Welcome back to MTG Arena Zone’s continued coverage of the 2020 Mythic Invitational tournament! After two days of Swiss rounds, the field has been narrowed down to the Top 8 bracket, which will play out over the next two days. On Saturday, only the Upper Bracket matches are scheduled – the losers in those are not eliminated but sent to fight in the Lower Bracket instead. On Sunday, we will see how that Lower Elimination Bracket plays out, and then will get to know the name of the Grand Finals winner – the first Historic Mythic Champion!
With a $250,000 prize pool and top players from MTG Arena, the 2020 Mythic Invitational is the last step for Magic competitors on their path to the 2020 Season Grand Finals. Streaming live and played online through MTG Arena, the world will watch the Magic Esports debut of MTG Arena’s Historic format as the next champion is crowned.
The Top 8 is a double elimination playoff format, spread out over the course of two days. In this article, you will find all the information you need including the decklists, text coverage and live stream link.
Also feel welcome to check our other resources dedicated to 2020 Mythic Invitational coverage:
Top 8 Decklists
- The broadcast of the Top 8 upper bracket quarterfinals, upper semifinals and upper finals commences on Saturday, September 12th at 9 AM PDT.
- The broadcast of the Top 8 lower bracket matches and the championship match commences on Sunday, September 13th at 9 AM PDT.
Top 8 Bracket
The first match of the Top 8 paired Grzegorz Kowalski’s Jund Citadel deck against Ken Yukuhiro’s Mono-Red Goblins. Both of these decks were the sole survivors of their breed – no other Citadel or Goblin lists have made it to the play-offs.
Mana-base consistency and solid creature ratio have served well for Yukuhiro, who has spoken out against including Thoughseize into the Goblin build. Meanwhile, Kowalski went against the grain this weekend and relied on Citadel in his Jund Sacrifice build, despite that most of the competitors opted into more aggressive Jund Sac lists. It looks like both players have made exactly the right decisions on their climb to Top 8, but now it’s time to see how far their decks can really take them.
Game 1: Both players have started with decent seven-card hands, with a ton of early ramp and payoffs – Muxus and Citadel – on the ready. Yukuhiro rushed a turn-3 Muxus with the help of Skirk Prospector, Wily Goblin, and Irencrag Feat, but managed to whiff completely on the Goblin King’s trigger. Jund took full advantage of that misfortune, going off with their own Citadel combo for the win on turn five.
|Abrade||Priest of Forgotten Gods|
|Plague Mare||Midnight Reaper|
|3 Thoughtseize||2 Bolas's Citadel|
|Claim the Firstborn||2 Paradise Druid|
Game 2: Ken didn’t have such a nuts hand this time, but was able to effectively shut down the opponent’s first Collected Company output with a Goblin Chainwhirler trigger. Kowalski slammed down a Mayhem Devil soon after which made Goblins’ board development a very hard task. Chainwhirler was tasked with all the heavy lifting as Ken could find neither his Muxus nor the sufficient ramp tools. Using plenty of time he was given, Kowalski successfully set up all his engines around Mayhem Devil and burned Yukuhiro down from 12 life in a single turn.
One of the most interesting innovations in Historic after the release of Amonkhet Remastered is the Rakdos Arcanist archetype. Luis Salvatto took this list and piloted incredibly well, earning 12 wins with it and claiming No.1 seed after the Swiss Round. The only Sultai Midrange list of the Top 8 was taken there by Seth Manfield. It is a very well-known archetype, able to adapt to any matchup – though Manfield himself believed Salvatto to be a slight favorite in the head-to-head. Rakdos Arcanist goes after Sultai’s most precious resource – its cards – and Kroxa is a very pesky threat to deal with.
