Pioneer Tier List Update August 2, 2022

An explanation of this week's Pioneer tier list movements and placements.

Click here for the tier list

S Tier

Rakdos Midrange (Up from A Tier) – Surprising to no one, Pioneer’s premier midrange deck has once again made it’s way into S tier. As RCQ season comes into full swing, competitive grinders picking up the format for the first time or with the capacity to change decks each week will want to at least try their hand at something sturdy and reliable, and Rakdos fits the bill. While still non-problematic, Rakdos’s win rate is likely to be generally uncontested in the weeks to come. 

A Tier

Mono Green Karn (Up from B Tier) – As the number of Rakdos decks in the format continues to rise and prey on the hyper-aggressive decks in the format, it just makes sense to see a corresponding rise in Mono Green to prey on this favorable matchup as well. Not everyone will be happy with every deck in the current Pioneer meta, but this Rock-Paper-Scissors style of matchups is an indicator of a relatively healthy format.

Azorius Control (Down from S Tier) – Azorius Control ran into a brick wall of Rakdos this week, which isn’t a great place for Control to be. Not to let that discourage players from taking it to any upcoming RCQs though, as the deck still performs at a highly competitive level and rewards meta knowledge. Additional reps and general meta knowledge will take an Azorius Control pilot far, even in rougher fields. 

Izzet Phoenix (Down from S Tier) – Phoenix will likely always be near the top of the format with its extreme consistency and flexibility, however the deck is susceptible to being hated on if players are generally prepared for the matchup. While not every week is going to be Phoenix’s week to shine, those weeks will surely come and go frequently as players choose the decks that they’re willing to lose to when constructing main and side boards. 

Rakdos Sacrifice (Stable) – Sacrifice continues to hold it’s position as the go-to rakdos deck to beat on other Rakdos decks. Sacrifice has a myriad of favorable matchups and the ability to grind well against anything in the field. While being very open to getting hated out might keep it out of S tier, the deck has essentially solidified it’s place toward the top of the format as the grind-em-out deck of choice.  

B Tier

Abzan Greasefang (Up from C Tier) – As the rat pilot enthusiasts continue to look for the best shells for their beloved two turn combo, it appears that once again the best offense is a good offense as the Greasers continue to rely on the all-in abzan version. This deck provides the fastest reliable routes to the combo, and as the Karn menace has generally subsided, avoiding those longer and drawn out battles is leading to the most success here. It may be wise for fans of greasefang to pick up the materials for any version of the deck, as the archetype has proven the most flexible in terms of ebbing and flowing with the format as it shifts. 

Boros Heroic (Up from C Tier) – Previously the champion of the mono-green meta, Heroic has somewhat maintained it’s positioning as a general metagame force for it’s deft speed and sheer explosiveness that some decks struggle to beat. A common addage when deciding which deck to pick up is to play the deck that wins the fastest, and heroic has some of the most consistently fast kills in the format. We expect to see this deck in some capacity for quite a while to come. 

Mono White Humans (Stable) – Officially securing the title of “best budget deck in the format”, mono white humans has surpassed mono blue spirits both in performance and price. The little aggro deck that could is still riding hard on the sheer power of Brave the Elements combined with some simple disruption and powerful beaters to provide a clock that is proving difficult to race for many decks in the format.

C Tier

Bant Spirits (Up from D Tier) – When the best aggressive decks in the format start moving from Red or Black based decks with a ton of removal spells, to White decks that just put bodies into play, it makes a lot of sense that Bant Spirits performs a bit better in this metagame. The flying bodies are usually enough to win the creature mirrors, and this deck also sports a much better Rakdos Midrange matchup due to the raw power of Collected Company.

Mono Blue Spirits (Down from B Tier) – Mono Blue Spirits is a classic “stick a threat and protect the house” tempo strategy that relies on card advantage, cheap interaction, and cheaper threats. Unfortunately, the Rakdos decks have A LOT of removal for game one, and even more so for games two and three, meaning the matchup tends to be very hostile for the Spirits player. However, if decks like Mono Green start picking up to combat Rakdos, it might be time to head back to the mausoleums.

