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Magic World Championship XXVII Metagame Breakdown

October 07, 2021
Frank Karsten

It's the pinnacle of premier play, and the winner will have the opportunity to have their likeness featured on a future Magic: The Gathering card: Magic World Championship XXVII, broadcasting live at beginning Friday October 8 at 9 a.m. PDT.

You can get all the day-by-day broadcast details over in the World Championship Viewers Guide.

The sixteen best players from the 2020–21 season were faced with the challenge of a brand-new Standard format just three weeks after rotation.

Standard Metagame Breakdown

The World Championship starts with an Innistrad: Midnight Hunt draft on Friday morning, but the final two Swiss rounds on Friday and all five Swiss rounds on Saturday will feature (Best-of-Three) Standard. The Top 4 playoffs on Sunday are Standard as well. Here's the metagame breakdown.

Deck Archetype Deck Count % of Field
Izzet Epiphany 4 25.0%
Grixis Epiphany 4 25.0%
Mono-Green Aggro 3 18.8%
Mono-White Aggro 2 12.5%
Temur Treasures 1 6.3%
Azorius Tempo 1 6.3%
Izzet Dragons 1 6.3%

The most played card overall is Alrund's Epiphany—the premier endgame spell in the format. World Championship competitors who didn't want to play Alrund's Epiphany alongside Expressive Iteration all chose a green or white aggro deck. In essence, you can view the metagame as follows:

  • 9 Alrund's Epiphany decks (Izzet Epiphany, Grixis Epiphany, and Izzet Dragons)
  • 4 Esika's Chariot decks (Mono-Green Aggro and Temur Treasures)
  • 3 Luminarch Aspirant decks (Mono-White Aggro and Azorius Tempo)

Given the Standard metagame developments over the last few weeks, as detailed in the article by analyst Mani Davoudi, a field of Epiphany, Chariot, and Aspirant decks does not come as a big surprise.

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Dedicated ramp or control decks would do poorly in a field filled with Epiphany decks, so it makes sense that no one registered Storm the Festival or The Meathook Massacre. The Epiphany players who may have been hoping to prey on such decks may be disappointed, but they'll have to test their mettle in other matchups.

In terms of the specific versions of decks, there are some surprises. While Izzet Epiphany, Mono-Green Aggro, Mono-White Aggro, and Izzet Dragons are well known, Grixis Epiphany, Temur Treasures, and Azorius Tempo are fresh—especially the specific lists submitted for the World Championship. They all contain card choices that appear cleverly adapted to the current metagame, and I am excited to see how they will perform.

All sixteen decklists can be seen now. But in broader strokes, let's go over the archetypes one by one with a sample list for each.

Izzet Epiphany – Four players

503648 535018 Divide by Zero

Arne Huschenbeth, Ondřej Stráský, Stanislav Cifka, and Keisuke Sato registered Izzet Epiphany. The two Czechs, Strasky and Cifka, tested together and settled on the following build—with Huschenbeth's reflecting a few tweaks but generally being very similar.

Izzet Epiphany is a combo-control deck that aims to bounce, counter, and destroy opposing threats early on. Then they'll draw extra cards and gear up for the endgame. Their ultimate plan is to copy Alrund's Epiphany with Galvanic Iteration. In the first extra turn, they can use card draw spells to dig for another Alrund's Epiphany. In the second extra turn, they might copy Alrund's Epiphany once again. If successful, that's five consecutive turns already. The Bird tokens will attack for the win.

Most versions (with the exception of Keisuke Sato, who has 4 Smoldering Egg) have no creatures in the main deck—their main win conditions are the tokens created by Alrund's Epiphany, Burn Down the House, and/or Mascot Exhibition (which is accessed via Divide by Zero). This means that spot-removal spells or Treefolk tokens from Wrenn and Seven are not a problem. However, since Izzet Epiphany relies heavily on expensive sorceries, counterspells such as Malevolent Hermit, Negate, Test of Talents, or Concerted Defense can foil their plans.

