The Strixhaven Championship is coming right up, June 4–6, and we've enlisted our coverage team to share their bold predictions on players to watch, decks they'd love to see in action, Strixhaven Mystical Archive cards they have their eyes on, and a dose of Magic-themed educational wishes.
So let's delve inside the minds of these two Lorehold, two Prismari, two Witherbloom, three Quandrix, and one Silverquill devotees as they take us to school in the lead-up to the final Championship of the season.
Whose minds are on which school? We'll reveal that later, but here is our collegiate coverage crew, including:
- Play-by-play commentators Marshall Sutcliffe and Eilidh Lonie
- Expert roles chaired by Paul Cheon and Cedric Phillips
- The news desk team of Maria Bartholdi, Mani Davoudi, and Riley Knight
Plus, behind the scenes across social and text coverage—who have had their eyes on every League Weekend and Championship so far this season—are reporters Corbin Hosler, Elizabeth Rice, and Meghan Wolff.
It's an outstanding crew filled to the brim with predictions for how this event will play out.
In It To Win It
Starting with the key players to keep your eyes on, we asked our coverage cadre for three players whom they think will do well at the Championship—one member of the MPL, one from the Rivals League, and one Challenger:
|Meghan||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Matt Sperling||Arya Karamchandani|
|Corbin||Seth Manfield||Grzegorz Kowalski||Rocky Caitung|
|Elizabeth||Autumn Burchett||Grzegorz Kowalski||Arya Karamchandani|
|Maria||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Luis Scott-Vargas||Arne Huschenbeth|
|Mani||Reid Duke||Matt Sperling||Yuuki Ichikawa|
|Riley||Brad Nelson||Luis Scott-Vargas||Logan Nettles|
|Cedric||Brad Nelson||Mike Sigrist||Yuuki Ichikawa|
|Paul||Ondřej Stráský||Luis Scott-Vargas||Arne Huschenbeth|
|Eilidh||Seth Manfield||Luis Scott-Vargas||Yuuki Ichikawa|
|Marshall||Seth Manfield||Mike Sigrist||Sam Pardee|
In the MPL, there's a good deal of usual-suspect-ery going on. Maria, of course, is on the PVDDR wagon, as is Meghan:
Maria: "If I ever don't pick Paulo in this category, call for help, because an alien lifeform has obviously taken over my body."
Meghan: "I didn't pick him to win Worlds and I will now only make predictions based on that mistake."
Eilidh is one of three players who went for Seth Manfield: "Seth's performance over the Strixhaven League Weekends have been incredible, and I think momentum is going to see his hot streak continue!"
Both Cedric and Riley went for Brad Nelson and highlighted the same key point.
Cedric: "The best Standard player of all time will find a hole in a fairly solved metagame."
Riley: "An established format is where he does his best work."
In the Rivals League, it's clear who the popular kids are, as our talented ten combined for just four Rivals picks: Luis Scott-Vargas (4), Matt Sperling (2), Grzegorz Kowalski (2), and Mike Sigrist (2).
There are many good reasons to pick Luis Scott-Vargas. But also one bad one.
Paul: "Luis got mad that I didn't choose him as the person to watch at the last event, so I had to make amends here."
Hats off, too, to Meghan for winning this show's (very much not real) "On the Nose" award. Why pick Matt Sperling?
"I mean, I'd really want to win something if I'd just lost a playoff for Worlds," she said.
Yeah, that'll do it.
There are some interesting picks amongst the Challengers. Corbin, just who is Rocky Caitung?
"A familiar name in the southern US regional circuit, Rocky is also the winner of the Dreamhack Austin 2017 Open," he said. Rocky "qualified via the Qualifier Weekend in May and is poised for a breakthrough."
Elizabeth, too, has gone for a newer name to seasoned watchers. "Arya Karamchandani was the winner of this past season of the Venus and Mercury League. She has an impressive understanding of the game and is great at making meta calls."
Meghan: "She apparently teaches a tournament Magic class at college, and that's just cool."
Indeed it is.
Another player several of our team have their eyes on is Yuuki Ichikawa among the many challengers
Cedric: "Two Pro Tour Top 8s and nine Grand Prix Top 8s (with four wins), Ichikawa is a Challenger in terminology alone. This is a very skilled and accomplished Magic player who is capable of winning any event he's qualified for. That makes him a sneaky pick that I'm here for."
|Top Overall Picks|
|Meghan||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa|
If you believe their powers of prediction, this could be a big weekend for Luis Scott-Vargas. Then again, it's not always clear just how these picks have been made.
Marshall, for example, seems to have highlighted Sam Pardee for pun-related reasons. "He's been on the sidelines as he was out of the MPL and Rivals, but in case anyone has forgotten, it's Pardee time."
I think lockdown has been weighing rather heavily, and he just had to get that one out there.
Our formats this time around are Standard and Historic, with the Historic format taking center stage throughout Sunday in the Top 8. Let's start with the team's thoughts on Standard. What archetype would the team like to see in action?
