MTGO Standard Challenge: Top 8 Tournament Decklists featuring Midnight Hunt

Storm-Charged Slasher art by Michael Walsh

The first weekend after a new Magic set is released always offers a unique opportunity to get an early look at the developing competitive meta. This weekend was host to the first tournaments featuring cards from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, but the set’s release also brought an even bigger change to the format: the yearly Standard Rotation.

Each weekend, MTGO features Standard Challenges where players compete in a Swiss-style tournament for prizes on the client. For those interested, more information about MTGO format challenges and their prize structure can be found here.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the Top 8 decklists from the event to see what archetypes competitive players have found success with so far in the new Standard format.

For more coverage from the weekend’s tournaments, see below for our coverage of the Hooglandia Standard Open.

Top 8 Standings

RankPlayerDeck
1Snapcaster-BoltGruul Aggro
2BeraldiMono Green Aggro
3ruin000Gruul Aggro
4OxyWithMoxyGruul Werewolves
5Magic_RainbowsOrzhov Venture
6AardosMono White Book
7Tarmogoyf1234Gruul Aggro
8wordy333Dimir Zombies

Bracket

Source: MTGO Standard Challenge September 19, 2021

Looking at these results, it does seem like Standard has been thrown to the wolves. Gruul decks make up four of the top eight, with another being Mono Green. This is the very beginning of the format, when aggressive decks typically tend to do well, so it’s not too much of a surprise to see Gruul putting up a strong performance- especially given the powerful new cards that Midnight Hunt has brought to the archetype.

Reckless Stormseeker is a powerful new haste enabler that showed up in three of the four Gruul decks in the Top 8. The card is notable for playing well with Esika’s Chariot, a card which is already well established in the Standard format. Curving turn three Stormseeker into turn four Chariot creates a formidable threat: the Chariot can crew itself with the tokens it creates, gain haste from the Stormseeker and then attack- which creates yet another token. That sequence alone creates 12 power on the field. The opponent better hope they have good blockers or some kind of interaction, else the game will get out of hand very quickly.

Another notable new card that’s showing up in most of the Gruul lists (and many other decks that play green) also happens to play extremely well with Esika’s Chariot: Wrenn and Seven. The new planeswalker is proving itself to be quite good in the Standard format; the value it generates is great, and the beefy reach tokens it produces are solid on both offense and defense. Copying the tokens with Esika’s Chariot is the most delicious gravy, as both cards are already very good on their own.

Apart from the green aggressive decks, there were some other decks in the Top 8 that were a bit surprising. Player Magic_Rainbows brought an Orzhov deck based around Venture into the Dungeon cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realm. Venture decks have showed up from time to time on the Arena ladder but never were a large part of the meta, even in Standard 2022.

Magic_Rainbows’ deck is packed with interesting synergies that look to make the most of the venture mechanic. It uses the creatures Nadaar, Selfless Paladin and Acererak the Archlich as self-contained venture engines that are also decent attacking threats. Additionally, the deck is also built around Zombie synergies with the new Champion of the Perished and Tainted Adversary. Magic_Rainbows was crafty to notice that the Zombie tribe happens to line up well with some of the existing Venture cards that either are Zombies themselves or create Zombie tokens.

The deck is further bolstered by four maindeck copies of the efficient new removal spell Infernal Grasp, which, along with four copies of Agadeem’s Awakening, helps to lower its controller’s life total to power up Scourge of the Skyclaves– a strategy which is reminiscent of Death’s Shadow decks in Modern and Historic.

The Dimir Zombies list that was entered by wordy333 has a number of cards in common, although their deck goes all-in on the zombies theme. The deck is almost entirely mono black, with four Bladestitched Skaab being the only blue cards in the maindeck. Many influential players have been skeptical of the viability of Zombie tribal decks based on the cards currently in Standard.

To that point, wordy333’s deck is running four copies of Dungeon Crawler – despite having no Venture cards in the main or sideboard – just for a 2/1 that enters the battlefield tapped. However, with two of the top 8 decks fitting the zombies theme, perhaps the key cards are strong enough that the archetype will prove itself in the competitive scene even with some filler.

As a final point of interest, there was also one somewhat notorious archetype to make its way into the Top 8: Mono White Book. The Book of Exalted Deeds was banned from the best-of-one only Standard 2022 queue because of the interaction it has with Faceless Haven, and the very limited options that players had to use against the combo.

With Midnight Hunt, Field of Ruin has returned to the Standard format, and the Book is no longer banned. If this archetype turns out to be consistently good in the format, more decks will have to play Field of Ruin to keep the combo in check- or otherwise hold up removal at all times in the matchup to destroy the Haven when it becomes a creature.

You can find the full decklists from the top 8 players below, and you can view the full results from the tournament on Wizards’ official site.

Top 8 Decklists

Paul

Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer. Submit feedback or corrections to @Paul on the Discord.