Horizons January League Report by Alec Muchnok
Welcome to the league report for the first ever Horizons league at the Magic Online Society! Horizons is a new fan-made format that uses all standard legal sets that are legal in modern but no supplemental sets. This means no Modern Horizons, so no Ragavans, Wrenns, or Murktide Regents. The format also has its own banlist that is voted on by the players every other month. In this article I’ll be going over the results of the January league, which you can check out here: https://gatherling.com/eventreport.php?event=MOS%20January%20Horizon%20League
Overall, this league included a variety of decks that saw success in Modern before Modern Horizons, including Titan Shift, Bant Eldrazi, and Humans. However, it was some of the decks that took advantage of the smaller banlist that came out on top, namely Izzet Phoenix and Mardu Stoneblade.
Tied 4th Place: Titan Shift
Titan shift is a ramp deck that aims to finish the game with a Primeval Titan or Scapeshift to get Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and enough mountains to deal lethal damage to the opponent. It plays early land ramp such as Arboreal Grazer and Search for Tomorrow to win as early as turn 4. The deck’s game plan is very straightforward, which is both a benefit and a drawback. On the one hand, it can be difficult to stop the deck when all it needs to win is to keep playing lands; on the other hand, it struggles against faster decks and decks that can slow it down with discard or counters. This was made clear during the league, where the deck’s losses included Izzet Phoenix, Shoal Infect, and Mardu Stoneblade. Tied 4th Place: Bant Eldrazi
Bant Eldrazi is designed to power out midrange eldrazi threats such as Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher as early as possible to overwhelm the opponent and quickly finish the game before they can react. The bant build offers additional eldrazi over colorless builds, including Eldrazi Displacer and Eldrazi Skyspawner, as well as better interaction like Path to Exile. One of the best benefits, however, is the ability to play Ancient Stirrings to sift through the deck and find whatever eldrazi, land, or artifact you need. The deck appears to have had a lot of close matches in this league, with all but one of its wins going to game 3. Still, it ended the league phase with a strong 4-1 finish, only losing to Humans, a highly disruptive go-wide deck that decks like ldrazi struggle against.
2nd Place: Mardu Stoneblade
This list takes advantage of the recently unbanned Deathrite Shaman, as well as the never-legal-in-Modern Umezawa’s Jitte, to have a highly interactive and versatile gameplan that aims to answer whatever the opponent tries to do while applying pressure of its own. It did this to great success, only losing 5 out of 15 games over the course of the entire tournament. Its two losses were to Dredge and Izzet Phoenix, both of which are decks that render the single-target removal that Mardu midrange decks rely on mostly ineffective. Still, the deck beat Phoenix 2-0 during the league phase, so it is very capable of beating resilient decks.
1st Place: Izzet Phoenix
This league’s winning list is another deck that gains considerable improvements in Horizons. Both Preordain and Faithless Looting make the deck faster and more consistent, allowing it to find the interaction it needs to slow down faster decks or the threats it needs to close out games against slower decks. The goal of Izzet Phoenix is to fill the board with multiple copies of Arclight Phoenix and/or Demilich on turn 3 using cheap cantrips and free spells. The true power of the deck lies in its consistency. It uses many cantrips to be able to churn through the deck and find threats, answers, and sideboard cards. While the main plan of the deck is to win quickly, this consistency gives it a strong midrange backup plan. As such, Izzet Phoenix doesn’t have many poor matchups, though it does struggle against very reactive decks like prison and control. However, these archetypes were nowhere to be seen in this league, so the deck was able to come out on top in the end, winning in the finals against one of its tougher matchups in Mardu Stoneblade.
That’s all for today’s article, but the February league is just beginning and is sure to include many new decks! The format is wide open right now as players bring back old decks or experiment with the cards that are banned in Modern, and with the ban list being voted on every other month, it’s never long before another potential shakeup. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more articles covering different decks in the format.