How’s it going everyone? Today we’re looking at the various format challenges from this past weekend on Magic Online. These events are six to nine round events that feature some of the best players in the world battling it out for prizes and clout. This is one-stop-shop to look at all the decks that finished with at least two top 16s over the course of the two challenges per format on Magic Online.
Think of this article as your metric for the diversity of decks in the winners’ metagame of each format along with taking a brief look at what decks might be quietly over-performing despite previous expectations.
Remember how I said that this article can serve as a measurement of deck diversity at the winner’s tables? Well, for Standard, we can throw that right out. There were only four decks with two or more top 16s and among those four decks, there were clearly two that outpaced the rest of the field by more than three-times.
Jeskai Hinata remains at the top of the Standard Metagame with 13 top finishes. Since winning the Streets of New Capenna Set Championship, there has been some developments in the metagame for challenges on Magic Online, but it seems like most top players have started taking this deck and running it right to the top tables without much adaptation. While one other deck also put-up strong results, it is hard to dismiss the dominance of Jeskai Hinata in Standard. The deck won both challenges and put-up an additional six copies into top 8, meaning half of the two-challenge top 8s were Jeskai Hinata.
Alongside Jeskai Hinata, Orzhov Midrange put up a strong showing of 10 top finishes, coming off the heels of streamer Misplaced Ginger winning a challenge with the deck last week. This appears to be the only major challenger to Jeskai Hinata’s crown in Standard, but the deck had issues beating Hinata in the top 8 with a top 4 finish Saturday and a finals appearance Sunday, losing to Hinata both times. While Orzhov Midrange may be poised to beat the rest of the format, if it can beat Hinata is still up for deliberation.
Alongside Jeskai Hinata and Orzhov Midrange, Boros Aggro and Mono Green Stompy put up 3 and 2 qualifying finishes respectively. That’s right, the only other decks with more than one top finish each add up to half of Orzhovs’ finishes combined. That’s not a great place for any format to be in terms of diversity and while these decks appear to be strong, it is concerning that we could add the third and fourth place decks together, multiply it twice, and still not reach the top spot.
Pioneer has been having some major shake-ups since the banning of Expressive Iteration and Winota, Joiner of Forces. With these major staples out of the format, Mono Green Devotion quickly sprinted ahead of the pack, but the past few weekends, we’ve seen the meta start to catch up and take down Karn, the Great Creator. This weekend, Mono Green didn’t have a single top 16 finish between the two challenges and seems to have fallen off the radar of top decks.
Keeping that in mind, we’ve seen an uptick in a few decks including Rakdos Midrange and Izzet Phoenix, both of which came out with the most top finishes with six each. Other decks to manage more than two finishes included Azorius Control, Boros Heroic, and Lotus Field Combo. While most of these have been long time staples of the format, we saw a lack of Azorius Control and Lotus Field with the high meta presence of Mono Green Devotion. With the shift to a more interactive and midrange metagame, we’re seeing combo and control start to look to dethrone perennial favorites Phoenix and Rakdos Midrange.
We even saw Lotus Fiend come back from a long drought of top finishes to win both challenges this past weekend. Even though it only had three total top finishes, it’s always worth noting when a single deck manages to sweep the challenges for the weekend, especially when piloted by different players.
Heroic seems to be struggling to find the same level of success as it did in the past few weeks. Its’ best matchup Mono Green has dwindled, leaving it to try and fight through the red removal of Phoenix, the wraths of Azorius Control, and the stream of constant interaction from Rakdos Midrange.
We’re seeing a return to the period of Pioneer where there’s a range of top decks that can finish in the top 16, but there’s still a concentration of finishes among the top few decks, with 75% of all top 16s coming from the five decks mentioned above. While having five decks make up the top 75% certainly shows some diversity at the top tables, it does show a congealing of the metagame now that Mono Green seems to have been all but figured out by the opposing decks.
The biggest complaint I’ve seen with Modern right now is the cost of entry. When you look at the winner’s metagame, you see a similar story to most the other formats in that there are 75% of qualifying finishes among decks with two or more top 16s, showing that the top decks have a leg up in consistency. Where Modern differs though, is in the number of decks that managed to snag two or more top 16s this weekend. Unlike the extreme example of Standard with only four decks, Modern had eight decks that secured at least two top 16s in the challenges this weekend.
