Wizards of the Coast has been banning so many cards these days that I’m out of opening paragraph ideas for when they happen. Back in my day, a Standard ban was big news. Nowadays, WotC has ban discussions over lunch and the next day we’re playing the new format on Twitch Rivals!
Lots of changes to multiple formats today: https://t.co/d6nUmtCPiJ
As a reminder, Pioneer’s announcement will be posted later this afternoon.
— Aaron Forsythe (@mtgaaron) November 18, 2019
Since it’s literally Week 1 of the new Throne of Eldraine Standard format, I’m taking a broad-strokes approach today. We’ll sift through the Twitch Rivals tournament data in search of the biggest winners and losers. There’s no way we’ll solve Throne of Eldraine Standard this early, but we’ll at least be able to get started on the best path possible.
The Twitch Rivals tournament offered $75,000 in prizes, with $10,000 for first and paying out to the Top 128. The format was Throne of Eldraine Standard with Field of the Dead and Oko, Thief of Crowns; Once Upon a Time; and Veil of Summer banned. Day 1 started with 275 players, and the Top 32 after six rounds of Swiss play advanced to Day 2. There they were seeded into a single-elimination bracket to decide the winner.
The pool of players consisted of Twitch Partners/Affiliates and was on a first come, first served basis. These 275 players were given roughly 24 hours after Wizards of the Coast announced this cycle of Standard-banned cards to select their deck choice for the event.
Day 1 Metagame (Five Copies or More)
|Archetype||# of Players|
|Jeskai Fires (w/ Cavaliers)||27|
|Rakdos Aggro w/ Embercleave||21|
|Jeskai Fires (w/ Planeswalkers)||5|
Day 2 Metagame
|Archetype||# of Players|
|Jeskai Fires (w/ Cavaliers)||7|
|Rakdos Aggro w/ Embercleave||4|
|Jeskai Fires (w/ Planeswalkers)||0|
The biggest takeaway from this information has to be the poor performance of Temur Reclamation. Almost 10% of the field chose to play this deck, yet only one person made Day 2 with it. What’s even worse is the only player to do this is so good that they can win tournaments with any deck!
Water is wet, grass is green, and Temur Reclamation underperforms. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I too played this deck in the event, but that was due to not having any time to test. I wanted to play something that beat both versions of Jeskai Fires and this deck did just that.
On paper, at least.
That’s the problem with Temur Reclamation. It looks amazing on paper, but the deck suffers tremendously when the top ten cards are bad. It just doesn’t have great ways of getting back into games when it’s behind.
There are some great things going for Temur Reclamation, though. First and foremost, Mystical Dispute is just a great card, plain and simple. One mana interaction is always great, but even at three mana, Mystical Dispute is going to disrupt opponents on pivotal turns. It’s true that this deck needs to keep Teferi, Time Raveler off the battlefield, but you could do a lot worse than Mystical Dispute as the maindeck option.
Honestly though, the results from this tournament should be enough to keep Temur Reclamation on the bench from here on out. Some of the best players in the event chose to play the deck and yet only one of them found their way to Day 2. I could write more on why I don’t think Temur Reclamation is good enough, but this conversion rate is worth a thousand words alone. I’d be shocked if I invest any of my one week’s time to prepare for Mythic Championship VII on Temur Reclamation. To me, it’s a lost cause.
One deck that has piqued my interests is Jeskai Fires. This was the most-played strategy, yet also had a wonderful conversion rate into Day 2. Going into the second day of competition, we saw Hall of Fame member Zvi Mowshowitz lead the pack with his innovative take on the archetype.
- 4 Sphinx of Foresight
- 4 Cavalier of Flame
- 4 Cavalier of Gales
- 1 Kenrith, the Returned King
- 3 Bonecrusher Giant
All weekend long at Mythic Championship VI, we saw Grzegorz Kowalski raving about his inclusion of a single copy of Sphinx of Foresight into his take on Jeskai Fires. Zvi took this one step further after the bans and registered four copies of the card for Twitch Rivals and used them to finish Day 1 with an undefeated record.
Now don’t get me wrong – Sphinx of Foresight is a decent Magic card but it’s clearly below the industry standard. Cards are just so powerful these days that a 4/4 for four with some marginal abilities usually doesn’t cut it. However, what makes Sphinx of Foresight so good in this deck is that it acts as a battlefield control strategy with a combo finish. The scry 3 can help Jeskai Fires curve out nicely into a Turn 4 Fires of Invention more consistently, yet also give the deck something powerful to do on that fourth turn as well. After that, this is a great card to throw away when you finally resolve one of your Cavaliers, or in a pinch can be used in combination with Cavalier of Flame or Kenrith, the Returned King.