Pyre Humans (Down from B Tier) – As removal focused decks like Rakdos and Phoenix continue their reign over the metagame, creature focused decks such as humans are going to continue to lag behind, as their primary position in such a format is to beat the decks that beat the best decks, the paper in the scissors metagame if you will. The pyre builds featuring extraction specialist are the best suited to fighting against the removal heavy matchups, but on the whole the archetype seems to be less favored as the top decks solidify themselves. 

Jund Food (Stable) – As the Karn menace seemingly dissipates, artifact based decks are once again allowed to flourish. Jund food has a generally good matchup against Rakdos as well as the majority of creature decks in the format, and it’s grind-em-out style play is similar to Rakdos Sac while being less susceptibile to traditional disruption. While we don’t foresee Food becoming the dominant grindy strategy, we expect it to remain a force in the meta game as it’s parts are generally cheap, and the deck is flexible enough to adjust to major metagame shifts. 

Mono Red Aggro (Stable) – With Rakdos as one of it’s worse matchups, mono red has really struggled to get a foothold in today’s metagame. The deck is still quick and low to the ground, but many decks are capable of combatting that these days. We believe that the general popularity of the challenger decks was both a boon and then a name for mono red, as it was undeniably one of the most popular “first pioneer decks” for many players. Whether via this and the general awareness of the deck that it made or because of a lack of innovation, mono red has slowly descended from it’s place at the top of the leaderboard. While we enjoy it’s presence in the format, we expect that without a large shakeup in either the metagame or the decks general construction, it will continue to fall in placement in the coming weeks. 

D Tier

Gruul Titan (Up from Off-Meta) – This week saw a slight uptick in explorative strategies, with two Gruul Titan players performing well enough to meet our metrics. While the deck can be explosive and difficult to answer for some strategies, these gruul colored combo style decks are consistently missing something that’s keeping them from performing at a high level regularly. Whether that’s down to card pool availability or player ingenuity is yet to be determined, but we do enjoy seeing these pseudo-rogue strategies popping up from time to time to keep the more popular decks honest. 

  • Competitive Team Lead

    KarnageKardsENT has been playing Magic since Scars of Mirrodin. During the Pandemic, he moved to playing MTGO. Today, you can find him playing Pioneer, Modern and sometimes Standard. A mainstay in the Pioneer Challenges, Karnage can be found at Most Eastern F2F stops in Canada.

  • Publisher

    ServoToken has been playing competitive magic since 2011, spending a majority of that time living in the shoes of a player on a strict budget. After investing a lot of time learning how to make the best of a bad situation, his goals today are to spread those lessons to the often-ignored population of Magic players who can’t afford to drop a car payment on a new deck every couple of months. His mantra is that “You don’t need to play mono-red to do well on a budget”. These days, you can typically find him deep in the archives of Scryfall searching for new cards to brew around or making tweaks to the Pioneer Budget deck spreadsheet on his unending mission to bring his favorite format to the people on the cheap.

  • Editor-In-Chief

    Having started playing Magic shortly before the release of Return to Ravnica, Ruckman’s Magic lifespan covers the breadth of the Pioneer format. Despite not being a stranger to the Top 8 tables of the old IQ and PTQ systems, most of his competitive experience comes from the other side of the event space, where he served more than five years as a level-two judge, only hanging up the black shirt for good at the beginning of 2022. Currently, you can find him making Pioneer content for Crew3 on your favorite podcasting platform or on Twitch/YouTube.

  • Author

    Anthony dove into Magic with the release of Guilds of Ravnica, getting heavy exposure to the game as a co-owner of an LGS. An avid fan of Draft, Modern, Pioneer, and Explorer, he loves brewing midrange and control decks, but always seems to find his way back to UW Spirits.

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