The archetype has been gaining more and more attention over the past week, and a quarter of the Worlds competitors put their faith in it. In terms of card choice innovations, Huschenbeth, Cifka, and Stráský included Unexpected Windfall, which not only ramps toward Alrund's Epiphany but also provides a valuable spell for Galvanic Iteration. It adds to the combo feel of the deck, which is suitable.

Izzet Epiphany can be tricky to play, and sideboarding is far from trivial. If opponents take out their spot removal, then Izzet Epiphany players can punish that with Smoldering Egg in Games 2 and 3. But what if opponents anticipate this and keep their removal spells? The mind games surrounding these transformational sideboard plans will be interesting to pay attention to.

Grixis Epiphany – Four players

503648 534821 Duress

Eli Kassis, Gabriel Nassif, Jan Merkel, and Matt Sperling tested together as a team and settled on a spicy Grixis list.

Grixis Epiphany has the same core as Izzet Epiphany, but with a minor black splash. One of the key black cards you gain access to is Duress. It's an efficient piece of interaction in Epiphany mirrors, and against green decks Ranger Class or Esika's Chariot are valid discard options as well. Go Blank and Power Word Kill round out the black splash. A set of Pathways, along with The Celestus, make the black splash a breeze.

A unique element in the Grixis Epiphany lists submitted for the World Championship is Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. It not only prevents the opponent from countering Alrund's Epiphany but also allows you to flash back all your cheap spells. Lier does present a target for the opponent's spot-removal spells, but if you cast Lier with enough mana to flash back Expressive Iteration, Duress, and/or Fading Hope right away, then you'll still come out ahead.

Grixis Epiphany looks like an awesome take on the strategy, and the card choices can theoretically give an edge in most matchups. Nevertheless, Duress cannot hit Alrund's Epiphany when it's foretold, and Divide by Zero doesn't care about Lier's uncounterable clause. With so many delicate interactions, I'm curious to see how the matchup between Izzet Epiphany versus Grixis Epiphany will play out in practice, especially when the best players in the world are at the wheel.

Mono-Green Aggro – Three players

Three players registered Mono-Green Aggro. One is Seth Manfield. The other two are reigning World Champion Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Sam Pardee; they prepared together and settled on the following list.

503783 527498 503801

Mono-Green Aggro curves out with some of the most efficient creatures in the format, as almost every card adds an absurd amount of power to the battlefield for its cost. What's more, as a monocolor deck, it gets to take advantage of Faceless Haven.

In the major MTGMelee events held in the new Standard so far, Mono-Green Aggro has been a slight favorite in the matchup against Izzet Epiphany. But will this remain true when the Alrund's Epiphany decks are tuned and wielded by the best players in the world? The interactive spells in Mono-Green Aggro (Blizzard Brawl and Inscription of Abundance) might be good against other creature decks, but they won't be of much help against Izzet Epiphany. We'll find out this weekend.

In terms of interesting card choices, I want to highlight Sculptor of Winter. It's an underused two-drop, but it attacks, ramps, and gets particularly sweet after a dying Old-Growth Troll enchants a Snow-Covered Forest. Although Manfield stuck with Lotus Cobra, both Damo da Rosa and Pardee have Sculptor of Winter in their two-drop slot.

Mono-White Aggro – Two players

Rei Sato and Yoshihiko Ikawa prepared together and registered the following list.

Mono-White Aggro is the other major Faceless Haven deck in Standard. It's even faster than Mono-Green Aggro, as the mana curve already starts at one.

Usher of the Fallen 491647 534781 Stonebinder's Familiar 534795

An innovative one-drop included in the World Championship lists is Stonebinder's Familiar. It hasn't been a popular choice so far, but it seems great in a deck filled with exile effects. Especially in tandem with Sungold Sentinel, it won't be hard to turn Stonebinder's Familiar into a 3/3 or bigger.

