Ever since the release of Magic: The Gathering's most recent set, Throne of Eldraine, Oko, Thief of Crown has been having a serious impact on almost every single one of the game's myriad of constructed formats. From Standard to Pioneer to Vintage, this extremely-powerful, three-mana Planeswalker has become a staple in some of the best-performing decks, and many players are currently concerned about the card's long-term effects on the game.
Indeed, some fans believe that Magic: The Gathering's Oko, Thief of Crowns is simply too powerful and needs to be banned in several formats. While it remains to be seen if Wizards of the Coast ultimately agrees that Oko's power level warrants bans, the developer did directly address the strength of the elk-producing Planeswalker in a recent stream.
During yesterday's Wizards Plays Magic: The Gathering stream, MTG R&D Game Designer Melissa DeTora and Esports Talent Manager Paul Cheon sat down to play Brawl and answer questions. One of the questions that DeTora and Cheon chose to address was "what happened with Oko," and the response is likely to be in line with many players' expectations.
Specifically, DeTora indicated that Oko was intended to be a strong card in Magic: The Gathering's Standard format, but the strength of its +1 as "a defensive ability to remove other creatures and artifacts" was underestimated. This seems to suggest that Wizards was primarily focused on using Oko's +1 to turn its owner's own creatures and artifacts into elks, rather than using it is a tool to control the opposing side of the board.
Additionally, DeTora stated that "Oko is stronger than [Wizards] thought it would be, and [Wizards is] monitoring the format to see how things are going to shakeup after the Mythic Championship." The Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship that DeTora is referring to is MC6, which is set to take place November 8-10, and pending the results of that tournament, it is possible that the Thief of Crowns could be banned as part of the November 18 banned and restricted announcement.
If WotC ultimately does decide to remove Oko from Standard, it will be the second ban that has occurred since Throne of Eldraine was released. Just last week, Field of the Dead was banned in Standard Magic: The Gathering, and while that seemed like a win to many MTG player, the victory may be bittersweet to those that are currently frustrated by the pervasiveness of Oko, Thief of Crowns.