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Historic and History: Player Stories of the 2020 Mythic Invitational

September 04, 2020
Adam Styborski

There are 161 players competing in the 2020 Mythic Invitational. That's 161 times someone learned to play Magic—as recently as last year! That's 161 ideas for the Historic format, and the history to be written at its esports debut. That's 161 unique journeys to vie for $250,000 in prizes and entry into the 2020 Season Grand Finals.

With so many players battling, sharing the excitement and memories each bring is beyond one article—but there are plenty of highlights to be shared. From playing on MTG Arena to breakthroughs thanks to Zendikar formats, the history the Mythic Invitational field brings is outstanding.

Entering the Arena

The best MTG Arena players earned Mythic Invitational qualification through strong play, and the stats show it with some mind-boggling numbers. Combined, the field amassed an incredible set of stats:

  • 75 million gold earned
  • 34 million gems earned
  • 1.34 million games of Magic played
  • 800,000 games won—a Hall of Fame-worthy 60% win rate

And digging deeper, it's clear some of the best MTG Arena players are here.

David Åstrand earned not just "double Mythic" for the August 2020 ranked season, he finished in the Top 1,200 of both Limited and Constructed rankings, ending the latter in 10th place. Lifetime, he's put in thousands of games in the Historic format online—and notched a staggering 71% win rate doing so.

Other competitors weren't far behind either:

  • Oliver Tiu finished in the top 1,200 for Mythic Constructed ranking, and with more than 1,000 Historic format games has a 69% win rate.
  • Brian Fulop also notched double top 1,200 Mythic ranking for the August 2020 ranked season, and has a 68% Historic win rate from over 1,000 games.

Going wider, many competitors earned outstanding performance across their lifetime of play on MTG Arena.

  • Luca Magni, better known as LordofIronforge, has the highest lifetime win rate in all formats across the field with 69%. Noah Walker is right behind with a 67% total win rate.
  • Renat Hasanov far and away has played the most total games, clocking in just under 30,000. The next closest two, Andrew Smith and Federico Bastos, have notched "just" 23,000 and 22,000 respectively.
  • While competitors outside of the MPL have plenty of success, just one player has broken the 1,000,000 gems earned barrier: Ben Stark. The next two closest, MPL player Andrew Cuneo and Christopher Palmiotti, have earned 790,000 and 750,000 respectively.


A Historic Moment

To say that Historic has been through upheaval would be putting it lightly. Jumpstart, Amonkhet Remastered, and faster updates to its banned list has had given the field a short period of time to do a lot of work for the Mythic Invitational: Finding the best deck in a fresh format.

Thoughtseize Massacre Wurm Collected Company

Fortunately, there's no shortage of competitors already working with key cards. Fresh formats with hundreds of new cards to consider opens the door for incredible combos and synergy to be discovered—and to level up an obvious deck into a format-defining monster.

It makes sense then that a card dedicated to answers cards before they become a problem is at the top of many players' minds: Thoughtseize, a new addition thanks to Amonkhet Remastered. More than two dozen Mythic Invitational players point to how critical it is for getting ahead of any opponent's shenanigans.

Eli Loveman



Magic Rivals League player and Mythic Championship II winner Eli Loveman explained it succinctly: "Thoughtseize gives you the info to map out your turns in a way that plays around your opponent's hand. I always love discard spells in any format; Thoughtseize is the best one."

Shintaro Ishimura



Shinto Ishimura, already with a 2020 Top 8 at Players Tour Nagoya earlier this year, is a fan of a card that joined with Core Set 2021. "Massacre Wurm. [There are] many small creatures and tokens in Historic."

And like with many formats that reach across years, plenty of other players offered their own cards to celebrate (and test). Maxime Gilles explained that "definitively Collected Company is exciting. It allows creature-based combo decks to find their missing pieces. They can also rebuild after a wrath effect against control decks."

Historic standout David Åstrand shared the one Historic card he loves largely due to nostalgia—Treasure Hunt. "The Treasure Hunt/Zombie Infestation/Reliquary Tower deck was actually one I played around with in my younger days, so seeing it in action once more on MTG Arena does take me back."

Players are looking beyond just cards but the decks and strategies they might bring to bear. Magic Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma has a vision for Krenko, Mob Boss and the well-established Goblins deck. "It leads to some ridiculous draws. Tapping to make 82 hasty 2/2s is enjoyable to me."

Andrew Cuneo



One of the players with the longest history of play, MPL member Andrew Cuneo wisely shared a strategic insight with everyone in advance: "With Shatterstorm and Wrath of God both being added to Historic, I knew I didn't want to play a deck focusing on regeneration."

Cuneo speaks from first-hand experience.

