Magic World Championship XXVII is the culmination of the 2020-21 Magic competitive season. In years past, the last few competitor slots were decided by a points race resolved at the last major event of the year. For those of us watching at home, the excitement of that race could sometimes get lost among the focus on the primary event of the weekend.
This year was different. The MPL and Rivals Leagues competed for points across the season, all leading to the Strixhaven Split League Weekends where we saw 8 of the 16 World Championship Competitors be determined, bringing an end to the regular season. The remaining 8 spots would come down to the postseason, a series of Gauntlet tournaments that would decide the remaining competitors at the World Championships as well as the players' League status for next year.
We saw the Postseason kick off with the Challenger Gauntlet, where top performing non-league players throughout the season gave us our first exposure on the biggest stage to Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Standard and earned four spots to the World Championship. With only four seats remaining, all eyes turn to the upcoming MPL Gauntlet and Rivals Gauntlet final Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Standard format event.
Impact on the Challenger Gauntlet
To get a better idea of what effect Adventures in the Forgotten Reams had on Standard, we'll need to take a closer look at some of the notable cards being played and the decks were played in.
By now, it is undeniable that the most important cards to come from to Standard are the creature lands. The cycle headlined by
An interesting side effect of the new lands has been a slight decrease in popularity for Sultai Ultimatum decks, a powerhouse in the previous format. Sultai experienced a similar dip when the printing of
Cheap color-hosing spells are an evergreen mainstay in constructed sideboards. Following in the footsteps of recent all-stars
The two-mana removal spell served as a perfect answer for
The Winota Cards
Adevntures in the Forgotten Realms helped many existing decks in Standard, but no single deck gained more from the release than Naya Winota. The deck had been non-existent in the metagame for months, but the introduction of cards like
Power Word Kill
The strength of a removal spell like
In the current field it's a potent answer for everything except
Lessons to Take Away
Competitors preparing for the MPL and Rivals Gauntlets will be looking at the results of the Challenger Gauntlet as part of their preparation process. What are some of the key lessons they can take away?
The Adventures Greed Cycle Begins Anew
In the past few months, Standard went through a transition. Players began on Gruul Adventures, and then innovated by getting greedier in order to get an edge in the Adventures mirrors. The metagame shifted from Gruul, to Naya, before finally settling on Temur Adventures. Each deck had a bit of an edge on the other Adventures decks, while having their own unique strengths and weaknesses in various matchups. With the popularity of Gruul Adventures at the Challenger Gauntlet, and the success of Naya Adventures in answering the matchup, it appears as if that cycle may be repeating itself.
Why Not Winota?
Naya Winota is a powerful and terrifying deck that demands players come ready for it, but as a known entity it can suffer. Winota was on everyone's mind going into the Challenger Gauntlet, and the result was a hostile field that was prepared for the Naya menace. Of the 4 players on Naya Winota, one still managed to make it to the last day of competition and ultimately earned the World Championship qualification. The risk of facing an overprepared field is something competitors will have to take into consideration when deciding to bring Naya Winota to the MPL/Rivals Gauntlet.
The Great Unknown
During the weeks before rotation, Standard can sometimes feel like a solved format. Noriyuki Mori's incredible run with his Izzet Control deck serves as a nice reminder that most formats are never truly solved, and there can still be room for a different angle of attack. His goal for the Challenger Gauntlet was to bring a deck that he felt had a good chance against any deck in the metagame, and he succeeded. Players looking to get an edge for the MPL and Rivals Gauntlets will need to consider these different angles to give themselves the best shot at winning.
The Last 4 Spots
Two events. 48 players. 4 spots. The final competitors for the World Championship all come down to this. Even at the end of the format, Standard is in an incredible place where the games are great and there's a long list of viable archetypes that could win it all on any given day—all that remains is to watch the action play out and see who comes out on top.
Join myself and the rest of the coverage team as we bring you all the coverage of the MPL and Rivals Gauntlets, September 2–5 on twitch.tv/magic!