I'm writing this article a couple days after winning the Mythic Invitational, in the Historic format.

I'm sure many readers already knew this, so I want to say a big thank you to those who watched or followed the event in some way. There were some hiccups as far as coverage was concerned, but in the end the games themselves were really good, so I recommend going back and checking them out if you haven't seen them yet!

I'd been getting ready for this tournament for a little while before it actually happened—Historic is a format I felt might require a bit more preparation. If you've been following my articles over the past month or so, you know this is a format I've almost exclusively been putting my time into. However, there were testing partners of mine who put even more time preparing than I did, so a big thank you goes out to all the people I was in communication with prior to the tournament.

In the end I chose to play Sultai Midrange, and I will go over a bit about the sideboard later:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Sultai Midrange by Seth Manfield

'Sultai Midrange' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Seth Manfield

Event:

Rank:

Historic

Market Price: $449.03

Cards

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235543_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215720_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Essence Scatter

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212042_200w.jpg

Counter target creature spell.

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Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with mana value 4 or greater.

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Witch's Vengeance

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198750_200w.jpg

Creatures of the creature type of your choice get -3/-3 until end of turn.

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Zagoth Triome

Color Identity:B,G,U

Market Price: $11.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212691_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}, {G}, or {U}.)
Zagoth Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215516_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker with mana value 3 or less.

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Elder Gargaroth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $12.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215477_200w.jpg

Vigilance, reach, trample
Whenever Elder Gargaroth attacks or blocks, choose one —
• Create a 3/3 green Beast creature token.
• You gain 3 life.
• Draw a card.

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Growth Spiral

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.37

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227368_200w.jpg

Draw a card. You may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.

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Drowned Catacomb

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $7.47

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/142036_200w.jpg

Drowned Catacomb enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island or a Swamp.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Negate

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222130_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell.

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Hydroid Krasis

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $9.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182840_200w.jpg

When you cast this spell, you gain half X life and draw half X cards. Round down each time.
Flying, trample
Hydroid Krasis enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.

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Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $11.96

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206836_200w.jpg

When Uro enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless it escaped.
Whenever Uro enters the battlefield or attacks, you gain 3 life and draw a card, then you may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.
Escape—{G}{G}{U}{U}, Exile five other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

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Heartless Act

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212369_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy target creature with no counters on it.
• Remove up to three counters from target creature.

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Hinterland Harbor

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $7.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162120_200w.jpg

Hinterland Harbor enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Forest or an Island.
{T}: Add {G} or {U}.

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Castle Locthwain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $4.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199388_200w.jpg

Castle Locthwain enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Swamp.
{T}: Add {B}.
{1}{B}{B}, {T}: Draw a card, then you lose life equal to the number of cards in your hand.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $4.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Fetid Pools

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $4.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129682_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
Fetid Pools enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Shark Typhoon

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $10.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212133_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, create an X/X blue Shark creature token with flying, where X is that spell's mana value.
Cycling {X}{1}{U} ({X}{1}{U}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
When you cycle Shark Typhoon, create an X/X blue Shark creature token with flying.

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Grafdigger's Cage

Market Price: $1.80

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192909_200w.jpg

Creature cards in graveyards and libraries can't enter the battlefield.
Players can't cast spells from graveyards or libraries.

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Extinction Event

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.68

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212261_200w.jpg

Choose odd or even. Exile each creature with mana value of the chosen quality. (Zero is even.)

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Cry of the Carnarium

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183061_200w.jpg

All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn. Exile all creature cards in all graveyards that were put there from the battlefield this turn. If a creature would die this turn, exile it instead.

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Overgrown Tomb

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $13.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175196_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B} or {G}.)
As Overgrown Tomb enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Maelstrom Pulse

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $1.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219026_200w.jpg

Destroy target nonland permanent and all other permanents with the same name as that permanent.

