Mono-Red Was Extremely Popular At The MCQW, But It Didn’t Perform Well

Last weekend, a huge event took place on MTG Arena. Day 2 of the MCQW [the Mythic Championship Qualifier Weekend] featured 128 players and a total prize pool that came close to that of an old Pro Tour. Indeed, the Top 16 got an invitation to Mythic Championship III. Each invitation corresponds to an expected prize of over $10,000.

To advance to Day 2, competitors had to go at least 6-2 on Day 1 in a field populated by the top 1,000 mythic players from April and May. So the competitors were some of the best in the world, and they had strong incentives to bring their best decks.

Deck lists [Part 1, Part 2] were made public, and live updates of standings could also be tracked down. In this article, I use that information to provide a metagame breakdown, win-rate analysis, and an overview of interesting decks.


The following table breaks down all 125 deck lists that I saw and named when I visited the deck list pages. Each deck name hyperlinks to the best-performing list of that archetype.

Deck archetype Number of players Percentage of field
Mono-Red 36 28.8%
Gruul Midrange 12 9.6%
Four-Color Dreadhorde 10 8.0%
Azorius Aggro 7 5.7%
Esper Hero 6 4.8%
Grixis Bolas 5 4.0%
Jeskai SuperFriends 5 4.0%
Izzet Phoenix 5 4.0%
Simic Mass Manipulation 4 3.2%
Sultai Dreadhorde 4 3.2%
Simic Nexus 4 3.2%
Bant Midrange 4 3.2%
Esper SuperFriends 4 3.2%
Bant Ramp 3 2.4%
White Weenie 3 2.4%
Gruul Warriors 3 2.4%
Selesnya Tokens 2 1.6%
Golgari Land Destruction 2 1.6%
Jeskai Control 2 1.6%
Abzan Midrange 1 0.8%
Mono Green Tron 1 0.8%
Mono Blue Tempo 1 0.8%
Boros Feather 1 0.8%

Goblin Chainwhirler came out in droves. The majority of the Mono-Red lists looked very similar to the one from Martin Juza’s #1 Mythic Guide. Yet after the dust settled, only one Mono-Red player managed to finish in the Top 16.


By doing some spreadsheet magic on each round’s results, I was able to determine the win-loss record (excluding mirror matches) for all archetypes with 3 or more pilots. For the corresponding match win-rates, I provide the 95% Clopper-Pearson confidence interval to highlight that the sample sizes impede our ability to draw statistically significant conclusions.

Deck archetype Record Match win rate Interval
Mono-Red 57-74 43.5% 34.9% – 52.4%
Gruul Midrange 31-25 55.4% 41.5% – 68.7%
Four-Color Dreadhorde 17-25 40.5% 25.6% – 56.7%
Azorius Aggro 13-15 48.3% 27.5% – 66.1%
Esper Hero 9-18 33.3% 16.5% – 54.0%
Grixis Bolas 7-14 33.3% 14.6% – 57.0%
Jeskai SuperFriends 18-14 56.3% 37.7% – 73.6%
Izzet Phoenix 17-5 77.3% 54.6% – 92.2%
Simic Mass Manipulation 8-13 38.1% 18.1% – 61.6%
Sultai Dreadhorde 9-10 47.4% 24.4% – 71.1%
Simic Nexus 12-9 57.1% 34.0% – 78.2%
Bant Midrange 14-9 60.9% 34.5% – 76.8%
Esper SuperFriends 17-7 70.8% 48.9% – 87.4%
Bant Ramp 5-9 35.7% 12.8% – 64.9%
White Weenie 5-5 50.0% 18.7% – 81.3%
Gruul Warriors 12-7 63.2% 38.4% – 83.7%

It appears that players were ready for Runaway Steam-Kin. Yet remarkably good results were posted by Gruul Midrange, Jeskai Superfriends, Izzet Phoenix, Esper Superfriends, and Gruul Warriors. If you’re looking for a deck to beat Mono-Red, then these would be at the top of my list of decks to try.

Most Interesting Decks

Regardless of their Day 2 record, several decks stand out as unique or fascinating.

Mono-Green Tron

KYORI, 1-2 in Day 2 of the MCQW

17 Forest
2 Blast Zone
4 Field of Ruin
4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Paradise Druid
4 Wildgrowth Walker
4 Karn, the Great Creator
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
4 Ugin, the Ineffable
1 Adventurous Impulse
2 Bond of Flourishing
2 Crucible of Worlds

4 Ripjaw Raptor
3 Forced Landing
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 God-Pharaoh's Statue
1 Meteor Golem
1 Silent Dart
1 Silent Gravestone
1 Vivien Reid

Okay, there are no Urza lands in this deck, but it’s Mono-Green and it contains both Karn and Ugin. Tron seems like an appropriate name.

