Charting a Course – Balance in the Meta?

Arinceo breaks down the week of Pioneer data to provide a glimpse into the future of the format.

Welcome to the latest edition of Charting a Course! 

We’re nearing the end of the Dominaria United season, and in the few weeks since our last look at the meta-game, we’ve seen some changes in the format.

‘Most Dominant’ Decks of the Week

WeekMost Top 32sMost Top 16sMost Top 8s
Sept 3-4Rakdos Midrange (9)Rakdos Midrange (6)Rakdos Midrange (3)
Sept 10-11Rakdos Midrange (11)Rakdos Midrange (7)Rakdos Midrange (5)
Sept 17-18Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (13)Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (7)Green Devotion (5)
Sept 24-25Rakdos Midrange (22)Rakdos Midrange (10)Rakdos Midrange (7)
Oct 1-2*Rakdos Midrange (15)Rakdos Midrange (11)Green Devotion (6)
Oct 8-9Rakdos Midrange (10)Green Devotion, Mono White Humans (5)Green Devotion (4)
Oct 15-16Green Devotion (16)Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (7)Rakdos Midrange, Izzet Phoenix (3)
Oct 22-23Green Devotion (14)Green Devotion (8)Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (3)
Oct 29-30Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion (8)Green Devotion (5)Green Devotion, Keruga Fires (3)
Nov 5-6Izzet Phoenix (10)Izzet Phoenix (6)Green Devotion, Izzet Phoenix (3)

*Three events

Since its success at the Magic Online Champions Showcase, Izzet Phoenix has been on a steady rise in results and this past weekend, finishing with the most MTGO Challenge Top 32, 16 and 8 finishes of any deck. With Rakdos Midrange on the downswing and also running less copies of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Phoenix pilots have found favorable conditions to succeed. With the Challenger Deck now released as well, expect to see a few more people picking up the deck at your local store in the coming weeks!

Since the banning of Yorion in Modern there has been an uptick in decks using Keruga, the Macrosage in its place. Interestingly, the Dinosaur Hippo has seen a subsequent increase in Pioneer play, with the Keruga Fires decks putting up great results over the past two weeks.

4 Color Keruga Fires
Pioneer
Buy on TCGplayer $614.25
10 mythic
45 rare
0 uncommon
5 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Sorceries (1)
1
Supreme Verdict
$6.49
Enchantments (16)
4
Leyline Binding
$59.96
Lands (28)
1
Forest
$0.01
1
Island
$0.01
1
Mountain
$0.01
2
Plains
$0.02
4
Fabled Passage
$25.96
1
Ketria Triome
$18.99
1
Temple Garden
$16.99
1
Steam Vents
$19.99
4
Raugrin Triome
$59.96
2
Stomping Ground
$31.98
2
Jetmir's Garden
$17.98
2
Sacred Foundry
$39.98
1
Raffine's Tower
$14.99
60 Cards
$620.3
15 Cards
$102.81

The Keruga Fires decks aim to play a turn-one Triome followed by a turn-two shockland, enabling either the Stomp half of Bonecrusher Giant or an early Leyline Binding to pick off a key opposition threat. There is a full playset of Temporary Lockdown in the main as well, which works well against the aggro decks but also efficiently answers some of the faster ramping starts from the Green Devotion decks.

Deck to Watch

Perhaps triggered by the release of the challenger deck, Dimir Control has seen a resurgence in recent weeks, with Powen taking down the October 30th challenge and well-known pro Gabriel Nassif also finishing in the Top 8 of the same challenge with the deck.

Spice Corner

Mono-Black
Buy on TCGplayer $684.94
10 mythic
29 rare
0 uncommon
21 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (15)
4
Cryptbreaker
$31.96
4
Shambling Ghast
$2.36
2
Lazotep Reaver
$0.50
Instants (8)
4
Fatal Push
$19.96
4
Deadly Dispute
$11.16
Sorceries (9)
4
Thoughtseize
$87.96
4
Dark Salvation
$1.40
Artifacts (1)
Lands (23)
11
Swamp
$3.85
4
Mutavault
$35.96
4
Castle Locthwain
$11.96
60 Cards
$765.42
Sideboard
2
Cut Down
$3.98
3
Noxious Grasp
$1.05
1
Duress
$0.25
2
Go Blank
$4.58
2
Pithing Needle
$1.58
15 Cards
$148.39

LORiWWA has been refining this Mono-Black Zombies deck for a few weeks now and was rewarded with a Top 8 finish in the November 6th Pioneer Challenge! Lazotep Reaver is not a card many expected to be constructed playable, but the overall synergy of the deck combined with the raw power of Liliana of the Veil and Sheoldred seems to get the job done!

Until Next Time

This weekend SCG is hosting a Pioneer 30k tournament in our last days before the release of The Brothers’ War set and the US Regional Championships the following week. We’ll be back to look at the DMU season as a whole and hopefully some new innovations from the latest set!
If there’s anything you’d like to see me examine further in these articles, you can reach me on Twitter and Reddit, or on our PlayingPioneer Discord if you are signed up to our Patreon.

  • Author/Data Coordinator

    Arinceo has been in an on/off relationship with Magic since cracking his first packs in 2004. After watching his beloved Hardened Scales deck suffer the loss of Walking Ballista he jumped back into Pioneer following the release of the 2021 challenger decks and is active in the community on the PioneerMTG subreddit and Twitter. Arinceo compiles most of the competitive data used on our meta data page and elsewhere.

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