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196478_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Narset, Parter of Veils

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188705_200w.jpg

Each opponent can't draw more than one card each turn.
−2: Look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a noncreature, nonland card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

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Breeding Pool

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $20.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182842_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G} or {U}.)
As Breeding Pool enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Languish

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216573_200w.jpg

All creatures get -4/-4 until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/216573/magic-jumpstart-languish

Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $13.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

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Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $4.59

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188415_200w.jpg

Whenever you tap a Forest for mana, add an additional {G}.
+1: Put three +1/+1 counters on up to one target noncreature land you control. Untap it. It becomes a 0/0 Elemental creature with vigilance and haste that's still a land.
−8: You get an emblem with "Lands you control have indestructible." Search your library for any number of Forest cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/188415/magic-war-of-the-spark-nissa-who-shakes-the-world

Aether Gust

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192535_200w.jpg

Choose target spell or permanent that's red or green. Its owner puts it on the top or bottom of their library.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/192535/magic-core-set-2020-aether-gust

I didn't necessarily believe this was the best deck in the format when I submitted it for the tournament. In fact, I thought Goblins was the most powerful deck in Historic, and I still believe that. However, I knew from a gameplay perspective Sultai was the right choice. I wanted to play a deck that would allow me to have lots of decision points in the games. As you saw in the Top 8, this is a deck you really need to fight for your wins with, but that also means there are times you can capitalize on an error from the opponent as well.

I was still a bit unsure of the choice, but since Javier Dominguez and Brad Nelson were also playing an almost identical list, I knew I was in good company. The maindeck Aether Gusts are what happens when you slowly tune a deck by playing with it. My initial list didn't have any Aether Gusts in the main, but that number slowly increased as we tested more, and came to the realization what our expectation of the metagame was. The thing about the Sultai deck game one, is you want to make as many of your cards usable and versatile in the expected matchups. Aether Gust is a card that can stop a Nissa, Who Shakes the World in the mirror match, and a Muxus, Goblin Grandee against Goblins, at least temporarily.

Playing the Top 8

Making Top 8 of this tournament came as an unexpected surprise. I had been on a pretty solid run leading into the Mythic Invitational, and thought my luck might have run out going into this tournament—turned out that was not the case at all. The first day of the tournament I played against six Goblin decks, and ended up finishing with a 5-2 record. One of those wins resulted from an opponent having some technical issues with MTG Arena. Later in the event, I got bounced from the server and needed to restart a game I thought I was going to win against Luis Salvatto. Hopefully these technical issues can be resolved, because it sucks for this to happen at such high level tournaments.

Winning some mirror matchups in the first few rounds of day two, I was feeling quite good. Then I lost to Gregorz Kowalski and Luis Salvatto in rounds 12 and 13, putting me at four losses, so I thought I was out of Top 8 contention. However, going into the last round, I believe I was 12th in the standings, but there were some players drawing, which opened the door for me. It also happened I was paired against someone with better tiebreakers than me, a good person and magic player, Chris Kvartek. I was able to beat his Goblins deck and quickly realized that this was a win and in, putting me in 8th seed going into the weekend. Being in 8th seed meant I'd be on the draw for every match of Top 8.

The way coverage has been moving off MTG events lately, the primary focus seems to be on the Top 8, so I knew the spotlight would be on me. Spreading the Top 8 coverage out over multiple days worked out as a way to cover all the matches, but also drew it out a bit. The way things played out, nobody got eliminated from the event on Saturday, but the winners bracket played itself out with Gabriel Nassif securing his spot in the finals. For me, I lost my only match against Luis Salvatto, which was disappointing. Luis is the person that beat me in the Player of the Year playoff a couple years ago, so I have a friendly rivalry with him. As far as the matchup though, this was the toughest in the Top 8.

So, I woke up Sunday ready to play, but realistically knew my chances were slim. The coverage technical difficulties meant the competitors played the matches on Sunday, but the coverage wouldn't air until September 14th, which also happens to be my birthday! Once I started playing my matches, I was in a bit of a zone. And as things started to unfold, my confidence grew.

The play I'm the most proud of in the tournament came in the first game versus Ken Yukuhiro's Goblin deck. I found myself in a winning position, but needed to cut down his outs to win the game, since he was hellbent. My turn involved playing a Hydroid Krasis for two, followed by Eliminate his Skirk Prospector and Maelstrom Pulse away his only treasure token. This meant he'd only have access to five mana on his turn, while I had lethal myself in the air the following turn. As it turns out, he did draw a Muxus, Goblin Grandee, but was one mana short to cast it.

From there I played a ton of close matches and games. Dispatching decks playing red cards from the Top 8, I Eventually found myself battling against Luis Salvatto again. This time I was hoping luck would be on my side, and it was. He got mana screwed the first game, and I was able to topdeck a Nissa, Who Shakes the World at the perfect time to steal the third game. I'd played a lot of consecutive matches, dispatching four opponents along the way, but it was time to regain my focus and play the finals.

