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MTGO Standard Challenge – September 16 & 17, 2023 – Top 8 Decklists and Breakdown

Hi! My name is Vertyx and I will go over the top finishes of the Magic Online Standard Challengs that took place on the weekend: September 16th and September 17th 2023. Second week of a new set propably means new cards in decks so lets go take a look at them!

standard challenge 32 #12580782
16 September, 2023 - standard - 32 players
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standard challenge 32 #12580811
17 September, 2023 - standard - 32 players
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September 16th, Top 8 Decks

We are moving into the second week after the set release and even that we are again starting to see more established decks in the tournament, it also means that the new decks are going to be more polished and we still got some of those to take a look at!

1st place was taken down with Esper Midrange which is a less creature focused and more midrange focused variant of Esper Legends which most of you probably know. You still got your classic bombs like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse but instead of aggro creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben you rather have cards like The Wandering Emperor or Virtue of Loyalty so you are able to grind better and be more resilient to boardwipes.

2nd place was taken down with Domain Ramp which got a lot of upgrades in the new set, but the general idea of ramping into bombs while trying to stay alive is the same as it always was. But that is good, because this gameplan still keeps proving its one of the best things to be doing in the format.

3rd, 4th and 5th were taken down with Esper Legends which same as Domain Ramp keeps proving how good they are with multiple top finishes every weekend. This deck did not get many upgrades, but a curve of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben into Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is still one of the best strategies of the format.

6th place was taken down with Golgari Midrange, which got a lot of upgrades from WOE and thanks to those cards its now able to grind and gain value way better than before, making the deck a viable choice into the format! The upgrades include cards like Mosswood Dreadknight or Blossoming Tortoise and much more.

7th place was taken down with Boros Aggro which together with the aggressiveness of red and cheap creatures from white becomes able to swarm the board with a lot of dorks and take full advantage of them with cards like Virtue of loyalty and Imodane's Recruiter to take over the game in one big swing.

And 8th place was taken down with Azorius Faeries which combines blue faerie creatures with white enchantments and removal to create a potent deck that is able to fly over the metagame.

With the top 8 covered lets go take a look at the specific decklists.

Esper Midrange by key05232
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $483.47
Standard
best of 3
13 mythic
37 rare
6 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (9)
2
Cut Down
$1.98
3
Make Disappear
$2.37
Enchantments (7)
60 Cards
$633.66
Sideboard
1
Kaito Shizuki
$5.49
1
Cut Down
$0.99
1
Negate
$0.35
2
Destroy Evil
$2.58
2
Duress
$0.70
1
Gix’s Command
$0.49
15 Cards
$44.11

1st place was taken down with Esper Midrange by key05232!

It has been a long time since Esper Midrange saw top finishes in tournaments but it might be back on the menu with this finish. Most of you know Esper Legends and for that reason I am going to use it as a comparison to explain this deck.

Compared to Esper Legends this deck plays less aggresive cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and rather plays only the best creature threats in these colors which are for example Sheoldred, the Apocalypse or Raffine, Scheming Seer so you get the most out of your cards.

Instead of the above mentioned aggressive creatures, this deck plays more interaction like The Wandering Emperor, Go for the throat or Make Disappear and also white enchantments in the form of Wedding Announcement and Virtue of loyalty. With those cards combined, the deck wont be able to finish the game as fast as Esper Legends, but it is better at grinding in the late game thanks to the interaction and being more resilient to boardwipes.

Domain Ramp by _Batutinha_
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $307.64
Standard
best of 3
8 mythic
35 rare
6 uncommon
11 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Sorceries (4)
2
Sunfall
$3.98
1
Herd Migration
$0.49
Artifacts (3)
Enchantments (8)
4
Leyline Binding
$43.96
Lands (25)
4
Forest
$1.40
1
Island
$0.35
1
Mountain
$0.35
2
Plains
$0.70
3
Swamp
$1.05
60 Cards
$362.92
15 Cards
$39.51

2nd place was taken down with Domain Ramp by _Batutinha_!

Domain Ramp decks got a lot of upgrades in the new set ranging from more interaction to better late game threats. Lets start with the cheapest card and that is Bramble Familiar which acts as a ramp card in the early game and also as a top end card in the late game which makes it a really great addition into the deck. Another ramp card that should be mentioned is Courier's Briefcase which is not from the new set, but it started to see way more play with the new set.

Moving down the list the deck has the “standard” ramp cards like Topiary Stomper or finishers like Atraxa, Grand Unifier but there is also a new card in the “late game” slot. The deck has adopted the black virtue from the virtue cycle from WOE which is Virtue of Persistence. This card also slots well into the archetype since it acts as a removal spell in the early game and later becomes a great finisher since you get to reanimate any creature that hits the graveyard.

