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Innistrad Championship Metagame Preview

December 02, 2021
Frank Karsten

It's almost here: The Innistrad Championship, featuring all members of the Magic Pro League and the Magic Rivals League as well as top players from qualifying events held on MTG Arena and Magic Online, begins Friday December 3 at 9 a.m. PT. In total, there are 252 competitors, and they will battle for $450,000 in prizes in both Standard and Historic formats.

Tomorrow, when decklists go live at the beginning of the event, I'll go into deeper details for decklists and look at the specific cards that will define the weekend. For now, here's the overall metagame breakdowns and what to expect from each deck.

Standard Metagame Breakdown

Friday and Saturday each feature four rounds of (best-of-three) Standard. The metagame breaks downs as follows.


Archetype Count % Field
Izzet Epiphany 96 38.1%
Mono-White Aggro 51 20.2%
Mono-Green Aggro 25 9.9%
Orzhov Control 13 5.2%
Izzet Control 9 3.6%
Izzet Dragons 9 3.6%
Esper Control 7 2.8%
Grixis Control 7 2.8%
Jund Aggro 5 2.0%
Jeskai Dragons 4 1.6%
Dimir Control 3 1.2%
Mono-Black Zombies 3 1.2%
Rakdos Vampires 3 1.2%
Grixis Epiphany 2 0.8%
Mono-Black Control 2 0.8%
Naya Aggro 2 0.8%
Orzhov Midrange 2 0.8%
Azorius Control 1 0.4%
Azorius Tempo 1 0.4%
Dimir Delver 1 0.4%
Jund Treasures 1 0.4%
Mono-Blue Tempo 1 0.4%
Mono-Red Aggro 1 0.4%
Orzhov Sacrifice 1 0.4%
Selesnya Lifegain 1 0.4%
Selesnya Ramp 1 0.4%

Izzet Epiphany (96 players): These decks are defined as containing at least two (and usually three or four) copies of Alrund's Epiphany, along with Galvanic Iteration to copy the extra-turn spell and Unexpected Windfall to ramp into this combo reliably.

Mono-White Aggro (51 players): These decks plan to curve out with aggressive creatures like Luminarch Aspirant, and most players adopted Hopeful Initiate and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben from Innistrad: Crimson Vow.

Mono-Green Aggro (25 players): These decks can put a lot of power onto the battlefield with Werewolf Pack Leader, Old-Growth Troll, and Esika's Chariot, and most players adopted Ascendant Packleader and Ulvenwald Oddity from Innistrad: Crimson Vow to become more aggressive.

Orzhov Control (13 players): These multi-faceted decks can exploit Eyetwitch or Shambling Ghast with Fell Stinger, sweep the board with Blood on the Snow or The Meathook Massacre, and (unlike Mono-Black Control) leverage the staying power of Edgar, Charmed Groom. Orzhov Control is good against aggro, but weak to Izzet Epiphany.

Izzet Control (9 players): These decks have a lot in common with Izzet Epiphany, but I defined them as containing at most one (and usually zero) copies of Alrund's Epiphany main deck and instead using at least 2 Hullbreaker Horror and 2 Lier, Disciple of the Drowned as the main win condition.

Izzet Dragons (9 players): These decks have a lot in common with Izzet Epiphany, but they usually don't rely on Galvanic Iteration or Unexpected Windfall and instead have at least nine combined copies of Smoldering Egg, Goldspan Dragon, and Dragon's Fire, providing a proactive advantage against creature decks at the cost of a slightly weaker matchup against other Izzet decks.

Esper Control (7 players): These decks can beat aggro decks with Path of Peril and The Meathook Massacre, counter foretold Alrund's Epiphany with Wash Away, and eventually win the game with a big legend.

Grixis Control (7 players): These decks are basically Izzet Control decks with at least one black spell in the main deck.

Jund Aggro (5 players): Black is just a minor splash—these decks mainly plan to ramp into a turn-three Esika's Chariot via Jaspera Sentinel or Magda, Brazen Outlaw, and they all pack an aggressive punch with Werewolf Pack Leader and Reckless Stormseeker.

Jeskai Dragons (4 players): It's basically Izzet Dragons with a minor white splash for Valorous Stance.

Mono-Black Zombies (3 players): The headliner is Champion of the Perished, for which token creators like Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia and Headless Rider will ensure a steady stream of triggers.