Game 1: Salvatto opted into a risky keep, taking a chance with a hand with three lands, but no red sources among them. The deck punished Luis, as he kept drawing Swamps with Young Pyromancer and Kroxa getting stuck in his hand. Meanwhile, Seth was developing his ramp and casting bigger and bigger Krasises. Salvatto conceded on turn 6 without ever finding that red source.
|Cry of the Carnarium||Maelstrom Pulse|
|Elder Gargaroth||Aether Gust|
|Grafdigger's Cage||Disdainful Stroke|
|Heartless Act||Essence Scatter|
Game 2: This time Salvatto started with perfect mana and a perfect sequence: Thoughtseize turn 1 into Dreadhorde Arcanist turn 2. The Rakdos deck kept disrupting Manfield’s hand each turn, while also taking hold of the board with the Elemental tokens produced by Young Pyromancer. Sultai attempted to mitigate that with Krasises, but Seth didn’t have access to enough mana to make his plays really impactful. All his hopes were on finding either the Extinction Event or Languish it seemed, as Uro was the only the temporary obstacle for Salvatto. Sure enough, a Spark Harvest soon dealt with the remains of Manfield’s board, taking the match to game three.
Game 3: Sultai started with a land-heavy hand, but Grafdigger's Cage and Uro were enough to coerce Manfield into a comfortable keep. He ramped into turn 4 Nissa, but Salvatto had two Spark Harvest’s at the ready to deal with both the planeswalker and the land that was animated. Meanwhile, Seth ended up being hosed by his own Cage, as his Uro got stuck in the graveyard unable to escape. Rakdos managed to assemble a wide board with the help of Young Pyromancer, while Sultai flooded out into the oblivion, forcing a concession out of Seth Manfield.
David Steinberg climbed into the Top 8 playing a rather unique Jund Sacrifice build for this tournament. He run no Collected Companies and no Citadels either, instead going with Trail of Crumbs route as the crucial mid-to-late-game card advantage engine. Korvold, Vraska and Murderous Rider are also there in Steinberg’s list, which gives this Jund Sacrifice version a very distinct minrangey feel.
Matt Nass stayed true to his combo playstyle affections and registered a Mono-Black Gift list for the tournament. He ended up avoiding most of Leylines of the Void, and, backed up by the masterful play, of course, went on an impressive 6-0 run on Day 2, which did put him into the Top 8 comfortably.
Game 1: Steinberg had to go to 6 cards, and kept a hand that was lacking a red source. As a trade-off, his cat-oven combo was online on turn 2. Meanwhile, Nass developed two Fiend Artisans that threatened to really get out of hand quickly. Luckily for Steinberg, he managed to draw a red source in time to unlock three copies of Claim the Firstborn in his hand. On turn 5, he also drew into a Mayhem Devil, and the pinging value train involving two Ovens has left the station at that point.
Matt Nass was able to urgently answer it with Ravenous Chupacabra, though Devil did wreck the board state heavily by that time. To make matters worse, Steinberg stole a Fiend Artisan and used it to fetch another Mayhem Devil, sacrificing Artisan to Witch's Oven afterward. This play led to an overwhelming advantage for Steinberg, who closed out the game soon after.
|3 Abrade||Cauldron Familiar|
|Murderous Rider||3 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King|
|Liliana's Defeat||3 Woe Strider|
|Scavenging Ooze||Trail of Crumbs|
|2 Thoughtseize||Vraska, Golgari Queen|
Game 2: Jund went to 5 cards, while Nass started out with a power curve, culminating in a turn 4 Rankle and turn 5 Massacre Wurm. It was a clean and easy win for Mono-Black that was able to aggro its opponent down.
Game 3: Matt Nass thoughtseized Steinberg’s Mayhem Devil on turn 2, but the opponent then topdecked another copy of that crucial card on the very next turn. This one over time put the Gift player to 5 life before going down, while the cat-oven combo did the rest. Another game that went a snowballing route, as opposed to an incredibly grindy and long first game of the series.
