Strixhaven Championship: Historic Metagame Preview

On this Friday, June 4, the Strixhaven Championship will begin, pitting the Rivals League and MPL members against each other for the $250,000 prize pool. Yesterday, we got a preview of the Standard metagame and today, we get to take a look at Historic. We haven’t seen the full Rivals League and MPL battle it out in Historic since the League Weekend in the middle of May, and a lot has changed in the Historic format since then. Tainted Pact Combo dominated the competition at the league weekend, leading to its banning in Historic shortly afterward. Immediately following the ban, Historic Anthology 5 was added to the format. This is the first pro level event since then (although there have been a few smaller tournaments that included Rivals and MPL members) so without further ado, let’s take a look at what the top players in Magic are bringing to the Historic table.

Courtesy of magic.gg
ArchetypeNumber of PlayersPercentage of Field
Izzet Phoenix8835.2%
Jeskai Turns4518.0%
Jeskai Control249.6%
Jund Food187.2%
Mono-Black Aggro135.2%
Selesnya Company124.8%
Gruul Aggro114.4%
Five-Color Niv-Mizzet52.0%
Dragonstorm41.6%
Azorius Auras41.6%
Dimir Rogues20.8%
Boros Midrange20.8%
Mono-Red Aggro20.8%
Dimir Pact20.8%
Grixis Control20.8%
Elves20.8%
Dimir Control10.4%
Orzhov Auras10.4%
Atarka Red10.4%
Temur Marvel10.4%
Neostorm10.4%
Boros Magecraft10.4%
Orzhov Shadow10.4%
Azorius Control10.4%
Temur Turns10.4%
Temur Ramp10.4%
Colorless Ramp10.4%
Sultai Ultimatum10.4%
Simic Turns10.4%
Mono-Blue Spirits10.4%

Most played nonland cards:
Brainstorm (647 copies)
Expressive Iteration (483 copies)

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Izzet Phoenix sitting as the most represented deck in the Strixhaven Championship. Despite all of the recent changes to Historic, Izzet Phoenix is one of the decks, along with Jeskai Control, that have stayed at or near the top of the format throughout. Strixhaven’s Mystical Archive gave Phoenix decks the powerful enablers that they needed to be a serious player in the meta, especially Brainstorm and Faithless Looting. Everyone, including Wizards of the Coast, is sure to have their eyes on Izzet Phoenix and how well it performs in the tournament considering it has the largest metagame share by far with almost twice the entries as the second most popular deck. It’s possible that we could be facing another ban if Phoenix decks are able to achieve unacceptably high winrates in addition to their large metagame share.

The second most popular Historic deck at the Strixhaven Championship will be Jeskai Turns, a relatively new player in the meta that has risen from obscurity in the span of less than a month. Jeskai Turns is a distinctly different deck from Jeskai Control- Jeskai Turns seeks to use token generators with Indomitable Creativity to cheat out Velomachus Lorehold with the intention of chaining Time Warp casts to end the game on the spot. Velomachus Lorehold is a card which has yet to see its time in Standard, but Time Warp is a powerful enough payoff to make the deck viable in Historic. However, the prevalence of this deck in the pro meta is surprising to many, including some pro players who have already begun commenting on social media:

It will definitely be interesting to see how Jeskai Turns is able to perform in the tournament. It seems as though the 45 players who have entered this deck may be banking on a strong matchup with Izzet Phoenix, which typically runs a very limited amount of interaction and few counterspells.

Next we see some more familiar players, with Jeskai Control and Jund Food sitting at around 10% and 7% of the meta respectively. Jeskai Control has proven itself through the chaos that has been the Historic format, and it’s probably not crazy to assume the deck will do well this weekend despite the shifting meta. Jund Food, on the other hand, is a deck that many have been skeptical about since the printing of the Mystical Archive brought a whole new power level to Historic. Clearly, some of the pros still believe in this deck despite its mostly lackluster performance in recent events.

Despite the dominating presence of a handful of archetypes, there are many less-anticipated decks that will be showing up to the Strixhaven Championship as well. Mono Black Aggro is showing up in the largest numbers we’ve seen at the pro level after performing very well in a recent tournament. Additionally, there are a total of 14 archetypes that have just a single entry each- a true sign that Historic is not yet fully solved and there are still many players who are willing to risk the championship for a chance to break the meta.

All of these different archetypes should make for exciting gameplay when the tournament gets started tomorrow, June 4. Wizards will be releasing the full decklists via MTGMelee when the first matches kick off, and we’ll be covering the tournament here on MTGA Zone throughout the weekend. In the meantime, make sure you check out our Standard Metagame Preview and analysis of the Historic meta by MTG Hall-of-Famer Frank Karsten on magic.gg.

Paul

Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer.

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