Pioneer Tier List Update July 12, 2022

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

Click here for the tier list

S Tier

Readers will notice that we’ve decided to forgo the inclusion of an S-tier on this week’s tier list. Despite Rakdos Midrange and Izzet Phoenix placing double the copies of the rest of the decks on the tier list, our competitive guides believe that starting this week’s tier list at A is more emblematic of the power level across the format as opposed to placing decks based purely on raw numbers thanks to deck popularity. With the format seemingly starting to settle into a more stable hierarchy, this can be expected to be the status quo going forward until deck performance shifts enough to warrant the return to S Tier level rankings. 

A Tier

Rakdos Midrange (Down from S Tier) – Rakdos midrange is still considered the premier midrange deck in the format. As more players flock to the format as we’ve been seeing week after week, they’re bound to be attracted to the best versions of their favorite strategies, and a lot of players really enjoy classic thoughtseize based midrange decks. We expect this deck to hold its position for quite a long time coming. 

Izzet Phoenix (Down from S Tier) – Izzet Phoenix is in a similar boat as Rakdos, where the strategy of UR removal spells, cantrips, and a quick finish is just something that appeals to many players. While Phoenix is susceptible to hate spells from the lower tiered decks, it’s also flexible enough to bounce back from them based on the rest of the deck’s construction. We also do not see Phoenix becoming less popular any time soon. 

B Tier

Humans (Up from C Tier) – Another strong showing for Humans this week placing decks in Finals, Top4, and Top8 across this weekend’s challenges. Problem is, there’s still no cohesion or one “correct build” at the moment; which is honestly a pretty good problem to have in terms of flexibility. So whether it’s Jon_W’s budget friendly Mono White, ThatIrishGuy’s concise Bant, or Paulagher13’s Boffum Coco/Pyre build there’s a version of Humans for everyone.

Rakdos Sacrifice (Down from A Tier) – Rakdos sac had a tough weekend, but one Top 8 is still solid and the deck remains extremely powerful thanks to its ability to grind out the long game. Add this to the list of decks that got lift and shifted down a tier this week as the post-ban meta starts to settle in and big moves become less frequent.

Boros Heroic (Down from A Tier) – Heroic rose to prominence primarily due to it’s excellent mono green matchup, but has stuck around as the premier 1-drop tribal aggressive deck of the format. Its resilient plan backed by some powerful protection spells make it difficult to combat without dedicating most of your deck to removing creatures, which combined with its ability to race so well puts it solidly toward the top of the format. 

Mono-Blue Spirits (Down from A Tier) – Blue Spirits also saw a sharp uptick in play and Top 8 results as a direct counter to Mono-Green Karn, but as Mono-Green falls in representation and Phoenix and Rakdos Midrange regain their position as the top-played decks in the Pioneer challenges, it struggles to remain in the top tiers this week. 

Mono-Green Karn (Down from A Tier) – Mono-Green Karn, while very powerful in a vacuum, is steadily proving that it does not have the tools to combat a format that has heavily teched against it. While the plan remains a strong choice for lower power level fields such as FNM, the deck is very much on the decline in the highly competitive scene due to a lack of innovation or capacity to fight back against the hate. We expect this deck to always be lurking around, waiting for its moment to strike when people have forgotten about it, but also to not retake its place as an S+ tier problematic mainstay deserving of a ban. 

Lotus Field (Stable) – Lotus field proves some doubters wrong, winning back-to-back challenges in the hands of two different players. It shows once again that when sideboards aren’t ready for it, it tends to be the best deck in the room. Players looking to hop on the hype train should recognize that while powerful, it can be hard to navigate.

Azorius Control (Stable) – UW Control maintains its spot at B Tier, despite most other decks moving down a peg this week. While having a tough time against Heroic and Mono-Blue Spirits, it has good game against most other decks in A and B tier and can adapt to almost any meta, even splashing into Esper for aggro-heavy metas.

C Tier

Izzet Prowess (Up from D Tier) – Bans be damned, as Izzet mages refuse to give up their quest to find the perfect lists. The recent addition of Of One Mind has really started to re-solidify the Izzet Prowess deck as a legitimate contender in the format.  

Izzet Indomitable Creativity (Up from D Tier) – Possibly a carry-over from Explorer, the deck in its current form has always been viable but has only begun to see extensive play in recent weeks.

Mono-Red Burn (Down from B Tier) – Burn continues to struggle against most of the top-played decks in the current meta, barring only UW Control and Lotus Field. Still, it remains a competitive choice in its current form and can likely adapt to meet the current meta, which is to be seen in the coming weeks.

D Tier

Greasefang (Up from Off Meta) – Greasefang sees a climb this week. If Mono-Green Karn is falling, Greasefang will rise. There are still three variants on the loose in Pioneer (Esper, Abzan and Mardu), but we’re seeing the Esper variant almost exclusively at this point.

Enigmatic Fires (Up from Off Meta) – The recent fall of Mono-Blue Spirits and Mono-Green Karn has made this toolbox deck rise up from off meta and back onto the tier list. While the deck has good matchups against the midrange decks at the top of the meta, it can struggle at times with other matchups. Faster aggressive decks that have disruption or protection can get under the deck; control decks can fight it on the stack, and combo decks look to beat it quickly. As such, the deck does lean heavily on its toolbox to secure these various matchups. However, given its flexibility, it can become a contender in nearly any metagame with the right pilot and the right toolbox.

  • 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.

  • 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 / Graphics

    rose-emoji started playing Magic: The Gathering during Battle for Zendikar, then took a break from the game until Throne of Eldraine. Pioneer got him back into Magic full-force, and the launch of Arena on mobile hooked him in forever. Now that his favorite format is working its way onto Arena, he can be found grinding the format to death. Only ever Grixis colors, but sometimes he can have a little Jund as a treat.

  • 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.

  • Guest Author

    Christian, aka Sir EPIC, has been playing Magic since the days of Kaladesh and enjoyed Frontier before Pioneer existed. Naturally, when Pioneer was announced, he fell in love with the format - a love that is only exceeded by his love for Enchantments. Today, you can find him making Enchantments work at the highest level possible.

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