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Modern Metagame: MTGO Challenge Champions (1/21 & 1/22)

Art: Colossus Hammer | Living End | Property WotC

Every weekend, Modern challenges on MTGO showcase the format’s top decks and attract hundreds of great players looking to battle. What decks topped the tournaments this weekend?

This weekend featured two challenges like usual, but also a Super Qualifier with 377 players battling for one of four invitations to the next Regional Championship.

Here’s a quick rundown of each day’s top eight archetypes:

MTGO Saturday Challenge Results

  1. UW Hammer - Martijc

  2. UR Murktide - Sandile

  3. UR Murktide - qbturtle15

  4. UR Murktide - kentaro_hokori

  5. BR Goblins - isthatbigmike

  6. Yawgmoth - Control4Daze

  7. BR “Scam” Midrange - internetsurfer09

  8. UW Hammer - Olivetti

Full list here

Direct links courtesy of Reddit u/FereMiyJeenyus and their MTGO Results Scraper.

MTGO Sunday Super Qualifier Results

  1. Living End - That0neKid

  2. 4C Bring to Light Omnath - CookieKid00

  3. 4C Creativity - AppleSK1nG_

  4. BR “Scam” Midrange - christiano7

  5. Amulet Titan - gurig

  6. UR Murktide - twinlesstwin

  7. Grixis Death’s Shadow - Volollo

  8. Bant Control - Magicofplayer1

Full list here

Direct links courtesy of Reddit u/FereMiyJeenyus and their MTGO Results Scraper.

MTGO Sunday Challenge Results

  1. UR Murktide - Do0mSwitch

  2. Bomat Burn - cws

  3. 4C Omnath - katoriarch123

  4. UR Murktide - joker10289

  5. Bomat Burn - KillerSheep

  6. Hardened Scales - hunt32

  7. Temur Rhinos - Ashbrown

  8. Yawgmoth - Xerk

Full list here

Direct links courtesy of Reddit u/FereMiyJeenyus and their MTGO Results Scraper.

Top Decks

That’s a lot of Murktide! It was the only archetype to make the top eight of all three events and shows no sign of slowing down going forward. Format staples like Yawgmoth, Hammer, and Creativity also showed up as expected. Rhinos did as well, proving the Temur version might continue to be the best, or at least the most popular.

Artifact Assault

New deck alert! Emma Hagen (KillerSheep) and Caleb Scherer (cws) both did very well on Sunday with Hagen’s Mono-Red artifact aggro deck. Similar Shrapnel Blast strategies have popped up from time to time, but the recent Pauper all-star Experimental Synthesizer helps put this current iteration over the top. It plays much like that red Pauper list, constantly applying pressure and generating card advantage.

This list is full of fast starts and tons of artifact synergies. The plan involves dumping out your hand as fast as possible, then using Galvanic Blast and Shrapnel Blast to kill your opponent out of nowhere. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Dragon’s Rage Channeler are obvious aggressive inclusions that opponents will want to answer immediately. Voldaren Epicure and Bomat Courier are creatures that can help refill your hand while keeping to the artifact theme. Mishra’s Bauble works with Dragon’s Rage Channeler to fill up the graveyard quickly, powering it up and providing another artifact when needed.

Experimental Synthesizer is the real powerhouse here, supplying free cards and even making a 2/2 body in a pinch. This is the artifact you want to sacrifice to Shrapnel Blast. Together with Light up the Stage and the army of one-mana creatures, it ensures you rarely run out of gas. Urza’s Saga ties everything together, creating huge constructs and searching for a threat or answer when needed, including one of the many sideboard options after game one. By keeping mono-colored, Bomat Burn also has the benefit of playing red utility lands like Ramunap Ruins, Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance, and Den of the Bugbear.

Aggro and Answers

Two other aggressive decks showing up this weekend were Hardened Scales and Goblins. Both have been around for a while, and play few, if any, new cards, but are still capable of very fast starts and wins out of nowhere. The increased hate toward slightly slower archetypes like Creativity and Rhinos possibly opened up this weekend to faster decks. Those decks still did well, but in fewer numbers than in the past.

One way to combat these aggro strategies is with Solitude and Supreme Verdict. The Bant Control list is very similar to classic UW Control versions, splashing green for a few cards and a full playset of Endurance in the sideboard, which helps against graveyard strategies but is also a big blocker opponents won’t be ready for.

The two Omnath decks both play the four-color legendary elemental but are fairly different beyond that. One is a classic Omnath control list, complete with four Counterspell, four Leyline Binding, and four Solitude. The other one almost looks like the control version mashed together with Scapeshift, utilizing Bring to Light and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove to win with multiple copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

A strategy that toes the line between aggression and control well is Death’s Shadow, and this Grixis list made the top eight of the Super Qualifier.

Death’s Shadow plays similarly to UR Murktide at times, utilizing many of the same cards. However, it arguably needs a much higher skill level and familiarity with the deck to do well. This is the ultimate expression of using your life total as a resource, and games can be won or lost on the back of deciding whether to fetch or shock at the wrong time. Deciding which spells to counter or which creatures to kill is much harder when you want your life total low enough to use Death’s Shadow effectively. Underworld Breach works well with Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Ledger Shredder, but you can still win without your graveyard.

Back From the Dead

The last deck I’ll touch on is the only dedicated graveyard strategy to make a top eight all weekend and won the Super Qualifier: Living End.

Of all the dedicated graveyard strategies, Living End is probably the most consistent, and can easily fight off any hate opponents use against it. Other decks might be able to resort to a plan B, but Living End needs its graveyard to have any chance to win. Force of Negation and Brazen Borrower are main deck methods to protect the graveyard and ensure Living End resolves.

The sideboard is full of answers to specific cards opponents will use against you. Force of Vigor and Endurance Breaker destroy artifacts and enchantments like Leyline of the Void and Soul-Guide Lantern. Leyline of Sanctity protects from opponents’ discard like Thoughtseize and Grief. Endurance can be beaten both with your Leyline of Sanctity or Subtlety. The cohesiveness of Living End and its ease in responding to hate prove that it can always do well, even in the face of a metagame harsh to graveyard strategies.


UR Murktide is still great and proves week in and week out why it defines Modern. It’s able to attack aggressive decks with tons of removal, and its counterspells and targeted sideboard cards allow it to compete against combos and bigger mana.

Speaking of aggression, strategies capable of winning on the first few turns of the game seem to have taken over as well, capable of overpowering slower opponents. Decks like Hardened Scales, Bomat Burn, Hammer, Goblins, Scam, Titan, and Yawgmoth will simply win the game by turn three or four without interaction.

One notable omission this week is the Underworld Breach combo. A few copies of Jeskai Breach placed outside of the top eight this weekend, but it’s clear that Modern players have seen the deck, understand how it works, and can beat it. It’s still a powerful strategy, but much less unknown than even a few weeks ago.


Watch out for fast starts, especially the new artifact-heavy Bomat Burn deck, which many players will undoubtedly want to try out. Make sure you pack lots of early interaction.

Graveyard decks are still somewhat fragile. Living End has shown it can fight through the hate, but most other strategies have a weak secondary plan or need to answer specific cards first, allowing faster decks to run them over. Underworld Breach is a known commodity, and cards like Endurance and Unlicensed Hearse are still widely played.

Finally, prepare for Murktide. It’s rare to see a Modern tournament without multiple copies of the most popular deck, and with so many pilots, it’s also rare to see a top eight without at least one.


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