Welcome back! We’re now four weeks into Ikoria, and the trend of every week leaving us on the edges of our seats shows no signs of slowing; the Standard metagame is evolving so fast that the best decks are being dethroned every few days! This weekend at the MagicFest Online Season 2 Finals, the spectacle was truly something out of Arthurian Legend. The loathsome Agent of Treachery, reviler of metagames, tried to make off with another top spot leveraging the Yorion Lukka deck’s absurd midgame turns. At the last possible moment, when all hope seemed lost, a humble Innkeeper-turned hero known for stealing a tournament or two himself put aside his pitchfork, took up his sword again and vanquished that bootleg Matrix villain, though it seems unlikely to be once and for all…
Our data this week comes from the MagicFest Online Season 2 Finals and our site’s usual offering of top mythic decks. As usual, we’ve provided a full metagame update below, but you can click here to skip to the decklists if you want to see those right away!
Check out last week’s update & decks! Don’t worry, my metagame updates don’t repeat themselves much; most of the decks I cover are different each week!
The Best of the MagicFest Online Season 2 Finals
Temur Adventures takes down another tournament seemingly out of nowhere! Twice is enough to earn Aaron Gertler’s Control-crushing innovation from Theros quite the reputation; this time, victory was earned in Jason Fleurant’s capable hands, defeating none other than Gabriel Nassif on Yorion Lukka. This deck combines powerful anti-aggro tools like Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant with an unbeatable late game if it is allowed to set up properly, churning through an inextinguishable supply of cards nabbed from the sideboard using Fae of Wishes + Clover/s alongside its more typical draw engines in Escape to the Wilds and Edgewall Innkeeper; the ability to have its entire sideboard available to it at all times and tutor up what is best for whatever situation is a tremendous boon.
The deck’s weaknesses are in its reliance on Lucky Clover, so it tends to have anaemic draws without that card, and be vulnerable to artifact hate. Additionally, Nissa decks tend to be strong against it, with it having no clean answer to that card, so perhaps if this fantastic tournament result sparks a resurgence, we could see Bant decks leaning away from Control and back into Ramp. As always, it’s much more powerful than it is popular, being a really hard deck to play and get used to, so now is the time to start practising and perhaps it’ll be you who is the meta’s next shining shield against Agent of Treachery!
Emperor Kitty has lost some ground in Standard’s recent weeks (not other formats, go and check out what kind of bird-gorging savagery the purported best creature of all time is wreaking everywhere else!), with the Sacrifice and Aggro decks built around him taking a backseat to some of the format’s greedier decks. That being said, he still has a home in some of the best decks – Lurrus Cycling has proven incredible, with 9 decks playing it in the Season Two Finals and two making top 8. Much of Cycling’s power stems from Zenith Flare, an immensely powerful finisher which can easily do 10+ damage straight to the enemy face; in an aggro deck that is great at laying on the pressure and therefore forcing opponents to tap out, it’s easy to see why having such a big burn spell would push it over the top. However, the core of the deck and its ability to run so few lands and always find its payoffs in churning through so many cards so quickly makes it one of the most consistent in the format – it almost always works, and works well.
Even all these weeks later, the clash between Boros and Jeskai rages on, with many advocates on both sides. The argument is really one of consistency vs power – Improbable Alliance makes the deck less vulnerable to spot removal/sweepers (though a role Lurrus is good at fulfilling anyway), and having access to Negate is nice in pushing lethal Zenith Flares through. Jeskai also has access to a better suite of sideboard cards, though you don’t want to over-sideboard with this deck anyway. Unfortunately, the format’s selection of untapped lands is far from stellar, and being Jeskai requires you to incorporate a bunch of taplands which this deck absolutely abhores having, more so than any other deck as Cycling constantly wants it to use all of its mana every turn. Check out Mark Gabrielle’s guide here, which goes into greater detail on the differences between them!
For now, the tournament results favour Boros, with it being responsible for both top 8 placements, but the deck is so cheap that you can really just try out both and see which you like! This is the most popular tier 1 deck as a result, with the Boros maindeck requiring only 5 Rares for the shocklands and Lotus Cat himself.
With the meta traversing in a greedier and greedier direction these last few weeks, and Agent of Treachery nonsense everywhere, I was certainly expecting an attempted aggro resurgence, but I wasn’t expecting Red Deck Wins to come out on top, since I thought cards like Embercleave would line up poorly into the Teferi + sweeper meta. Clearly I was underestimating the resilience of a deck that has classically been the plucky underdog, as Mono Red has eschewed Embercleave for Obosh and had much better results this week as a result! Obosh, as a better Torbran that you have access to every single game and therefore can build around with cards like Heraldic Banner, meant that two of the three contenders playing the deck top 8ed the tournament.
The ability to go really wide with Anax tokens, all your 1 drops, and a ton of powerful buffs means you can go right through Cat Oven decks; it doesn’t matter if they gain a bunch of life if your creatures are each hitting for 4 or 6! The matchup is much closer as a result, though I suspect it’s still harder than most. Phoenix of Ash and Anax give you great resiliency against sweepers, Light Up the Stage is still some of the best card draw in Standard, and Bonecrusher Giant and Shock retain their value in the late game alongside Obosh, so the deck is fantastic at stealing games well after your opponents have begun to stabilise.
I suspect this is the premier best-of-one deck, and that you should expect to see it everywhere right now.