Esper Legends by Bullwinkkle6705
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $520.56
Standard
best of 3
8 mythic
48 rare
3 uncommon
1 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$690.86
Sideboard
1
Rona’s Vortex
$0.35
4
Cut Down
$3.96
2
Make Disappear
$1.58
2
Destroy Evil
$2.58
15 Cards
$28.85
Esper Legends by Diem4x
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $496.14
Standard
best of 3
7 mythic
50 rare
3 uncommon
0 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Esper Legends by _IlNano_
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $491.13
Standard
best of 3
7 mythic
49 rare
3 uncommon
1 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+

3rd (by Bullwinkkle6705), 4th (by Diem4x) and 5th (by _IlNano_) place were taken down with Esper Legends!

Even that these decks did not get a lot of upgrades they still stay as one of the best strategies in the format. Being able to curve Skrelv, Defector Mite into Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse gives this deck the ability to have one of the scariest starts in the format, since almost no deck is able to deal with this reasonably.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out that well of course, but you still have some great legends like Rona, Herald of Invasion to dig for the cards you are missing, Dennick, Pious Apprentice which is a powerful and versatile threat or the new addition of Lord Skitter, Sewer King which lets you put a lot of tokens onto the battlefield.

If you take a look at the specific decklists you realize there are not huge differencies to point out aside from the pilots running Wedding Announcement so its mostly about the personal preferencies of the pilots.

Golgari Midrange by Kakashi_
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $390.45
Standard
best of 3
11 mythic
30 rare
9 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (9)
3
Cut Down
$2.97
1
Tear Asunder
$2.29
Sorceries (1)
1
Gix’s Command
$0.49
Enchantments (2)
Lands (26)
4
Forest
$1.40
5
Swamp
$1.75
4
Llanowar Wastes
$7.96
4
Deathcap Glade
$43.96
60 Cards
$488.8
15 Cards
$32.01

6th place was taken down with Golgari Midrange by Kakashi_!

Golgari was historicaly one of the best colors for midrange decks, and thanks to new cards from WOE it might be at the top again! Starting of with the threats we already got a new card in the form of Mosswood Dreadknight // Dread Whispers which slots really well into the archetype because its able to grind really well while also presenting a threat.

Moving down the list you got the staple threats like Tenacious Underdog or Glissa Sunslayer but also another new addition in the form of Sentinel of lost Lore which can cause big trouble for decks using the adventure mechanic. The last addition into threats is Blossoming Tortoise which ramps you into your other cards and also makes another new addition, Restless Cottage way better at attacking.

Not much to talk about in the interaction portion of the deck since it only has the “stock” cards like Tear Asunder or Go for the Throat. The last new addition into the maindeck if Virtue of Persistence which can act as a removal early and then as a finisher in the late game.

Boros Aggro by medvedev
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $127.53
Standard
best of 3
4 mythic
25 rare
18 uncommon
13 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (2)
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
6
Mountain
$2.10
3
Plains
$1.05
2
Sundown Pass
$15.98
2
Mirrex
$4.98
60 Cards
$86.42
15 Cards
$88.63

7th place was taken down with Boros Aggro by medvedev!

This deck takes a big inspiration from boros convoke decks that emerged in various formats during the year. By combining red and white the deck becomes able to swarm the board with a bunch of small creatures with cards like Resolute Reinforcements, Gleeful Demolition or Raging Battle Mouse.

As soon as you get enough you became able to take full advantage of your payoffs like Imodane's Recruiter which lets you swing out with a big buff, Knight-Errant of Eos which is great at finding you more cards to cast and Virtue of Loyalty which grows your board every end step, while also being able to provide a 2/2 token.

Azorius Faeries by Traft
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $238.68
Standard
best of 3
5 mythic
36 rare
5 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (6)
1
Make Disappear
$0.79
1
Destroy Evil
$1.29
4
Spell Stutter
$1.40
Enchantments (4)
Lands (24)
4
Island
$1.40
4
Plains
$1.40
4
Adarkar Wastes
$17.96
4
Seachrome Coast
$9.96
4
Deserted Beach
$35.96
2
Mirrex
$4.98
60 Cards
$306.12
15 Cards
$40.91

And the last 8th place was taken down with Azorius Faeries by Traft!

This deck combines blue creatures and white removal/disruption to create an unique deck that we will go and cover right now. Starting of with the threats, they are full of faeries like Sleep-Cursed Faerie, Faerie Mastermind or Talion's Messenger so you are able to fly over most of the boardstates that you might face. The interaction slots mainly includes Spell Stutter which is a powerful counterspell in a deck full of faeries and The Wandering Emperor as a great and versatile “removal spell”.

