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Analyzing the Innistrad Championship's Metagame

Magic: the Gathering

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Analyzing the Innistrad Championship's Metagame

Today, I present an analysis of the Standard and Historic decks that stood out at the Innistrad Championship!

By Thiago, 12/08/21, translated by Humberto, with help from our readers

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The Innistrad Championship took place last weekend, and we'll talk a bit about the tournament, more specifically about the metagame and the main decks of Standard and Historic. For Standard, I'll do a quick analysis because in another article I talk a lot about the decks that are basically the same, but adapted to the expected metagame for the tournament. As for Historic, there wasn't much surprise regarding the decks that were used the most and the ones that stood out.

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Standard

Let's start with Standard, whose metagame was as expected, with Izzet Control being the main deck, followed by Mono White and Mono Green. As I've been talking for a while, I consider Izzet the best deck in the format, a little ahead of the best aggro, Mono White, and most Championship players agree with me, so much so that they not only played with the deck but also adjusted their lists to gain mirrors with many focused cards for the match.

Izzet Turns

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To comment on Izzet, I took the list of the latest world champion, Yuta Takahashi, who was put together to gain Izzet mirrors without leaving aside the aggro matchups. I thought the additions of 1 Saw It Coming and 1 Negate in the main deck were great, excellent cards on the mirror and reasonable against aggro in game 1. What caught my attention the most were the two copies of Behold the Multiverse, a highly synergistic cantrip with Galvanic Iteration copying the spell to scry 4 and draw 4 for just 4 mana.
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Another interesting aspect is the 4 Smoldering Egg on the sideboard, a good creature in basically all matchups. The presence of this card can force opponents to leave bad cards post-sideboard against the deck, such as Fading Hope and more removals that normally wouldn't be there

Mono White

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Mono White, the second most played archetype in the Championship, did not show much change from the previously used lists. Perhaps an innovation was the addition of Welcoming Vampire by some players, the only spell that generates card advantage to the deck, in addition to escaping red removals such as Cinderclasm, Burning Hands and Prismari Command.
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Mono Green

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In turn, Mono Green presented several versions with a few different slots. Some lists didn't use Wrenn and Seven, others had 3 or 4 Snakeskin Veil in the main deck while others only used 1 or 2, some players used Ascendant Packleader and lowered the mana curve, but the core of the archetype remained the same as always, as expected.

The rest of the Mategame

The rest of the metagame was irrelevant with few copies of Orzhov Control, alternate versions of Izzet, and random decks like Esper Control, Jund Aggro, Grixis Control, and Jeskai Dragons. I think it's worth mentioning that almost 70% of decks were among the top three archetypes, Izzet Control, Mono White and Mono Green, and we shouldn't see any changes until the next release.

Historic

Regarding the Historic portion, we had good “surprises” in the metagame and an interesting variety, except for the top 8. It was already expected that Selesnya Humans and Izzet Phoenix were the two most played archetypes from tournament results and ranked games. What surprised me were the 26 Heliod Company (Selesnya Lifegain Combo) lists, the 18 Jeskai Control and only 16 Jund Food, an excellent option for the weekend, considering that there would be many aggros and maybe Golgari Food, a big star of the tournament.

Golgari Food

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Starting with the best deck in the tournament, given the results, and one of the most tiring to play with for the amount of clicks required, Golgari Food is no surprise, and I've mentioned it in other Historic articles. We had the classification of the Brazilian Lucas Caparroz for the Innistrad Championship with the deck, besides players who ranked well with it. From that, the archetype stood out as one of the best options in the format, being bad in few matches, against decks with Mayhem Devil, for example.

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The deck's ability to suddenly deal lethal damage with Ravenous Squirrel is surreal, especially with Cauldron Familiar + Witch's Oven on the board. In addition to the strong synergy between the creatures, Trail of Crumbs is one of the best cards in the format, easily generating advantage from the food mechanic and unbalancing the game. The Meathook Massacre is a relevant part of the combo to deal 2 damage with Cat Oven per activation and best of all, we still have Lurrus of the Dream-Den to get any permanents back on the board. If there was still someone who didn't respect the deck, it's a good idea to spend sideboard slots on it, as we'll see a lot more of the archetype in the coming weeks of tournaments, although Alchemy's cards will likely bring fresh air to the format, especially with the return of Omnath, Locus of Creation.

Selesnya Humans

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The most used archetype of the weekend, Selesnya Humans, was much hated by Golgari Food, a natural predator of aggro decks with cheap removals and infinite chump blocks, and Izzet Phoenix with many spot removals. As such, only Christian Hauck did well with the deck over the weekend.
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Selesnya lists are the same as always with a new technology, Ollenbock Escort to make some creature indestructible. We have Luminarch Aspirant and Thalia's Lieutenant to hand out counters and guarantee activation of the Escort's ability. Some lists used Selfless Savior to protect their creatures from removal. On the one hand, the dog is more guaranteed to fulfill its function, as it doesn't need specific conditions like the Escort to give indestructible. However, not being a human, he has no synergy with the deck, being there only to be sacrificed. From the results of the weekend, I believe the deck will lose strength and other decks will take up some space left, despite still being a very solid and explosive choice.

Izzet Phoenix

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The second most used archetype, Izzet Phoenix came in strong and very well with 3 players in the top 8 using reasonably different lists. While Yuta Takahashi favored a more focused line on light removals and interactions for the mirror with Aether Gust and Mystical Dispute, Kiihne used a more standard list with Stormwing Entity and Sprite Dragon. The list that surprised me the most was Görtzen's, with Delver of Secrets, which I still believe that's pretty bad. Otherwise, slots are pretty standard on the main deck and sideboard.
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I believe the 3 copies Flame-Blessed Bolt by Takahashi were a very well hit focus on the mirror, as Arclight Phoenix is exiled for 1 mana at instant speed, in addition to dealing with most of the creatures from Selesnya. At the same time, its sideboard features a solid anti-control package with Narset, Parter of Veils, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Negate and more Mystical Dispute, while at the same time, it has more interactions against aggro and graveyard hate, something essential in this format.

Jeskai Creativity

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Yo Akaike's Jeskai Creativity is quite interesting as it features the main combo of Indomitable Creativity for Serra's Emissary; however, it has 4 copies of Magma Opus and 3 Mizzix's Mastery, that is, the deck does not depend entirely on Emissary to win the games, in addition to being able to cast Magma Opus on turn 3.

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I don't believe the archetype caught players off guard, but the list was very well put together to beat aggro and has tools for combo/control mirrors. Especially with Hullbreaker Horror, perhaps Crimson Vow's best card, the deck gets better against any control deck and turns the game fast enough to win.

Conclusion

That's it for today! I hope you enjoyed the review and the tournament. Despite the tiring Top 8 with 3 Cat-Oven decks, I found the level to be very high with very close matches. Any questions, comments or feedback I'm available in the comments below.
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Thiago

Economist, Standard and Historic player. I stream on Twitch MTG Arena.

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