MTG 2021 Challenger Gauntlet: Standings, schedule, and decks

Only four players will earn an invite to compete at the Magic World Championship XXVII.

MTG Edgewall Innkeeper by Matt Stewart
Image via WotC

Competing in Historic and Standard Magic: The Gathering formats via MTG Arena, a total of 24 players who earned invites to the Challenger Gauntlet squared off against each other for a spot at Worlds. 

Over three days, from Aug. 6 to 8, top MTG pros battled in the 2021 Challenger Gauntlet for a total of four invites to the Magic World Championship XXVII. Six rounds took place between the first two days, split between Historic and Standard, and only 12 competitors advanced to the final-day playoffs. Players with seven match wins in total during day two automatically qualified to compete in the playoffs on day three. 

The meta in both formats was slightly lopsided, with 33.3 percent of the field playing Gruul Adventures in Standard and 41.7 percent of players competing with Jeskai Control in Historic. 

Aug. 6, day one of the MTG Arena Challenger Gauntlet

After a total of six rounds, three players sat atop the leaderboard with 5-1 records: Noriyuki Mori, Sam Pardee, and Arne Huschenbeth

Here were the MTG Challenger Gauntlet standings after six rounds:

  • Noriyuki Mori: 5-1 playing Jund Food in Historic and Izzet Control in Standard
  • Sam Pardee: 5-1 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Naya Adventures in Standard
  • Arne Huschenbeth: 5-1 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • Sam Rolph: 4-2 playing Rakdos Arcanist in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • Logan Nettles: 4-2 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Naya Adventures in Standard
  • João Moreira: 4-2 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Dimir Rogues in Standard
  • Matti Kuisma: 4-2 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • Gavin Thompson: 4-2 playing Azorius Auras in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • David Inglis: 3-3 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • Piotr Wiktorzak: 3-3 playing Jund Citadel in Historic and Naya Winota in Standard
  • Keisuke Sato: 3-3 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Naya Winota in Standard
  • Jan Merkel: 3-3 playing Rakdos Arcanist in Historic and Naya Adventures in Standard
  • Berhando Torres: 3-3 playing Mono-Black Aggro in Historic and Dimir Rogues in Standard
  • Tomas Pokorny: 3-3 playing Dragonstorm in Historic and Sultai Control in Standard
  • Ian Birrell: 3-3 playing Selesnya Company in Historic and Sultai Ultimatum in Standard
  • Yohei Nomiya: 3-3 playing Orzhov Auras in Historic and Naya Winota in Standard
  • Lars Luckhaupt: 2-4 playing Jund Food in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • Ron Branchaud: 2-4 playing Orzhov Auras in Historic and Jeskai Cycling in Standard
  • Toni Ramis Pascual: 2-4 playing Mono-Black Aggro in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard
  • John Girardot: 2-4 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Temur Adventures in Standard
  • Tim Wan: 2-4 playing Mono-Red Goblins in Historic and Naya Winota in Standard
  • Brad Barclay: 1-5 playing Jeskai Control in Historic and Sultai Control in Standard
  • Evan Kaplan: 1-5 playing Jeaskai Control in Historic and Dimir Rogues in Standard
  • Michael Bernat: 1-5 playing Izzet Phoenix in Historic and Gruul Adventures in Standard 

Aug. 7, day two of the MTG Arena Challenger Gauntlet

Screengrab via Magic Twitch channel

Twelve players advanced to the final day double-elimination playoffs, with four in the upper bracket and eight in the lower. Day three playoff matches featured gameplay in the Standard format.

Upper bracket

  • Sam Pardee vs. Arne Huschenbeth
  • Noriyuki Mori vs. Matti Kusima

Lower bracket

  • Gavin Thompson vs. Keisuke Sato
  • Ian Birrell vs. João Moreira
  • Logan Nettles vs. Jan Merkel
  • Sam Rolph vs. David Inglis

Aug. 8, day three playoffs of Challenger Gauntlet

Screengrab via Magic Twitch channel

Only four of the 12 total players in the Challenger Gauntlet playoffs would earn an invite to the Magic World Championship XXVII. Sam Pardee with Naya Adventures and Noriyuki Mori on Izzet Control locked up the first two invites while Arne Huschenbeth and Matti Kuisma fought for a seat in the lower bracket.

Keisuke Sato started the day in the lower bracket and went undefeated with Naya Winota to secure his invite, while Arne Huschenbeth beat out David Inglis in a Gruul Adventures mirror match to earn the final ticket to the Magic World Championship.

Here are the top four MTG players advancing to the Magic World Championship XXXVII:

  • Sam Pardee
  • Noriyuki Mori
  • Arne Huschenbeth
  • Keisuke Sato

Next up in MTG esports is the Rivals Gauntlet from Sept. 2 to 5, in conjunction with the MPL Gauntlet. The Magic World Championship XXVII is scheduled to take place from Oct. 8 to 10 via MTG Arena.