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2020 Mythic Invitational Day Two Highlights

September 11, 2020
Corbin Hosler

What a ride. That's all there is to say after Day Two of truly historic Magic.

A format only debuts once, but it's hard to ask for much more than we got from the MTG Arena's Historic format at the 2020 Mythic Invitational. From explosive Muxus, Goblin Grandee turns to the ramping power of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Nissa, Who Shakes the World to the grindy Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger and Dreadhorde Arcanist decks, Historic had something for everyone.

Muxus, Goblin Grandee Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Nissa, Who Shakes the World Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger Dreadhorde Arcanist

Concluding the second day of competition, after 14 rounds of battle, eight competitors remained. A format that was deemed wide open at the start of the event proved just that, with five different decks making the Top 8. At one point late in Day Two, eight of the top 10 players in the tournament were playing different archetypes.

The Historic Top 8 remains ahead, and it will be played by the best in the business. The absolutely stacked final players—with 39 previous Top Finishes between them—demonstrated their mastery of Magic's newest format and will now battle over two more days to become the champion of the 2020 Mythic Invitational. The first set of matches will be played on Saturday, with elimination matches, culminating in a champion, playing out on Sunday.

The Top 8 is Locked

Former Player of the Year Luis Salvatto lead the way through Day Two. He got off to a blistering start on Day One and then turned in a perfect record on Friday to draw in as the top seed at 12-1-1.

Luis Salvatto

The Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan winner is no stranger to the pressure of Top 8 stage, but neither are his opponents. Joining him in the Top 8 were:

  • Gabriel Nassif
  • David Steinberg
  • Grzegorz Kowalski
  • Ken Yukuhiro
  • Matt Nass
  • Luis Scott-Vargas
  • Seth Manfield

That's multiple members of the Magic Hall of the Fame, the top deck builders of today, and one true underdog in David Steinberg.

David Steinberg

Steinberg has played Magic for 14 years but made his first Top Finish, after qualifying for the Mythic Invitational through the January 2020 Qualifier Weekend. He'll face an uphill battle against Magic elite, but that was no hurdle as he took a well-positioned Sacrifice deck to the Top 8 by defeating similarly elite players such as Marcio Carvalho, William "Huey" Jensen, and fellow Saturday competitor Luis Scott-Vargas along the way.

Ken Yukuhiro

Irencrag Feat

On the other side of the coin, Ken Yukuhiro is making his third Top Finish in just less than a year, an incredible accomplishment for the Japanese deckbuilding master. He didn't go completely off the beaten path this time around, but he did add Irencrag Feat to his Mono-Red Goblins deck, tricking it out for the mirror and to maximize its odds of ramping out Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Going (slightly less) rogue once again paid dividends for Yukuhiro as he was the only Goblins player to make the Top 8.

And that's just scratching the surface of a Top 8 packed with over three dozen career Top Finishes combined. You can learn more about each of the Top 8 competitors and their decks with their Top 8 profiles.

The Historic Metagame

Here's how the Top 8 decks broke down:

  • 3 Jund Sacrifice (Nassif, Steinberg, Scott-Vargas)
  • 1 Jund Citadel (Kowalski)
  • 1 Rakdos Arcanist (Salvatto)
  • 1 Mono-Red Goblins (Yukuhiro)
  • 1 Mono-Black God-Pharaoh's Gift (Nass)
  • 1 Sultai Midrange (Manfield)

Goblins was unquestionably the premier deck entering the tournament, with nearly a third of all competitors casting Skirk Prospectors. But as the tournament progressed, it became clear that while Muxus, Goblin Grandee can—and does—regularly win games on its own, there was a card that was singularly positioned to excel against the Goblin-filled board.

Enter Mayhem Devil. Or, if you've been playing Standard as well, welcome back Mayhem Devil.

Mayhem Devil Witch's Oven Cauldron Familiar Priest of Forgotten Gods Collected Company

It was a blast from the past, as Witch's Oven and Cauldron Familiar were back, alongside Priest of Forgotten Gods, Mayhem Devil and their new Historic best friend Collected Company. While Sacrifice decks aren't positioned well against everything in Historic, it was the perfect choice for this weekend as so many players played Goblins—creatures that with typically just one or two toughness. Mayhem Devil teamed up with new addition Blood Artist to deal massive amounts of damage out of nowhere and bypass any defenses.

While Salvatto secured his Top 8 berth early, Scott-Vargas and Manfield both made it through tiebreakers in the final round. And they had to earn it as each faced challenging matches in Round 14. Manfield's match against fellow Magic Pro League player Chris Kvartek was undoubtedly the highlight, as we learned that Muxus can, in fact, whiff.

Kvartek would actually go on to win that game thanks to another copy of Muxus, and that sent things into a thrilling final game against Manfield. In the decider, it was the Hall of Famer who had the upper hand, quickly turning the corner after resolving Nissa to end the game with a clutch Witch's Vengeance.

For players who didn't want to bring Goblins, everything was truly on the table. That included Azorius Auras, a favorite for Magic broadcaster Maria Bartholdi (and everyone else too) that put Shinsuke Hayashi into Day Two.

It was a throwback reprint that helped Matt Nass to the Top 8. Piloting Mono-Black God-Pharaoh's Gift, Nass credited Phyrexian Tower as not just the best card in his deck, but the best in the entire format.

He may have a point. Phyrexian Tower was originally printed in Urza's Saga in 1998, and has remained an iconic card ever since. It entered Historic and was the most-played utility land in the Mythic Invitational, thanks to it's powerful and unique ability to sacrifice a creature for two mana.. Multiple decks made use of the card, but none moreso than the combo list Nass used to activate Gate to the Afterlife and "cheat" God-Pharaoh's Gift into play as early as turn four.

But the day truly belonged to Luis Salvatto, and to the Rakdos Arcanist deck he dominated the field with. He gave us some memorable moments on Day One, and he continued to cut through the field on Day Two thanks to his innovative Rakdos Arcanist list. Combining powerful one-drop spells and cheap creatures like Dreadhorde Arcanist and Young Pyromancer, it leverages cards like Claim // Fame, Thoughtseize, and Village Rites (backed up by Phyrexian Tower and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger) to be both aggressive enough to end games before the slower decks take over, and disruptive enough to keep Goblins off their key spells.

All in all, it was a dominating shell in the hands of Salvatto.

"I think it's the best Game 1 deck, and since the last metagame shift positioned Goblins so highly people started to underestimate graveyard hate," Salvatto explained. "Maybe two weeks ago this would have been a bad deck, but today I faced a lot of opponents with good ways to deal with the absurd amount of value the deck has, and I didn't face a single Leyline of the Void in play. In the past I've lost several times in the past because my deck choice wasn't good, but this time I'm feeling pretty confident."

There is one person familiar foe that Salvatto should be on the lookout for, though, when play begins.

The 2020 Season Grand Finals is Set

Finally, there was one other thing to play for this weekend: a spot in the 2020 Season Grand Finals.

The Top 16 finishers at this event earned invitations, with one invitation passing down as Seth Manfield found success at both the 2020 Mythic Invitational and Players Tour Finals. Here are the other nine players who will join the Mythic Invitational Top 8 and the Top 16 Players Tour Finals competitors who previously qualified for the 2020 Season Grand Finals:

  • Emma Handy
  • Toni Ramis Pascual
  • Christopher Leonard
  • Luca Magni
  • Chris Palmiotti
  • Brad Nelson
  • Montserrat Ayensa
  • Aaron Gertler
  • Jun'ya Iyanaga

That's it for us today. Coverage of the Top 8 begins Saturday morning at 9 AM PDT on!

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