The Invitation for MCIII
On the night of the 30th of May, while I was having a hard time falling asleep, my phone lit up to let me know I had an email. I usually don’t check my phone when I’m in bed, as I believe it’s a pretty bad habit. But I wasn’t sleeping, and just a quick glimpse wouldn’t hurt, right?
“Mythic Championship” was in the title, so I believed it was another email confirming I was qualified for Barcelona and giving me all kind of useful (and less useful) information. My eyes were slowly getting used to the light and I could read the title more carefully: Mythic Championship III.
It took me a couple of seconds to realize that the email wasn’t about Barcelona, but about the Mythic Championship I tried to qualify for a couple of weeks prior, that would take place in Las Vegas on the 21st of June.
– “Do you accept the invite?” the email said.
I laid in bed for about 30 more minutes in disbelief. I was going to play the first Arena MC. At that point, it was impossible to go back to sleep, so I got up, sat at my computer and proceeded to book my ticket.
So… What Deck to Use?
I only had a couple of days to prepare. Decklists were to be submitted by the 12th of June, and I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody I was invited until the very last moment. I had dropped standard since the MCQ and I had to pick it up again.
I quickly ruled out the 5c Dreadhorde deck I played at that MCQ. While it was good some weeks ago, the metagame changed so quickly that it became close to unplayable.
Took a new approach of the Ramp archetype this week and got to Mythic in two days. Total record for the deck is 38-6! White offers better payoff for the Ramp (So many Turn 5-6 Finale for X=10) and better removal against cheap creatures. Still splashing for Krasis of course! pic.twitter.com/Qy8Pxxb9Fv— Fabrizio Anteri (@Anteri_F) 2019年6月5日
It was around that time that Fabrizio Anteri posted his Bant Ramp list on Twitter. I tried it, liked it for a while, and found out its weaknesses. I’m not going to get into that here, but let’s just say I didn’t like the deck.
Esper was on the rise, and I expected a lot of players to play it, in its control or its midrange form (with 《Hero of Precinct One》). I didn’t want to play a deck that had a hard time against it (you guessed it, I didn’t like the Esper matchup with Bant).
The only other deck I played extensively was MonoRed. I liked it before but I had to check the last versions and the new matchups, so I carefully studied everything that was written in the last couple of weeks, and got myself on Arena to try everything out.
While the deck was strong against pretty much everything, the spreadsheet with my match results I was updating revealed that its Esper matchup was also terrible, which would put me back to square one.
Wasn’t there a way to fix that matchup?
I boarded them in everytime and found out they were just not as good as advertised. Tibalt has very little impact and is only good in a handful of situations. Most decks that gain life have a way to deal with it easily and you never want to waste your third turn for an irrelevant spell. Esper can easily deal with the token, and they will have dealt with Tibalt by the time they want to gain life.
Against decks with 《Wildgrowth Walker》, it’s not the kind of game you want to play. If the Walker becomes too big, even without the life gain, you’re in trouble. Considering that on the draw, if the Walker survives, you won’t be able to cast Tibalt before they play a 《Jadelight Ranger》 and gain 6 life, your Planeswalker will just be a dead card.
I can go on and on, and will go back to the same conclusion. Tibalt is a bad sideboard card. And since the most popular decklists ran 3 of them, that’s a lot of room that got freed.
Then Why 《Rekindling Phoenix》?
The other card is 《Rekindling Phoenix》 that most lists had two of. I never really understood why. In the sideboard guides, it would also get in against pretty much everything: Esper, Gruul, Phoenix, and sometimes even Mono White. Why? While maybe at some point, the Phoenix was hard to deal with, today not a single deck has a hard time dealing with it.
Any red deck packs 3 to 4 《Lava Coil》, white has 《Conclave Tribunal》 and control decks have both Teferis in addition to 《Despark》. If you want to spend 4 mana into something in your 20-land MonoRed deck, it’s better to have something amazing (《Experimental Frenzy》?). The investment just isn’t worth it.
And just like that, we freed two more slots to fix the Esper matchup.
Let’s Choose Cards for these Slots!
What I believed was that players would try to tune their main deck to be ready for the mirror. That way, that left a window open for aggressive decks to shine. Game one would not be as hard as it could be against control decks with four or more sweepers.
Esper players would play a maximum of 3 to 4 《Kaya’s Wrath》 and/or 《Cry of the Carnarium》, not more. With open decklists, it would be easy to play around those. They would pack one or two more in the sideboard, along with anti-red cards, which would make the aggressive strategy very hard to work.
I decided to take the matchup to the long game, and that’s why I chose to run 3 《Treasure Map》 in the sideboard. The games usually last for a while and are super grindy. 《Treasure Map》 helps you skip a lot of land draws as well as irrelevant cards to find your 《Experimental Frenzy》 and other key cards such as 《Fight with Fire》 (that you will also board against Gruul and anything that runs 4/4s and bigger) that you’ll be able to kick much more easily, and 《Dire Fleet Daredevil》.
