When it comes to the wide world of speedrunning, Magic: the Gathering may not be the first game you think of. Instead, you might sensibly think of games like Minecraft, Super Mario 64, or, somewhat bizarrely, Subway Surfers. While these three games are the most popular titles on speedrun.com, they’re hardly the only games being played. In fact, give avid speedrunners a goal, and they’ll speedrun just about anything. This is evidenced by speedrun.com having over 33,315 games and 3,696,551 runs within its database. Subsequently, while it might not be the most obvious choice, keen players have absolutely attempted to speedrun various MTG games. Unfortunately, however, as interesting and impressive as these runs are, they do expose some of the game’s more problematic flaws.
I Feel the Need… The Need for Speed!
While speedrunning has seen a boom in popularity recently thanks to high-profile content creators, MTG speedruns aren’t a new innovation. On speedrun.com, for instance, there are runs of Magic 2015 that are over seven years old. Older still are a handful of runs for the beloved Magic: the Gathering (Shandalar) game from back in 1997! When it comes to doing an MTG speedrun today, however, the most obvious choice has been MTG Arena. It may lack a dedicated campaign, but that hasn’t stopped speedrunners from devising creative and impressive categories to compete in.
Among these categories, the “vs Bot” run has proven to be the most popular. As the name suggests, in this run, players compete to beat the Sparky bot in the fastest time possible. At the time of writing, this record sits at just 26 seconds, thanks to a Channel + Lightning Serpent combo. While this run is undeniably impressive, some players have been seemingly been left wanting more. In search of a greater challenge, one MTG content creator has recently gone above and beyond in their own phenomenally impressive speedrun.
Taking on the MTG Arena ladder, content creator Crokeyz recently attempted to go from Zero to Mythic in the fastest time possible. To do this, Crokeyz built the best mono-red deck they could on a budget and got to work. While this deck initially wasn’t perfect due to a lack of wildcards, it was more than good enough to get the job done. Subsequently, after 10 hours, 23 minutes, and 23 seconds, Crokeyz achieved what they set out to do, attaining Mythic rank. Crokeyz played an impressive 155 games throughout this grueling run, achieving a 72% win rate overall.
A Controversial Crown
Without an official leaderboard, it’s unclear if Crokeyz actually holds the World Record for this speedrun as they claim. That being said, however, it is entirely possible since this may be the first MTG speedrun using this rule set. Whatever the case, the feat that Crokeyz achieved is undeniably impressive, especially considering it was done on a brand-new free-to-play account. Once news of this achievement reached Reddit, several MTG players were understandably impressed by Crokeyz’s record. Others, however, were more critical, highlighting how their success isn’t too surprising.
“That makes sense, he’s very good, and new accounts face other new accounts – who are in general very bad,” u/_cob commented on Reddit. Due to this sensible aspect of matchmaking, Crokeyz was understandably able to blitz through the early ranks on MTG Arena. Even before their deck was at full power, Crokeyz was in and out of the Bronze, Silver, and Gold ranks in just three hours. After this, Crokeyz’s progression slowed somewhat as Arena’s matchmaking system eventually adapted to their impressive win rate and evident skill. Thanks to this, Crokeyz faced harder and more competent opponents over time, however, many players highlighted Arena’s matchmaking problems.
As we covered back in July of last year, it appeared that MTG Arena had a major matchmaking flaw. Due to a glitch in the system, wins in MTG Arena were granting more MMR (Matchmaking Rating) than losses. Over time, this skewed the traditional curve of MMR graphs, creating incredibly long tails around the median rank. Due to this fault, new players, or fresh accounts, could storm through to Mythic rank with incredible ease. While seemingly harmless, this bug threatened to ruin the game for new MTG players, posing a huge problem for the game’s growth.
Chance for Glory
Thankfully, as u/Viktar33 highlighted on Reddit, it seems since June 2022, Wizards has issued fixes to mitigate this issue. Or, at least, to fix the bug which allowed a player’s MMR to be visible, hiding the problem from view. Unfortunately, with MMR no longer visible, it’s unclear if this problematic ranking distribution is still in use. Considering Crokeyz did end up playing against tougher opponents, we can only hope improvements have been made. For better or worse, however, we just don’t know without official word from Wizards.
In any case, regardless of MTG Arena’s matchmaking quirks, Crokeyz’s record is an incredibly impressive one. So much so that potentially, this category could become the next big thing for MTG Arena speedrunning. Admittedly, considering the run is dominated by RNG and subject to changes thanks to Standard rotation, it’s probably not the ideal category. That said, however, it still looks like an awful lot of fun for players interested in giving it a go.