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The Oko Meta: Analyzing the Metagame and Winrates of Mythic Championship Qualifier Weekend

Last weekend, another Mythic Championship Qualifier Weekend (MCQW) took place on MTG Arena. After a grueling qualification process, 102 players advanced to Day 2, which featured huge prizes. The Top 16 got an invitation to Mythic Championship VII, corresponding to an expected prize of over $10,000. Congratulations to the Top 16!

To lock up Day 2, competitors had to go 7-2 or better on Day 1 in a field populated by the Top 1,200 Mythic Constructed & Limited players from August and September. In other words, the Day 2 competitors were some of the best in the world.

Metagame and win rates of MCQW

Decklists (Part 1, Part 2) were made public, and live updates of results and standings could also be tracked down. However, the results page listed different usernames and was not in a format conducive for analysis. After massaging the format into a usable format (which has hyperlinks to all decklists in final standing order) I could run some numbers.

Deck archetype Players (% Field) Day 2 Record (win rate) Day 1 and Day 2 Record (win rate)
Sultai Food 37 (36.3%) 84-88 (48.8 +/- 7.5%) 378-151 (71.5 +/- 3.8%)
Simic Food 21 (20.6%) 56-48 (53.8 +/- 9.6%) 221-84 (72.5 +/- 5.0%)
Golgari Adventures 11 (10.8%) 25-28 (47.2 +/- 13.4%) 118-48 (71.1 +/- 6.9%)
Bant Food 8 (7.8%) 21-21 (50.0 +/- 15.1%) 87-35 (71.3 +/- 8.0%)
Gruul Aggro 5 (4.9%) 4-12 (25.0 +/- 21.2%) 42-22 (65.6 +/- 11.6%)
Temur Reclamation 4 (3.9%) 15-9 (62.5 +/- 19.4%) 49-17 (74.2 +/- 10.6%)
Simic Flash 3 (2.9%) 9-7 (56.3 +/- 24.3%) 32-13 (71.1 +/- 13.2%)
Jund Sacrifice 2 (2.0%) 1-5 (16.7%) 17-7 (70.8%)
Azorius Control 1 (1.0%) 4-2 (66.7%) 14-2 (87.5%)
Rakdos Sacrifice 1 (1.0%) 5-0 (100%) 13-2 (86.7%)
Mardu Knights 1 (1.0%) 4-2 (66.7%) 13-4 (76.5%)
Four-Color Fires 1 (1.0%) 4-2 (66.7%) 12-4 (75%)
Selesnya Adventures 1 (1.0%) 3-3 (50%) 12-5 (70.6%)
Esper Dance 1 (1.0%) 2-3 (40%) 11-5 (68.8%)
Jeskai Fires 1 (1.0%) 3-3 (50%) 11-5 (68.8%)
Grixis Fires 1 (1.0%) 3-3 (50%) 10-5 (66.7%)
Izzet Flash 1 (1.0%) 0-3 (0%) 9-5 (64.3%)
Temur Planeswalkers 1 (1.0%) 2-3 (40%) 9-5 (64.3%)
Gruul Adventures 1 (1.0%) N/A 8-2 (80%)

In this table, each deck name hyperlinks to the best-performing list of that archetype. To download decks from the WotC website in MTG Arena format, you could use this Chrome extension by Ben Brescka.

My overview provides the records and win rates for two sets of matches: (i) the set of Day 2 matches and (ii) the combined set of all Day 1 and Day 2 matches. Some notes:

  • Because we only know the decks and records of players who advanced to Day 2 and a minimum record of 7-2 was required to advance, these overall win rates all exceed 50%, but they are useful to compare between decks.
  • No Day 2 record is shown for the Gruul Adventures pilot because they did not participate in Day 2.
  • The confidence intervals, when provided, are based on a 95% confidence level under the normal approximation to the binomial distribution.

