Thoughts Leading Up to the Set Championship

This weekend is the first Set Championship of the season. From what we’ve been told and what has been announced, these are cash prize tournaments with only Worlds at the end of the tunnel.

While Worlds is always an awesome event, my personal motivation has been dashed by the state of OP. This time I decided to take a relaxed approach to the event similar to Grand Prix toward the end of the season when I didn’t need anymore Pro Points. Afterall, OP was my main motivation.

However, that has dwindled as well as my aspirations to focus heavily on the events until we have an idea of what is next.


My approach to the testing



Most of my testing was watching teammates, theorycrafting, discussing individual card choices, and playing only a few games. It was actually quite relaxing, but I have this overwhelming anxiety about OP being announced with this event somehow being attached.


I chose decks I thought could win, but if the field doesn’t break right I could be in trouble, especially in Historic. While I’ll reserve my Historic deck choice for my article next week to keep some secrecy on my teammates’ behalf, I’m playing a Historic deck that’s not very popular. On the other hand, I’m playing a stock UR deck for Standard. 



Into the Standard Format



Standard is difficult to predict exact numbers. I expect Izzet decks to be the most played by 30 to 40% and probably over 35%.


After that, I expect Mono White to be the next most played and then a bunch of different stuff including Jund Midrange, Esper, and Mono Green Snow. Seth Manfield already tweeted regrets for choosing Forests in both formats. While it may be a fine choice in Historic, I don’t like what little I saw of Mono Green compared to the variety of available Izzet builds. 


I am playing an Izzet deck that is slightly nontraditional but not too crazy. I was going to play Jacob Hauken differently than my teammates as the card is incredibly fun and might even be good. It impressed me the few games I battled with it, but I decided to defer to the team build.


Next week, I’ll likely discuss that in more detail.


Into the Historic Format



As for Historic, I think it’ll be a bit crazier. Nothing is off the table. There are new decks popping up almost daily. I expect Food variations and Phoenix to be the most played decks, but we’ll see Jeskai Control in various forms, as well as Humans and Scurry Oak Lifegain Combo. These decks are all solid and play close matches. I expect to see a little of everything since Historic is becoming similar to the way I remember Modern. 


I think Izzet is the best deck in the Standard format and will continue to show that in the event. However, I don’t think it will have the highest win percentage. It’s heavily on the radar and will be a large percentage of the field while holding its own, but we’ll see decks with smaller metagame shares shine the brightest.


Mono White Aggro is the deck I was least interested in playing this event. It wasn’t well-suited against prepared Izzet lists from my sample. I mostly played the Izzet side and was just playing ladder matches.


It didn’t feel too hard to keep up with white with the lists we were working on that were focused on beating aggro decks. Standard is hard to predict because Izzet sets the stage for anything to happen.


If Izzet decks are targeting each other, then like Mono White, aggro decks can cause fits for Izzet decks with higher curves. Mono Green is also in a good spot if Izzet decks are skimping on appropriate interaction like Burning Hands in the sideboard and cards like Demon Bolt and Thundering Rebuke in the main.


Ultimately, I think the players with the best Izzet decks will do the best in Standard.



As for Historic, both Jeskai and Jund Food are solid choices for the event. Jeskai can be tooled to compete with any small set of decks but gets stretched thin in broader metagames. This was my second choice, which I had submitted but ended up changing to something spicier. 


Regarding Jund, a lot of CoCo decks are weak to Mayhem Devil, and decks like Humans, Scurry Oak Combo are no different. Jund can hang with Jeskai in grindy games and holds its own against many other midrange decks. With lots of spins on creature decks coming to light, decks that focus on beating them like Jund and Jeskai can be solid metagame calls. 


Between Humans and the Scurry Oak combo, I liked the Scurry Oak deck the best, but both were solid. Humans had a nice curve and clock, but it was weak to decks that focused heavily on beating creature decks. The Scurry Oak combo could win out of nowhere with Collected Companies. Humans wasn’t a deck that had good come-from-behind potential, but it rarely found itself behind.





As for Historic, I think the best Phoenix deck may have the event’s highest win percentage, but it is anyone’s ballgame and pairings will play a huge factor in each individual’s performance. I don’t expect to do well in Historic without a favorable metagame breakdown, but it was always going to be that way. I haven’t enjoyed Historic much, so I played something I had a lot of fun playing. 


In many ways, I consider this event win-win for myself. I would love to do well, but I let the rest of my life come before the event as opposed to letting the event come before the rest of my life for a change. While it’s impossible to not care at all, I’ve come to grips that Magic is now a hobby again. Yes I’m still a professional Magic player, whatever that may mean, but the future of professional Magic is in creating content and not winning at the highest levels


While my expectations are low for this event, I have the Arena Draft Open to fall back on. I’ll be underprepared as I haven’t played a ton of Limited, but I’ll participate if time allows. I’m hoping the Draft Open opens the door for Limited at the upcoming Set Championships. If they do, I’ll prioritize that event because Limited is where my heart is these days.

Here’s to hoping!


I’ll be back next week with more details on my deck choices and perhaps a deck guide for our Historic deck.


See you next week!

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