The other thing that white brings to this deck are the enchantments which include Wedding Announcement which is a great and versatile effect in creature decks, Invasion of Gobakhan as a disruption effect against interactive decks and Invasion of Dominaria as a card to buy you time against aggro.

And that is it for the first Challenge, lets go take a look at the one that took place on Sunday, September 17th 2023.

September 17th, Top 8 Decks

The second top 8 is more mono-red dominated and also with more established archetypes compared to the one on Saturday.

1st place was taken down with Domain Ramp which as already mentioned above, is a deck that wants to ramp into big threats, while also controlling the board with removal. Domain Ramp has been one of the best archetypes in the format with multiple great results basically every weekend.

2nd place was taken down with Golgari Midrange which is a deck that has historicaly excelled at being good at doing everything midrange. And with the new set it got a lot of upgrades so it might be also be able to continue this trend in this rotation!

3rd, 6th and 7th place were taken down with Mono-Red Aggro which is a deck that probably doesn’t need a lot of explanation. By combining cheap threats like Monastery Swiftspear with burn like Play with Fire its able to slice through the metagame with a fast and aggressive gameplan.

4th place was taken down with Azorius Soldiers which is a tribal aggro deck that utilizes a bunch of powerful soldiers to create a highly synergistic deck that lets you finish the game fast when it is left unchecked.

5th place was taken down with Esper Legends which takes an advantage of the best legends in the Esper colors and in combination with a good manabase its able to present a curve that a big part of the metagame has a hard time dealing with.

And 8th place was taken down with Esper Midrange which is a less aggressive Esper deck compared to Esper Legends and rather maximizes on interaction and the best value threats so its able to grind better even if it sacrifices some speed.

Domain Ramp by handsomePPZ
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $308.06
Standard
best of 3
8 mythic
35 rare
6 uncommon
11 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Sorceries (4)
2
Sunfall
$3.98
1
Herd Migration
$0.49
Artifacts (3)
Enchantments (8)
4
Leyline Binding
$43.96
Lands (25)
4
Forest
$1.40
1
Island
$0.35
1
Mountain
$0.35
2
Plains
$0.70
3
Swamp
$1.05
60 Cards
$368.92
15 Cards
$39.51

1st place was taken down with Domain Ramp by handsomePPZ!

This deck wants to ramp as fast as possible with cards like Topiary Stomper and control the board with removal like Leyline Binding until its able to cast its huge payoffs like Atraxa, Grand Unifier to take over the game.

As most decks this one also got some upgrades and in this case those are Bramble Familiar which slots well into the archetype because it provides early ramp with a possible late game threat and Virtue of Persistence which serves as a removal spell early and then as a reanimation effect in the late game!

Thanks to Bramble Familiar the deck now basically plays only Atraxa, Grand Unifier as the main win-con with mostly only a few copies of Herd Migration in lists.

Sultai Midrange by SoulStrong
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $467.16
Standard
best of 3
12 mythic
38 rare
7 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (8)
1
Spell Pierce
$0.35
3
Cut Down
$2.97
Enchantments (3)
Lands (26)
1
Forest
$0.35
1
Swamp
$0.35
3
Yavimaya Coast
$2.97
4
Llanowar Wastes
$7.96
4
Darkslick Shores
$11.96
3
Shipwreck Marsh
$20.97
2
Deathcap Glade
$21.98
60 Cards
$604.98
Sideboard
1
Kaito Shizuki
$5.49
1
Cut Down
$0.99
1
Negate
$0.35
1
Tear Asunder
$2.29
2
Duress
$0.70
2
Gix’s Command
$0.98
15 Cards
$18.17

2nd place was taken down with Sultai Midrange by SoulStrong!

Golgari is one of the best colors for a midrange strategy and thanks to the recent upgrades it has a lot of new toys to prove that! The most important part of the deck are its threats which include a lot of cards. Starting of with Mosswood Dreadknight // Dread Whispers which is able to generate a lot of value, moving up you got some all stars like Tenacious Underdog, Glissa Sunslayer or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse but also new additions in the form of Lord Skitter, Sewer King and Blossoming Tortoise which ramps you into your other cards and makes the new creature land Restless Cottage much better.

