Metagame: The Modern Super Qualifier & Sultai is back to Standard!

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Metagame: The Modern Super Qualifier & Sultai is back to Standard!

In today's article, we analyze the results of the Modern Super Qualifier, see Sultai Ultimatum back to Standard, Boros Feather in Historic and discard being Pauper's new trend!

By Romeu, 08/20/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

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We're back with another Metagame, where we do our weekly analysis of the weekend's tournaments and their respective results. There is an update I would like to mention, however: due to the recent controversies regarding the event's organization since last week, I will no longer be mentioning and surveying

Insight eSports

' events in my articles. There are some values โ€‹โ€‹that, as an event organizer (Pauper Masters), I believe are essential for organizing tournaments and building a community. And, because recent facts demonstrate some attitudes on the part of the Insight organization that does not represent my values โ€‹โ€‹(or CardsRealm's values), I am no longer interested in mentioning them and analyzing the Metagame of their respective events.

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I know this means a loss regarding the analysis for Standard and Historic formats, but I hope that other organizations that are better known and more committed to their audience, such as StarCityGames, can provide the necessary events so that we can observe the Magic Arena's competitive landscape. I hope to count on your understanding.

Standard

Saturday's Standard Challenge finished with the following Top 32: 7 Gruul Magda 6 Sultai Ultimatum 6 Naya Winota 4 Naya Adventures 2 Rakdos Sacrifice 2 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Jund Sacrifice 1 Izzet Control 1 Dimir Control 1 Dimir Rogues 1 Naya Magda And the following Top 8: 1 Sultai Ultimatum 1 Rakdos Sacrifice 1 Gruul Magda 1 Naya Magda 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Dimir Control 1 Naya Winota On Sunday, its Top 32 was composed of: 10 Sultai Ultimatum 6 Naya Wonota 4 Gruul Magda 3 Naya Adventures 2 Izzet Control 2 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Temur Lukka 1 Izzet Dragons 1 Dimir Control 1 Dimir Rogues 1 Rakdos Sacrifice And its Top 8 was: 3 Sultai Ultimatum 2 Naya Winota 1 Naya Adventures 1 Izzet Dragons 1 Dimir Control
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Do you know what happens when Metagame focuses too much on certain decks and strategies and ends up forgetting that other strategies are present in the format? This strategy comes back to prey on unprepared decks. As I see it, that's what the Sultai Ultimatum did this week by getting several places in the Challenges, and it will probably need to be considered again in the coming weeks so that unsuspecting players aren't punished again for focusing too much on more aggressive archetypes like Gruul Magda and Naya Winota. Unfortunately, there's not much to be said for Standard this week, and it will likely stay that way until the rotation hits with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, but if you're looking to compete this weekend, my advice is to respect Sultai Ultimatum, but don't overlook the need to interact well against aggressive decks.

Historic

This weekend, we had the Pizza Box Open, an event which had a total of 96 players. Its Top 32 had the following decks: 7 Jeskai Control 3 Jund Food 3 Mono-Green Aggro 2 Mono-Red Aggro 2 Orzhov Auras 2 Gruul Aggro 2 Five-Color Niv-Mizzet 1 Izzet Phoenix 1 Izzet Tempo 1 Boros Feather 1 Tempered Steel 1 Rakdos Arcanist 1 Rakdos Treasures 1 Boros Cycling 1 Dimir Control 1 Mono-Black Aggro 1 Jund Midrange 1 Azorius Auras And its Top 8 was? 2 Jeskai Control 1 Boros Feather 1 Rakdos Arcanist 1 Tempered Steel 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Azorius Auras 1 Jund Food Historic Horizons launches next week, and the format will (hopefully) undergo significant changes, but that's not to say we haven't had some new stuff this week:
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The event's winning list was Boros Feather, a deck that doesn't usually settle well in the format and doesn't look like it will receive significant additions with Historic Horizons. However, there are very peculiar additions to this list that possibly open up a new angle for the Feather decks, using cards like Thraben Inspector, Militia Bugler and Ephemerate to accrue value while using well-known cards such as Dreadhorde Arcanist, Tenth District Legionnaire, Feather the Redeemed and Reckless Rage. To gain card advantage, the deck also uses Showdown of the Skalds, which essentially โ€œdrawsโ€ four cards and then allows the deck to perform a sequence of plays that make its creatures even stronger if you sequence your spells the right way. On the other hand, there are some quirky points in this list, like the 1-of Birth of Meletis, which doesn't seem to interact with anything the deck wants to do, and its sideboard with multiple one-ofs, Adanto Vanguard (which would commonly be a maindeck card), among other options make the deck appear to have been built in an improvised manner.