My gut tells me this is a very exploitable strategy, but for the life of me I can’t really think of a great way to do that. This deck is powerful, has sweepers, and abuses the game’s best keyword ability: haste. The mana is also great for when the deck’s Fires of Inventions are disrupted, and the deck can churn through a ton of cards and eventually assemble something powerful later on. It’s tough to go under the deck and right now I’m finding it difficult to go over it as well. This might just be the current “best deck,” and one we have to take seriously for the following weeks.
The next deck to talk about is what actually won the event; Golgari Adventures. The MPL’s Mike Sigrist rolled up with the last surviving green deck and won the tournament, proving that you can’t keep the color down no matter how many cards you ban!
- 2 Midnight Reaper
- 4 Paradise Druid
- 2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
- 4 Foulmire Knight
- 3 Order of Midnight
- 4 Lovestruck Beast
- 4 Murderous Rider
- 4 Questing Beast
- 4 Edgewall Innkeeper
Out of the three Golgari Adventures lists in the Top 32, I like Mike’s the most largely due to his reintroduction of the Questing Beast; Rankle, Master of Pranks; and Vivien, Arkbow Ranger package. This is a format where you just have to get your opponent dead, as there are so many decks out there ready to go toe-to-toe with Golgari Adventures on the card-advantage axis. The key advantage this build of Golgari Adventures has is the ability to pivot between gaining card advantage and beating down. What it doesn’t do well is always controlling every opponent in such a wide-open format.
I highly suggest not getting cute when playing this deck for those exact reasons. Golgari Adventures can draw cards, but you need to have a high density of reactionary cards for any given matchup to win every attrition battle. Since you only get 75 cards to register, I don’t think this is possible, so keep in some of the meaty threats to make sure you can take the aggressive approach some of the time.
Overshadowed by Mike’s win was Matheus Yanagiura’s run all the way to the finals with Jund Sacrifice. Matheus went undefeated on Day 1 and only lost in the finals to Mike, which means they both finished with the exact same record on the weekend, 10-1. Obviously I don’t want to take anything away from Mike Sigrist; I’m just stating the fact that both these players did exceptionally well and that this Jund deck is very new, which makes it very worthy of our attention.
- 4 Paradise Druid
- 4 Mayhem Devil
- 3 Massacre Girl
- 4 Gilded Goose
- 3 Murderous Rider
- 1 Wicked Wolf
- 4 Cauldron Familiar
I don’t really know what to say besides, “Why, Wizards?! Why couldn’t you just take Gilded Goose as well?!” This deck looks really interesting, and while I’m not confident that we’ll continue to want to play so many Massacre Girls in the maindeck, the shell of the deck feels very powerful.
One thing I have to say about this deck is that it has some serious reach capabilities. Mayhem Devil can do some real damage in a deck that has the Cauldron Familiar / Witch’s Oven combo in addition to Gilded Goose and Trail of Crumbs. Sometimes this deck will be slow out of the gates, but I’ve seen it pop off with damage output in the double digits in a single turn. This is what makes the deck so powerful. It’s tough to get damage through the Cat in the early-game, and late-game the deck’s just going to direct damage you out of existence. I don’t know how good this deck is just yet, but I have it at the top of my list of decks to test out.
Besides that, the tournament was littered with decks we’ve already seen. Willy Edel promoted Rakdos Knights all the way to having it be one of the most-played decks and many players did in fact do well with it. The same is true for Rakdos Sacrifice. Admittedly, I don’t know which one of these decks is better, but maybe it’s contextual to how the format settles as they have unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, I’d much rather play Rakdos Knights against Jeskai Fires, as having access to Embercleave is going to be much better than Claim the Firstborn.
I can’t really rank things just yet for those of you at home, but I will say these are the three decks I’m most confident in. I also plan on spending a lot of time in the next few days working on them.
1. Jeskai Fires (Zvi’s Build)
Don’t get fancy with Fae of Wishes. Just build a superior battlefield.
2. Jund Sacrifice
I’d normally not this aggressive with my predictions, as I haven’t gotten to play much with this deck yet. I just have a feeling that a deck that can support Gilded Goose is going to be one of the best decks in the format. Don’t cut the red, though, as Mayhem Devil is too important when there are this many sacrifice decks out there; remember, it triggers off all sacrifices, not just your own.
3. Golgari Adventures
Again, play the powerful four-drops or don’t play the deck at all. You won’t win by trying to control everyone with Massacre Girl and Find // Finality.
That’s it for me today. Now it’s time to once again go into a hole and test for a Mythic Championship. I’ll be honest – I’m sick of testing and look forward to being done with this event. That doesn’t mean I can’t care about it, though, as I still may need a good finish to stay in the MPL in 2020. I’m currently in twelfth place, but anything can happen in two weeks in Long Beach.
Wish me luck!