My Planeswalker Bracket: Finding the Ultimate Planeswalker
A few weeks back, Wizards of the Coast posted a planeswalker bracket , inviting players to choose their favorite! Instead of choosing my favorite at each step, I decided to try to figure out who would win in a fight. Once we resolve Round 1a of the bracket (since 36 ¹ 2n for integer values of n), we’ll do the full left side first, then the full right side, then determine the winner of the whole thing!
Teyo vs. Arlinn – This battle starts our win and in round. Arlinn easy. Teyo makes 0/3 walls and Arlinn makes 3/3 Wolves. Even outside of the mechanics, all we know Teyo is that he hops around and makes pretty lights that are barely able to block the weakest of creatures, while Arlinn is literally a werewolf sorcerer. Not particularly close.
Kasmina vs. Angrath – This is a little trickier because we don’t know all that much about Kasmina. But we sure do know Angrath! Angrath’s name is literally “Anger” and “Wrath” smushed together. Way to be subtle, WotC. Angrath just wants to see his family on (presumably) Kaldheim, and he’s demonstrated before that he’s willing to go to any lengths to do it. He’s also a giant minotaur, and that’s gotta give him some advantage if the fight ever gets physical. Mechanically speaking, Kasmina makes some 2/2’s, and Angrath steals creatures, turns them against their controller, then murders them, so I’m feeling good about Angrath’s odds here.
Yanggu vs. Samut – As I’m sure is surprising to anyone who has played MTGO before, this bracket is riddled with mistakes, mostly misspellings. However, in this matchup, the mistake is that “Jiang” is the family name of “Jiang Yanggu,” not his personal name, so it’s odd to write Jiang vs. Samut. I will be calling him Yanggu for the rest of this article.
Samut is a hardened warrior from Amonkhet who has fought through the trials that led to the creation of Bolas’s super army of interplanar zombies. Yanggu has a cute dog!
Samut is a baller who rallied her people together to fight against Bolas. Yanggu’s dog gets to come with him on adventures!
Samut is competent with multiple weapons and presumably fighting styles. Yanggu’s dog just learned how to fetch, and is a certifiable Good BoyTM!
Kiora vs. Ob Nixilis – The first instance of Wizards misspelling their own characters’ names, I imagine that Ob “Nixilus” is what happens when Ob goes to therapy, takes on a white splash, and learns the value of community.
“There is no Ob Nixilme; there is only Ob NixilUS!”
Anyways, Ob is super metal, nearly drowning Gideon by giving him a swirly in a puddle, all while stomping Jace into the dirt with his foot. Kiora is no slouch, capable of summoning giant sea monsters to fight for her, ride on, and post on Instagram, but that’s gonna be hard to do while you’re drowning in a puddle. And Ob would totally do that cuz, like, irony.
Winner: Ob Nixilis
Bolas vs. Arlinn – I feel pretty bad for Bolas’s opponents here. Bolas is one of the strongest oldwalkers, equipped with vast knowledge and power, and Arlinn… howls at the moon sometimes? Sorry, this isn’t close. Bolas wouldn’t even have to use his magic, he could just step on Arlinn and her wolves and call it a day. Winner: Bolas
Tibalt vs. Sarkhan – Incredible that Wizards can misspell Sarkhan, given that they had an entire set called “Khans of Tarkir,” so they definitely know the word. Anyways, Sarkhan has traveled through time and resurrected a spirit dragon while Tibalt is renowned interplanarly as the worst planeswalker of all time. Tibalt was goofing off with some devils while Sarkhan rewrote time. This is how the fight would play out:
“Gr! I’m Tibalt!”
“Oh yeah, you’re that joke. I couldn’t hurt you, little guy!” (Sarkhan squeezes Tibalts cheeks, then walks away, leaving Tibalt to pull his devils’ tails and giggle.)
Ugin vs. Kaya – While I have no doubt that fighting Kaya must be the most frustrating thing in the world, Ugin isn’t about to let some fancy flicker effect beat him. He came back to life twice and is Bolas’s equal in power. While Kaya is all, “Poke! -1 and kill a Mistcloaked Herald !” Ugin is more, “Yawn, -3, exile you and literally everything you own.” Not actually close.