When I was looking for a way to win the late game, I realized that the Daredevil did everything I wanted from a card: it gives you access to discard spells as well as removal for 《Lyra Dawnbringer》. In the late game, in most cases, you’ll be able to cast 《Thought Erasure》 and 《Despark》 from your opponent’s graveyard. This card is so good in the control matchup (as well as in the Izzet Phoenix Matchup), that I wanted the full playset.
《Treasure Map》 is also great in combination with 《Experimental Frenzy》. It used to be in MonoRed sideboards before but completely disappeared lately. Just to refresh your memory, it enables you to scry bottom the second land of the turn just like 《Chandra, Fire Artisan》 would, except that it only cost two mana, and isn’t as easily dealt with.
When you play against aggressive strategies, you become the control deck as you try to kill pretty much everything in sight. That’s why I also boarded in 《Treasure Map》 against Mono White (and would have boarded it against Gruul as well), so I would be able to get a step ahead while filtering bad draws.
Decklist and Sideboarding Guides
Here’s the decklist I played at Mythic Championship III:
-Lands (20)- 4 《Fanatical Firebrand》
4 《Ghitu Lavarunner》
4 《Runaway Steam-Kin》
4 《Viashino Pyromancer》
4 《Goblin Chainwhirler》
4 《Lightning Strike》
4 《Light Up the Stage》
3 《Wizard’s Lightning》
4 《Experimental Frenzy》
1 《Chandra, Fire Artisan》
And here’s the sideboard plans I used for the tournament:
As you can see, I boarded in 《Treasure Map》 quite often, pretty much in all matches that become grindy. Against Esper Hero, make sure you’re aware of 《Hostage Taker》 that could steal your map. Keep a removal ready for that one if you can.
I also board out 《Runaway Steam-Kin》 against most decks that can easily deal with it or wipe your board with a sweeper. You don’t want to commit too much to the board when playing against 《Kaya’s Wrath》.
When sideboarding with MonoRed, the questions you have to ask yourself are:
In Las Vegas
The matchup I played:
|Round 1||Audrey Zoschak||MonoRed||WW|
|Round 2||Lee Shi Tien||Azorius Aggro||LL|
|Round 3||Andrew Elenbogen||Boros Aggro||WW|
|Round 4||Matt Nass||Esper Control||WW|
|Round 5||Eric Oresik||Bant Ramp||WW|
|Round 6||Shota Yasooka||Esper Control||LWL|
|Round 7||Luis Salvatto||Esper Control||WW|
|Round 8||Christian Hauck||White Weenie||WLW|
Then Top 16 players advanced to Day 2 (all players with 6 wins, a few 5-3s on Tie Breakers and MPL winners of the Spark Split):
|Day 2 (Double Elimination)|
|Round 9||Rei Sato||Boros Aggro||WLW|
|Round 10||Jean-Emmanuel Depraz||Izzet Phoenix||WLL|
|Round 11||John Rolf||Esper Control||WLL|
My last match was particularly heartbreaking as my strategy was firmly in place, but my deck refused to give me an 《Experimental Frenzy》 in the first 30 or so cards.Don’t judge the maps on that game alone and try them out yourself. I wouldn’t have had a fighting chance without them anyway. Just watch the game, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Treasure Map was by far the card that helped me win the most games in the tournament. I’m bummed that it couldn’t find any treasure in my last game against @JRolfMTG, but it’s definitely an auto-include in MonoRed if you want to beat Esper. #MythicChampionshipIII pic.twitter.com/a8n8tTOZjI— Raphael Levy (@raphlevymtg) 2019年6月22日
Overall, 《Treasure Map》 was an exceptional sideboard card and it helped me tremendously against Matt Nass and Luis Salvatto (both playing Esper), as well as in most matchups I boarded it in.
I haven’t seen much of M20, and I’m not sure many cards will be able to integrate an already strong strategy, but if the new metagame shapes up to be a little grindy, I’d highly recommend you use my sideboard.
After the First MC on MTG Arena
About to leave Vegas to get back to my peeps waiting for me at home.— Raphael Levy (@raphlevymtg) 2019年6月24日
Thanks @MTG_Arena for the opportunity to compete in #MythicChampionshipIII.
Currently finishing up my report that should be up shortly on @hareruyaEnglish.
Thank you everyone for your support 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/3oqnakoxz0
The tournament was great. I loved the setup. I was afraid of playing competitively on MTG Arena for the first time and had nightmares about misclicking but that didn’t happen. I found myself to be ten times more focused in front of a screen, in a dark room with headsets on, than at a table at a tabletop Mythic Championship.
There’s always a player that speaks loudly or an interesting game going on while your opponent sideboards that you catch a glimpse on… so many ways to parasite your focus. I had been struggling with my concentration for a while and I’m happy I managed to play a tournament from beginning to end without making an embarrassing mistake.
By finishing among the four best challengers of the tournament, I received an invite to the next Arena Mythic Championship, which means I’ll get another try at the big prize. Flying home with nothing to regret gave me a huge confidence boost that I will hopefully put to good use.
See you in a couple of weeks in Barcelona for the next tabletop Mythic Championship.
In the meantime, catch my next streams on Twitch, every Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 10am CET.
And thanks again for your support!