Rakdos Vampires (3 players): Falkenrath Pit Fighter, Vampire Socialite, and Florian, Voldaren Scion were around before, but Crimson Vow has supercharged the tribe with the additions of Voldaren Epicure, Bloodtithe Harvester, Falkenrath Forebear, and Voldaren Bloodcaster.

Dimir Control (3 players): Power Word Kill and Divide by Zero stop the opponent from developing, and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned takes over in the late game.

Mono-Black Control (2 players): Concealing Curtains has added a much-needed early-game disruptive element to the controlling core of Lolth, Spider Queen and Blood on the Snow, and it may improve the archetype's previously weak matchup against Izzet Epiphany.

Naya Aggro (2 players): There are many ways to build an aggressive deck in the Naya colors, but one commonality among the two lists is that they pair Brutal Cathar with Snakeskin Veil.

Grixis Epiphany (2 player): It's basically Izzet Epiphany with a few black cards in the main deck. (Note that some Izzet Epiphany lists include black Pathways in their main deck and Go Blank or Check for Traps in their sideboard, but they're still classified as Izzet Epiphany if they don't have black spells in their main deck.)

Orzhov Midrange (2 players): These decks can feed the first ability of Henrika Domnathi with tokens from Wedding Announcement, and they differ from Orzhov Control in that they don't run Eyetwitch or Blood on the Snow.

Selesnya Ramp (1 player): Storm the Festival hits Wrenn and Seven while Felidar Retreat keeps on triggering.

Mono-Blue Tempo (1 player): Delver of Secrets and Ascending Spirit are perfectly serviceable one-drops, and afterwards you can play a flash tempo game with the likes of Fading Hope.

Selesnya Lifegain (1 player): With Traveling Minister and Voice of the Blessed, Innistrad: Crimson Vow has contributed greatly to an aggressive lifegain theme.

Mono-Red Aggro (1 player): Innistrad: Crimson Vow has added Voldaren Epicure, Cemetery Gatekeeper, and Creepy Puppeteer to boost Mono-Red Aggro in Standard.

Azorius Tempo (1 player): You can build your own Geist of Saint Traft by discarding Dorothea, Vengeful Victim to Fleeting Spirit, and at that point Geistlight Snare is the perfect protection.

Dimir Delver (1 player): Delver of Secrets demands a lot of instant and sorcery cards, while Concealing Curtains plus Dread Fugue add a discard angle.

Azorius Control (1 player): This deck says 'no' to spells with Saw It Coming, 'no' to creatures with Doomskar, and eventually flashes in Cemetery Protector for the win.

Orzhov Sacrifice (1 player): This deck can sacrifice Shambling Ghast for value to Fell Stinger or Henrika Domnathi, but unlike Orzhov Control, there are no sweepers.

Jund Treasures (1 player): This deck puts Treasures to good use with Kalain, Reclusive Painter and Goldspan Dragon, but it's not overly aggressive and even runs the cleavable-via-Treasures Path of Peril.

Historic Metagame Breakdown

Friday and Saturday feature a combined seven rounds of (best-of-three) Historic. In addition, Sunday's Top 8 double-elimination playoff is exclusively Historic. The metagame breaks downs as follows.


Archetype Count % Field
Selesnya Humans 41 16.3%
Izzet Phoenix 34 13.5%
Heliod Company 26 10.3%
Golgari Food 21 8.3%
Jeskai Control 18 7.1%
Jund Food 16 6.3%
Rakdos Arcanist 13 5.2%
Jund Citadel 10 4.0%
Izzet Epiphany 9 3.6%
Izzet Creativity 6 2.4%
Azorius Auras 5 2.0%
Dimir Control 5 2.0%
Five-Color Niv-Mizzet 5 2.0%
Mono-Red Madness 5 2.0%
Azorius Affinity 4 1.6%
Dragonstorm 4 1.6%
Jeskai Creativity 4 1.6%
Jeskai Epiphany 3 1.2%
Jund Company 3 1.2%
Elves 2 0.8%
Esper Control 2 0.8%
Rakdos Goblins 2 0.8%
Selesnya Enchantress 2 0.8%
Abzan Humans 1 0.4%
Azorius Lotus Field 1 0.4%
Gruul Aggro 1 0.4%
Izzet Control 1 0.4%
Izzet Delver 1 0.4%
Jeskai Lotus Field 1 0.4%
Mono-Black Zombies 1 0.4%
Mono-Blue Spirits 1 0.4%
Mono-Red Aggro 1 0.4%
Mono-Red Goblins 1 0.4%
Mono-Red Storm 1 0.4%
Simic Merfolk 1 0.4%