Zendikar History

Of course, a fresh format and new competition isn't the only major event underway: Zendikar Rising joins MTG Arena shortly after the 2020 Mythic Invitational completes. There's been over ten years of competitive history covering Magic set releases on Zendikar, from the original Zendikar set in 2009 to our first return with Battle for Zendikar in 2015 and now our Eldrazi-free third adventure.

Players won't be using Zendikar Rising at the Mythic Invitational, but the stories of their history overlapping each time we visited the plane are still shining today. Many players remember their big competitive steps made on Zendikar's hedrons.

Alexander Hayne



"I qualified for my first Pro Tour when original Zendikar was around with Pyromancer Ascension," Alexander Hayne recalled, "and then was part of the team that broke the format for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch with Eldrazi, so Zendikar has been pretty important to me."

Eric Froehlich



"Worldwake introduced Stoneforge Mystic which allowed Caw Blade to happen," Eric Froehlich, Rivals League player and Hall of Famer explained. "Being on the team that discovered and played the best deck in a PT over the past decade was very exciting."

Luis Scott-Vargas



Fellow Rivals League player and Hall of Famer Luis Scott-Vargas had claim to the same from another time on Zendikar. "My guilty pleasure is that I got to play Eldrazi in Modern at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, and that deck was just busted," Scott-Vargas said. "It's pretty sweet having a busted deck when other people don't."

Woodland Wanderer

Of course, successes come in all sizes. Every player starts with smaller wins before making bigger breakthroughs—but that doesn't make them less meaningful.

"Battle for Zendikar was when I began to take Magic seriously again after a long hiatus," said Aaron Gertler, winner at Dreamhack Anaheim earlier this year. "I remember the first time I got one of my 5-0 league decks published by Wizards—it was four-color midrange featuring Woodland Wanderer. A 6/6 with trample for only four mana! That was the sort of thing which really got us going back in the day."

Chris Botelho, too, enjoyed decks with interesting cards. "Battle for Zendikar was the first set I started playing Constructed magic in," he explained. "I'm not sure where I would be in Magic if I hadn't gotten my first taste of taking down giant indestructible titans with Crackling Dooms copied by Pyromancer's Goggles."

Crackling Doom Pyromancer's Goggles

Defeating Eldrazi never looked so stylish. Of course, taking down titans doesn't always go so well as Luca Magni attests. "Battle for Zendikar was the set featured in my first Pro Tour, so I have a fond memory of it," he said. "I was paired against three different Hall of Famers in my draft pod on Day 2. I only managed to win one match out of three, but it's an experience I very much enjoyed."

Those three titans of Magic? Ben Rubin, Patrick Chapin, and Kenji Tsumura.

Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, Round 8 Standings



Add in future MPL player and two-time Magic World Championship finalist Márcio Carvalho, one of the greatest drafters of all time and it was truly a murderers' row among 9th through 16th for Pod 2. (And Pod 1, the 1st through 8th in standings from the end of Day 1, was just a stacked!)

Competitive successes aren't the only fond memories players bring. Another Rivals League player recalled how she was no mean girl in making fetch happen.

Emma Handy



Over "original Zendikar Prerelease weekend, I left with a playset of Misty Rainforest and literally just stared at them in my little 4-pocket binder for probably an hour," Emma Handy shared, "because I was so excited to own a playset of fetch lands. To this day the art itself just resonates with me because of how happy I was to have them at the time."

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Matt Sperling



Rivals League player Matt Sperling regarded Zendikar fondly for its Limited format. Triple Zendikar "is actually my favorite draft format of all time," he said. "I have literally stayed up all night drafting it with friends multiple times. I loved when someone would open Lorthos and get to craft a defensive blue deck and it felt almost like a tower defense game because nearly every other deck was aggressive. I liked the efficiency demands of a format where every land and every non-land card really mattered in quality and quantity."

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Battle for Zendikar draft is something No Ah Ma looks back at fondly. "This is the time when I played Magic the hardest," he said. While his favorite deck was a blue-green ramp strategy using Eldrazi with awaken cards and Saddleback Lagac, his dedication reached in every facet of life. "When I fell asleep, I played a draft pick in my dream. No lie."

Anyone who's put thousands of hours into competitive Magic believes him.

Louis-Samuel Deltour



Of course, Rivals League player and Mythic Championship VI Top 8 competitor Louis-Samuel Deltour may have shared the most iconic reason players look back at Zendikar, specifically Worldwake: "Every time I resolve a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, my heart warms up."

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Rising to the Challenge

While 161 players will start the 2020 Mythic Invitational, only one will claim the latest Magic trophy up for grabs. With $250,000 in prizes and qualification to the 2020 Season Grand Finals on line, history and Historic will be made.



Watch history unfold live at the 2020 Mythic Invitational, September 10-13 ontwitch.tv/magic.

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