Cedric: "For the Kaldheim Championship, I said Mono-White Aggro would be the best-performing Standard deck. That didn't happen, and Kai Budde made fun of me (#rude). Well Kai, this is called doubling down. Mono-White Aggro will be the best-performing deck in Strixhaven Standard whether you like it or not!"
Eilidh: "I always love a good aggressive deck, so I'm hoping to see a handful show up and obliterate the greedy likes of Sultai Ultimatum. Burn, baby, burn!"
Elizabeth: "I would love to see a
And what about Historic, a format which, like history itself, is constantly being rewritten?
Corbin: "I'd like to see
Paul: "Izzet Phoenix is extremely fun to play and has fully taken advantage of the cards from Strixhaven's Mystical Archive in both
Paul wasn't alone.
Mani: "I've wanted to see Izzet Phoenix in Historic for a long time, and it finally has the tools to have a real chance. I'm excited to see what this terrifying new iteration of the explosive archetype is capable of."
Mystical Archive Marvels
The Mystical Archive seems certain to play its part in the Historic rounds. Which Mystical Archive cards is our team hoping to see in action?
Marshall: "I'd like to see
Elizabeth and Paul picked the same card. Can you guess?
Elizabeth: "It's such a fun card that has the potential to lead to some crazy turns."
Paul: "I won my very first PTQ after copying Osyp Lebedowicz's UW deck in Extended. The random nature of the card makes it really fun to watch from a viewer's perspective."
And that card is
Rather more worryingly, Corbin and Riley also have the same card in mind.
Riley: "On the play with a
I'm not entirely sure that we do, Corbin.
Away from cut-throat competition, let's turn our attention back to those Strixhaven college affiliations we hinted at in the intro. So which colleges caught each team member's eye?
For Lorehold, it's interviewer extraordinaire Riley Knight and reporter Elizabeth Rice. Why Lorehold? As Riley explained, "when it comes down to it, all learning is just a subset of history. Writing? History: people have been writing for millennia. Maths? History: when you learnt that 2+2=4, that was actually a history lesson, because someone figured it out before you."
Our Prismari reps are host Maria Bartholdi and expert Mani Davoudi—and it turns out that they're fans of Prismari for the same reason:
Maria: "I literally majored in theatre in college, so it only makes sense."
Mani: "As both a theatre student and a fan of flashy blue/red combo decks, Prismari was my obvious choice of college."
Over in Witherbloom, it's reporter Meghan and play-by-play commentator Eilidh. These responses speak directly to the essence of life and death in Magic.
Eilidh: "I love killing my creatures and hurting my opponents with death and magecraft triggers in the process."
Meghan: "I would like to cultivate a garden full of poisonous plants and have people leave me alone in it."
Yep—death, hurt, poisonous plants, and isolation. All the happy thoughts in one black-green place.
Quandrix, unsurprisingly, had our commentators queueing up to represent, with play-by-play commentator Marshall Sutcliffe, plus experts Cedric and Paul, all coming to the Quandrix party. From a range of responses, there was one reason that was the best any of them could come up with as to why Quandrix.
Paul: "I've always had an analytical mindset when it comes to problem solving so this would have to be an easy Quandrix for me."
I find reading this in the voice of Simon Goertzen helps. Remember, that was the best Quandrix answer.
And that leaves our final member of the crew, the reporter Corbin.
Corbin: "I'm contractually obligated to inform you that Silverquill is my home."
Lecturing the Players
With college enrolment out of the way, one of the privileges of covering the best players is getting to talk with the best players. We asked our team which pro they would want to take a cram session with, and what the topic would be.
Marshall: "Oh, I would grab LSV for a cram session on how he approaches Limited. I've never really gotten that from him. It's usually just a combination of trolling, puns, and nonsense."
Maria: "Simon Goertzen: how to navigate Limited gameplay. Once, after a big tournament, Simon watched me play a draft game against another person on coverage, and questioned almost every play I made. I was shocked. But, he was actually right in every instance. It was mind-opening."
Elizabeth: "I would cram cube drafting picks with Gabriel Nassif. When I competed in Mythic Championship VII, he stood over me while I drafted Autumn Burchett's cube, and I learned so much from the few things he said to me. I would love to learn more from him."
But what if the shoe was on the other foot, and our team were professors at a college that taught Magic: The Gathering. What would be their specialist subject?
Corbin: "I could teach a whole semester on the history of Merfolk as an archetype, and exactly how to sequence your combat with the deck. Give us
Eilidh: "My specialist subject would be the art of Magic. One of the most appealing things for me when I started playing was the card art, and I always look forward to seeing new art in each and every set."
Maria: "I would love to teach Intro to Draft. I grade on a curve. Get it?"
I certainly do, Maria.
While these all sound good, there's one lecture that's just unmissable.
Meghan: "Advocating for Yourself: Rude Opponents, and Where, Exactly, You Can Tell Them to Go."
As I say, unmissable, and so is the Strixhaven Championship. Watch every minute of the action broadcasting live June 4–6 at twitch.tv/magic!