While Izzet Murktide led the field with five top finishes, Burn wasn’t far behind with four. Azorius Hammer and Grixis Death’s Shadow completed the top four slots with three qualifying finishes each. Yawgmoth, Amulet Titan, 4c Omnath, and Mono White Hammer round out the top 8 decks, each with two top finishes. Despite the consistency of these eight decks putting up multiple top 8 finishes, none of the decks listed above managed to take down the challenges with 4c Creativity and Blink taking home first place on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
While we see several decks putting up consistent results, the vast array of playable and competitive decks in Modern leave the format in an interesting and diverse place that would be an ideal place for competitive players to make small adjustments and maximize their format knowledge and skill. The only issue remains the cost of entry to the format, which has become more prohibitive since MH2 and seems unlikely to lower any time soon.
At first glance, Pauper looks much more balanced than the likes of Standard with seven unique archetypes making up 60% of the top 16s from this past weekend. However, there are some similarities to the style of decks that are currently sitting atop the metagame. The Faeries decks of pauper put up four top finishes with Izzet Faeries, three top finishes with Mono Blue Faeries, and two top finishes with Dimir Faeries. These three archetypes account for nine top finishes or 28% of the winners metagame. While each version has noted differences, that is still a lot of similar cards sitting at the top of the metagame.
Once you move past the Faeries decks, there are a handful of other including: Izzet Blink, Rakdos Burn, Bogles, and Affinity. We saw Faeries lose the finals of Saturday’s challenge but put up five copies into the top 8. On Sunday, only one copy of Faeries made the top 8. Various other decks, primarily the Aggro decks, took the top slots away from the mischievous creatures.
While Faeries took the top spots on Saturday, the quick adaptation and churn of the format appears to indicate that the dedicated Pauper players can adequately adjust and attack top decks, something that sets this format apart from something like Standard.
Legacy has been in a somewhat stale state since the release of MH2. While there was a large clamoring for something to be done about the UR Delver menace, even after a ban, the deck continues to sit at the top of the Legacy metagame.
In the weekend Challenges, both Delver and Elves each managed four top finishes, with Death and Taxes, 8Cast, ANT, and Czech Pile each putting up two top finishes. That means that decks with greater than two top finishes were the minority of decks that finished with a Top 16 this weekend. Approximately 56% of top finishers were single showing decks, meaning that while the format has some clear top contenders, there is a level of parity among the top 16 level of decks.
In fact, despite the top showings of UR Delver and Elves, neither deck managed to take down a challenge this weekend with Death and Taxes and Reanimator claiming those honors. While Elves managed a pair of top 8s on Saturday, by Sunday Elves was relegated to only a pair of top 16s. UR Delver on the other hand put one copy into top 8 on each day but maxed out at 3rd/4th place on Saturday.
This level of parity demonstrates a seemingly healthy format, but there’s always the underlying concern that a deck like UR Delver could come in and crush the next important Legacy event, as it often appeared to in the past whenever events like the Magic Online Championship Series came around. In fact, you start to see elements of that in the overall play percentages of UR Delver totaling over 20% in most major events, much higher than other decks present.
Vintage this weekend was a tale of three powerful archetypes: Tinker, Underworld Breach, and Shops. Hogaak was the most played deck of the weekend with 18.6% of the Saturday Challenge total meta-share and 13.5% of Sunday’s.
Saturday was topped by a surprising winner; Oops all Spells. Oops is a fringe Vintage deck and it is always neat to see it putting up results. Saturday’s Top 8 featured 7 different decks. Tinker Underworld Breach was the only deck to have 2 Top 8 results that day. Sunday was won by Aggro Shops. The Top 8 tallied: 2x Shops, 1x RUG Xerox, 1x Esper PO, 1x 4c DRS, 1x Lurrus DRS, 1x Hogaak, and 1x GW Hatebears.
There you have it a quick breakdown of all the results from the Magic Online Format challenges from this weekend. You can find all the lists from various challenges including from this weekend here and be sure to check back each week to see what new technology develops and what decks are poised to help you qualify for your upcoming Regional Championship Qualifier.
Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!