Teferi vs. Saheeli – Let me just say that if Saheeli had access to her pet cat, this fight would be a lot tougher. But without Felidar Guardian, Saheeli stands no chance against an oldwalker who has phased out an entire continent and can manipulate time. Luckily, Teferi’s got a sense of humor, so any spectators of this fight would get to watch Teferi toy with Saheeli a bunch before smacking her down.
Saheeli: I’m going to—
Teferi: MAKE A SERVO!!!
Saheeli: How did you—
Teferi: KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO SAY!
Saheeli: This is –
Saheeli: I was going to say weird…
Teferi: Welp, guess we rewind again!
Gideon vs. Angrath – Finally, an actual competent fight. Angrath might have more anger, more wrath, and be a minotaur, but Gideon has better training and the Blackblade, which would be more than enthusiastic to drink Angrath’s soul. While flaming chains are cool and all, nobody whips a surral like Gideon. #WhipMySurral
Jaya vs. Ral – In the old days, this would’ve been Jaya hands-down. But sadly, Jaya’s been having a lot of joint pain recently, and it’s kind of gotten in the way of her pyromania. It’s hard not to imagine Jaya doubling over mid-battle because she broke her hip. Jaya really does give new meaning to the term “oldwalker.” In our first oldwalker loss, it’s a bit embarrassing that it’s to one of those newfangled, upstart, “neowalkers.” Honestly, though, it might be more of a mercy-killing at this point.
Nissa vs. Nahiri: We actually don’t need to speculate because I have a transcript from that fight.
Nissa: …and so it turns out, the real Ashaya was within me all along. With the power of friendship— (Nahiri punches Nissa in the face)
Huatli vs. Wanderer – Yet another misspelling, I guess “Hautli” is Huatli’s haughty twin sister? Not really sure. But all we’ve seen Huatli do is read poetry and go on dinosaur rides, while the Wanderer slices and dices and also low-key might be Emrakul.
Bolas vs. Sarkhan – We’ve got ourselves a grudge match! Sarkhan was Bolas’s fanboy for a long time because nobody loves dargons more than Sarkahn, and Bolas is the biggest, baddest dragon around! Sarkhan, though, is already teetering on the edge of insanity, and one of Bolas’s signature moves is making people go insane. Unfortunately, I think Sarkhan’s got a bit of a built-in weekend to the Elder Dragon, so I’m calling this one for Bolas.
Ugin vs. Teferi – Our first oldwalker face-off! This one might be close, as Teferi is a master of time and Ugin is a master of… kind of everything. The best reference we have here is Teferi’s previous fight against Bolas, which he lost when Bolas had better time manipulation than him. While we don’t know whether Ugin can control time, we do know that he’s on-par with Bolas in power level, smarts, and good looks. As much as it pains me, I’ve gotta say that I like Ugin’s odds here. I would particularly love if they were exactly evenly matched in magic, so Ugin just ate Teferi. #JustDragonThings
Gideon vs. Ral – Gideon’s had a lot of practice beating up on Jace over the years, and Ral is just a snarkier, minionier, more engineering-nerd version of Jace. As long as Gideon avoids sticking his finger in any electrical sockets, he should be able to play out the classic Bully vs. Nerd dynamic, and we all know who wins that one in the short-term.
Nahiri vs. Wanderer – This is again tough because of our limited information about the Wanderer. If the Wanderer is Emrakul, then this is secretly a grudge match that only one side is aware of, and there’s no way Emrakul is going to let Nahiri get away with sealing her away for millennia. But we have to work with what’s confirmed, and Nahiri is a powerful oldwalker who has a lot of pent-up, Helvault-based rage and has demonstrated an enthusiasm for planar genocide that could impress an Eldrazi. The Wanderer, on the other hand… has a sword?
Bolas vs. Ugin – The powerhouse matchup of the left bracket. I would put Ugin and Bolas as individually favored against any other planeswalker in the left bracket, but sadly, the twinsies have to face off in the quarterfinals. While this is undeniably close, epic, and could fill an entire reality show with its family-based drama, we have to look to the past here. Bolas has beaten Ugin every time they’ve directly fought. Based on that, we’re going to have to call this one for the God-Pharaoh.