This one was a true mirror match – not only these two Hall of Famers were playing the same archetype, but they did also registered the same exact 75-card list for this weekend – being the testing partners for the event. An aggressively slanted Jund Sacrifice version popularized by Crokeyz, it drops Bolas's Citadel in favour of Cat-Oven and runs efficient early game creatures like Dreadhorde Butcher, this list did well for both players. Nassif, who is known for his Azorius Control allegiances, picked up an uncharacteristic archetype but still piloted it masterfully. Meanwhile, LSV was always a big fan of Collected Company so his choice was more in line with expectations.
Game 1: LSV started with a 2-lander, but also with the cat-oven combo ready to go. Nassif drew two Butchers, but with a healthy ratio of lands to spells. Unfortunately for the former, he fell behind early after missing his 3rd land-drop. Gabriel Nassif did run away with the game with a beautiful curve-out not giving his opponent any chances of catching up.
|Korvold, Fae-Cursed King||4 Dreadhorde Butcher|
|2 Reclamation Sage||Lovestruck Beast|
|Vraska, Golgari Queen|
Game 2: This time we had an actual game on our hands as both players were good on mana. LSV on the play resolved a Mayhem Devil, but Nassif had Vraska on the ready to trade it for the Devil immediately. LSV drew into a Korvold on the very next turn, and this creature was a massive force that eventually pushed for lethal, with very few ways for Nassif to stop it.
Game 3: Both players had access to a plethora of sac pay-offs early, but no proper outlets. It was Nassif who drew into Witch's Oven first, and with double Mayhem Devil on his side the power was overwhelming. LSV did what he could to stem off the bleeding, but without sacrifice outlets of his own, his situation felt hopeless and eventually led to a match loss.
Upper Bracket Semifinal 1
Luis Salvatto had to feel pretty confident going into this matchup. Jund Citadel doesn’t have the same speed as Cat-Oven Jund Sacrifice builds, and rarely puts their opponent under pressure early on. Arcanist is usually able to go after the Citadel, and being the best deck at using (and re-using) Thoughtseize, Salvatto’s list should consistenly pick off on Citadel and make sure that Kowalski would never get to resolve that centerpiece 6-mana black legendary artifact.
Game 1: Salvatto launched a Thoughtseize after Thoughtseize at his opponent, going for Kowalski’s mana ramp pieces at first, being confident that he gets to recycle the effect later with the Dreadhorde Arcanist. Unfortunately, Luis missed his third land-drop – he was still able to manipulate his way into one soon with the help of Village Rites, also getting to Kroxa away Kowalski’s Bolas's Citadel. However, Salvatto did lose a good chunk of his life in the process due to the pressure from Mayhem Devil and Blood Artist. It looked like he won’t able to come back from that, but with the help of Lurrus’s lifelink Salvatto stayed in the game for very long. He even had a shot at maybe sneaking a win, but Kowalski topdecked the Claim and stole Lurrus for the lethal attack.
|Claim the Firstborn||3 Bolas's Citadel|
|Klothys, God of Destiny||2 Paradise Druid|
|3 Scavenging Ooze|
Game 2: Kowalski fell behind early due to not having an untapped green source for his either Guilded Goose or Llanowar Elves turn 1. He then proceeded to miss a third land drop, while Salvatto kept picking apart his opponent’s hand with Thoughtseize plus Arcanists. Luis had an embarrassment of riches in his hand, while Grzegorz got stuck on two lands – it was just another non-game in the end due to the mana issues.
Game 3: This time Kowalski drew into an almost perfect 7-card hand with 3 lands and Llanowar Elves on the ready. However, claiming the Mayhem Devil into Village Rites was a huge swing of this early board state for Salvatto. Stitcher’s Suppliers milled Luis into Kroxa as well, while Grzegorz had absolutely nothing going on for him except for a couple of mana dorks and Food tokens lying around. Salvatto closed out the game soon enough, advancing to the upper bracket finals.
