standard. There were a lot of stories over the weekend. The young superstar Ondrej Strasky demolished the first seven rounds of the tournament; Grixis Lier teammates Matt Sperling and Jan Merkel played a mirror match for a berth in the top 4; Jean-Emmanuel Depraz showed up with a deck that was totally off the radar and showed why he’s such a great competitor; and Yuta Takahashi gave up three wins in Limited, knowing that he was an invincible Standard player, and went on to win the entire thing.
Yuta took his deck and proved that Goldspan Dragon has still got it. The card is completely insane. While Yuuya’s deck had Alrund’s Epiphanies, he was often boarding some out, and Goldspan Dragon was doing the bulk of the work. Expressive Iteration is just such a good card and Memory Deluge is also making big waves. I’d like to take a moment to compliment Yuta on how great he played and what a deserving champion he is. It was so awesome to be able to see how happy and honored he was to be having his moment and living his dream. Huge congrats to him! Izzet Dragons had a 56.7 percent win rate win rate this week on Untapped.gg.
The best Izzet Epiphany of the weekend was the Czech Izzet Epiphany deck, and the best finishing player with the deck was Ondrej Strasky. Ondrej’s version of the deck was pretty innovative compared to a lot of the recent lists, most notably opting for the full four copies of both Galvanic Iteration and Unexpected Windfall. Congratulations to Ondrej on a great tournament! I said it earlier, but he’s a real superstar. It was tough to see his poor run in the top 4, but to the extent it’s possible, I’d expect to continue to see great things from him in the future. The Czech’s Epiphany list is so different than what existed previously, I think it would be slightly misleading to include stats on it.
3. Grixis Lier
One of my best friends, Gabriel Nassif, and his team of Eli Kassis, Matt Sperling and Jan Markel brought a Grixis Lier list to the tournament. I spent a lot of time playing this deck in the past week and have had a lot of success. According to them though, it’s a little behind against the Czech Izzet deck, so it might be a tough place to be. I think the Grixis deck was really good against Mono-Green, though that turned out to be not that well represented in the tournament compared to the leadup. That being said, Mono-Green is heavily represented on the ladder, which potentially makes Grixis a good option there.
Jan Markel had the best performance with the deck, ending the tournament in third place. For what it’s worth, if you haven’t been watching, Jan has been playing on an absolutely insane level, and crushing most tournaments that he enters across various formats. It’s been awesome to watch. Congrats to Jan on the finish! Grixis was a rogue deck going into the weekend, so I don’t have data to quote on this deck either.
Jean-Emmanuel brought this Temur Treasure deck to Worlds. The deck was similar to the old Gruul Magda decks, with Negate in the main deck. Depraz made a metagame call, as he often does, and he was right, as he often is. The deck performed really well, and Jean-Emmanuel piloted it to a second place finish in the event, partly due to some tough luck in the finals. Watching JED play over the past couple years has been a real privilege. Congratulations to him on a great event and great finish! Again, I don’t have data to quote.
This was a pretty tough weekend for Mono-Green. Arguably the two best players in the world brought it to the event, Seth Manfield and Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa. The best finishing player with the deck was Sam Pardee, who ended up losing a playoff match to JED for a spot in the top four. I think part of the reason Mono-Green struggled a little was because it had such a target on it’s head. The Grixis deck was built in a way to be strong there, and cards like Unexpected Windfall were particularly good in the green matchup. Mono-Green is still a great deck, with many of the best creatures and even somehow the best removal spell in the format in Blizzard Brawl. It was the most popular deck on the ladder this week according to Untapped.gg and also had the best win rate at 67.4 percent.
Mono-White showed up at Worlds as well, but it just wasn’t able to put the results together to get anyone to the top of the standings. It’s a strong deck, but unfortunately I think it’s a bit outclassed by Mono-Green. It has some disruption in the form of Elite Spellbinder as well as Reidane, God of the Worthy, but it doesn’t seem like it was enough to stop the various Epiphany decks, and especially not the ones with several copies of Burn Down the House. Mono-White had a 66.2 percent win rate this week according to Untapped.gg.
Azorius Tempo was fun to watch this weekend, piloted by Noriyuki Mori. When this deck had good draws, it looked unstoppable. On the other hand, when the deck puttered out a little or ended up with cards like Concerted Defense being drawn in the late game, it could come across a little clunky. I think the ultimate issue is that the power level just wasn’t high enough compared to some of the things other people were doing.
Azorius Control is a deck that I still feel has a chance to break through. Control decks typically take longer to tune, so I’m mostly including this deck so that if Azorius Control ends up being good, I can claim I called it, and if it doesn’t, we can never speak of this again.