Gideon vs. Nahiri – This is another close one. Nahiri is an oldwalker with an earth-shattering power set, but Gideon has abs – indestructible abs. We saw that Nahiri could be physically restrained when she fought against Sorin & Avacyn, so if Gideon can get close, he and Blackblade will share some soul food. It’s tight, but I’m going to lean Gideon here.
Bolas vs. Gideon – This fight already happened, and the only thing that’s changed is that Gideon got a new sword. It’s hard to believe that, one-on-one, that would change very much. Once again, if Gideon gets close, Blackblade will get the job done, but I’m even more skeptical that will happen here than against Nahiri. Gideon’s indestructibility does not protect him from Bolas’s mind touch, and Gideon seems soft to mental provocation, which Bolas excels at. While I’m sure there will be great monologues on both sides, I just don’t see Gideon overcoming Bolas’s significant advantage in raw power and magic.
Winner of Left Bracket: Bolas
Liliana vs. Samut – This has got to be a scarring one for Samut, as Liliana controls the Dreadhorde, or, as Samut calls it, “my friends from high school.” Samut can be as hasty and quick as she wants, but Liliana has an army. This one will be quick, but not in the way Samut likes it.
Karn vs. Vivien – Vivien’s entire power set comes from her arkbow. Is the Arkbow a permanent? Check. Can Karn exile permanents? Check. Whether he’s wearing his pants or feeling Liberated, Karn has this one in the bag.
Tamiyo vs. Domri – Another close one, as Domri has a lot more physical, fast, violent magic and can summon beasts to attack Tamiyo. But then, we think back to Tamiyo’s Elder Scrolls (oops, wrong game) and her ability to seal away an Eldrazi titan in a moon, and the matchup stops seeming so close.
Davriel vs. Jace – I love Davriel’s character. If he wanted to beat Jace, he probably could, but Davriel wants to make sure that he appears useless so that people leave him alone and let him take a nap. As such, he’s going to let Jace slap him around while saying, “Wow, Jace, you’re so strong. That time on Ixalan where you developed an ab or two really shows. This hurts so much.” Then he’ll pretend to be dead and Jace will feel good about himself. So even though the real winner is Davriel, we’ll give this one to Jace.
Chandra vs. Ob Nixilis – Ob Nixilis has finally found his weakness; a person who will not die by being drowned in a puddle. I assume a couple fireballs will put this one away while Ob mourns the boiling of his favorite killing puddle.
Ashiok vs. Narset – In a terribly unfair stroke of fate, two of my favorite planeswalkers, two titans of the Esper shard, face off in the first round. While they’re both great, gotta give a head-to-head to Ashiok (is that offensive to Ashiok? I know their “head” situation is a touchy subject…) Ashiok has crazy mind powers, and in the current timeline, we haven’t seen Narset be capable of much more than being a good reader.
Ajani vs. Sorin - Two oldwalkers getting paired in Round 1, ouch. This is a close one, as we know that both oldwalkers are extremely potent threats, but Sorin has done a lot more epic stuff recently while Ajani has leaned into hugs being the best medicine. Unfortunately, Ajani’s reluctance to kill and insistence on reforming Sorin is his downfall here, as Sorin needs to kill Ajani so he can get back to trying to kill Nahiri.
Vraska vs. Dovin – Gorgon ex-pirate who can turn people to stone in a single glance or your least favorite politician’s secretary? Tough. As Dovin has been used to throughout his entire life, he’s going to get beat up again.
Liliana vs. Karn – Two of Modern’s best planeswalkers face off, and it’s going to be tight. Normally, I would give this one to Karn, but in the current story, Liliana is at the peak of her power. She has an army at her disposal and, based on some of the art we’ve seen, has finally succumbed to using the Chain Veil. Karn is more about protecting these days (except when it comes to bombing New Phyrexia), but I’m not sure he’ll be able to protect himself from the full power of the Eternals and the Chain Veil.
