Pioneer Primer – April 19, 2022

In the first edition of Arinceo's Pioneer Primer, he discusses the God of Pioneer tournament, this weekend's challenge results and looks forward to the next week of Pioneer.

Prime Speaker Arinceo

Welcome to the Pioneer Primer! I’m your host, Arinceo, and we’re going to take a look at the last week’s events and results in the format as we enter the final weeks of the Neon Dynasty format and prepare for Streets of New Capenna.

God of Pioneer

This week, Hareuya hosted the seventh edition of their popular God of Pioneer tournaments, featuring over 200 players. Our very own Ryan, aka TheJapanHobbyist, was on-site as a player in the field and provided some great coverage of the event, and also interviewed World Champion Yuuta Takahashi about his thoughts on the Pioneer format!

The event featured a varied Top 8, with some differences in the larger field to what you might normally see in MTGO Challenges, most notably the higher presence of all the different builds of Spirits.

Full Event Breakdown

Archetype

Full field

Field %

Top 16

Top 16 Conversion %

Top 8

Mono Red Burn

25

11.63%

1

4%

1

Rakdos Midrange

20

9.30%

1

5%

0

Izzet Phoenix

17

7.91%

1

5.88%

0

Naya Winota

17

7.91%

3

17.65%

1

Greasefang Variants

15

6.98%

1

6.67%

1

Azorius Control

13

6.05%

1

7.69%

0

Lotus Field Combo

12

5.58%

1

8.33%

0

Bant Spirits

8

3.72%

1

12.5%

1

Mono Green Devotion

7

3.26%

1

14.29%

0

Rakdos Anvil

6

2.79%

1

16.67%

1

Azorius Spirits

6

2.79%

0

0

Niv to Light

5

2.33%

0

0

0

Mono Blue Spirits

5

2.33%

1

20% 

1

Other

43

20%

3

6.98%

2

Izzet Control, which has been very popular online in recent weeks, fell into the “Other” category for this event. This could be down to paper play being a little slower to adapt, as people need to order new cards or trade to change decks rather than simply rent from an online service for MTGO. Regardless, Ryohei Kobayashi was able to pilot the deck to 4th place in the Swiss before losing in the semi-finals.

Our remaining two ‘Others in the Top 16 were Yuki Mitsunaga on Vampires (7th in Swiss, losing semi-finalist) and Kengo Shibasaki on Azorius Ensoul (10th in Swiss) – both archetypes which have been long-absent in the higher results of MTGO events.

Yuki was sporting a Mono-Black Vampires build rather than the Orzhov versions featuring Edgar, Charmed Groom we’ve seen online since Crimson Vow released. The sideboard was well-tuned for the Winota matchup with the inclusion of Lifebane Zombie.

Azorius Ensoul has taken a huge hit with the ban of Luurus, but Jegantha slots straight into the companion slot as an additional beater, with Blackstaff of Waterdeep dropped in favour of more copies of Patchwork Automaton when compared to the pre-ban lists seen online.

In the end though, Yusuke Matsubara was able to take down the event, before then defeating the reigning ‘God’ the following day in a best of seven against Naya Winota! If you are fine watching Japanese language coverage you can watch the Hareuya Top 8 stream recording here and the God playoff here.

Yusuke’s list drops Voldaren Epicure from the traditional Mardu Greasefang list in favour of some more powerful options – extra copies of Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and Thoughtseize. This does reduce the chances of a turn-three Parhelion, but clearly in this instance it was not an issue.

Saturday MTGO Challenge

Izzet Control continued its recent rise in the MTGO meta with a win in the Saturday challenge, courtesy of Sarlanga. However, what’s more interesting is the decklist from the losing finalist, well-known MTGO brewer SeventhProphet – Mono White Book Devotion.

There’s some cool innovations in the list from earlier iterations that have popped up in the past, most notably Golos, Tireless Pilgrim as a way to fetch out the various utility lands. Golos can be tutored for with Search for Glory and Thalia’s Lancers and the same applies to Karn, the Great Creator and the toolbox sideboard artifacts.

Event Meta Breakdown – Full Decklists

Deck

Top 32

Top 16Top 8
Izzet Control532
Azorius Control521
Mono Green Devotion421
Naya Winota300
Rakdos Midrange300
Other1294

Devoted to Green

The real story of this challenge from a ‘tier deck’ perspective was the return of Mono Green Devotion as a metagame force, following the latest innovation of the deck by Kanister earlier this week.

The addition of the Pestilent Cauldron/Restorative Burst combo gives the deck an explosive way to close out games instead of relying on steadily grinding opponents down with multiple turns of attacking with creatures.

The impact of this discovery is clear, with four pilots finishing in the Top 32, the first time more than a single player has achieved this in a challenge since March 13th playing the deck and the first Top 8 since March 12th. Expect this deck to be a threat in the coming weeks, and a reminder that there are still innovations to be made within the format in the current card pool!

Sunday MTGO Challenge

DeckTop 32Top 16Top 8
Izzet Control721
Izzet Phoenix520
Lotus Field Combo311
Rakdos Midrange310
Rakdos CatAnvil211
Jund Sacrifice220
Other1075

As players adjusted from the Saturday Challenge meta, many players dropped Azorius Control and Mono Green Devotion, the latter perhaps due to the buzz the deck was generating after a good showing the previous day and expecting a counter-attack from the meta. The numbers in the Top 32 showed Izzet as the favoured control build, but in the end it was TunakTunak who took down the whole event with Yorion Azorius Control.

For the third time in less than a month, the entire Top 8 featured eight different archetypes – extending all the way down to 11th in this instance. Ten of these 11 were decks that people have seen in and around the top end of events in previous weeks, with the outlier being Mono White Humans from theOTB. 

Having watched several iterations multicoloured Humans lists thrown around in recent weeks, there is some refreshing simplicity in this deck, with the single colour allowing for a full playset of Mutavault, but also a maindeck copy of Archon of Emeria and two more in the sideboard to punish the greedier manabases we’ve seen of late. There is also some new tech in Hopeful Initiate, which provides much-needed interaction with artifacts and enchantments while also synergizing well with Thalia’s Lieutenant.

Next Week

With Streets of New Capenna releasing on MTGO on the 28th, this upcoming weekend will provide the last round of events before we start to see new cards impacting the meta – though this will be limited in the first couple of weeks or so due to online card availability. You can check out our current meta data here, and I’ll be aiming to do a wrap-up of the NEO season of MTGO events next week!

Until then, check out our Welcome Week articles on the website; in particular our thoughts on the new set so you know what to look for in your Sealed pools to add to your Pioneer decks! 

For an analysis on some of the weekend’s results above, check out our Tier List.

  • 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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