Sam Pardee won the Strixhaven Championship on Sunday with Mono-Red Aggro❄ in Strixhaven Standard and Jeskai Indomitable Creativity in Historic.
Pardee squeezed into the Top 8 as the eighth seed with a record of 11-4, defeating housemate and testing partner Matt Nass in the final round of Swiss. But once in the Top 8 double-elimination bracket, Pardee didn’t drop a match, carving through the upper bracket with wins over Logan Nettles, David Inglis, and John Girardot. Nettles and Girardot were both also on Jeskai Indomitable Creativity while Inglis played Izzet Phoenix.
Once seated in the championship match, Pardee waited for the lower bracket to play out and send him one last challenger. Girardot defeated Matt Sperling in the lower bracket final to get a rematch against Pardee in the championship match, which was best two-of-three matches. Pardee continued his winning ways winning two more Jeskai Indomitable Creativity mirrors to take the title and the $15,000 first-place prize.
Jeskai Indomitable Creativity was the breakout deck of the weekend, taking five of the Top 8 slots and eight of the Top 16 with a win rate just higher than 60%. Of the five copies in the Top 8, four finished in the Top 4 spots. Izzet Phoenix placed two copies in the Top 8 and five in the Top 16 with a 52% win rate. Blue, red, and white cards dominated the Historic half of the tournament, with only a single non Izzet or Jeskai deck making the Top 16 — that being Lars Luckhaupt’s Jund Food (Jegantha) deck.
The Strixhaven Standard metagame shook out a bit more balanced the dominance of Historic by Jeskai Indomitable Creativity and Izzet Phoenix. The Top 16 featured six copies of Sultai Ramp (Yorion) and three copies of Jeskai Mutate. Sultai Ramp was the most played deck and didn’t break even on its win rate, but Jeskai Mutate was the sleeper hit, boasting a 60% win rate with only fifteen pilots. The Mutate deck has flown under the radar due to its confusing operations and UI difficulties in the Arena client, making the deck stressful to play with the rope on the program and many top players admitted to not entirely knowing how the deck worked before playing against it on the weekend. While Mono-Red Aggro❄ only had a 41% win rate in the event, Pardee went 6-2 with the archetype.