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Which, particularly, would make it even more interesting that this deck has come this far.
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The other deck that came up in this event, and that we'll likely see more often with the addition of Esper Sentinel and Nettlecyst in Historic Horizons is Tempered Steel, which has already gone through several changes, starting initially as one of the main decks in the Metagame and a great budget option, as it used to use only Steel Overseer, Stonecoil Serpent and Tempered Steel itself as rare cards. Over time, the archetype has improved and gained cards like Blinkmoth Nexus, and probably will no longer be a budget option when the new additions come out next week promise to entirely change its structure.

Pioneer

Saturday's Pioneer Challenge had the following Top 32: 6 Jund Food 4 Izzet Phoenix 2 Mono-Black Aggro 2 Lotus Combo 2 Four-Color Ascendancy 2 Jeskai Control 2 Azorius Ensoul 2 Mono-Green Devotion 1 Gruul Legends 1 Temur Opus 1 Rakdos Pyromancer 1 Izzet Creativity 1 Boros Burn 1 Bant Spirits 1 Niv-to-Light 1 Naya Winota 1 Vampires 1 Mono-White Yorion And its Top 8 was: 1 Jeskai Control 1 Rakdos Pyromancer 1 Jund Sacrifice 1 Temur Opus 1 Boros Burn 1 Bant Spirits 1 Vampires 1 Mono-White Yorion On Sunday, Pioneer Challenge finished with the following Top 32: 5 Izzet Phoenix 5 Azorius Ensoul 3 Jeskai Control 3 Rakdos Pyromancer 3 Mono-Black Aggro 3 Jund Sacrifice 2 Four-Color Ascendancy 2 Bant Spirits 1 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Jeskai Dragons 1 Boros Burn 1 Lotus Combo 1 Jeskai Creativity 1 Mono-Green Walkers And the following Top 8: 2 Mono-Black Aggro 1 Rakdos Pyromancer 1 Azorius Ensoul 1 Jeskai Control 1 Jeskai Creativity 1 Izzet Phoenix 1 Bant Spirits
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It's been a while since we last saw Temur Flash in Pioneer, and the deck seemed to have disappeared from the format since Wilderness Reclamation was banned. Like its predecessor, Temur Opus' game plan is to use the first turns of the game to ramp with cards like Growth Spiral, Sylvan Caryatid and discard Magma Opus to then use its bombs like Nightpack Ambusher, Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Torrential Gearhulk, thus being able to operate almost fully on the opponent's turn and always keep mana open for low-cost interactions. An interesting highlight of this list is the maindeck use of Aether Gust, a reflection of how the deck seeks to use as many efficient interactions as possible that slow down the opponent's game, even if it means dedicating slots to cards that can be occasionally bad against some decks. However, there is still room in Pioneer for a deck to efficiently abuse Magma Opus's interaction with Torrential Gearhulk, and a deck that can double its mana with Nissa, Who Shakes the World, which enables to cast Magma Opus even on turn 5, may be just the archetype needed for the card to be as respected as it is in Historic. After all, Magma Opus is a broken card if you use it by unconventional means.
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Vampires is a deck that has risen in recent weeks, but it doesn't seem to be able to retain this result very often, having a decline in this week's events. Still, I truly believe that the deck continues to show potential in a format like Pioneer and remains a solid option today, and I've made a deck tech from the list above that can be checked out in this article.

