Welcome to Metagame Mentor, your weekly guide to the top decks and latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. The main way to qualify for the Pro Tour is by placing highly at a Regional Championship, and the second cycle of Regional Championships kicks off this weekend, featuring the Standard format!
In today's article I'll summarize key details of these events all around the world, followed by an overview of the decks to beat in Standard and the biggest innovations in that format since the release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One.
Your Regional Championships Guide
Regional Championships are major Magic events—a focal point for play in each geographic region. They happen three times per year and are scheduled approximately one to three months before their corresponding Pro Tour. The first cycle, held in November and December of 2022, genuinely felt like a return to high-level paper Magic, with all the big names playing at the top tables and the excitement of win-and-ins for Pro Tours. Given this, I'm looking forward to the second cycle!
The schedule for the second cycle of the Regional Championships (RCs) for the 2022-2023 season is as follows:
- March 4-5: Japan/South Korea, Australia/New Zealand, and South East Asia. The Japan/South Korea RC will be streamed live, with commentary in Japanese, on the MTGJP Twitch channel, starting at 2 a.m. CET / 10 a.m. JST on Saturday and on 1 a.m. CET / 9 a.m. JST on Sunday. If you live on the American continent, then due to the time difference it would start for you a day earlier: at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET on Friday and at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.
- March 11-12: Europe/Middle East/Africa, West Canada, Brazil, and Chinese Taipei. The Europe/Middle East/Africa RC will be streamed live on the LegacyEuropeanTour Twitch channel, starting at midnight PT / 9 a.m. CET / 5 p.m. JST both days.
- March 18-19: Mexico/Central America/Caribbean. For livestreams of this RC, keep an eye on the channels and social pages of Magic After Office and The Mana Vortex, who are working with the organizer to provide Spanish-language coverage.
- March 25-26: East Canada and China. Day Two of the East Canada RC will be streamed live on the FaceToFaceGames Twitch channel, starting at 6 a.m. PT / 3 p.m. CET / 11 p.m. JST on Sunday.
- April 1-2: South America
- April 8-9: U.S.A. This RC will be streamed live on the DreamHackMagic Twitch channel, provisionally estimated to start at noon PT / 9 p.m. CET on Saturday and at 10 a.m. PT / 7 p.m. CET on Sunday.
Format: For all of these second-cycle Regional Championships, the format is Standard. As Prerelease events for March of the Machine begin on April 14, no new sets will be added to Standard during these Regional Championship weeks.
Decklists: Regional Championships will use open decklists, to be submitted by competitors on MTG Melee on the day before the event starts. Exact details and timing are provided by the local organizer. Once the event gets underway, decklists will become publicly available and you can follow the standings live. To do so, check out the MTG Melee pages for each event that are linked in the schedule above. Our @PlayMTG Twitter account will also provide event updates.
Invites: Regional Championships are invitation-only events. Most of the invites stem from Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs) held at local stores or larger conventions in October, November, and December of 2022. On the Friday before each Regional Championship, the event hall may also hold Last Chance Qualifiers. Additional invitees include players who qualified through Magic Online or MTG Arena, top players from the 2021-22 season, members of the Hall of Fame who use their "once-per-year" invite, and players otherwise qualified for Pro Tour March of the Machine. More precise details can be found here. All in all, the level of competition will be fierce, and many of the best players in each region will be in attendance.
Prizes: Besides Gideon, Ally of Zendikar promo cards and a large monetary prize pool—for example, $100,000 in Europe and $130,000 in the U.S.A.—top players from each Regional Championship will qualify for Pro Tour March of the Machine, to be held at MagicCon: Minneapolis on May 5-7. The exact number of Pro Tour invites differs per region. For example, in this transitional season it's 36 in Europe and 48 in U.S.A. Additionally, all Regional Championship winners, as well as the runners-up from U.S.A., Japan, and Europe, will be invited to Magic World Championship XXIX, to be held at MagicCon: Las Vegas on September 22-24, 2023 at. All in all, these are important events, with a lot on the line.
Qualification: If you're eager to start your own competitive Magic journey, then store-level RCQs are one of the best places to start. You can find tournaments on the Store & Event Locator or your regional organizer's website. Current RCQs through April 3, 2023 will feed into the third cycle of Regional Championships. Those RCs will be held in May, June, or July, depending on your region, in the Pioneer format.
Standard with Phyrexia: All Will Be One
Standard is a 60-card format that rotates every fall. Currently, it allows expansion sets from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt forward. It's the most popular way to play Constructed on MTG Arena, and it's the format for the upcoming Regional Championships. To grasp the latest Standard developments, I analyzed 350 successful decklists from competitive events over the past few weeks. Specifically, I used all published Magic Online decklists from Standard Challenge events held from February 8, 2023 through February 28, 2023 as well as all MTG Melee decklists with net positive wins from the same time period.
