News Brief: Wizards Announces Pioneer, Arcum’s Astrolabe and Field of the Dead Banned

Another Banned and Restricted list update, a MagicFest schedule, a new format, and a new Mythic Champion with a very familiar face. This is your week in Magic news.

Banned and Restricted List Update

Two weeks ago there was a Banned and Restricted List update where nothing changed. Two days later, Wizards of the Coast announced that there would be another announcement on October 21st, after the conclusion of Mythic Championship V. This was four weeks before the previously announced date of November 18th, giving Mythic Championship VI (November 8th-10th) competitors enough time to adjust to a potential new metagame.

This time around, there was certainly action taken. The October 21st Banned and Restricted List update banned Field of the Dead in Standard and Arcum’s Astrolabe in Pauper. Field of the Dead maintained a high win rate on Magic Online and Arena (although Mythic Championship V did not play into the decision to remove the card). The land also created complicated board states that would often play out the same, game after game. Play Design is also monitoring the combination of ramp and green planeswalkers in Standard, but decided to leave the cards alone for the time being.

Field of the DeadArcum's Astrolabe

Arcum’s Astrolabe decks were dominating Pauper, to the tune of a consistent 55% win rate. By effectively replacing itself and providing consistent mana, the card was able to take hold of the top of the metagame. Play Design believes that the metagame underneath the Astrolabe tier is healthy and decided not to make any additional changes.

These bans go into effect on October 21st for Magic Online, October 24th for Arena, and October 25th for tabletop. The next Banned and Restricted List update will be on November 18th.

Pioneer Format Announced

A new format was announced on October 21st – Pioneer. The cardpool for this format starts with Return to Ravnica and moves forward from there. The format will begin with five banned cards: Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills.

The October 24th edition of WeeklyMTG will provide more details about the format and the philosophy behind the banned list.

Pioneer intends to be a format between Modern and Standard. While Modern is not going anywhere, Pioneer wants to provide a similar “play your old Standard cards” with a lower threshold to overcome. The format will have support on Magic Online beginning October 23rd, including Weekend Challenges (with no format playoff in 2019), as well as PTQ and MOCS support. The format will also be part of series 1 for the Players Tour, including the Series 1 Players Tour finals.

MagicFest and Players Tour Schedule

More details have emerged about competitive play in 2020. The schedules for both MagicFests and for the Players Tour have been released. The announcement also went into more detail about who is eligible to participate in Players Tour events. Players can qualify for the Players Tour in the following ways:

● All players from the previous Players Tour Finals–for 2020 there will be an announcement about who has qualified before Mythic Championship VII

  • Top finishers from previous Players Tour
  • All members of the Magic Pro League and the Rivals League
  • Top 8 players (or those with 39 match points) and individual Grand Prix
  • Top 4 teams (or those with 36 match points) at Team Grand Prix
  • Players who qualify via Last Chance Qualifier, WPN Qualifier, Players Tour Qualifier, Premier Series events, or Magic Online Qualifier
  • Hall of Fame Status
  • Discretionary invites

Players can qualify for the Players Tour Finals in the following ways:

  • Top Players Tour finishers
  • Top finishers from previous Players Tour Finals
  • All Magic Pro League members
  • Winning a Grand Prix in a qualifying season

The first Players Tour season kicks off at the end of January, 2020 with the Finals for Series 1 taking place in Houston, April 24th-26th.

MTG Arena State of the Game Details Performance Issues; Upcoming Features

The latest MTG Arena State of the Game acknowledged that the program has been experiencing issues, especially in regards to crashing, reconnecting, and memory leaks. The release implores players to make bug reports and described fixes, both implemented and upcoming, to address the issues. The Friends List, which had been slated for an October release, has been pushed back to an undetermined date in an effort to focus on the performance issues.

Brawl will also be coming to Arena as a supported format. There will be a Brawl launch event from October 24th to November 1st which will award special card styles. And starting November 6th, there will be a Brawl queue available every Wednesday starting at 8am (Pacific time) for 24 hours.

Mythic Championship V

The first Mythic Championship featuring Throne of Eldraine as a legal set took place this past weekend in Long Beach, California. Mythic Championship V was an Arena Mythic Championship and the name of the game on Day One was Golos. Decks featuring Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead made up over a third of the metagame. Hot on the heels of Golos decks were Oko, Thief of Crowns decks. These two strategies headlined Standard, but there was a third pillar reared its head at MCV: Embercleave decks. The legendary equipment could pile on the damage early and did just that all weekend long.

At the start of play on Sunday, only 8 players remained to try and ascend to the throne of Mythic Champion:

  • Stanislav Cifka on Bant Ramp
  • Current World Champion and MPL member Javier Dominguez on Gruul Aggro
  • Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif on Simic Food
  • MPL Member, former World Champion, and Hall of Famer William Jensen on Simic Food
  • MPL Member and Mythic Invitational winner Andrea Mengucci on Bant Food
  • MPL Member and Hall of Famer Lee Shi Tian on Mono Red Cavalcade
  • MPL Member Ken Yukuhiro on Mardu Knights
  • MPL Member Jean-Emmanuel Depraz on Bant Golos

The Top 8 was a double-elimination affair. Dominguez, who picked Gruul Aggro for its ability to go under Golos decks, defeated Cifka, Nassif, and Depraz to earn his slot in the finals. His opponent would have to earn their way in via the lower bracket.

Depraz, in what would turn out to be Field of the Dead’s last stand, bested Yukuhiro and Mengucci before falling to Dominguez. But in the lower bracket he bounced back and saved his tournament by defeated Mengucci for a second time. Finding himself in the finals against Dominguez, Depraz had already qualified for the World Championship (Dominguez’s slot passed down as he is already qualified as the reigning World Champion). Depraz took two out of three games from Dominguez, setting up a winner-take-all match. It took three more games, but Dominguez’s deck did what it was designed to do and beat Golos. And with that, Javier Dominguez added another trophy to his impressive resume.

The Top 4 Challengers earning invitations to Mythic Championship VII are: Gabriel Nassif, Stanislav Cifka, Kenji Egashira, and Theo Moutier.

Looking Forward

The next major event on the schedule is MagicFest Phoenix. There, the Grand Prix will feature Throne of Eldraine Limited. And then in a few short weeks it’s Mythic Championship Richmond, where Standard, without Field of the Dead, will be on display.


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