It’s also what Felix Sloo, whose 5-0 MTGO list was seemingly copied by Kyori, called it. Felix offered a Karn activation guide and a sideboard guide on Twitter.

There are two reasons for staying Mono-Green. First, Nissa, Who Shakes the World excels when your mana base is mainly composed of Forests. Second, it becomes easier to run Field of Ruin. Field of Ruin is particularly potent against decks like 4-color Dreadhorde that play no basic lands at all. By recurring Field Of Ruin with Crucible of Worlds, you essentially get a Strip Mine every turn.

Bant Ramp

NOBEL, 3-3 in Day 2 of the MCQW

5 Forest
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Breeding Pool
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
4 Llanowar Elves
2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
4 Frilled Mystic
4 Hydroid Krasis
3 Incubation Druid
4 Steel Leaf Champion
3 Paradise Druid
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
2 Mass Manipulation
2 Entrancing Melody

4 Dovin's Veto
2 Entrancing Melody
2 Knight of Autumn
2 Deputy of Detention
2 Negate
2 Atzocan Archer
1 Baffling End

This is the second Nissa, Who Shakes the World deck in a row, and again picking a deck name isn’t trivial.

Is it Bant Stompy? Well, between Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion, it’s certainly capable of aggressive starts, but most of the time you won’t be attacking early on.

Is it Bant Midrange? Well, it does have the capability to bounce its own Frilled Mystic with Teferi, Time Raveler, but it focuses more on ramping into x-spells with Nissa.

Is it Simic Mass Manipulation? Well, it’s similar to that, but there are only two Mass Manipulations and two Entrancing Melody, so stealing creatures isn’t at the forefront.

I ultimately settled on Bant Ramp for the deck name. I think one of the biggest advantages of this particular build is that it combines different strategies, making it capable of playing a different role every game. As a result, the deck must be a lot of fun to play and very difficult to sideboard against.

Boros Feather

ROCKYH, 5-2 in Day 2 of the MCQW

7 Plains
5 Mountain
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Clifftop Retreat
2 Boros Guildgate
4 Feather, the Redeemed
4 Tenth District Legionnaire
4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Dreadhorde Arcanist
2 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
2 Gideon Blackblade
2 Gird for Battle
4 Defiant Strike
4 Reckless Rage
4 Shock
1 Samut's Sprint
3 Sheltering Light

4 Legion Warboss
2 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
2 Lava Coil
2 Prison Realm
1 Healing Grace
1 Chandra, Fire Artisan
1 Demystify

I was delighted to see Feather, the Redeemed in Day 2. The deck missed Top 16 on tiebreakers.

When Feather is on the battlefield, Reckless Rage kills multiple creatures per turn cycle. The list looks fairly stock, with Aurelia and Gideon holding the flex slots. I’m excited to give this one a try.

Grixis Bolas


1 Mountain
1 Swamp
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Steam Vents
3 Sulfur Falls
4 Watery Grave
4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
2 Dire Fleet Daredevil
4 Dreadhorde Butcher
4 Legion Warboss
4 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager/Nicol Bolas, the Arisen
3 Captain Lannery Storm
4 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
2 Thought Erasure
1 Angrath's Rampage
4 Shock
3 Spell Pierce
1 Tyrant's Scorn
3 Cast Down

1 Ugin, the Ineffable
2 Negate
2 Ob Nixilis's Cruelty
2 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove
2 Duress
1 Enter the God-Eternals
2 Vraska's Contempt
1 The Eldest Reborn
2 Disdainful Stroke

Ah, four copies of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. I’ve seen that before. So then you just add some Cry of the Carnarium or Ritual of Soot and…

Wait, what’s that? Dreadhorde Butcher? Captain Lannery Storm? Wow. This suddenly turned into an aggro Bolas deck.

The two haste creatures actually make sense. The deck has plenty of removal spells to clear the way for Dreadhorde Butcher, which could go the distance all by himself. And Captain Lannery Storm helps ramp into a turn-4 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. This is a spicy list.

Congratulations to the Top 16!

According to the ESL website, the Top 16 is:

  1. JBudde
  2. Hibananafish
  3. Ucad
  4. Levunga
  5. TwoSixFive
  6. FNMWorldChampion
  7. FleshEatinGnome
  8. Eso
  9. Simongoertzen
  10. Patrick50
  11. Crokodil
  12. Divide
  13. Rooney56
  14. tanaka
  15. Magician15
  16. Yuma

Two names stand out to me.

First, Magician15 is the handle of professional Magic player and content creator Corey Burkhart—the only Mono-Red player to make it to the Top 16.

Second, Simongoertzen is, well…

Simon is going to crush it, along with everything else who managed to reach the Top 16 of this massive, formidable qualifier weekend. Mythic Championship III will take place on June 21-23. I’ll be watching.

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