To provide a metagame snapshot that combines popularity and performance, I assigned an archetype label to each deck and awarded points equal to the deck's net wins, i.e., its number of match wins minus losses. For example, a deck that went 5–1 in the Swiss followed by a loss in the quarterfinals was assigned three points. The sum of these numbers for every archetype yields its record-weighted metagame share, which represents its share of total net wins. It may be interpreted as a winner's metagame that you can expect to see at the top tables.
|Archetype||Record-Weighted Metagame Share|
|1. Grixis Midrange||21.9%|
|2. Mono-White Midrange||15.9% ↑↑|
|3. Azorius Soldiers||9.2% ↓↓|
|4. Mono-Red Aggro||9.2%|
|5. Jund Midrange||4.3% ↑↑|
|6. Rakdos Reanimator||4.3% ↑↑|
|7. Boros Reanimator||4.1% ↑↑|
|8. Mono-Blue Tempo||4.1%|
|9. Esper Legends||3.6%|
|10. Mardu Midrange||3.1%|
|11. Domain Control||2.2%|
|12. Rakdos Aggro||1.8%|
|13. Azorius Midrange||1.6%|
|14. Mono-Black Midrange||1.5%|
|15. Rakdos Midrange||1.2%|
|16. Selesnya Toxic||1.2%|
|17. Esper Midrange||1.1% ↓↓|
|18. Grixis Reanimator||1.1%|
In this table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing, representative decklist, and the arrows represent the biggest changes compared to my metagame roundup from January. The "Other" category, continuing the descending order, includes Esper Control, Mardu Reanimator, Izzet Tempo, Golgari Fight, Orzhov Control, Jund Hellraiser, Naya Double Strike, Golgari Midrange, Bant Toxic, Mono-Red Powerstones, Jund Titania, Gruul Modified, Rakdos Sacrifice, Naya Tokens, Grixis Mindsplice, Naya Aggro, Dimir Poison, Selesnya Enchantments, Izzet Powerstones, Azorius Mindsplice, Poison Ivy, and more. There are plenty of brews to go around.
The most-played non-basic cards across all main decks and sideboards were
What's even more interesting is the impact of Phyrexia: All Will Be One on Standard. The following table has the 25 most-played new-to-Standard cards from this new set among the decklists I considered.
|Card Name||Total Copies||Main Deck||Sideboard|
|The Eternal Wanderer||196||180||16|
|Atraxa, Grand Unifier||150||150||0|
|Skrelv, Defector Mite||124||124||0|
|Blue Sun's Twilight||82||49||33|
|Vraska, Betrayal's Sting||36||26||10|
|Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines||34||8||26|
|Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler||32||32||0|
The Decks to Defeat
Let's take a closer look at the four decks that we may see in the largest numbers at the upcoming Regional Championships. Due to their popularity, you need to keep them at the forefront of your mind when building your deck and sideboard plans. To pinpoint typical builds, I've used a decklist aggregation algorithm that considers the popularity and performance of individual card choices.
At 22.7% of the winner's metagame, Grixis Midrange continues its domination of Standard, featuring the best threats, interaction, and card advantage in its colors. The deck won last year's World Championship in the hands of Nathan Steuer, and its popularity has skyrocketed since then. While some main decks include
From Phyrexia: All Will Be One, the deck gained
Mono-White Midrange, at 15.9% of the winner's metagame, has grown further in popularity over the past two months. It is arguably the most consistent midrange deck in Standard, as it sticks to a single color and has two-mana creatures that help find land drops. The deck has access to
From Phyrexia: All Will Be One, the deck added
Azorius Soldiers, at 9.2% of the record-weighted metagame, has fallen a bit over the past two months, but it remains a popular aggro strategy in Phyrexia: All Will Be One Standard. The deck has a great mana curve that combines pressure and synergy. For example,
From Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Azorius Soldiers gained
Mono-Red Aggro, also at 9.2% of the record-weighted metagame, is a fast, aggressive deck that aims to take the opponent down to zero life as quickly as possible. The version that is most prominent right now has cut
From Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Mono-Red Aggro merely gained
The New Challengers
While Grixis Midrange, Mono-White Midrange, Azorius Soldiers, and Mono-Red Aggro have held on to their position as top-tier archetypes, the new cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One have enabled new strategies as well. Let's take a closer look at four emerging decks that leverage these new cards in interesting ways.
Although this deck can theoretically hardcast
While Rakdos is the most popular shell for this powerful reanimation strategy, other color combinations are feasible too. For example, there are similar-looking Grixis versions that splash for countermagic and similar-looking Mardu versions that splash for
If you are afraid of graveyard hate or if you don't feel like necromancy today, then hardcasting Atraxa is a solid path to victory as well. This deck can do so consistently. Heck, even casting
The tri-lands make it easy to achieve domain as well, unlocking
I'll admit: a black midrange deck is nothing new. In fact, Jund Midrange is quite similar to Grixis Midrange, with many overlapping card choices. However, almost all the green cards in successful Jund builds stem from Phyrexia: All Will Be One, providing a radical new approach.
Phyrexia: All Will Be One introduced the toxic mechanic, which is used by this green-white deck to quickly give the opponent 10 poison counters. With an efficient curve of toxic creatures, along with
The only nonland cards in the main deck that are not from Phyrexia: All Will Be One are
Although midrange strategies remain popular in Standard, you can go under them with various aggro decks or go over them with
As a reminder, this week we are starting with Regional Championships in Japan/South Korea, Australia/New Zealand, and South East Asia. As a competitive Magic player based in Europe, I can't wait to wake up on Saturday, check out what is on top of their Day One standings, and analyze how to beat those decks in my own Regional Championship the week after. Join me next week as I analyze the first results!