Charting a Course: Deja Vu All Over Again

Arinceo compares and contrasts the weeks leading up to Winota, Joiner of Force's ban and the most recent weeks of Pioneer competitive play in this edition of his data-driven series.

Competitive Season!

Welcome to the latest edition of Charting a Course! 

The past few weeks has seen a growing focus on the competitive balance in the Pioneer format as the Regional Championships approach next month.

At PlayingPioneer.com, our competitive team has been looking at events each week and the past month has seen two decks sit above the rest – Rakdos Midrange and Green Devotion. Read more about this in Ruckman’s September Monthly Meta Snapshot!

I’m not one to advocate for bans from WotC, but in this week’s article I thought it would be interesting to compare the data before our last bannings to the current state of the meta.

Pre-Ban Winota/EI SNC Season Challenge Results* (12 events)

DeckTop 32sTop 16sTop 8s
Naya Winota522512
Izzet Prowess38167
Rakdos Midrange35187
Izzet Phoenix34197
Azorius Control271312
Mono Red Burn2697
Mono Green Devotion22136
Lotus Field Combo21116
Izzet Control19127
Izzet Base914721

*Next highest number of Top 32 finishes was Boros Heroic and Bant Spirits with 10 each.

Current DMU Season Challenge Results* (11 events)

DeckTop 32sTop 16sTop 8s
Rakdos Midrange704119
Green Devotion492417
Abzan Greasefang24132
Bant Spirits23149
Mono White Humans2284
Sacrifice (Rakdos/Jund)1996
Izzet Phoenix18114
Azorius Control1787

*Recent Pioneer Qualifier only had Top 16 published by WotC.

Now, there’s a lot to discuss about the reasoning behind the bannings of Expressive Iteration and Winota, but looking at the data available there is certainly some similarity with the prevalence of Mono-Green Devotion / Rakdos Midrange currently to that of Winota / Expressive Iteration decks directly before the banning.

As with Winota, Mono-Green Devotion has been a constant presence in the meta for a while now, but recent innovations like the addition of Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset has put the deck over the top in terms of its ability to combo kill an opponent. Perhaps unlike Winota decks though, a potential banning of Karn, the Great Creator wouldn’t destroy the archetype. In last weekend’s MTGO Challenges, we saw this list from Never_DidntHaveIt.

Mono Green
Buy on TCGplayer $367.85
8 mythic
25 rare
10 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (26)
4
Llanowar Elves
$1.56
4
Elvish Mystic
$3.96
2
Paradise Druid
$0.78
4
Old-Growth Troll
$13.96
4
Questing Beast
$39.96
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
13
Forest
$0.13
60 Cards
$345.2
Sideboard
4
Voracious Hydra
$21.96
4
Nullhide Ferox
$7.16
3
Pithing Needle
$2.37
15 Cards
$36.65

This start to the DMU season has been eerily similar to the rise of Izzet Decks at the beginning of SNC season. Bolstered by cards from the new set (Ledger Shredder from SNC, Liliana of the Veil and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse from DMU) these decks have reached a large percentage of tournament winning results, despite being a largely fair strategy. I can see how Fable of the Mirror-Breaker has become a target in ban discussions, much like Expressive Iteration it is being slotted into any deck with its colors and greatly assists decks in smoothing out rough draws thanks to its second chapter.

The ‘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)

*Three events

The last month has been dominated by these two decks, but with only a month until The Brothers’ War releases, we may see the community given the chance to shift the metagame in response to Rakdos Midrange and Mono-Green Devotion rather than see another banning. Indeed in Sunday’s Pioneer Super Qualifier we saw a completely unique Top 8 with zero copies of Rakdos Midrange, though when looking at the Top 32 Green Devotion was by far the dominant deck.

Deck to Watch

White Midrange
Buy on TCGplayer $428.38
4 mythic
45 rare
8 uncommon
19 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Planeswalkers (4)
Artifacts (4)
4
Portable Hole
$15.96
Enchantments (11)
Lands (32)
3
Mountain
$0.03
10
Plains
$0.10
3
Clifftop Retreat
$22.47
4
Field of Ruin
$1.40
1
Raugrin Triome
$14.99
1
Jetmir's Garden
$8.99
4
Sacred Foundry
$79.96
1
Savai Triome
$14.99
80 Cards
$541
15 Cards
$57.87

This past week, we’ve seen the appearance of a White Devotion deck, aiming to outgrind opponents with value thanks to cards like Charming Prince, Serra Paragon, Yorion, Sky Nomad and even Fable of the Mirror-Breaker!

Until Next Time

This weekend you can watch some high-stakes Pioneer in the 2022 Magic Online Champions Showcase Season 2, featuring eight of the best MTGO grinders. The Showcase starts with a Modern Cube Draft followed by a three-round Pioneer Constructed event. Click here for more information!

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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One comment

  1. really good analysis but it seems flawed since we don’t know the number of participants of every deck in each tournament, only the top 32.

    if there were 32 participants and every of them made to the top 32 is something but if there were 184 participants of certain deck and 32 made to the top 32 is other completely different.

    the data is missing for a deeper understanding

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