Tamiyo vs. Jace – Tamiyo and Jace teamed up to seal away Emrakul, but now the two mindmages are going to battle it out and see who is mindier and magier. With his full memories and powers unlocked, Jace is quite capable of terrible feats, utterly destroying the minds of others like he did to his Sphinx teacher Alhammaret on Vryn. (Now we know why Jace always get A’s…) While Tamiyo can tell a killer story, Jace is going to be too quick with the mind destruction here. For Tamiyo, this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
Chandra vs. Ashiok – A little tricky again because of the mystery surrounding Ashiok. We know that they can manipulate dreams and summon nightmares, but Chandra doesn’t strike me as the kind of gal that gets a full night’s sleep anyways. I think Chandra’s raw firepower is going to give Ashiok’s head a new reason to smoke.
Sorin vs. Vraska – As long as Sorin can not make eye contact with Vraska, he’s got this one in the bag. He’s more powerful and likely a better fighter than Vraska, so Vraska’s only edge is her stone gaze. And, of course, Sorin really needs this to be fast so he can get back to his girlfriend archnemesis Nahiri.
Liliana vs. Jace – Another grudge match, but for very different reasons. Everyone’s least favorite on-again, off-again couple, Jace has finally come around to recognizing that he’s fallen victim to the classic “nerd manipulated by hot girl, who is also a powerful necromancer with a bunch of evil spirits locked in her veil who deals with demons” trope. Classic. While Jace’s mind powers are strong, he never was able to quite compete with Liliana in the past. Here, I’m confident that Liliana would be able to outmaneuver and outpower Jace. In fact, she’d outwit, outplay, and outlast him, making her the ultimate Survivor.
Chandra vs. Sorin – Chandra hasn’t had the toughest field so far, but it’s about to get real difficult real fast. The fact that Sorin is an oldwalker and Chandra is a neowalker who only just learned how to control her ability to light matches makes this a lopsided matchup. Sorin’s vast experience will make quick work of Chandra’s rookie mistakes. And besides, Sorin needs to get back to the other half of the old, married couple he’s a part of his bickering with Nahiri.
Liliana vs. Sorin – With two of the strongest oldwalkers going at it, this is the highlight of the right bracket. Vampires versus zombies. Eternal youth versus eternal crankiness. This would be night impossible to decide, but I think the Chain Veil does the trick for Liliana, pushing her over the top. Sorin is unable to leverage the advantages he’s had against most of the field, such as his experience and power, as Liliana is as experienced and arguably more powerful with the Chain Veil than Sorin. With the Chain Veil acting as the deciding factor, I’m giving this one to Liliana.
Winner of Right Bracket: Liliana
Bolas vs. Liliana – In what is incredibly unlikely to be an accident, the bracket mirrors the story, and Liliana and Bolas face off to take it all. (“It all,” of course, is nothing. Though we’ve made millions from the advertising revenue during this tournament, we do not pay our planeswalkers with money; we pay them with exposure and the opportunity to play for the love of the game!)
While Bolas is certainly powerful and been planning his Evil Mastermind Plot for millennia, there’s one thing he forgot to account for, as is required of villains: friendship. Bolas doesn’t have his army, apparently messes up the Elder Spell so that Niv gets it, so doesn’t have that, and he doesn’t have friends. Liliana has an army of Eternals, the Chain Veil, and a crew of besties. #squadgoals As such, as powerful as Bolas is and as great as his plan is, Liliana will probably come out on top here, even though we all know that Bolas totally deserves to win this fight.
Final Ultimate Winner of Planeswalkering: Liliana
Sadly, now that she’s used the Chain Veil and whatnot, I expect she’ll be in a bit of a tough spot what with the Raven Man, the Onakke spirits, and her demonic contract (though maybe Davriel can help her with that last bit).
Ryan Normandin is a grinder from Boston who has lost at the Pro Tour, in GP & SCG Top 8's, and to 7-year-olds at FNM. Despite being described as "not funny" by his best friend and "the worst Magic player ever" by Twitch chat, he cheerfully decided to blend his lack of talents together to write funny articles about Magic.
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