Based on the Standard results so far, Mono-White Aggro not only has a good matchup against the Alrund's Epiphany decks but also against Mono-Green Aggro. It simply goes faster than anything else, dealing 20 damage before Alrund's Epiphany can be cast and surpassing Esika's Chariot with fliers and pump effects. Meanwhile, sweeper-heavy control decks, which are traditionally bad matchups for Mono-White Aggro, are absent. Accordingly, Mono-White Aggro looks very well positioned in the World Championship metagame.

Temur Treasures – One player

There have been many builds of Gruul and Temur going around, but Jean-Emmanuel Depraz registered the following list. It's a red-green aggro deck at its core, with a minor blue splash for counterspells.

Prosperous Innkeeper 503754 503751

With Prosperous Innkeeper; Magda, Brazen Outlaw; and Goldspan Dragon, the list goes heavy on the Treasure theme, so sacrificing five Treasures to Magda is not out of the question. Alternatively, ramping into Esika's Chariot or Moonveil Regent on turn three is never bad either. With unusual card choices such as Prosperous Innkeeper, Moonveil Regent, and main deck Negate, the list distinguishes itself from most Gruul or Temur decks that have been going around previously.

While Temur Treasures may have some trouble against a resolved Wrenn and Seven, the combination of a good creature curve and blue counterspells will give it a solid chance against Alrund's Epiphany decks.

Azorius Tempo – One player

Noriyuki Mori has showed his deck-building skills earlier this year by finding success with unique Gruul Food or Izzet Control lists, and he's done it again for the World Championship.

Azorius Tempo is unlike anything I had seen before in the new Standard. One way to describe it is as a Mono-White Aggro deck with fewer one-drops but with a blue splash for interactive spells, most notably Fading Hope, Concerted Defense, and Malevolent Hermit.

513494 Fading Hope Concerted Defense 534823

Fading Hope is one of the better tempo cards in the format. Against Mono-Green Aggro, it can bounce Wrenn and Seven's Treefolk tokens; against Izzet Epiphany, it can save your own Elite Spellbinder from a removal spell.

Malevolent Hermit and Concerted Defense can counter Alrund's Epiphany for a single mana, which is a big swing. Countering Esika's Chariot or Wrenn and Seven is not bad either. So I expect that the blue splash will give this deck an edge in the World Championship metagame. All in all, Azorius Tempo is a novel archetype that will have to prove itself, but it does look well positioned.

Izzet Dragons – One player

Finally, Yuta Takahashi registered Izzet Dragons.

503751 503648 Dragon's Fire

This final archetype in the field can be considered "previous level Izzet." It does contain Alrund's Epiphany, but its gameplan does not focus around it. Indeed, unlike the Epiphany versions, there are no Galvanic Iterations.

Instead, Izzet Dragons races with Goldspan Dragon and Smoldering Egg and exploits tribal synergies with Dragon's Fire. Due to the reliance on 4/4 fliers, Izzet Dragons is weaker to spot-removal spells or Treefolk tokens from Wrenn and Seven. However, cards like Test of Talents, Negate, or Concerted Defense won't be as problematic when you can turn Goldspan Dragon sideways.

The World Championship metagame is showing a move toward more counterspells. It's always interesting to observe these metagame cycles, but I'm not convinced we are already back at the point where Izzet Dragons would be better positioned than Izzet Epiphany.


Based on what the top players brought to battle for the World Championship, the new Standard is dominated by Alrund's Epiphany. Nevertheless, if the early MTGMelee results are any indication, the green and white aggressive decks might actually come out ahead. Mono-White Aggro and Azorius Aggro are my picks for the best-positioned decks in the field, and I'm excited to see how the actual matches play out.

It's almost time for the final event of the season. Don't miss Magic World Championship XXVII broadcasting live October 8–10, beginning at 9 a.m. PDT each day at!

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