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Food decks dominated

Gilded GooseOko, Thief of CrownsWicked Wolf

As many people expected, given that it had been less than a week since the ban of Field of the Dead, the metagame revolved around Oko. Consider the following fun facts:

  • 68 of 102 decks that made Day 2 were Food decks, generally based around the same core of cards: Gilded Goose, Paradise Druid, Oko, Wicked Wolf, Nissa, Hydroid Krasis, and Once Upon a Time. I labeled all decks with Gilded Goose, Oko, and Nissa as “Food” but you could also call them “Midrange,” “Ramp,” or “Oko.” But regardless of your name, everything will be turned into a 3/3 Elk.
  • Only 6 of the 102 players were not playing green.
  • There were 130 main deck copies of Noxious Grasp, which translates to 1.27 Noxious Grasps per Day 2 player. It’s a good answer to the Food decks and a good metagame call, but it’s still absurd to see this many copies among main decks.
  • There were also 37 Mystical Dispute and 19 Aether Gust main deck.
  • There were more copies of Breeding Pools than copies of basic Swamp, basic Plains, or basic Mountain combined. (This stat was found by Redditor u/Borntowheep, and it’s too good not to share.)

Let’s take a look at the Deck To Beat right now.

Sultai Food

Dav3m, 15-0 at the MCQW

1 Island (335)
2 Swamp (339)
4 Breeding Pool
4 Fabled Passage
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Watery Grave
5 Forest (347)
2 Massacre Girl
4 Gilded Goose
4 Hydroid Krasis
4 Paradise Druid
4 Wicked Wolf
2 Vraska, Golgari Queen
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
4 Oko, Thief of Crowns
4 Noxious Grasp
4 Once Upon a Time

Sideboard
4 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire - Showcase
3 Mystical Dispute
2 Veil of Summer
1 Massacre Girl
1 Casualties of War
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Legion's End
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General
1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

The win rates of Sultai Food, Simic Food, and Bant Food were all very close together. After looking at the sample size and confidence intervals, I cannot make a strong conclusion on which version performed the best. However, Sultai Food was by far the most popular choice, and Dav3m qualified with an impressive 15-0 run using the above deck.

What stands out is the black splash, most notably for 4 main deck copies of Noxious Grasp (as well as a pair of Vraskas, which can kill Oko on the spot, and a pair of Massacre Girls, which can swing the otherwise unfavorable matchup against Selesnya Adventures). With the metagame truly warped towards green, the ability to play Noxious Grasp is what drew many Food players towards a Sultai build.

Possible ways to beat the Food decks

Based on the overall win rates of the various decks that made Day 2, three non-Food archetypes stand out. They had some of the best win-loss records in the field, and they appear to have the right tools to attack the current metagame. The following three decks all qualified for the Mythic Championship.

Temur Reclamation

Dftleonidas, 13-3 at the MCQW

1 Island (335)
2 Castle Vantress
2 Mountain (343)
4 Breeding Pool
4 Steam Vents
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Epiphany
4 Temple of Mystery
2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun
1 Negate
2 Aether Gust
2 Quench
2 Shock
3 Flame Sweep
3 Mystical Dispute
4 Chemister's Insight
4 Opt
4 Expansion/Explosion
4 Growth Spiral
4 Wilderness Reclamation

Sideboard
1 Flame Sweep
1 Mystical Dispute
2 Fry
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Veil of Summer
3 Lava Coil
4 Disdainful Stroke

 

I like this deck for several reasons:

  • Temur Reclamation players in Day 2 had the best win/loss record of any archetype that put more than one player in Day 2.
  • Enormous Explosions fueled by Wilderness Reclamation provide a way to go over the top of what the Food decks are doing.
  • Since Wilderness Reclamation is neither a creature nor a planeswalker, this deck has no targets for Noxious Grasp.
  • The main deck Aether Gusts and Mystical Disputes are not only well-positioned in the current metagame, but also let you exploit the Wilderness Reclamation mana during your opponent’s turn.
  • Teferi, Time Raveler has strongly declined in popularity—there were only 29 total Teferis in all main decks, i.e., 0.29 copies per player in Day 2. Teferi’s static ability was always a nightmare for any deck reliant on Wilderness Reclamation, but if there are not many Teferis around, then the time is right for Wilderness Reclamation decks.

