It began with 68 competitors who traveled across the globe to Long Beach, California ready compete for their share of a $750,000 prize pool. Hundreds of matches, thousands of Zombies, and an uncountable flocks of honking Gilded Goose later it all came down to the final match between Javier Dominguez and Jean-Emmanuel Depraz. And, thanks to Embercleave, we crowned a victor.
Congratulations to Javier Dominguez, champion of Mythic Championship V!
The Sunday showdown was full of moments that lead to Dominguez's victory. Here are the best moments from the Top 8 playoff.
All About the Grand Finals
Because the Top 8 bracket was true double-elimination, it meant that Dominguez—who hadn't lost on Sunday—would only need to win one match, while Depraz would have to win two matches in a row.
Things started tense, and they stayed that way. In the first game of the match, it all came down to a single top deck, a moment that set the tone for the rest of the grand finals. With the possibility of adding the title of Mythic Champion to his resume, Dominguez looked to the top of his deck.
A miss. Like that, Depraz took the first game and like that, his uphill road toward battling back was underway. Dominguez took the second game cleanly, but with his back up against the wall, Depraz found himself up to the challenge.
With a horde of zombies at his beck and call, @JEDepraz takes his first Grand Finals match against @JavierDmagic! Because it's a double elimination bracket and Dominguez was undefeated, the two now face off again, this time for the 🏆https://t.co/GF4H5so3jq#MythicChampionshipV pic.twitter.com/bjdVPg0Jam— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) October 21, 2019
It's rare that winning a match between the only two remaining players in a tournament isn't a reason to celebrate, but Depraz knew that it was only a first step—and Dominguez knew that he no longer had a match to give. It started as a final best-of-three. After the players split the first two games, it was all down to one last game of Standard to determine a Mythic Champion.
Believe in the Cleave. Dominguez did and, like it had all weekend, Embercleave turned up when he most needed it.
Depraz tried to claw back from there, but the damage was done. Dominguez was already a World Champion, and one anxious turn later he was lifting a trophy again.
Congratulations again to Javier Dominguez, winner of Mythic Championship V!
The Race for Worlds
Just in case Mythic Championship V needed more on the line, the race for another 2019 Magic World Championship invitation became clear on Sunday in the semifinal match between Jean-Emmanuel Depraz and Andrea Mengucci.
Because reigning World Champion Javier Dominguez was already invited and punched his ticket to the Grand Finals through the upper bracket, the Lower Finals play-in between Mengucci and Depraz both a win-and-in to the Grand Finals and the $1,000,000 prize pool Magic World Championship.
And the match they turned in was one of the best of the entire weekend.
Treachery and Thieves
With so much on the line—and the pair well aware of it—the two semifinalists entered serious and ready to game. No crazy entrances, no posing for the camera—just two of the best Magic players in the world playing at the highest level.
The first game was a steady buildup that left the outcome in doubt all the way through until things ended on one of the wildest finishes in memory.
Swinging from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows all in the span of about 30 seconds, it was an emotional rollercoaster. It would be easy to become deflated after that, especially after so narrowly missing out on the World Championship last year, but Deprez would not be denied. Agent of Treachery came through in the second game to turn things around, leading to this incredible finish:
The State of Standard
Coming into this weekend, all eyes were on Field of the Dead and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. The Zombie-spamming deck operates with brutal ramping efficiency, building toward an endgame that needed nothing other than land drops to win.
It's hard to say Golos disappointed—it placed Jean-Emmanuel Depraz into the Grand Finals and made up a large portion of the Top 16—but it wasn't the sweetest flavor of deck at the tournament. That honor belonged to Simic (and Bant) Food, which made up half of the Top 4. The core of Gilded Goose; Oko, Thief of Crowns; Nissa, Who Shakes the World; and Wicked Wolf proved to be better than everything else this weekend, dominating boardstates and crushing most aggressive decks.
Still, a few players found success with aggro decks, largely on the back of Embercleave. The Equipment from Throne of Eldraine offered something nothing else could: the ability to completely ignore the most common defenses. Coming down in the middle of combat, it punished Golos players who opted to make single blocks with Zombies, and helped to take out key planeswalkers when needed. Javier Dominguez's Gruul Aggro ripped its way through the Top 8 to the Grand Finals on the back of the legendary artifact, which also featured prominently in Ken Yukuhiro's Mardu Knights deck.
Lee Shi Tian even found his way to the Top 8 with an old classic: Mono-Red Aggro. But this flavor of the deck had a few standout choices that powered up quite the combination—Cavalcade of Calamity and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell were made for each other—even if they face a hugely uphill battle against Oko, Thief of Crowns.
It remains to be seen where Standard goes from here, but one thing is clear: it's good to be green.
The Best of the Rest
Sunday's Top 8 truly delivered it all. From explosive attacks and unlikely comebacks to risking it all for a chance at glory, here are a handful of the best plays from the rest of the Top 8.
Dominguez's run to the title didn't come easily. In fact, his quarterfinals match against Magic Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif may have featured the best comeback of the day. It began with an incredible topdeck from Dominguez that completely turned the tables on a game Nassif looked to be winning.
Of course one wild topdeck deserves another, so Nassif followed up with his own. In fact it was a series of them for Nassif as he navigated back from a dire spot that delivered a comeback worthy of a Mythic Championship Top 8.
Finally, the Top 8 served us a reminder that while it offers a chance for glory, it doesn't always have a fairy tale ending.