I have a ton of respect for Gabriel Nassif as both a Magic player and a human being. It was a weird dynamic of me playing all day, and him not yet having any matches. Many times what people remember the most about a tournament is the final match. Keep in mind it takes many matches to get to the finals. After handily losing the first game, the turning point in the match came during game two when Gab chose not to activate his Priest of Forgotten Gods in response to an Eliminate. This allowed me to Extinction Event away his board, and go on to win the game.

There were a number of things I'm sure Gab was thinking about in that spot, as there  were for me. I wouldn't have even cast the Eliminate there, if I didn't think there was a chance he wasn't activating the Priest of Forgotten Gods. He had already had two opportunities to activate the Priest of Forgotten Gods, once on his turn, and once when I made an attack with a Hydroid Krasis. There is only one Extinction Event in my decklist. As it turned out, you can classify his play as a punt—easier to say knowing I had the Extinction Event. I think he made the wrong play, but there certainly are reasonable reasons to take the line that he did.

After that, it seemed I just got luckier than him. I made a couple of likely incorrect decisions, like going down to one life off a Thoughtseize when I didn't have to, but luck was on my side. I felt I was the luckiest in this Top 8, but also played some of my best Magic to date, and this is a result I'm very proud of. Each year the competition gets tougher, and the opponents in the Top 8s of these events get better. I was glad to be the first player to take down a major Historic title.

Sideboard Cards

Before I leave, let me break down the sideboard cards I played, and what matchups you want them in. I found myself sideboarding differently for every match I played, so you do have to adapt based on the exact lists you may be facing.

We found this to be the best card against the mirror and control decks, alongside strategies like Mono-Blue Tempo. The reason I have all the copies in the sideboard is it's a bit slow against aggressive strategies like Goblins. As you may have seen, I never sided it in for the Top 8 matches, because I didn't face the decks where I like it. It plays really well alongside counterspells and Aether Gust, so you can pass the turn to the opponent representing both interaction for their potential play and the ability to cycle Shark Typhoon.

Negate comes in often alongside Shark Typhoon, but I also brought this in against the Jund Citadel deck of Kowalski's. Bolas's Citadel is a scary card, so you do want answers to that. We know how versatile a card Negate is, so there are some random strategies that Negate will be useful against.

The primary place for Narset, Parter of Veil is against control and the mirror, where in game one you have a lot of removal spells you want to take out after sideboard. However, there are other matchups where I will board this in, especially on the play. This is a form of card advantage, so if you're able to land it on an empty board, it's going to be good—regardless of the matchup.

I opted to only play a single copy of Grafdigger's Cage. Part of the thought process here is the opponent is unlikely to bring in a ton of removal for only one Grafdigger's Cage. It also shuts off your own Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath which can be awkward. The other part of this is we didn't expect that many graveyard-based decks. It does stop Collected Company and the Muxus, Goblin Grandee trigger, though, which is a big deal. With a bit of an uptick in graveyard strategies, other cards like Scavenging Ooze and Leyline of the Void become considerations. I do think as the list stands now, decks like Mono-Black God-Pharoah's Gift or Rakdos Arcanist are tough matchups.

With Goblins being so popular, this is a case of being happy to play a card even if it's only for one specific matchup. You sometimes need to sweep their board multiple times in a game.

This comes in against Goblins, but where it really shines is against sacrifice decks. Being able to exile Woe Strider, Cauldron Familiar, and Midnight Reaper is really important. This ended up being my most important sideboard card of the tournament.

There are matchups where this is a better five mana play than Nissa, Who Shakes the World, because Elder Gargaroth can't be taken by a Claim the Firstborn. It's also just a super powerful creature. Even though my teammates didn't play this card, I'm looking now to find room for a second copy. Based on lists in Historic right now, people aren't playing many removal spells that kill it.

One more spot removal spell doesn't hurt in a deck that wants to have cheap early plays to fuel Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath later. Two mana plays can also be immediately cast off a Nissa, Who Shakes the World land, which can be important. This isn't an exciting sideboard card, but one I did bring in often.

Over the past few days I have had many people wish me a happy birthday and congratulations for my accomplishment, and I want to say a big thank you to everyone for the support!