Upper Bracket Semifinal 2
Going into this tournament, we probably expected to see Goblin mirrors in the Top 8 – and yet, it is Jund Sacrifice that put a bunch of copies into the playoffs. Steinberg’s list is a good bit heavier on the engines compared to Nassif’s build. Will the Trail of Crumbs and additional copies of Korvold prove to be the deciding factor in the matchup or will the Collective Company end up being superior win condition?
Game 1: Steinberg missed on the third land initially, but Trail of Crumbs helped him catch up and draw into Phyrexian Tower. With a Mayhem Devil on the board and the cat-oven combo going, David popped off and started to dismantle Nassif’s board. Korvold followed on the next turn, and once again Gabriel Nassif’s build was forced to fold unable to deal with that big of a finisher.
|2 Act of Treason||4 Dreadhorde Butcher|
|2 Reclamation Sage||Lovestruck Beast|
|Scavenging Ooze||Bonecrusher Giant|
|Korvold, Fae-Cursed King|
Game 2: Nassif got the combo going by turn 4, with cat, oven, and devil threatening to run away with the game. Steinberg’s early hand was incredibly weak, and after deploying all of his mana dorks he was at mercy of the topdecks. He did draw Claim to deal with Mayhem Devil and won some time to potentially draw into a stabilizing Korvold and flip the game. Steinberg ended up getting the next best thing – and that is his own Mayhem Devil. However, given that Nassif kept drawing with Midnight Reaper all this time, it was only natural he had another Claim the Firstborn ready to ship, eliminating all hopes for Steinberg to steal this game.
Game 3: Gabriel deliberated for a while on a weird starting hand that had all the pieces, but was just short of optimal mana. He ended up muliganning into a six-card hand that was marginally better but improved greatly during the next two draw steps. Meanwhile, Steinberg once again flopped on the action. His two cats chilled in the graveyard without Food to get them back, and Nassif destroyed them with a cute Scavenging Ooze topdeck. Another insane draw of Midnight Reaper in addition to the cat oven engine pulled the Frenchman in the closest reach of victory. Steinberg flooded out, and it was Jegantha who presented the lethal threat for him in the end.
Upper Bracket Finals
This where this day of play culminates – the winner of this match will advance to the Grand Finals, where he will await comfortably for his opponents to fight it out in the Elimination bracket. This head-to-head – Gabriel Nassif versus Luis Salvatto – is an incredibly close matchup, both in terms of decks’ balance of power and the player skills. Both pros are established masters of the game and also running insanely hot this tournament, and it could very well be that they would meet once again in the Grand Finals for a rematch.
Game 1: Both players’ mulligans were unfortunate, both going down to 6, and Nassif might as well have gone to 5 given the quality of cards he kept. All lands, a cat and a Claim is not exactly the game-winning synergy. Meanwhile, Salvatto got to develop his Lurrus to enable Kroxa but was quickly punished by Nassif’s Claim. The game unfolded very slow for both players as their hand states were too awkward, and they had to work with very limited resources.
The back and forth was going on for quite some time – Salvatto started to pull ahead with a tight Claim to Fame play that let him Bedevil Nassif’s Witch's Oven off of Arcanist’s trigger. However, Gabriel kept the fire going with the card draw from the Reaper. The game was incredibly clutch, with both players going to very low life totals, and it was a crazy line by Nassif involving a Collected Company that snuck in the win for him. If you were to have time to watch only the one game from this tourney – watch this one!
Game 2: In this game, Salvatto resolved an early Hazoret in addition to a Young Pyromancer, and Nassif struggled hard to keep up with the tempo. The abysmal flooding didn’t help the Frenchman, and the game was almost over at that point. Gabriel had less than 10 minutes on his chess clock left but still decided to stick with it and play it out. Turn after turn, he managed to draw just the piece to keep him in it for a bit longer – a Collected Company, a cat, an oven, a devil – and refused to move on. And suddenly, after several turns, he found himself in the position to turn it all around and seal the win. An incredible match and words can’t pay enough tribute to how masterfully Gabriel Nassif played! A must-watch!