Azorius Control

Edmvyrus, 14-2 at the MCQW

2 Castle Ardenvale
3 Castle Vantress
4 Fabled Passage
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Plains (331)
4 Tranquil Cove
6 Island (335)
1 Gadwick, the Wizened
2 Agent of Treachery
4 Brazen Borrower/Petty Theft
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
2 Mass Manipulation
4 Time Wipe
2 Mystical Dispute
3 Dovin's Veto
4 Absorb
4 Chemister's Insight
3 Prison Realm

Sideboard
4 Aether Gust
3 Glass Casket
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Mystical Dispute
1 Devout Decree
1 Finale of Glory
1 Realm-Cloaked Giant/Cast Off

I like this deck for several reasons:

  • Azorius Control may have only put one player in Day 2, but it had the best overall win/loss record of those singleton archetypes.
  • Again, with Teferi’s decline in popularity, it’s a good time to dust off those Absorbs and Dovin’s Vetos.
  • If the opponent tries to play around countermagic by not casting any spells, then you can punish them with Brazen Borrower or Chemister’s Insight.
  • If you can stall out the game long enough (say, with countermagic and/or sweepers) then you can defeat Food decks with Mass Manipulation and/or Agent of Treachery. Alternatively, Time Wipe returning Gadwick, the Wizened is what every control player dreams of.

Rakdos Sacrifice

Antonino, 13-2 at the MCQW

3 Castle Locthwain
4 Blood Crypt
4 Fabled Passage
6 Swamp (339)
7 Mountain (343)
2 Cavalier of Night
3 Gutterbones
4 Cauldron Familiar
4 Mayhem Devil
4 Midnight Reaper
4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
3 Angrath's Rampage
4 Claim the Firstborn
2 Noxious Grasp
4 Witch's Oven

Sideboard
1 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
2 Noxious Grasp
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker/Battle Display
2 Mask of Immolation
4 Dreadhorde Butcher
4 Duress

I like this deck for several reasons:

  • Black-Red Sacrifice may have only put one player in Day 2, but it had the best Day 2 win/loss record of those singleton archetypes.
  • Payoff cards such as Priest of Forgotten Gods and Mayhem Devil synergize so well with the rest of the deck. You can combine Priest of the Forgotten Gods with Gutterbones or Claim the Firstborn to generate value, and you can shoot down the entire battlefield with Mayhem Devil when you have Witch’s Oven plus Cauldron Familiar going. It’s these synergies that can overpower Oko’s Food generation, which other aggro decks generally have trouble with.
  • Food decks have relatively little removal apart from Wicked Wolf, which gives you ample opportunity to assemble all the synergies. Sure, they can turn your creatures into 3/3 Elks, but you can punish them for that because you are an aggro deck. When they turn your two-drop into a 3/3 attacker, they will often lose the damage race.
  • Angrath’s Rampage is an excellent answer to pesky planeswalkers.
  • This deck has no targets for Noxious Grasp, but it can play the removal spell itself.
  • It was played by Antonino de Rosa, a veteran player who had many excellent Grand Prix and Pro Tour finishes a decade ago. It’s exciting to see him back at a Mythic Championship.

In slightly less than two weeks from now, Mythic Championship VI in Richmond will take place, and it will be exciting to see which anti-Food decks the competitors will have found or tuned with one or two additional weeks of testing. Then again, maybe everything will have just turned into 3/3 Elks by then. We’ll have to wait and find out. But the dominance of Oko at the MCQW was another level, and if that doesn’t change then another ban may be necessary soon.

Discussion

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