This weekend, Magic‘s top pros go head-to-head across a number of formats to determine 2019’s best player at the World Championship.
Fans will be treated to some of the highest-level play across Theros: Beyond Death Draft and Standard Constructed formats. This will be the first major THB Standard season tournament, so here’s what you need to know about these top decks.
Red Deck Wins
Mono-red is back with one major element pushing it to victory: Embercleave. This beastly equipment is both a combat trick and win condition—plus it can be cheated out early with low-cost creatures.
Each of the four lists takes advantage of this, running 17 or more one and two-drop creatures. Red standard bearers like Bonecrusher Giant and everyone’s favorite murder-dwarf, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, are also tagging along.
Anax, Hardened in the Forge is a newcomer added to this list. Anax is a great addition to the deck, adding high-power attacks and, more importantly, a game plan that doesn’t immediately fold to board wipes. Coupled with the fact that Anax becomes a 5/4 trampling double-striker with Embercleave and nothing else and you’ve got yourself a solid add.
Temur Reclamation Combo
Temur Reclamation is named for its key combo: using Wilderness Reclamation to cast a massive Explosion.
Of course, getting there is really where all the hard work is. Temur Reclamation digs deep into its three colors to mix-and-match ramp and survival options.
For ramp, we’re talking Growth Spiral and Growth Spiral 2—Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. This new mythic creature is a refreshing ramp option that does everything you’d want on one card: life gain and card draw. The fact that it can be cast twice (or more) is just the icing on the cake.
Survival is where most of these four decks differ. Some opt for beasties like Hydroid Krasis, while others run serious firepower in the form of Storm’s Wrath and Scorching Dragonfire. Counters (Thassa’s Intervention and Mystical Dispute), bounce (Brazen Borrower and Aether Gust), and card selection (Opt and Omen of the Sea) are also mixed in.
Fires of Invention has been a mainstay in Standard since its release in Throne of Eldraine and this World Championship will see four decks relying on the powerful enchantment. The game plan consists of casting Fires and not paying mana costs for the rest of the game.
Cavalier of Flame was discovered pretty early on to be the perfect pairing for Fires. It has tons of utility and the ability to give everything haste. Other good creatures are Bonecrusher Giant, Sphinx of Foresight, Cavalier of Gales, and even Kenrith, Returned King.
Honestly, there are only two notable newcomers to this deck. Omen of the Sea is a great cheap card selection player, while Dream Trawler is a powerful finisher that can protect itself easily and shut down opponents fast.
Finally, a new deck. UW Control decks have been out of style for a while, but one new finisher has changed that: Dream Trawler.
Control is all about crushing the end game and these decks accordingly are packed full of removal and value plays. THB added a lot of these cards: Shatter the Sky, Elspeth Conquers Death, and even low-cost enchantments like Omen of the Sea and Birth of Meletis.
Rule-busting planeswalkers are also out in force here. Teferi, Time Raveler and Narset, Parter of Veils combined can shut down almost any game plan. This deck, backed by counterspells and card draw like newcomer Thirst for Meaning, has the ultimate long game.
The Wildcard: Jund Sacrifice
Rounding out the playing field is one wildcard: former all-star Jund Sacrifice. Throne of Eldraine saw this deck out in force, at one point dominating Standard with few real challengers.
The meta has adjusted, however, and the “cat combo” deck powered by Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar will see some serious challenges this weekend. Even in the sideboard, this deck sees few THB additions, except for a playset of Agonizing Remorse.
This deck’s owner, Piotr Głogowski, seems to think this deck still has the chops to take down a format. We’ll find out soon if he’s right.
The World Championship begins on Friday, Feb. 14 and runs through the weekend.