While its nemesis Jeskai Fires was pushed almost completely out of the meta since my update a couple of weeks ago, the Villain from the East has remained one of the best decks; it was the most popular deck at the Season Two Finals and, though it only managed to claim one top 8 spot, many pros maintain it is the premier best-of-three deck in Standard. Having a pile of disruption and countermagic is a good way to disrupt Jeskai Yorion Lukka’s plans, having four maindeck Mystical Dispute in a meta dominated by Blue decks is quite the trump card, and the weakness to Teferi and Narset it had last meta is greatly alleviated thanks to its adoption of Shark Typhoon, a great way to ambush and pressure those cards. Being the best Uro deck in the format, the one best able to fill its graveyard for the card and best able to support it with countermagic to stop pesky Elspeth Conquers Deaths and such from taking it out for good, is a fantastic boon, as Uro has long proven itself a incredible card.
Check out pro Ivan Floch’s guide to the deck here, one of my favourite edits, with the bonus of him talking at length about adapting to shifting metagames!
I covered Bant Yorion Control last week, so I’ll focus on changes since then only. The legendary hall-of-famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa took the deck to third place in the Finals, with his even more controlling build (at this point the only vestige of the Ramp deck it once was is Growth Spiral), with a full 10 counterspells to back up its 9 powerful planeswalkers. In many ways, the deck resembles Temur Reclamation but is trying to play a fairer and more value-oriented gamer rather than having a combo finish. This sort of strategy gives you access to Yorion himself, a tremendous tool for eking extra value out of both your planeswalkers and your playset of Elspeth Conquers Death; the deck outperformed Reclamation at the tournament and really Companion decks have generally proven well-worth the costs in Standard so far, so we could easily see it being the better choice in the weeks to come.
Last week’s usurper was the second most popular deck at the tournament, but only Yellowhat managed to make the top 8 with it (though he was 2nd place). Regardless, it’s certainly still one of the best decks in the format, one every other deck has to prepare for (and most will live in fear of). I covered that deck in-depth last week, check that out here!
The Best & Freshest of this week’s Mythic Decks
Naya Lukka Tokens by Runeclaw Barich (#8)
This week has seen an explosion in Lukka decks, thanks to the greater awareness of how sickeningly powerful that card is when you don’t run very many creatures. Thankfully, not all of them are abusing Agent of Treachery; RuneclawBarich brings us her take on a midrangey tokens/superfriends deck which uses Lukka to cheat out a quick End-Raze Forerunners and end the game in an even more explosive fashion than the Cavalier decks! The deck incorporates a ton of planeswalkers to support, buff, and create more tokens; one especially interesting aspect is the adoption of Stonecoil Serpent, since the card as a converted mana cost of 0 and therefore doesn’t disrupt Lukka’s token sacrifices.
Mono White Lurrus Auras by Shieldmaiden (#44)
Shieldmaiden has been climbing the mythic ranks with a deck that, at first glance, looks like it’s better suited to crushing some Artisan queues! Reminiscent of Modern Bogles, the deck seeks to load up a 1 drop with a ton of cheap auras including All that Glitters and then protect it with Karametra’s Blessing (those of you who have played Theros: Beyond Death Draft will know how much of a blowout that card can be… it even defies wraths!), God’s Willing, and Alseid of Life’s Bounty. Lotus Cat recycles your entire graveyard, quickly suiting a 1 drop back up even if they do manage to kill it, and all these protection spells are also great at keeping him alive! While some of you might be sceptical of this plan, it’s one of the cheapest meta decks out there so try it before you knock it!
Gruul Kaheera Fires by CBells77 (#20)
I discussed Gruul Kaheera Fires a couple of weeks ago; it’s still gaining plenty of traction at the mythic ranks, and Delmo, the deck’s creator, has been kind enough to post a comprehensive guide which I edited for the site and had lots of content I was impressed with, so check that out!
Izzet Obosh Flash by MaxontheMoon (#964)
This is a cool deck looking to use Sea-Dasher Octopus as its very own Curious Obsession to follow up one of its 8 1 drops and steal games rapidly, in a gameplan that’s reminiscent of the old Mono Blue Tempo decks. Obosh lets the deck push for lethal with a gigantic immediate swing, especially alongside its bigger creatures in Brazen Borrower and Bonecrusher Giant.
I wrote about these last week, but they’re gaining more and more traction, and all manner of weird and wacky builds are springing up, such as this one from KillyB which incorporates Umori and Marauding Raptor.
MTG Arena Mythic Standard Decks of the Week
Here’s the full list of known Mythic decks over the past week, as shared by the players, sorted by the archetype name with their highest placement noted (if known). You can also view all of these decks in our Standard deck section. To add to this list, tweet @mtgazone!
Thanks for reading! As always, you can find all my articles at mtgazone.com/Drifter or follow me on Twitter/Reddit for regular updates. See you next week!
Look out for my Wild & Wacky Historic Theorycrafts article, out tomorrow!
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This column is our weekly roundup of Standard and sometimes Historic decks players are using to climb the ranked ladder on MTG Arena! Our goal is to gather and post the best and freshest decks from a variety of archetypes at the end of each week, to help you keep up to date with the latest trends in the metagame. If you have any decks you want featured on the site, please tweet us at @mtgazone or give @Terence a shout in the Discord!