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MTG: Brainstorm Gets Suspended From Historic

2 Minute Read
Jul 22 2021
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A new Banned and Restricted Announcement takes effect today, and it looks like Brainstorm is abating, for now. Check it out.

The time has come once again to ban or restrict some of the cards that have been dominating–or at least overwhelming–the formats lately. Per the latest announcement from Wizards of the Coast,  Brainstorm is getting suspended in Historic.

To hear them tell it, Brainstorm hasn’t been overpoweringly brutal in terms of sheer win rate, but it is showing up in an overwhelming number of decks, so to promote more deck diversity, Brainstorm is being suspended for now:

In the banned and restricted announcement for Historic in June, we mentioned that we were keeping an eye on the high play rate and perceived dominance of blue-red decks in general and Brainstorm in particular.

Izzet Phoenix was approximately 30% of the metagame in the July Strixhaven League Weekend, which is a very high percentage for one deck to claim. But its win rate there was only 51.5%, far from dominating or threatening. This matches our internal data, which consistently showed Izzet Phoenix with a win rate a bit above 52% and Jeskai Control a bit above 51% in high-level Best-of-Three play.

Given these lower win rates for Izzet Phoenix and Jeskai Control and the presence of multiple other archetypes with strong records against both decks and the rest of the field, we expected to see the metagame share of these decks decline over time. Though we saw some reduction—the combined metagame share among high-level players in Best-of-Three ladder play declined steadily from 17% in mid-June to 14% more recently—these two decks have remained the most played there, usually by a good margin. 

While decks like Izzet Phoenix and Jeskai Control are not showing win rates that threaten balance, their steadily high metagame share is certainly harming deck diversity, which in turn reduces the fun of the format. While we are seeing some motion to correct this, the rate of change is too gradual to quickly address the format imbalance. To improve format diversity, Brainstorm is suspended in Historic.

Historic continues to be one of the more popular formats, and hopefully the suspension goes a long way to keeping it fun and fresh.

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