It's almost here: The Strixhaven 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 June 4 at 9 a.m. PT broadcasting live at twitch.tv/magic.
This weekend, there are 250 competitors battling in both Standard and Historic formats. Today, I'll go over what they brought to battle in Standard, along with sample lists for the twelve most popular archetypes. If you have not paid much attention to Standard in the past two months, then this article should get you back up to speed! (Tomorrow, June 3, I'll be back with the Historic metagame breakdown.)
Standard Metagame Breakdown
On both Friday and Saturday, the last four rounds of the day are (Best-of-Three) Standard, and the metagame breaks downs as follows.
|Deck Archetype||Number of Players||Percentage of Field|
|Sultai Titans' Nest||2||0.8%|
The metagame is roughly in line with what one would expect based on tournament results and trends from recent online events. Sultai Ultimatum remains dominant, while Izzet Dragons and Naya Adventures have risen to the second and third spots respectively. These archetypes gained new tools such as
The biggest surprise is that six percent of the field is on Jeskai Mutate. This novel archetype features a complicated five-card infinite mana and infinite damage combo involving Strixhaven's
That said, Standard is relatively well-established at this point, and it's hard to really "break" it. Most matchups are close to 50-50, and a well-positioned deck is typically up by no more than a few percentage points against the field. Ultimately, I expect that most Standard matches will be decided by playing skill, sideboard mastery, and matchup experience.
Nevertheless, Strixhaven shook things up. The most-played nonland cards from that set are
A Closer Look at the Top Twelve Archetypes
In the remainder of this article, I will introduce the top twelve Standard archetypes one-by-one and point out the key Strixhaven additions. The decklists of all competitors will be published on the Strixhaven Championship event page at the beginning of Round 1 on Friday, June 4, which means that I can't disclose any competitor's actual decklist right now. Instead, I used a custom-built algorithm to compile an aggregate from decklists submitted for various events in recent weeks.
The resulting aggregate decklists are representative for the archetype as a whole and should give you a good idea of what to expect at this event or any other upcoming Standard tournament—though they most likely won't exactly match with a decklist submitted for the Strixhaven Championship.
Sultai Ultimatum (21.2% of the field)
Sultai Ultimatum was the most popular archetype at the Kaldheim Championship, and it still holds the number one spot at the Strixhaven Championship.
The game plan is to stay alive by destroying opposing creatures, then ramp into seven mana, and finally cast
The core of the deck hasn't really changed over the past two months, but Strixhaven has provided several new options. They're not universally adopted, but
Izzet Dragons (16.4% of the field)
Izzet Dragons is sometimes referred to as Prismari Midrange or Izzet Tempo, but I went with the fancier name. Admittedly, there are no Dragon tribal cards, but the above list has ten Dragons (including
In any case, the archetype only appeared in its current form after Strixhaven introduced
These new Prismari cards sent players brewing, and the resulting archetype turned out to be pretty powerful, with solid matchups across the board. There is no consensus build, and none of the three Strixhaven cards I mentioned are universal adoptions. (
Naya Adventures (9.2% of the field)
A few months ago, there were many Naya Adventures builds going around. Nowadays, the name has become synonymous with the
In terms of Strixhaven additions, there's sometimes
Dimir Rogues (6.8% of the field)
Dimir Rogues did not gain anything noteworthy from Strixhaven and hasn't been winning much in recent online events, but it always remains a popular choice at these Championship events.
The game plan of this deck is still the same as it was months ago. First, use your Rogues to attack and mill the opponent. Second, take control of the game with fully-powered
Gruul Adventures (6.8% of the field)
Gruul Adventures did not gain much from Strixhaven apart from
Magda can attack to create a Treasure and ramp into heavy-hitters like
Besides Magda synergies, the familiar core of
Cycling (6.8% of the field)
The game plan is still the same as a year ago: lead with
Strixhaven hasn't really added anything of significance (the list above only has a single
Mono-Red Aggro (6.4% of the field)
Mono-Red Aggro is a less popular than at the Kaldheim Championship, likely because it has unfavorable matchups against Izzet Dragons and Naya Adventures, but it's still a significant part of the metagame. The game plan is still the same as before: Curve out with aggressive red creatures, deploy a huge Anax, and leverage your board presence with
The latest addition from Strixhaven is
Mono-White Aggro (6.4% of the field)
Mono-White Aggro is yet another aggressive curve-out deck that makes good use of
Jeskai Mutate (6.0% of the field)
No matter whether you describe it as Jeskai Control, Jeskai Combo, Jeskai Ramp, or Jeskai Mutate, it is without a doubt the spiciest Standard deck at the Strixhaven Championship. Matthieu Avignon showed off the deck's potential at the May Strixhaven League Weekend, and after the list got perfected in the week after, 15 competitors settled on this awesome new archetype. I expect a breakout performance.
In the early game, the plan is to use removal and bounce spells to control the board and buy time. Once you've stabilized, your aim is to mutate
The deck is not all-in on mutate—there's no
Goldspan Dragon(-5 mana)
- Mutate Vadrok onto
Goldspan Dragon, which creates a Treasure (-2 mana). With the mutate trigger, cast Prismari Commandfrom the graveyard for free to create a Treasure and to deal two damage to the Dragon (+4 mana).
Lore Drakkisonto Goldspan Dragon(free because targeting the Dragon creates a Treasure) and put two mutate triggers on the stack. One returns Unsubstantiatefrom your graveyard to your hand; the other casts Prismari Commandfrom the graveyard. Make sure to have Lore Drakkis' trigger resolve first. With Prismari Command, you once again create a Treasure and deal two damage to the Dragon (+4 mana). In response to this Prismari Command– you can't let it resolve because then the creature would die–you sacrifice all Treasures and cast Unsubstantiate(free because targeting the Dragon creates a Treasure) to return the stack of three creatures to your hand.
- Repeat. Every loop, you gain a mana, so this generates infinite mana.
- Once you have infinite mana, do the same
Unsubstantiateloop but shock your opponent with Prismari Commandevery time. This transforms infinite mana into infinite damage.
Yes, this is wild. It's one mana per loop, and you need a lot of concentration to execute all the steps correctly. You need to stack triggers in the correct order, you need to hold full control to respond to your own spells, and need to sacrifice your Treasures for two mana before bouncing your Dragon. It gets easier when you find a third mutate creature, but I can't wait to see Twitch chat try to figure out what's going on.
Although most of the cards in this deck were legal before Strixhaven, the additions of
Temur Adventures (3.6% of the field)
Temur Adventures exploits
The potential to go
Mardu Sacrifice (1.6% of the field)
At first glance, this might look like a Rakdos Sacrifice deck. Indeed, there's the combo of
But one key new Strixhaven card pushed players towards Mardu:
Boros Winota (1.2% of the field)
Curving non-humans into
These twelve archetypes cover 92.4% of the Standard metagame at the Strixhaven Championship. The remaining 7.6% of the metagame feature some well-known strategies and some spice, but most of them have been around before. Sultai
All in all, Strixhaven has injected several sweet new options into competitive Standard, and the metagame features a nice amount of diversity. Check back tomorrow for the Historic metagame breakdown!
Don't miss the live broadcast, June 4-6 beginning at 9 a.m. PDT each day at twitch.tv/magic!