Last weekend, Mythic Championship V was played, which marked the second Mythic Championship held on MTG Arena. With a total prize pool of $750,000 up for grabs in Throne of Eldraine Standard, it was a high-stakes event that threw together 68 players for three days of competition, and we got to see some incredible Magic.
— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) October 20, 2019
In the end, Embercleave was the card of the tournament, and reigning World Champion Javier Dominguez emerged victorious with Gruul Aggro. But the question on many people’s minds was “How did Bant Golos do?” Indeed, as shown in my metagame breakdown, Bant Golos was the most popular deck by far, and in total 43% of the players were playing Field of the Dead.
After 14 rounds of modified Swiss, only a single Bant Golos player made Top 8, but all eight players who finished in 9-16th were playing Field of the Dead. These are muddled signals regarding the deck’s performance, so it’s more informative to look at the overall match win rates.
Match win rates at Mythic Championship V by deck archetype
By analyzing the round-by-round results, we can determine the match win rates of all decks in non-mirror, non-bye matches over all three days of competition. This yields the following breakdown.
|Bant Golos||59-59 (50.0%)|
|Simic Food||51-49 (51.0%)|
|Golgari Adventure||12-22 (35.3%)|
|Bant Ramp||27-20 (57.4%)|
|Golos Fires||22-22 (50.0%)|
|Gruul Aggro||15-17 (46.9%)|
|Bant Food||20-15 (57.1%)|
|Mardu Knights||13-13 (50.0%)|
|Selesnya Adventure||11-15 (42.3%)|
|Four-Color Golos||9-5 (64.3%)|
|Jeskai Fires||3-4 (42.9%)|
|Jund Midrange||4-3 (57.1%)|
|Mono-Red Cavalcade||6-4 (60.0%)|
|Rakdos Sacrifice||0-4 (0.0%)|
Both Bant Golos and Golos Fires won exactly 50% of their non-mirror, non-bye matches over all three days of competition. This is not the sign of an unbeatable deck. A very strong deck, surely, but not unbeatable. Decks like Mono-Red Cavalcade and Mardu Knights crushed the slow, lumbering Bant Golos strategies, going a combined 7-2 against them.
For the other deck archetypes, sample sizes are too small to draw definite conclusions, but it’s noteworthy that Edgewall Innkeeper decks performed poorly: Golgari Adventure had a 35% win rate and Selesnya Adventure had a 42% win rate. They fared poorly in their matches against both Golos and the rest of the field.
By contrast, decks with Oko and Nissa performed well. In particular, Bant Ramp and Bant Food both sported a 57% win rate. These two archetypes, which did well against both Golos and the rest of the field, are actually very similar. The main difference is that the Ramp build has more acceleration to focus on the turn-3 Nissa plan whereas the Food build has Wicked Wolf in the main deck, but their shells are similar. If I would have to make a choice, then based on raw win-loss records, Bant Ramp is the deck of the tournament for me.
Stanislav Cifka, Top 8 at Mythic Championship V
7 Forest (347) 1 Island (335) 2 Fabled Passage 2 Temple of Mystery 4 Temple Garden 4 Breeding Pool 4 Hallowed Fountain 2 Castle Vantress 4 Gilded Goose 2 Arboreal Grazer 4 Hydroid Krasis 3 Deputy of Detention 1 Agent of Treachery 4 Paradise Druid 2 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns 4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 4 Once Upon a Time 2 Growth Spiral Sideboard 3 Wicked Wolf 3 Disdainful Stroke 2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 2 Ashiok, Dream Render 2 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire - Showcase 2 Veil of Summer 1 Mass Manipulation
Match win rates by invitation source
Out of curiosity, I ran the numbers on how well certain groups of players did.
|Magic Pro League||175-154 (53.2%)|
|Mythic Championship Qualifier Weekend||66-69 (48.9%)|
|Past Performance||7-16 (30.4%)|
|Discretionary Invite||55-64 (46.2%)|
“Past Performance” invites were awarded to the top 4 Challengers (i.e., non-MPL players) from the previous Arena Mythic Championship: Greg Orange, Matias Leveratto, Raphael Levy, and Kai Budde. This group did not fare well at Mythic Championship V.
Let’s hope that the top 4 challengers from Mythic Championship V (Stanislav Cifka, Gabriel Nassif, Kenji Egashira, and Théo Moutier) will not face the same fate at Mythic Championship VII.
How Should Bans Be Determined?
There are a lot of factors that must be considered and perspectives that one can take.
One is to look at raw results and match win rates. If a deck is dominating with a high win rate (say, 55% or more) despite having a clear target on its back and everyone gunning for it, then that is indicative of an unbeatable strategy. Another perspective is whether a deck encourages competitive diversity. Unfortunately, the existence of Bant Golos invalidated several strategies. There were zero control decks at Mythic Championship V, largely because it’s impossible to beat Bant Golos in the late-game.
At the same time, Golos decks were not the only problematic decks. As I mentioned, decks with Oko and Nissa had an excellent performance at Mythic Championship V, and Oko in particular has proven to be extremely powerful. If Oko decks dominate, then certain strategies may also be invalidated. It’s hard to build around The Great Henge when it just gets turned into an Elk, and aggro decks have trouble dealing with planeswalkers that go up to six loyalty right away.
Personally, while I see the dangers, I believe that bans come with a large cost and that the banhammer should only come down when it is unquestionably necessary. As Throne of Eldraine Standard is merely one month old and new angles are still being discovered, I was not clamoring for any bans.
By the time this article goes live, we should know what R&D decided. Let me know in the comment section what you think about it in the light of the Mythic Championship V results!