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Hey there fellow magicians and welcome back to another article from my hand. Today I’ll go back to basics and take a look at the recent results of the Magic Online Mythic Championship Qualifier that took place February 16 in the Modern format. I got metagame statistics, sweet tech and stand-out performers, so get ready!

Top 32 Breakdown

The Winner’s Metagame

Stinkweed Imp
Arclight Phoenix
Hardened Scales
Thoughtseize
Hollow One
Blood Moon

The event had almost 300 players which was good enough for nine rounds of swiss, so I feel like looking at the top 32. Those are mostly players with 7-2 or better records, but it also includes eight 6-3 players with good tiebreakers. That seems to be relevant and significant enough to paint a picture of the Modern landscape of February 2019. Here are the decks that made up the top 32 spots of the event.

  • 9 Dredge
  • 4 Izzet Phoenix
  • 3 Hardened Scales
  • 3 BG(x) Midrange
  • 2 Hollow One
  • 2 Mono Red Phoenix
  • 1 Mono Red Prison
  • 1 Bant Spirits
  • 1 Bant Company
  • 1 Boros Burn
  • 1 Grixis Shadow
  • 1 Shadow Zoo
  • 1 White-Black Eldrazi & Taxes
  • 1 Colorless Eldrazi
  • 1 Whir Prison

The Card Selection in the Room

Faithless Looting was really popular

Metagame Modern Faithless Looting by Karl Kopinski

Faithless Looting by Karl Kopinski

Let me first address the elephant in the room. As you can see, more than half of the above decks run Faithless LootingFaithless Looting. And in each case it is used as a facilitator of broken things. The one exception is the singleton copy in Grixis Death’s Shadow, that’s used to filter lands into spells in the mid and late game. I don’t mind the card in fair decks like Mardu Midrange or Death’s Shadow variants where it’s mostly an additional card filtering spell. But once the graveyard is in the picture, things can get out of hand quickly whether it’s hasty birds, zero mana 4/4’s or 20 cards in the graveyard by turn two out of Dredge. If Faithless LootingFaithless Looting continues to be the most played card in Modern over the next month or two, I expect Wizards of the Coast to get rid of it.

Speaking of Faithless LootingFaithless Looting, Dredge was more than 25% of the winner’s metagame this tournament, which is extremely high for any Modern deck. I would not be surprised if the metagame adapts with more graveyard hate in the sideboard and possibly a bunch of Blue-White Control with maindeck Rest in PeaceRest in Peace like we saw a few months back.

The Prison Deck Strikes Back

How to prey on dominant metagame cards

Death and Taxes Chalice of the Void by Mark Zug

Chalice of the Void by Mark Zug

It is fairly cemented by now that Faithless LootingFaithless Looting and Ancient StirringsAncient Stirrings are two of the most powerful things you can do in Modern these days. While one might argue that these two culprits don’t do anything powerful by themselves, they provide the consistency and explosiveness that their respective decks need in order to win. Their mutual converted manacost of one is where Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void comes in. Players already started to explore new options to prey on a metagame that’s dominated by 1-cost spells. Let’s have a look at this sweet Mono Red Prison deck that made top.

Creatures (15)
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Goblin Rabblemaster
Hazoret the Fervent
Legion Warboss
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Simian Spirit Guide

Spells (24)
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Slagstorm
Abrade
Desperate Ritual
Pyretic Ritual
Chalice of the Void
Ensnaring Bridge
Blood Moon
Lands (21)
Gemstone Caverns
13 Mountain
Radiant Fountain
Ramunap Ruins

Sideboard (15)
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Anger of the Gods
Boil
Damping Sphere
Grafdigger’s Cage
Leyline of the Void
Rending Volley
Shattering Spree
Sorcerous Spyglass
Torpor Orb
Sideboard Blood Moon by Franz Vohwinkel

Blood Moon by Franz Vohwinkel

As in Legacy, this deck is built on the premise that Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void and Blood MoonBlood Moon can win games by themselves. In the Legacy version, there’s access to Ancient TombAncient Tomb and City of TraitorsCity of Traitors to support the Simian Spirit GuideSimian Spirit Guides to produce these hateful permanents early enough to matter. In Modern however, we can’t have that sort of luxury. Instead, they decided that the two-mana rituals could do a reasonable impression.