Modern

Saturday's Modern Challenge finished with the following Top 32: 4 Temur Cascade

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4 Hammer Time 2 Living End 2 Izzet Tempo 2 Elementals 2 Four-Color Turns 2 Niv-to-Light 1 Azorius Control 1 Four-Color Lurrus 1 Four-Color Saheeli 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Grixis Shadow 1 Izzet Blitz 1 Infect 1 Tron 1 Four-Color Scapeshift 1 Ad Nauseam 1 Hardened Scales 1 Abzan Lurrus 1 Jund Company 1 Temur Tron And the following Top 8: 2 Elementals 1 Azorius Control 1 Four-Color Turns 1 Niv-to-Light 1 Temur Cascade 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Living End On Sunday, the event finished with the following Top 32: 4 Tron 3 Hammer Time 3 Izzet Tempo 3 Temur Cascade 3 Grixis Shadow 2 Jeskai Whirza 2 Boros Burn 2 Hardened Scales 2 Living End 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Grixis Lurrus 1 Elementals 1 Four-Color Turns 1 Grixis Breach 1 Mardu Lurrus 1 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Jeskai Tempo And its Top 8 was: 1 Jeskai Whirza 1 Hammer Time 1 Tron 1 Four-Color Turns 1 Izzet Tempo 1 Temur Cascade 1 Boros Burn 1 Grixis Shadow This weekend we also had the Modern Super Qualifier, an event that ranks its Top 2 for the Set Championship (an event equivalent to the Pro Tour), this was its Top 32: 8 Hammer Time 6 Izzet Tempo 5 Temur Cascade 2 Living End 2 Four-Color Cascade 1 Burn 1 Azorius Control 1 Four-Color Creativity 1 Temur Tempo 1 Mono-Blue Tron 1 Affinity 1 Tron 1 Amulet Titan 1 Dredge 1 Elementals And its Top 8 had: 2 Temur Cascade 2 Living End 1 Azorius Control 1 Four-Color Creativity 1 Hammer Time 1 Boros Burn It is important to pay particular attention to the Super Qualifier, as it is a large event, where countless players competed for a seat to one of the biggest Magic events in the world. The first important point to consider is that, when talking about a high-level event with a size that would be the equivalent of a Magic Online GP, the main decks that make results (and probably the most played decks) are Hammer Time, Izzet Tempo and Temur Cascade, which symbolize that today these three decks are, in fact, the pillars of the format and the most reliable choices. The second point is that, although these decks had high numbers in this event, these numbers didn't seem to transition as well into Top 8 spots, with only Temur Cascade having more than one copy among the eight decks, and Izzet Tempo having its first copy only in the fifteenth position. On the other hand, four of the five Temur Cascade made the Top 16, which is a great conversion rate. The third point is that, although these decks present themselves as the pillars of the format, Modern continues to prove to be a diversified format and several different decks reached the Top 16 of the format, including some very interesting lists such as Temur Tempo and Mono- Blue Tron, plus an Affinity in the eighteenth position.
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In addition, this weekend took place in Dallas, United States, the Hunter Borton Memorial Open, a tabletop event that had more than 500 players. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the Top 32 numbers for the event, but the Top 8 was made up of the following decks: 1 Temur Cascade 1 Four-Color Cascade 1 Jund Food 1 Orzhov Reanimator 1 Grixis Shadow 1 Hammer Time 1 Gruul Mudrange 1 Izzet Blitz And I believe this is the first time we see Reanimator reaching a Top 8 spot in an event:
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Apparently, the combination of Grief with Ephemerate has a right home in this list, which also includes other means of disruption like Thoughtseize and Collective Brutality, so you can play Archon of Cruelty from the graveyard and keep it in play long enough to dominate the game, and the alternate plan of the Stoneforge Mystic package with Batterskull and Kaldra Compleat on the Sideboard sure has a lot of efficiency in dealing with unsuspecting players.

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Pauper

Saturday's Pauper Challenge had the following Top 32: 7 Affinity 6 Storm 5 Dimir Faeries 3 Elves 2 Tron 2 Jeskai Ephemerate 2 Dimir Delver 1 Izzet Serpentine 1 Cascade Walls 1 Mardu Monarch 1 Orzhov Ephemerate 1 Jund Cascade And its Top 8 was: 2 Storm 2 Elves 1 Tron 1 Affinity 1 Jeskai Ephemerate 1 Dimir Faeries On Sunday, the Pauper Challenge had the following Top 32: 10 Storm 7 Affinity 6 Dimir Faeries 2 Tron 1 Mono-Black Control 1 Dimir Delver 1 Elves 1 Izzet Serpentine 1 Orzhov Ephemerate 1 White Weenie 1 Boros Monarch And the following Top 8: 3 Dimir Faeries 2 Affinity 1 Storm 1 Mono-Black Control 1 Tron With Pauper still in its polarized state and being a three-deck format, we continue to see other decks using the most diverse strategies to adapt to the Metagame and adopting cards and measurements that we don't often see in the format, and this week was the highly discard-focused archetypes having some space in the Challenges.
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However, it's not enough to just focus on discard and disruption to deal with decks like Storm, you need to establish a board position and put pressure on your opponent, so it doesn't have time to regroup and recover its resources, and that's what we see the above Mono-Black Control list resort to threats like Dauthi Slayer while investing in cards like maindeck Duress I made a deck tech from this list, which made Top 8 on Sunday's Pauper Challenge, and you can check it out here.
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Another deck that caught my attention this week, despite not making a Top 8 in either event, was the deck I named Orzhov Ephemerate, as it tries to abuse ETB effects along with cards like Kor Skyfisher and Ephemerate to remove the opponent's resources, while cards like Cast Down and Echoing Decay present themselves as efficient removals against the main decks of the format. The deck also has Suture Priest on maindeck to handle Storm, while Dust to Dust and Revoke Existence on the sideboard do a good job at handling Affinity. This is definitely a deck that I think players need to pay more attention to, as perhaps this is the newest Meta Call for the polarized format, while we don't have a banned and restricted update yet. By the way,

Where is the ban?!

