Mythic Championship III Las Vegas starts this Friday, with 68 players from around the world competing for a piece of the $750,000 prize pool.

This Mythic Championship will be the first Mythic Championship to be played on MTG Arena as well as the first time that War of the Spark Standard will be played at the Mythic Championship level. While Mythic Championship II London was held on War of the Spark’s prerelease weekend, it featured Modern rather than Standard and War of the Spark cards weren’t even legal yet.

Join me as we run down on some of the most important cards that shape War of the Spark Standard. And don’t forget that you can use this information to help draft cards in our fantasy league for Mythic Championship III Las Vegas on Thousand Leagues!

Llanowar Elves

The reprinting Llanowar Elves in Dominaria was shocking because Wizards had previously said that they were moving away from one-mana accelerants in Standard. Indeed, it is a deceptively powerful card, and now it forms the core of every Green deck and is the most played creature in Standard. It appears as a four-of in decks ranging from Gruul Aggro, Bant Nexus, Simic Manipulation, and even decks like Sultai Midrange and Four-Color Command the Dreadhorde—all in all, it’s in nearly 25% of Standard decks!

While Llanowar Elves may look harmless, it enables one of the strongest cards in Standard, Nissa, Who Shakes the World. The two cards have combined to bring the ramp archetype back to the format—and it is particularly strong in War of the Spark Standard. The Elves accelerate you to Nissa, and Nissa’s Heartbeat of Spring static ability (plus her untap a Forest ability) can result in huge turns, making massive Hydroid Krasises, Mass Manipulations, or even casting a Ghalta, Primal Hunger the old fashioned way.

The power of one-drop mana creatures is undeniable, as games that start with turn one Llanowar Elves are incredibly different from those without them. They are a huge source of tempo if left un-bolted, so be prepared to see Llanowar Elves have an outsized impact this weekend.

Arclight Phoenix

Arclight Phoenix is the scourge of many formats and Standard is no exception. With Goblin Electromancer, cheap cantrips, and even the Jump-Start mechanic providing two spells for one (even allowing you to discard the Phoenix for value), Arclight Phoenix is easy to enable and extremely difficult to deal with. It encourages casting lots of spells in a single turn, which gives the deck a high level of consistency due to the speed that you will typically go through your deck.

The typical play patterns of Arclight Phoenix synergize with payoff cards like Enigma Drake, Crackling Drake, and even Saheeli, Sublime Artificer to give Izzet Phoenix decks the ability to contest most situations on the ground. Oh—and Finale of Promise brings back a Phoenix by itself, assuming you have two targets for it in your graveyard.

Command the Dreadhorde

On the surface, Command the Dreadhorde doesn’t look remotely Standard-playable. But the card really shines when combined with the Explore package from the Ixalan block. Wildgrowth Walker provides large chunks of life gain with the Explore triggers from Jadelight Ranger and Merfolk Branchwalker. That is often enough to keep even the most aggressive decks at bay, allowing the deck to cast Command the Dreadhorde for a decent amount of value.

If Command the Dreadhorde resolves, the value gained is unlike any other card in Standard and effectively ends the game on the spot. Sure, the game may go on for a few more turns, but that will be your opponent trying to survive the instantaneous wave of pressure Command the Dreadhorde put on the board. These decks tend to be at least three colors, normally four, so they are vulnerable to mana issues. But as long as they can hit six mana in decent shape, the mana troubles are worth it.


If I’m being completely honest, I could put any of the cards that feature heavily in the Mono-Red Aggro here, but I’m going with Shock because it shows up in over 35% of decks in Standard. Mono-Red is a very streamlined deck with the sole aim of attempting to kill you as quickly as possible, leveraging multiple Lightning Bolt-esque effects, creatures that deal damage when they enter the battlefield, and even raw card efficiency with Light up the Stage and Experimental Frenzy.

The flexibility of Shock in Standard is what makes it the most popular spell, allowing it to have applications at almost any point of the game. From taking down a turn one Llanowar Elves to killing a Teferi, Time Raveler that just bounced a creature, or even just providing the last couple of points of damage to an opponent to seal a win—Shock is shockingly effective.

Teferi, Time Raveler

Teferi seems to be making a bad name for himself and isn’t exactly endearing himself to fans with his previous iteration, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Teferi, Time Raveler is even more egregious than big Teferi—his static ability is reminiscent of his time as Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and the ability to play Sorceries as if they had Flash has almost single-handedly pushed Esper Control to the forefront of the metagame. In fact, 25% of the field at Mythic Championship III Las Vegas will be playing Esper Control.

Planeswalkers are typically difficult to interact with, especially when the card itself removes avenues to deal with it. You cannot hold up mana to remove Teferi, Time Raveler with a card like Vraska’s Contempt due to its static ability. Any creature without haste will just get bounced back to its owner’s hand—while drawing Teferi’s controller a card, because the card wouldn’t be quite right without some card advantage attached! Teferi, Time Raveler into Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will make you feel as if you’re stuck in a time loop.

So there we have it, my list of the defining cards of War of the Spark Standard.  As we wait for the tournament with bated breath, stay tuned tomorrow for a rundown of the best Standard decks by Harlan Firer and don’t forget to draft your team on Thousand Leagues!

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