My Thoughts on the Magic World Championship XXVI Metagame

Luis Salvatto

Luis Salvatto

Introduction

Here we are, about to see the best tournament, with the biggest prizes, and the very best players! Yes, Magic World Championship XXVI is round the corner.

This is an article to predict a little bit about the matchups in general and to talk about all the different versions of the same archetype.

I’ll start talking about the decks.

The Decks

Mono Red

I’ll start with my longtime friend and my select of #FindYourChampion, Sebastian Pozzo. We then have Eli Loveman and the amazing duo Seth Manfield and Andrea Mengucci, they worked together to make the list and they play the exact same 75.

In the maindeck we can see some big changes, being those:

Teferi, Time RavelerUnchained BerserkerDeafening Clarion

In the sideboard we have some different approaches, all of them play some copies of 《Unchained Berserker》 (good 2 drop against 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 《Deafening Clarion》 decks).

Chandra, Acolyte of FlameExperimental Frenzy

《Redcap Melee》, some 《Lava Coil》, some specific 1-of cards like 《Tibalt, Rakish Instigator》, 《The Akroan War》, 《Sorcerous Spyglass》, and then some value cards, more Planeswalkers in the form of 《Chandra, Acolyte of Flame》 and 《Experimental Frenzy》.

What to expect from Mono Red against all the other decks?

Jeskai Fires

We have two duos. Javier Dominguez and Marcio Carvalho is probably the strongest duo since they complement each other very well, and the another duo is Raphael Levy and Gabriel Nassif, two strong players from France, both members of the Hall of Fame.

Differences: the French team decided to play one more land (28 total), the 4th 《Fabled Passage》 and 1 more basic land instead of the 11th shockland.

Teferi, Time Raveler

4

Fires of Invention

4

Sphinx of Foresight

4


Bonecrusher Giant

4

Cavalier of Flame

4

Besides the obvious shared cards, 4 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, 4 《Fires of Invention》, 4 《Sphinx of Foresight》, and the 8 red creatures (4 《Bonecrusher Giant》 that can fill in turn 2 and turn 3 plays with one card, and 4 《Cavalier of Flame》 the one which wins more games thanks to its ability to recycle the bad cards and to give haste to your whole team), they approached the deckbuilding with some differences.

It looks like Raphael and Gabriel expected more aggro decks since they chose to play another turn 2 interaction in the form of 《Brazen Borrower》 and not that many extra big creatures like Javier and Marcio. Though, the real difference is in the sideboard.

Robber of the RichLegion Warboss

Besides 《Mystical Dispute》 and some 1-ofs like 《Disenchant》, 《Devout Decree》 and 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, and some removals to kill creatures, the biggest difference is that one duo chose 《Robber of the Rich》 to bring in post board games when they face control players, and another duo chose 《Legion Warboss》 which is more threatening but that an extra mana can be a huge difference.

Azorius Control

Before starting my analysis, I want to say that not every tournament we have the opportunity to watch the best player in the world (in my opinion) playing the best color combination deck (Blue-White), so let’s pay attention if you want to improve your skill to play control decks. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa decided to work with Ondrej Strasky, one of the hottest players nowadays, and on the other hand, we have Thoralf Severin’s version, with a very different approach in the build.

Dream TrawlerBanishing LightNarset, Parter of VeilsElspeth Conquers Death

Big Difference is 1 《Dream Trawler》 vs 4 《Dream Trawler》. Looks like Paulo and Ondrej arrived to the conclusion: we want to have all the tools that we can stop our opponents, so we don’t need more than one 6 drop, and they choose more spot removals (《Banishing Light》) and more card advantage/selection (3 《Thirst for Meaning》 with 2 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 vs 4 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 and no 《Thirst for Meaning》). The plan is the same, try to kill everything and win with all the value that Planeswalkers and the new Saga give to you with time.

Emergency PowersCommence the EndgameSpectral SailorArchon of Sun's Grace

In the sideboard we can see some spicy cards like 《Emergency Powers》 and 《Commence the Endgame》, some good creatures after our opponents take out all the removals, like 《Spectral Sailor》 and 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》, some 《Cerulean Drake》 against Mono Red, and the classic ones in the UW sideboard, more counters, a few Planeswalkers, and more removals.

Temur Reclamation

Omen of the SeaUro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Here we have the renewed version of the deck that usually kill the opponent in the end step, with the new addition of a good cantrip that can give you an extra Scry 2 when you have extra mana, and of course, the new Titan, Uro.

Nissa, Who Shakes the WorldGadwick, the WizenedNiv-Mizzet, ParunHydroid Krasis

The biggest difference in the maindeck is Chris Kvartek plays 4 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 while the other 3 players didn’t play a single copy. Jean Emmanuel Depraz decided to play only 7 creatures, while Matias Leveratto chose 1 《Gadwick, the Wizened》 and 1 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》, and Autumn Burchett and Chris chose two 《Hydroid Krasis》.

Growth SpiralWilderness ReclamationExpansion+Explosion

We all know how this deck operate, being able to play on turn 3 《Wilderness Reclamation》 thanks to 《Growth Spiral》 and then having a lot of mana, with so many X casting cost in the spells, it is easy from that point.

We can see some similarities in the sideboard, and different weapons of choice between more creatures post board, and then counterspells and removals to kill cheap creatures.