Selesnya Humans (41 players): These decks curve out early with Esper Sentinel into Thalia's Lieutenant and have some of the best three-mana creatures available for Collected Company. Elite Spellbinder is a frequently-played one, but it's not a universal inclusion. Roughly a quarter of Selesnya Humans players are experimenting with Innistrad: Crimson Vow's Hamlet Vanguard.

Izzet Phoenix (34 players): Faithless Looting and Consider put Arclight Phoenix into the graveyard, trigger Dragon's Rage Channeler, and enable delirium for Unholy Heat.

Heliod Company (26 players): When Scurry Oak enters the battlefield, Soul Warden gains a life, which in turn triggers Heliod to put a +1/+1 counter on Scurry Oak. Scurry Oak then creates a token, and you can loop this as often as you like.

Golgari Food (21 players): The trio of Cauldron Familiar, Witch's Oven, and Trail of Crumbs has remained a powerful core ever since the inception of the Historic format. In Golgari Food, they are joined by Ravenous Squirrel and The Meathook Massacre in a low-curve, two-color deck that exploits Lurrus of the Dream-Den as the companion.

Jeskai Control (18 players): Archmage's Charm and Lightning Helix deal with anything the opponent might attempt, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will win the game in the end. Slightly over half of the Jeskai Control decks also have the potential to cast Magma Opus from the graveyard with Torrential Gearhulk.

Jund Food (16 players): Most versions have adopted Ravenous Squirrel, but apart from that, decklists look very similar to lists from a year ago. Then again, Gilded Goose ramping into Mayhem Devil and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is still as strong as ever.

Rakdos Arcanist (13 players): An ideal curve would start with Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, or Unholy Heat on turn one, followed by Dreadhorde Arcanist on turn two. An escaped Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger will seal the deal.

Jund Citadel (10 players): When you see Gilded Goose and Mayhem Devil, you might expect Cauldron Familiar or Witch's Oven, but nearly all Jund Citadel players cut the Cat-Oven combo. Instead, their card choices are geared towards ramping into Bolas's Citadel as quickly as possible. Once the artifact is on the battlefield, you can usually cast an absurdly large number of spells from the top without paying their mana cost, while regaining some life with Prosperous Innkeeper.

Izzet Epiphany (9 players): If it works in Standard, then why not in Historic? Unexpected Windfall, Galvanic Iteration, Alrund's Epiphany are legal in Historic as well, and it's even better when you can support them with powerful spells like Archmage's Charm.

Izzet Creativity (6 players): Hard Evidence conveniently provides two targets for Indomitable Creativity, and when an Izzet Creativity player casts it for X=2, they should hit the only two creatures in the deck: The Locust God and Sage of Falls. Together, they'll immediately create a game-winning number of 1/1 hasted fliers.

Azorius Affinity (5 players): This deck is not as hyper-aggressive as old-school Modern Affinity—the prevalent Historic version is grindier and more interactive—but the name is adequate. Indeed, the deck features the actual affinity mechanic on Thought Monitor, an actual artifact land in Treasure Vault, and a mix between Cranial Plating and Master of Etherium in the form of Nettlecyst.

Dimir Control (5 players): There's quite a bit of variability across the specific card choices, but the overall control plan is clear. Archmage's Charm and Fatal Push deal with anything the opponent might attempt, and Shark Typhoon will win the game in the end.

Five-Color Niv-Mizzet (5 players): Pretty much every spell in this deck is multicolored in order to maximize Niv-Mizzet Reborn. The Triome-heavy mana base required to support Niv-Mizzet also supports Territorial Kavu perfectly—a 5/5 on turn two is not out of the question!

Mono-Red Madness (5 players): The dream is to cast Faithless Looting on turn one, discarding two copies of Blazing Rootwalla. Dragon's Rage Channeler is a powerful one-drop as well. Interesting to note is that most players eschewed Magmatic Channeler, opting for versions with Hollow One or Bonecrusher Giant instead.

