Dissecting Magic World Championship XXVII Results For This Weekend’s Standard Arena Open

MTG World Championship XXVII has shifted Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard yet again. Brad Nelson breaks down the post-Worlds metagame and shares his latest lists.

Unexpected Windfall, illustrated by Alayna Danner

The dust has settled and Yuta Takashi has been crowned the 27th Magic world champion!

Acquiring this title was no easy feat for the Japanese all-star as he started the tournament off with an 0-3 draft, leaving him zero wiggle room for the rest of the event. With tight play, Yuta did the unimaginable and won eleven Standard matches in a row before the other fifteen competitors were officially eliminated. A truly impressive showing by one of the most inspiring players in the game. 

Oh, and he did it with a deck the rest of the community wrote off…

If it weren’t for Yuta, Izzet Dragons may very well have become a lost relic in this Standard format. It had its time in the sun, but fell out of favor once Izzet Epiphany came onto the scene. This shift from one Izzet deck to the other greatly impacted the format, causing huge changes in what was playable and what wasn’t. We saw Storm the Festival and Blood in the Snow strategies get completely pushed out of the metagame before they could even find their footing. A “beat ’em or join ’em” mandate was put in order, leaving the competitive metagame to pretty much just be:

  • Mono-Green Aggro❄
  • Mono-White Aggro❄
  • Izzet Epiphany

Izzet Epiphany quickly started to struggle in this metagame, because all of the easy matchups started to dry up. All that remained were mirrors, pseudo-mirrors, and linear aggressive decks to combat. This made it difficult to figure out how to build the deck as each removal spell in the maindeck was a dead card in the mirrors. As a community we kept brewing, but even with all of our efforts the infamous Czech Team overshadowed any and all innovations with their spot-on build of the strategy. 

This version quickly became the go-to build in last weekend’s SCG Tour Online events. I guess the innovation of playing four Galvanic Iteration alongside four copies of Unexpected Windfall just made sense once we saw it. Still, the archetype struggled in Magic World Championship itself, and the following SCG Satellites and Championship Qualifier. 

Unexpected Windfall

The medium-to-poor performance of Izzet Epiphany from this last weekend shouldn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to Unexpected Windfall. This card is clearly the best way for the archetype to accelerate against the aggressive decks while creating some much-needed card selection. Still, the strategy has yet to prove it can combat a metagame full of Mono-White Aggro❄ and Mono-Green Aggro❄, and I’m slowly losing hope that’s going to eventually become a possibility. 

So yeah, I’m not too high on Izzet Epiphany at the moment, but it’s still on my list of decks to keep working on. Here’s my current list. 

I’m not reinventing the wheel with this decklist. I just found the maindeck Test of Talents and the sideboard copy of Spikefield Hazard to be too cute. Disdainful Stroke is a much better-rounded maindeck spell that can help this deck combat Goldspan Dragon and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned — two cards the Czechs probably didn’t see coming this past weekend. Now that we know they’re out there, this is a pretty easy change to make moving forward. 

Goldspan Dragon Smoldering Egg

That brings us back to Izzet Dragons and Yuta’s performance with the strategy this past weekend. What was once written off, at least for me, just won Magic World Championship XXVII on the back of an 11-0 performance. Not only that, but it was also one of the best-performing decks from the past weekend in the data collected by MTG Data from tournaments on MTGMelee.com. Why?

Well it simply comes down to metagame and card-selection shifts. The metagame was prepared for Izzet Dragons when it first came onto the scene, with many strategies revolving around Wrenn and Seven packing more removal maindeck and sideboard for the Dragon-fueled strategy. For example, cards like Tangletrap in Mono-Green Aggro❄ sideboards were replaced with Froghemoth to combat Izzet Epiphany when the shift occurred. 

This shift in attention will most likely snap back to everyone once again respecting Izzet Dragons in the very near future. This will most likely not revert things back to where they once were with Storm the Festival and Blood in the Snow strategies popping back up. Instead, I think we will see some new strategies like Dimir Control potentially trying to exploit the new and more condensed metagame. If they succeed, however, is a whole other thing altogether. 

We should also see current decks like Mono-Green Aggro❄ go back to respecting the Dragons. One way to do that is this sweet plan I picked up from Javier Dominguez while we were helping Seth test for last weekend’s event. 

Tangletrap Storm the Festival Wrenn and Seven

Now it’s not certain that Izzet Dragons will once again become one of the most popular decks. If it does though, Javier’s plan for the matchup is absolute genius. Often an Izzet Dragons player is going to remove some copies of Alrund’s Epiphany and most of their counterspells against Mono-Green Aggro❄ in an effort to just play a game concentrated around creatures and removal spells.