Jund Sacrifice

It looks like a super old deck, but it is the weapon of choice of Piotr Glogowski, and we all know what he is capable to do with this deck.


Agonizing Remorse

4

Gilded Goose

4

He is the only one who plays this deck, and the core of the deck is the same. A main difference with older lists, the inclusion of 4 《Agonizing Remorse》 and no more ramp cards other than 4 《Gilded Goose》. In the sideboard we have a mix of cards against aggro and control, this is the perfect archetype to adapt your list for the post board games and I’m super excited to see how Piotr decides to approach all his games post board!

Who Has the Best Deck for the Tournament?

My Perspective as a Mono Red Player

Runaway Steam-Kin

If I’m the Mono Red player, I want to avoid the Jeskai Fires decks since Mono Red doesn’t have hand disruption, and Jeskai Fires is really good at surviving the first few turns, and then they have plenty busted cards against red and plenty of ways to gain life. It is easy to realize that with normal draws of Mono Red will destroy Azorius Control players in game 1, and from that point, game 2 and game 3 Azorius gets better tools to fight against red players, but it is still tough since red on the play is super hard to stop. In this specific matchup, Thoralf has a better matchup, since he’ll probably play on turn 6 a 《Dream Trawler》 very often.

And then, the Reclamation matchup is close, and depends a lot on who is on the play, and if red is stopped in the early game, it is hard to catch up, because 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 is super strong and provides too much value against red.

Against Jund Sacrifice, I believe it is a tough matchup, Piotr knows very well how to protect himself against the more threatening card, 《Embercleave》, and then with the regular engine 《Cauldron Familiar》 + 《Witch’s Oven》 gives him a time to survive until Mono Red player is dead even without attacks.

Embercleave

In this specific deck in the mirror match is more about who draws better, mostly because powerful cards like 《Embercleave》 that can beat your opponent super fast and the first player to put the first copy in play, probably will end the game in their favor.

I’ll say now, even though I don’t like very much this super aggro strategies, in my opinion it is the best deck in the field, having only 5 bad matchups, the Jeskai Fires deck and Jund Sacrifice.

My Perspective as an Azorius Control Player

Teferi, Time Raveler

If I’m an Azorius Control player, I want to avoid the red decks and Jund. 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is the best card against Temur Reclamation and really good against Jeskai Fires too. I’d say that the matchup against Jeskai Fires is good, but against Mono Red is not that good. That’s why I think Azorius is the 2nd best deck for the tournament, and not the very best.

My Perspective as a Temur Reclamation Player

Wilderness Reclamation

If I’m the Temur player, I’d be happy to avoid Mono Red, since it is really hard to survive in the early turns and the deck has a lot of shocklands and taplands. Against Azorius Control in hands of experienced players is also very hard, remember that 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 prevents drawing cards with 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is super annoying. I believe that the only good matchup for Temur players is Jeskai Fires, and it is not even that good. Against Jund Sacrifice, I believe that is close, and as I said above, Piotr plays the deck masterfully. I believe that Temur Reclamation is the deck that will have worst results in the tournament.

My Perspective as a Jeskai Fires Player

Fires of Invention

If I’m a Jeskai Fires player, I’ll be happy to face all the Mono Red decks, and it will be hard to face Azorius Control, I expect that with normal Jeskai Fires’ draws lose against Azorius Control, and probably against Reclamation too. One deck has 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 + counterspells and the other have 《Brazen Borrower》 and plays very well in solitaire mode. However, Jeskai Fires has a lot of adaptability post sideboard, so I can predict some comebacks winning game 2 and game 3 against those decks, switching the main gameplan to another with more counters and early pressure.

My Perspective as a Jund Sacrifice Player

Trail of Crumbs

And what to say about Jund… the deck is still powerful and we have one of the best players nowadays. I believe that this is a deck with super close matchups, and recently there is no graveyard hate, so I can see Piotr will have a success with his 《Cauldron Familiar》 + 《Witch’s Oven》 + 《Trail of Crumbs》 and win a lot.

Wrap Up

So here is my thoughts on the matchups:

Deck Matchups
Mono Red Jeskai Fires > Mono Red = Jund > UW > Temur
Jeskai Fires Temur > UW > Jeskai Fires = Jund > Mono Red
Temur Mono Red > UW > Temur = Jund > Jeskai Fires
Azorius (UW) Mono Red > Jund > UW > Jeskai Fires > Temur
Jund Mono Red = Temur = Jeskai Fires = Jund > UW

As I said, some matchups are better than others, but in general I’ll expect that this is the configuration of which decks beat the other one. Of course it depends a lot on the draws and how they decide to sideboard, but this is my read about how it will work in this tournament.

Well, I expect that you enjoyed my thought about this metagame, and let’s see who claims the trophy!

Luis Salvatto (Twitter / Twitch)

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Luis Salvatto

Luis Salvatto From a top 8 finish at the Nationals 2011 in Argentina, time passes by to a magnificent win at the Super Sunday Series Championship 2015, another win at Grand Prix Rotterdam, and a top 8 finish at Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad bringing him back to the pro scene. After, he has 2 more Grand Prix top 8's and the golden rookie has now evolved in to a player representing South America. He is joining Hareruya Pros with his teammate from the same country of Argentina, Sebastian Pozzo. Read more articles by Luis Salvatto