Azorius Auras (4 players): Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer will trigger when you're suiting up your creatures with Sentinel's Eyes, Staggering Insight, and so on.

Dragonstorm (4 players): This awesome new build of Dragonstorm can discard the nine-mana sorcery with Faithless Looting or Faithless Mending, then flash it back with Mizzix's Mastery, grab Terror of the Peaks and 2 Bladewing the Risen, and deal infinite damage. If you don't draw Dragonstorm, you can discard Emergent Ultimatum instead. A game-winning Ultimatum package is Dragonstorm, Solve the Equation, and Omniscience.

Jeskai Creativity (4 players): An Indomitable Creativity for X=1 will reliably put Serra's Emissary onto the battlefield. Many creature decks have difficulty beating an opponent who has protection from creatures.

Jeskai Epiphany (3 players): It's basically Izzet Epiphany with a minor splash for white removal spells.

Jund Company (3 players): It's basically Jund Food, but with Collected Company, Woe Strider, and Claim the Firstborn instead of Trail of Crumbs, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, and Fatal Push.

Elves (2 players): The dream curve would be Llanowar Elves on turn one, Elvish Archdruid on turn two, followed by some combination of Elvish Warmaster, Imperious Perfect, and/or Collected Company on turn three.

Esper Control (2 players): There's no consensus on the specific card choices, but both Esper Control players exploit typical control cards like Thoughtseize, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and Narset, Parter of Veils.

Rakdos Goblins (2 players): Muxus, Goblin Grandee and Krenko, Mob Boss have spearheaded the Goblin tribe since the inception of the Historic format, and recently Jumpstart: Historic Horizons has introduced Munitions Expert as an additional reason to splash black.

Selesnya Enchantress (2 players): Sythis, Harvest's Hand and Enchantress's Presence will trigger when you’re casting enchantments like Sterling Grove or Sanctum Weaver. One of the two players has the SolemnityNine Lives combo as well.

Mono-Red Goblins (1 player): It's pretty much the same Goblin deck that was also legal a year ago, but Muxus, Goblin Grandee is still partying on.

Abzan Humans (1 player): It's basically Selesnya Humans splashing for General Kudro of Drannith.

Simic Merfolk (1 player): A classic tribal deck, Simic Merfolk uses lords like Merfolk Mistbinder to beef up creatures, along with Svyelun of Sea and Sky and Collected Company to generate card advantage.

Mono-Black Zombies (1 player): Champion of the Perished is even better in Historic, where powerful tribal cards like Diregraf Colossus and Liliana, Untouched by Death are available.

Mono-Red Storm (1 player): When you control Birgi, God of Storytelling, you can bounce and recast Grinning Ignus as often as you like. If you also control Hazoret's Monument, then that's infinite loots, allowing you to find Grapeshot for the win.

Gruul Aggro (1 player): The ideal curve starts with Pelt Collector on turn one, Burning-Tree Emissary into Voltaic Brawler on turn two, and Embercleave on turn three.

Azorius Lotus Field (1 player): Lotus Field requires a steep sacrifice, but Stifle and Discontinuity can negate it. This allows you to ramp into Hullbreaker Horror or a massive Sphinx's Revelation quickly.

Jeskai Lotus Field (1 player): There are many similarities and differences with Azorius Lotus Field, but one thing to point out is that the detrimental enters-the-battlefield trigger of Lotus Field is also stopped by Strict Proctor.

Izzet Control (1 player): There's card draw, countermagic, removal, and the powerful Magma Opus - Torrential Gearhulk combo.

Mono-Red Aggro (1 player): This archetype has never broke out in Historic, but Reckless Ringleader is a sweet Jumpstart: Historic Horizons addition—giving Anax, Hardened in the Forge or Goblin Chainwhirler haste can provide a lot of burst damage.

Mono-Blue Spirits (1 player): Tiny Spirits become bigger with Supreme Phantom, turn into card draw engines with Curious Obsession, and are protected via Rattlechains and countermagic.

Izzet Delver (1 player): It's basically Izzet Phoenix but with Delver of Secrets and Dreadhorde Arcanist instead of Arclight Phoenix.

Watch Live!


Check back tomorrow for the full analysis and more with the first day of the live broadcast, December 3–5 beginning at 9 a.m. PT each day at twitch.tv/magic!

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