In these games, it’s important for Izzet Dragons to transform a Smoldering Egg into an Ashmouth Dragon or land a Goldspan Dragon. If Mono-Green Aggro❄ can deal with the first threat, they can often leverage that into longer games, which increases the chance of the Izzet Dragons player not having the right answers for the later threats. This is compounded when you can resolve a Storm the Festival, as any late-game Wrenn and Seven is absolutely devastating. 

What About Mono-White Aggro❄?

The expected rise in popularity of Izzet Dragons will assuredly be a bad thing for Mono-White Aggro❄. The data has shown Mono-White Aggro❄ to thrive in a field of Mono-Green Aggro❄ and Izzet Epiphany. In all actuality, the only currently commonly played bad matchup for this deck is Izzet Dragons. So if that deck becomes more popular, the others lose metagame share, hurting this deck’s overall potency. That’s not even taking into account the possibility that decks like Izzet and Grixis Epiphany start packing more Cinderclasms to combat the aggressive menace. 

This is only taking into account Best-of-Three Standard however. If your plan is to play in this weekend’s Standard Arena Open playing Best-of-One on Day 1, then there’s no better deck than Mono-White Aggro❄. At least, that’s what I’ve found through a couple of matches, looking at the data, and theorizing from my Best-of-Three knowledge.

I’ll most likely play this decklist when trying to qualify for Day 2. 

Was Grixis Epiphany for One Weekend Only?

I don’t think I’m the only person out there who looked at this decklist and said, “Yup, they broke it.” I mean, it just looked so good! In reality, the deck was fine, but overly prepared for a Mono-Green Aggro❄ metagame. I also won’t argue that this deck was most likely much further ahead against the now “old” versions of Izzet Epiphany that didn’t play four Galvanic Iteration and Unexpected Windfall. 

I’m just going to say it and take my lashings later — I don’t think this deck is good enough. Yes, it’s cool and I really love the work the team put into it (the Lier tech was mind-blowing when I first saw it!). It’s just, the deck’s another midrange deck in a format that punishes you for playing midrange. It was probably a great choice if the theoretical metagame of “old” Izzet Epiphany and Mono-Green Aggro❄ showed up, but the format is just too wide for a deck full of interaction to catch everything in its net. 

I hope someone cracks the code on this one, because I truly love playing it. I just don’t think it’s there right now so playing it will be a rough uphill battle against the expected field. 

Will There Be More Temur Midrange?

Here’s another deck that surprised me in its performance. I loved these Jaspera Sentinel + Magda, Brazen Outlaw strategies when the format was just kicking off, but as time went on I hated playing more accelerants than payoffs. Somehow though, Jean-Emmanuel Depraz played “lights-out” Magic all weekend long, rewarding him with another finalist finish to add to his accomplishments. 

This makes sense, as I think this deck’s ceiling is high with tight play, but it’s another strategy that suffers against Izzet Dragons. It was a decent choice for Magic World Championship XXVII with a predicted metagame of Mono-Green Aggro❄ and Izzet Epiphany, but I just can’t see playing it when Izzet Dragons may very well be the most-played deck moving forward. 

So Where Does That Leave Us?

Personally, I’m not going to get too fancy this weekend. I’ve narrowed down my options to playing either Izzet Dragons or Mono-Green Aggro❄. Currently I’m leaning towards Izzet Dragons as I haven’t lost a single match with the deck, and in all honesty it’s the closest thing to midrange in this format which I love playing. I could still see myself playing Mono-Green Aggro❄ though, as I do think it’s the best deck that also has a good Izzet Dragons matchup (especially if I deploy that slick Javier Dominguez technology!).

I still think Mono-White Aggro❄ is a fine choice, just not a great one. It’s probably the best deck to play right now if you ignore the Izzet Dragons matchup; I just think you need to make some changes to the deck to reflect on the shifts that have been occurring. Here’s my Best-of-Three build.

After that, the only other deck I can suggest is Temur Midrange. It isn’t my favorite, has its problems, and is forced to play Prosperous Innkeeper, a card I despise. Still, it’s powerful and utilizes one of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt’s best cards in Moonveil Regent

So in the end…

Do Play

  • Izzet Dragons
  • Mono-Green Aggro❄
  • Mono-White Aggro❄
  • Temur Midrange

Don’t Play

  • Grixis Epiphany
  • Izzet Epiphany
  • Azorius Epiphany
  • Azorius Tempo

Did I miss anything?