The final big event of M20 Standard was the Mythic Championship V Qualifier Weekend last Saturday and Sunday. Many of the expected decks showed up, but there were also several upsets in the top-performing decks in day two. While we don't have the full metagame for day one, we do know all 128 decks in day two.
Of these, 28 players achieved 15 points in a modified swiss, and only one Vampires, one Bant Scapeshift and one Mono-Green Stompy player went undefeated for a perfect 5-0 record.
There's a lot to cover here, so I'm just going to dive right in and break it down.
Vampires and Bant Scapeshift were by far the most popular decks, and they performed well despite having the biggest targets on their backs. Vampires had only small changes from past weeks, with the main adaptation being maindeck Vona, Butcher of Magan to fight mirrors and the rise of Mono-Red. The deck hasn't had to change because it's still the deck asking all the questions and other decks are struggling to find the answers.
Scapeshift on the other hand had a resurgence as people worked on the archetype to address the Vampires matchup and deal with the newer configurations of Esper. Arboreal Grazer were cut to make room for Time Wipe to help the Vampires matchup without cutting all the Deputy of Detention that allow Scapeshift players to navigate mirrors. Brad Nelson in particular put in a lot of work the past week, and his Scapeshift list was all over day two. Of those who didn't play Brad's list, many adopted his sideboard innovation of Agent of Treachery as a way to swing the matchup against Esper and against mirrors without running afoul of Dovin's Veto.
Neither of these decks is going anywhere, and these two decks are likely to dictate the metagame until rotation, as this was the last big weekend to drive innovation before we settle into spoiler season for Throne of Eldraine.
Mono-Red was on a huge swell from its use in the Emerald split of the MPL, rising on a good Vampires matchup and the adoption of Blood Sun to deal with Bant Scapeshift. It did fairly well, putting 15 copies of the deck into day two, but it failed to convert in the swiss. Many of the day-two Scapeshift players were ready with Baffling End and Knight of Autumn, and Vampires players had Vona, Butcher of Magan or even Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord. Mono-Red simply has not been able to adapt, and it is very easy for opponents to prepare for it when most lists shared 73 of 75 cards. Mono-Red is by no means bad, but the deck suffers the more people are prepared for it, and it has very few options to adapt.
Esper did okay. It wasn't terrible, it did manage to get one pilot from each archetype to a 15-point finish, but it really did not perform to the level many seemed to think it could. The format simply asks you to have access to too many answers and have them at the right time. The card selection simply isn't there to support this type of deck in this metagame.
Ava239 included Tomebound Lich to address that problem, and they were rewarded with a 5-2 finish in day two. I expect that it will become more standard in the last few weeks of Standard in Esper Hero, though it's much harder to justify in control builds. If you want to play control in the last few weeks of Standard, I recommend simply picking up a more controlling version of Bant Scapeshift.
Feather on the other hand had a surprisingly successful weekend. There were plenty of creature-based matchups for it to prey on, and some adaptations to handle the nightmare matchups in Bant Scapeshift and Blue-Green Nexus (which was a popular day one choice that ultimately fell flat). Legion Warboss found its way back into players' lists, Demystify returned to the sideboard, and Gideon Blackblade was around in high numbers to fight through both Mono-Red and Esper strategies. While several Naya versions made day two, all of the decks with successful runs opted for a more consistent two-color manabase. Feather is a powerful archetype that seems to have once again found its stride, and it benefits from a very good matchup against Kethis Combo, the breakout deck of the weekend.
What in the world is Kethis Combo?
What is this wild-looking deck? How does it work? The basic gist is you get Kethis, the Hidden Hand and a Diligent Excavator or two in play, and start casting historic spells for cheap. Once you have Mox Ambers in the graveyard, you activate Kethis and cast them, generating mana and milling yourself to get access to more of your deck. You then continue this process, either milling your opponent out with Diligent Excavator or using the generated mana to cast Oath of Kaya repeatedly to kill your opponent, with the legend rule helpfully putting Oaths back into your graveyard.
Elvencloud created the original list that several high level players then took an interest in. The power group of Ondřej Stráský, Stanislav Cifka, and Ivan Floch refined the deck and played it to an incredible record, with Stanislav and Ondřej both qualifying for MCV. Ondřej and Ivan both gave heavy credit to Stanislav for catching the deck and tuning it in time for the weekend.
The deck is very well-positioned to take advantage of the format and it had a dominating record on the weekend with three of the four pilots in day two achieving five wins. Bant Scapeshift doesn't pack the early interaction to stop the deck from going off, and Kethis, the Hidden Hand himself dodges many common removal spells and blocks very well in the Vampires matchup. Urza's Ruinous Blast is also an incredible tool as a one-sided board wipe that can be recurred with Kethis, the Hidden Hand, and Stanislav's inclusion of Ashiok, Dream Render as a mainboard card pays dividends against Scapeshift. This is a very intricate and fun deck that has been all over Magic Twitch streams this week, and if you have the wildcards I highly recommend giving it a try.
