Strixhaven Championship: Final Results and Analysis
After three days of high-stakes Magic, the Strixhaven Championship has finally come to an end. The finals took place today, June 6, in the form of a Historic format double-elimination tournament among the Top 8 players from day one and day two. In the end, 8th seed Sam Pardee managed to take the championship title in two intense Jeskai Turns mirror matches against underdog John Girardot.
While the Standard format seemed to be fairly balanced this weekend with only two decks in the Top 8 sharing an archetype, the Historic format has been completely run over by Izzet and Jeskai decks. There were a total of 647 copies of Brainstorm and 483 copies of Expressive Iteration, the breakout draw spell from Strixhaven, in the main decks of the Historic meta. Additionally, Steam Vents was the most played land, beating out Fabled Passage and even the basic lands with a total of 627 copies- just behind Brainstorm as the second most played card overall. In the Top 8 Historic decks alone, there were 31 copies of Brainstorm and 20 copies of Expressive Iteration. That’s right, every deck in the Top 8 was playing 4 copies of Brainstorm except for one that “only” ran 3.
Furthermore, all of the Top 8 decks in Historic were either Izzet or Jeskai. In fact, all but one of the decks was either Jeskai Turns or Izzet Phoenix, with the only exception being Seth Manfield’s Jeskai Control which was eliminated in his first two matches. Jeskai Control has been one of the top decks in Historic since the printing of Strixhaven, but the relatively new Jeskai Turns archetype fueled by Indomitable Creativity into Velomachus Lorehold into Time Warp has proven itself to be extremely powerful- and remarkably consistent. One thing is clear from the results of this tournament: the card advantage provided by Brainstorm and Expressive Iteration is oppressive in the Historic format to the point where any decks that aren’t running the Izzet colors will have a hard time keeping up. The results from this weekend are leaving many wondering if suspensions and/or bans may be imminent in Historic to prevent Izzet from continuing to dominate the format in future events.
In the Standard format, which was not a part of the day three competition but did make up the lion’s share of the Swiss rounds, the most interesting story of the weekend might have been that of Jeskai Mutate. Jeskai Mutate is a deck that didn’t really show up on the scene until the May League Weekend where it was entered by Matthieu Avignon (listed as Jeskai Midrange at the time). It’s a rather bizarre combo deck that uses and abuses the triggered ability on Goldspan Dragon to generate large amounts of mana, and even includes an infinite combo that generates unlimited mana and can recycle Prismari Command to burn the opponent out. There were fifteen Jeskai Mutate lists that were entered in the tournament making up just 6% of the overall meta, and yet there were two of the decks that made the Top 8- identical lists from teammates Matti Kuisma and David Inglis. The deck also managed the highest winrate in Standard at an impressive 60.7%.
With new archetypes rising to the top in both Standard and Historic, there is no doubt that the Strixhaven Championship will have a significant impact on competitive play going forward. The next major pro event will be the July League Weekend on July 3-4, which will be the final event before the postseason begins.