Metagame Modern Ensnaring Bridge by Titus Lunter

Ensnaring Bridge by Titus Lunter

Ensnaring BridgeEnsnaring Bridge provides the third lockdown option as some decks are simply unable to beat the combo of a Bridge and an empty hand.

The Prison Guards

They lock you up and don’t let you out

Goblin Rabblemaster
Legion Warboss

After the opposition’s one-drops and/or manabase are locked up, Mono Red Prison plans to win the game with the dynamic duo of Goblin RabblemasterGoblin Rabblemaster and Legion WarbossLegion Warboss which both fit the bill of a cheap casting cost and the ability to finish the game quickly.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Hazoret the Fervent
Pia and Kiran Nalaar

They also found spots for some four-drops that can apply additional pressure or finish the game with Ensnaring BridgeEnsnaring Bridge on the battlefield. These chosen ones are Chandra, Torch of DefianceChandra, Torch of Defiance, Hazoret the FerventHazoret the Fervent, and Pia and Kiran NalaarPia and Kiran Nalaar. Chandra is the 4-drop of choice thanks to her versatility between card advantage, removal and clock while the others have their strenghts against different parts of the metagame.

Gemstone Caverns
Ramunap Ruins

I also like how they got creative with the manabase and figured that they would rarely take any damage from Ruins, but there might be some “free” damage in the late game to gain from playing the card. Gemstone CavernsGemstone Caverns makes it more bearable to lose the die roll and will add more consistency to the plan of “you get to play a single one-drop and not more after that”, also known as Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void.

The sideboard looks like an assorted bag of candy aside from the playset of Leyline of the VoidLeyline of the Void and three copies of Anger of the GodsAnger of the Gods. Those cards suggest that they felt unfavored against Dredge and wanted some additional tools to make sure they wouldn’t get run over by other aggressive decks. Looking at the above metagame, those seven slots were spot on. Time will tell if this deck will be a constant in the metagame or if it was only a good choice for this particular weekend.

Modern is as Interesting as Ever

But don’t forget to pack your graveyard hate

Modern Metagame Grafdigger's Cage by Daniel Ljunggren

Grafdigger’s Cage by Daniel Ljunggren

I could’ve easily talked about the old school Death’s Shadow Zoo that won the event without any graveyard hate in their 75 or the lack of Burn and Amulet in the top 32. I also think it’s exciting to have a tier one strategy with a manabase that consists of 18 mountains and it’s interesting that Spirits and Humans seem outmatched right now, but I will save that for another day. My point is that, despite the unhealthy metagame on the surface, there are plenty interesting things to pick from when we look closer at a tournament like this one. Choosing the right deck and building the correct sideboard has never been more important in Modern.

If you play any Modern events before I see you again, remember to pack your Leyline of the VoidLeyline of the Void, Rest in PeaceRest in Peace, Grafdigger’s CageGrafdigger’s Cage, Tormod’s CryptTormod’s Crypt, Nihil SpellbombNihil Spellbomb, Relic of ProgenitusRelic of Progenitus, Scavenging OozeScavenging Ooze, Remorseful ClericRemorseful Clerics or whatever the prefered graveyard hate card for your specific deck is.

 

This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Andreas Petersen

Andreas Petersen

Andreas is probably better known as "ecobaronen" on MTGO. After 2nd place of Team Trios #GPMadrid playing Modern he's heading to his second Pro Tour in Minneapolis this year. Andreas has an opinion about every constructed format except Standard.