The last deck I want to touch on from the winners' metagame is Mono-Green. This deck comes as a surprise to many, but went on a tear through day one and didn't lose a single match on day two. While this is definitely a deck designed for a very specific metagame, Kavartech absolutely nailed it. Steel Leaf Champion and Vine Mare have long since been shoved out of the spotlight, but these cards are very well-positioned against Vampires and Scapeshift, making blocking very difficult. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger gives them trample for the few small creatures that can block. Kavartech was also prepared for both Mono-Red and Esper strategies with a full playset of Nullhide Ferox in the sideboard. While this isn't a deck I would recommend regularly, I think Kavartech simply nailed the metagame with a hard read and was rewarded with an MCV qualification.
With most tournament series finished with Standard for the season, the only thing left for Standard players is to ladder up to top 1200 for next MCQW and the newly announced Mythic Point Challenge. If you're looking to secure your own top finish I recommend one of the new big 4, and I'll even leave you with one last Hot Takes Tierlist for the August season:
Decks to BeatVampires Scapeshift W/R Feather Kethis Combo
Decks People Will Play, but Shouldn'tEsper Hero Esper Control Jund Dinosaurs Jeskai Planeswalkers
Decks People Won't RespectU/G Nexus Mono-Red Mono-Green
For Pleasure, Not ProfitTemur Elementals Quasiduplicate Mono-Blue U/G Flash B/R Aggro Grixis
What? Even with a tierlist you still want a sideboard guide? How about I leave you with my own Scapeshift list that I played to a 5-2 finish on day one, eliminated just short of day two by none other than Kavartech.
I tuned this list to have a better matchup against Vampires and Mono-Red, adapting Brad's Agent of Treachery tech to help out against Esper. My two losses in the event were to Kethis Combo and Mono-Green, but my matchups against the rest of the field feel very good. The maindeck Time Wipes help out a lot against Vampires, and like many others I trimmed Arboreal Grazer to make space for maindeck Deputy of Detention. The last maindeck difference is I still have Plaza of Harmony over the traditional Field of Ruin because the extra 3 life comes up far more often and is a far bigger swing that Field of Ruin is when it comes up. The one spot where Field of Ruin is missed is post-board games in the mirror to take out Blast Zone on 3, but Agent of Treachery still gives you that potential (and with higher upside).
Our goal here is to live long enough to overpower them with an overwhelming Zombie army, and we adjust our deck to be as capable of that as possible. Baffling End and Knight of Autumn buy us a lot of time to get to our Angels, our Zombies or our Time Wipes. Hydroid Krasis gets cut for these cards because it's simply not as good at stabilizing as our other cards. We keep in two Deputy of Detention because having interaction that can't be hit by Duress is important and sometimes you need to take out Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord, Champion of Dusk or Vona, Butcher of Magan. Vona is often cut against Scapeshift, but opponents may bring it back in to deal with the Angels plan.
Post-board games in mirrors slow down some, and become largely about Deputy of Detention and Teferi, Time Raveler. Agent of Treachery stealing Teferi, Field of the Dead, or Blast Zone can be a huge swing, but be aware that Veil of Summer can completely blow you out. If you run into Sultai versions I recommend bringing in some number of Shalai, Voice of Plenty to turn off Unmoored Ego, Duress and Legion's End.
Against Mono-Red's current configuration we can't cut too many Deputy of Detention without running afoul of Blood Sun, but we are bringing in Shalai, Voice of Plenty to help protect our Deputies. Lyra Dawnbringer is a huge beating when most Mono-Red players aren't running many (if any) copies of Fry, and along with Shalai she takes out Tibalt, Rakish Instigator in the air.
This matchup isn't too bad—Time Wipe is a huge beating for them if you can resolve it. Don't keep slow hands, you can't afford to just get dunked by Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
This matchup is still pretty good but we do want to bring in answers to Blood Sun that don't give it back when it dies. If you have a choice between Baffling End on a Tenth District Legionnaire and Elvish Rejuvenator, I generally lean toward Baffling End unless you have a Lyra Dawnbringer or Time Wipe in hand to ramp toward.
This is by far the deck's worst matchup, and one this 75 was not constructed to handle. While that was fine for the MCQW where it was only a handful of players, the Kethis combo deck is now a known factor that should be addressed in sideboarding. Bring all four Baffling End to keep them off their important pieces: Kethis, the Hidden Hand and Diligent Excavator.
This matchup is still fine: grind them out and Agent of Treachery is really, really good here. If you ever play Agent of Treachery and then immediately bounce it with Teferi, Time Raveler they're likely just out of the game entirely. If they show Ashiok, Dream Render you can sideboard in Shalai, Voice of Plenty to both pressure Ashiok and turn off their ability to mill you. The only real sideboard change between Hero and Control with this build is that you can bring in Knight of Autumn against Control if you see Ixalan's Binding and/or Bolas's Citadel. Knight of Autumn is fine for early planeswalker pressure, and Deputy of Detention is often incredibly temporary against Esper Control.
Adam "yoman5" Hernandez is a streamer, brewer and competitive player with a keen sense for what makes a deck tick. He loves writing about changes in the Standard metagame and the art of deckbuilding.
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