Magic the Gathering concluded its first Mythic Championship last month in Cleveland, Ohio, with Autumn Burchett taking the rebranded Pro Tour down with the breakout deck of the tournament and probably of this Standard format-Mono-Blue Tempo.
Coverage of this Mythic Championship was exciting and diverse, with six different decks making the Top 8 and many more archetypes filling out the rest of the standings on Day 2. Standard with Ravnica Allegiance looks to have room for a ton of different creatures and spells to shine.
In this list, let's look at 10 cards that made a huge impact at the Mythic Championship. Some of them took center stage in archetypes that performed well, while others were effective role players in the main decks or sideboards of different lists. Standard players should expect to see a lot of these cards in the weeks to come.
After a breakout performance in the first weeks of Guilds of Ravnica Standard as the cornerstone of the combo-like Izzet deck, Arclight Phoenix hasn’t seen much play. The build with Pteramander, Crackling Drake, and Enigma Drake has been by far the more popular choice because it’s less all-in and more value-oriented than Phoenix lists.
At the Mythic Championship, however, Arclight Phoenix rose from the ashes in the hands of legendary pro Luis Scott-Vargas to finish in the Top 4. Interestingly, LSV’s decklist, which was also played by Alexander Hayne and Sam Pardee to decent finishes, contained no cards from the new set except a single Blood Crypt, used to cast the second half of Discovery//Dispersal.
LSV may have fallen at the hands of finalist Yoshihiko Ikawa’s powerful Esper Control deck, but he did prove to Standard players the world over that Arclight Phoenix can still get the job done.Advertisement
White aggressive decks were the third most played archetype at the MC, making up 13% of the Day 2 metagame. Marcio Carvalho racked up his 6th Mythic Championship Top 8 (Wizards of the Coast has retroactively named Pro Tours MCs) playing Azorius Aggro, featuring a mono-white main deck and blue disruption in the sideboard.
One might think that History of Benalia is the most important card in that deck, but according to the coverage team, the Portuguese Magic Pro League player handed that honor to Legion’s Landing. He likened the card to a Llanowar Elves with Lifelink that delivers continuous value in the late game.
One of the most surprising takeaways from the MC was the absence of Sultai Midrange in the Top 8. The default “best deck” in Standard since Guilds of Ravnica got even better with the addition of Hydroid Krasis from Ravnica Allegiance but couldn’t break through.
Midrange aficionados needn’t worry, however, as Sultai Midrange was the most played deck on Day 2 of the MC, with Noah Ma going undefeated in 10 Standard rounds with the deck and pros like Christian Calcano and Piotr Glogowski getting 8 wins with different variations.
Even as Sultai failed to crack the top 8, Hydroid Krasis, which I foolishly predicted as only the second best card from Ravnica Allegiance behind Angel of Grace, claimed its share of the Sunday stage in Michael Bonde’s Simic Nexus deck. Krasis was the most played creature at the MC, with 182 copies being played in Day 2 decks.
Next on the list was the second-most played creature at the MC and one of the most efficient answers to Hydroid Krasis in the format. Hostage Taker has increasingly replaced Ravenous Chupacabra in Sultai Midrange lists, with its ability to “steal” a creature after removing it giving it the edge over the vicious pupper when Blue mana is available. The pirate also provides extra insurance when taking Krasis hostage, as a removal spell will bring it back with zero counters and send it straight to the graveyard.
I ranked Hostage Taker higher than Krasis here because it also performed admirably in the sideboards of Esper Control at the MC, coming in as opponents board out removal and dealing with anything from 8/8 Krases to Pteramanders and Skymarcher Aspirants.
Speaking of sideboard cards, this counterspell was the most played card at MC Cleveland, with 284 copies being sleeved up for Day 2. Most Negates came in from the sideboards of Sultai, as well as of Azorius Aggro and Mono-Blue Tempo, where it provided redundancy with Spell Pierce. But the instant actually saw a significant amount of main deck play at this tournament.
Autumn Burchett’s winning Mono-Blue Tempo list had a spicy singleton Negate in the main, while the best performing Esper Control decks played anywhere from 1-4 copies in the first 60 cards. Alongside Duress, which also cracked the top 4 most played cards, Negate will take up the first few sideboard slots of any deck that can cast it for the duration of its legality in Standard.