Interaction has the stock black removal like Go for the Throat but also 4 copies of Virtue of Persistence which acts as a removal in the early game but also as a great finisher in the late game! And if you ask for the reason this deck plays blue, its mostly sideboard cards like Disdainful Stroke

Mono-Red Aggro by geleroff
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $36.21
Standard
best of 3
3 mythic
17 rare
17 uncommon
23 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (11)
4
Play with Fire
$9.96
3
Monstrous Rage
$1.05
Sorceries (2)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (23)
19
Mountain
$6.65
60 Cards
$57.76
15 Cards
$6.91
Mono-Red Aggro by Rocardito
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $51.38
Standard
best of 3
5 mythic
18 rare
15 uncommon
22 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (9)
4
Play with Fire
$9.96
Sorceries (2)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (23)
18
Mountain
$6.30
60 Cards
$72.18
15 Cards
$15.97
Mono-Red Aggro by bolov0
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $50.79
Standard
best of 3
5 mythic
17 rare
16 uncommon
22 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (9)
4
Play with Fire
$9.96
Sorceries (2)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (23)
18
Mountain
$6.30
60 Cards
$72.18
15 Cards
$15.97

3rd (by geleroff), 6th (by Rocardito) and 7th (by bolov0) place were taken down with Mono-Red Aggro!

This deck has historically been one of the best aggro archetypes in the entire game since it got introduced. By combining cheap threats like Monastery Swiftspear or Bloodthirsty Adversary with burn spells like Play with Fire or Lightning Strike the deck is able to win the game really fast with fast starts that some decks don’t deal well with.

Of course this deck also got some upgrades and those are Charming Scoundrel which provides a very versatile effect and Goddric, Cloaked Reveler which turns into a Shivan Dragon if you manage to get 2 nonland permanents onto the battlefield in one turn.

As for the specific decklists, they mostly look the same with only small differencies in exact card numbers.

Azorius Soldiers by ThaisM
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $143.18
Standard
best of 3
1 mythic
34 rare
16 uncommon
9 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (6)
1
Lantern Flare
$0.49
4
Make Disappear
$3.16
1
Destroy Evil
$1.29
Enchantments (5)
Lands (23)
1
Island
$0.35
3
Plains
$1.05
4
Adarkar Wastes
$17.96
4
Seachrome Coast
$9.96
3
Deserted Beach
$26.97
1
Mirrex
$2.49
60 Cards
$185.36
15 Cards
$40.99

4th place was taken down with Azorius Soldiers by ThaisM!

This deck uses a lot of powerful soldier cards to create a synergistic battlefield full of creature cards that interact well together. Those include cheap aggro threats like Recruitment Officer or Resolute Reinforcements but also some powerful pay-offs like Valiant Veteran to buff your team or Knight-Errant of Eos to get more cards to cast.

Of course this deck also plays some interaction which mostly consits of counterspells in the form of Make Disappear.

Esper Legends by fingers1991
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $491.13
Standard
best of 3
7 mythic
49 rare
3 uncommon
1 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+

5th place was taken down with Esper Legends by fingers1991!

This deck uses the best legendary cards in the format to present a really powerful start that is hard to deal with from the opponents side. The threats include cheap cards like Skrelv, Defector Mite, Faerie Mastermind or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben where all of them disrupt the opponent but also some more high end threats like Raffine, Scheming Seer or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.

If you have a hard time finding your threats you can filter with Rona, Herald of Invasion, or if you need some interaction you got Ertai Resurrected or spells like Go for the throat. This deck also got an upgrade and that is Lord Skitter, Sewer King which is able to get you more power onto the battlefield.

Esper Midrange by _IlNano_
by Vertyx
Buy on TCGplayer $483.48
Standard
best of 3
13 mythic
37 rare
6 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (9)
2
Cut Down
$1.98
3
Make Disappear
$2.37
Enchantments (7)
60 Cards
$633.66
Sideboard
1
Kaito Shizuki
$5.49
1
Cut Down
$0.99
1
Negate
$0.35
2
Destroy Evil
$2.58
2
Duress
$0.70
1
Gix’s Command
$0.49
15 Cards
$44.11

And 8th place was taken down with Esper Midrange by _IlNano_!

If we compare this deck to the Esper Legends one above, it plays some similar threats but rather than playing the aggressive cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben it plays more grindy cards and interaction so the late game is more beneficial for the deck. As you can see the creature slots only inlcude the grindy cards from the list which include Raffine, Scheming Seer or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.

The interaction has a lot of strong cards like The Wandering Emperor, Go for the throat or Make Disappear. And the last cards to take a look at are the enchantments which include Wedding Announcement as a great effect in the deck and Virtue of Loyalty which makes your already good threats even better!

And that’s it for the article! Wilds of Eldraine is slowly setting in while people are still trying innovate with new brews and decks, hopefuly next week will bring us even more! Stay tuned and see you next week!

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Vertyx
Vertyx

Hi! I am Vertyx, I am 18 years old and I am from the Czech Republic. Most people know me due to my results on MTGO. I have countless Challenge Top 8s and a handful of wins with a wide variety of decks. I manage data from Magic: The Gathering events on MTG Arena Zone and MTG Meta.

Articles: 1107

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