Legacy

Saturday's Legacy Challenge had the following Top 32: 5 Selesnya Depths 3 Izzet Delver 3 Jeskai Standstill 2 Doomsday 2 Miracles 2 Lands 1 Enchantress 1 Aluren 1 Maverick 1 Merfolks 1 Elves 1 Death and Taxes 1 All Spells 1 The Epic Storm 1 Sneak and Show 1 Cloudpost 1 Hogaak 1 Bomberman 1 Cephalid Breakfast 1 Four-Color Zenith And its Top 8 was: 1 Jeskai Standstill 1 Enchantress 1 Four-Color Zenith 1 Aluren 1 Izzet Delver 1 Maverick 1 Selesnya Depths 1 Merfolks On Sunday, the event finished with the Top 32: 5 Izzet Delver 3 Cloudpost 3 Jeskai Standstill 2 Doomsday 2 Death and Taxes 2 Elves 2 Lands 1 Mystic Forge Combo 1 Sneak and Show 1 The Epic Storm 1 Karn Echoes 1 Reanimator 1 Miracles 1 Enchantress 1 Selesnya Depths 1 Mono-Black Curses 1 Azorius Bomberman 1 Four-Color Zenith And its Top 8 was: 1 Jeskai Standstill 1 Mystic Forge Combo 1 Sneak and Show 1 Doomsday 1 The Epic Storm 1 Izzet Delver 1 Karn Echoes 1 Death and Taxes We've had some interesting decks making Top 8 in this weekend's Challenges:
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Starting with the Mystic Forge Combo, a colorless deck that uses mana acceleration with cards like Grim Monolith and Mox Opal to play Mystic Forge as soon as possible and gain a significant advantage by playing cards from the top of your deck with the artifact, while relying on a Karn, the Great Creator toolbox to fetch Paradox Engine, which will untap all of your artifacts whenever you cast a spell and also to fetch the deck's finisher when you have enough mana to play a Walking Ballista for an arbitrary amount of damage and win the game.

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Some lists of the archetype prefer to use Aetherflux Reservoir instead of Walking Ballista as it is a more tangible way to win the game without having to make an absurd amount of mana, since the deck can play many spells once the combination of Mystic Forge and Paradox Engine is closed.
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We also had Enchantress' Top 8 appearance this weekend, including new additions such as Sythis, Harvest's Hand and Paladin Class, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms card that makes it difficult for opponents to interact, especially decks that try to maximize their mana like Izzet Delver. The deck also has a toolbox of creatures that can be tutored with Living Wish, which include cards like Doomwake Giant for board control, Wispmare, Gaddock Tegg and Collector Ouphe as punctual slots and even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to close the game.
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Finally, last week, as Goblins made results, I mentioned that there was a time when Merfolks and Goblins were the two best decks in the format, and this week we can see the Merfolks making a Top 8 in this weekend's Legacy Challenge. Of course, the list has changed a lot from that time to the present, receiving additions like True-Name Nemesis, Tide Shaper, Cavern of Souls, among several other options that make it an excellent yet different version from the Merfolks we knew in 2009. And even though the deck is no longer as competitive as it was in the past, it can still achieve great results in the format, as we can see from the list above. A curious point about the current Merfolks lists is that the archetype currently adopts a combo-kill on its sideboard with a playset of Thassa's Oracle and Paradigm Shift, where you can use Paradigm Shift to exile your deck and then play Thassa's Oracle to win the game.

Conclusion

That was my review of this week's Metagame. Sultai Ultimatum is back in Standard, and this will likely lead players to need to respect the archetype when building their lists, which can take some pressure off the Aggro decks. With Historic Horizons so close, I'm sure we'll see significant changes to the Historic Metagame in the coming weeks, but the appearance of a Boros Feather full of one-ofs in the sideboard and including cards that don't seem interactive with the deck's gameplan winning a 96-players tournament is at least a peculiar situation. Pioneer remains quite diverse, albeit a little tedious: there are no new decks coming up, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms hasn't impacted the Metagame as much, and in the end we're still talking essentially about the same decks from the past few months with higher numbers in the Top 32 of events. Hammer Time, Izzet Tempo and Temur Cascade are proven to be the pillars of Modern today, as we could see from the Super Qualifier results. However, this in no way means that we can't have other archetypes making good placements in the format, including decks like Affinity or Reanimator. Players continue to look to adapt to Pauper's polarized state, and we've seen their investment in Black-Based decks for that because the discard package tend to be very useful, especially against Storm, considered the main nemesis of the format today. Legacy, on the other hand, seems to be maintaining its expected cycle. We see Izzet Delver and Jeskai Standstill having great results, but we also see an increase in decks like Selesnya Depths and unexpected archetypes like Mystic Forge, Merfolks or Enchantress reaching the Top 8 of the Challenges while few copies of the main archetypes actually convert to Top 8 spots this week.

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We'll be back next week for another analysis. Thanks for reading!
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually Magic: The Gathering competitive formats. Pauper Masters' Organizer.

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