This 3/2 with Reach saw play in just about every green deck at the MC. Despite primarily being deployed as a sideboard card, there were 115 copies of Kraul Harpooner on Day 2, enough to make it the 9th most played card and 4th most played creature.
It saw so much play at the MC and will continue to see play because it’s an extremely efficient answer to some of the scariest threats in the format. Harpooner deals with anything from Thief of Sanity to Crackling Drake to Hydroid Krasis (getting creatures into your graveyard is pretty trivial against Sultai). It’s also one of the best cards against Mono-Blue Tempo, sniping Tempest Djinns and laughing in the face of Siren Stormtamers and un-Adapted Pteramanders. Its 3/2 body is even decent on turn 2, especially when you know you can recur it later with Find//Finality.
Thief of Sanity
Thief of Sanity is a huge part of why Kraul Harpooner is now a mandatory inclusion in Green sideboards. Unanswered, the 2/2 flier has the potential to deliver tons of value and always threatens to run away with the game, especially in a color pair known for its efficient hand disruption, removal, and counterspells.
Despite being a gold card, Thief finished ahead of Kraul Harpooner as the 8th most played card and 3rd most played creature at the MC. It’s an especially potent threat in the sideboard of Esper Control, where it forces opponents to keep in clunky removal or risk getting run over. Viewers of the tournament’s Top 8 will remember how effectively Yoshihiko Ikawa deployed the specter in the Quarterfinals against Michael Bonde’s Simic Nexus deck.
On the other hand, Thief also helps Sultai Midrange destroy control decks, with Duress and Negate ready to clear the way and Find to bring them back for more of the opponent’s library.
Search for Azcanta
Search for Azcanta may have finished behind other spells like Negate, Duress, Opt, and Cast Down in the most-played rankings at the Mythic Championship, but I believe it warrants a spot near the top because of how crucial it was to the game plan of two decks that made Top 8, Esper Control and Simic Nexus.
In Esper, it combines with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria’s land-untapping ability to bury the opponent in card advantage and selection while also helping the deck dig towards its win condition in Karn, Scion of Urza or Kaya, Orzhov Usurper. In Nexus of Fate decks, activating Azcanta the Sunken Ruin during extra turns ensures that you always have another Nexus to cast or a Root Snare to keep you alive while you dig deeper. It also works incredibly well in tandem with Wilderness Reclamation, making the deck far more consistent than it probably should be.
Before Ravnica Allegiance dropped, Jeskai Control decks were omitting the two-mana enchantment because their goal was to close the game out quickly with Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Expansion//Explosion. Now that attrition is the name of the game, Search for Azcanta is once again a pillar of Standard.
Entrancing Melody didn’t even crack the top 10 most-played cards at the Mythic Championship, but its impact in the Mono-Blue Tempo mirror was undeniable. The card featured heavily in the Top 8 lists of Julien Berteaux, Luis Scott-Vargas, Reid Duke, and champion Autumn Burchett.
With three Mono-Blue Tempo decks making Top 8, many post-board games in the mirror match revolved around the sorcery. Several games on coverage alone were decided by Entrancing Melodies that resolved, by the presence of Siren Stormtamers to protect key creatures, and by timely Dive Downs or Spell Pierces.
Entrancing Melody saw little play before Ravnica Allegiance released, but in a format characterized by cheap creatures and a powerful Mono-Blue deck, it has become a crucial piece of interaction.
Allow this humble Magic: the Gathering content writer to pat himself on the back for predicting that Pteramander would be the best common or uncommon to come out of Ravnica Allegiance. Scary Pterry, as he is affectionately known, rampaged through the competition at the first Mythic Championship and put three Mono-Blue Tempo decks into the Top 8, also earning Eugeni Sanchez an undefeated record over 10 Standard rounds.
Overall, Pteramander was the 5th most played creature at the tournament. Its addition to Mono-Blue has given the deck four more giant finishers alongside Tempest Djinn. It has also made the deck more consistently able to curve a one-drop evasive threat into Curious Obsession or Chart a Course.
Curious Obsession may be the card that helps Mono-Blue run away with the game when you have it in your opening hand, but it is Pteramander that has elevated the deck from tier 2 or 3 to the archetype in Standard.