Post-Ban Pioneer Tier List Update June 9

An explanation of the Pioneer tier list placements post-Winota ban.

Note: This week’s Pioneer tier list is based more on the subjective views of our competitive team post-Winota and Expressive Iteration ban than it is based on the data we normally use to guide our tier list updates. Next week’s tier list will return to being more data-driven, as we will have weekend challenge data to analyze.

Click here for the tier list

S Tier

RB Midrange (Stable): In our eyes, Rakdos remains a top pick, even with UW Control and Green Karn theoretically rising to the top of the meta. It’s very possible we could see this drop out of S Tier over the next two weekends, however.

UW Control (Up): UW Control will always benefit from a smaller metagame. Without Winota lurking in the meta, UW control can drop a lot of sideboard slots. This, coupled with losing a few of the more powerful decks, means UW Control can tune its mainboard and sideboard for fewer matchups. UR decks will now struggle with card advantage against UW Control, with the banning of Expressive Iteration. Control will always be powerful when it has less to worry about.

A Tier

Lotus Field (Up): Lotus field benefits from the bans in a weird way. Winota was a horrible matchup, with it gone that is one less thing to worry about. But Lotus Field really benefits because it is good against some of the other winners. Lotus needs time, and two very powerful aggressive decks have fallen (Winota and UR Prowess). Players will flock to Lotus as it is the most broken thing left to do in the format. Therefore, it will see an uptick in play and results.

Mono-Green Karn (Up): Mono Green Karn is a deck that has been floating around in the tiers since its creation. At one point, it reigned supreme. The decks that pushed it out of the metagame were largely Izzet Phoenix and Winota. With those decks nerfed (or completely gone), Mono Green Karn can once again rise to the top. Mono-Green Karn is strong setting up and going over the top. It has difficult creatures to kill and powerful planeswalkers. Its low interaction was what made it vulnerable.

Mono-Red (Up): With Winota and Prowess being bumped down, Mono-Red prevails as the fastest fair deck in the format, and is always a great choice for metas that have not yet settled. Plus, with the projected rise of UW Control, Burn should have some strongly favored matchups in its future.

B Tier

Phoenix (Down): Being hit pretty hard with the Expressive Iteration ban, we’re not comfortable dumping the deck anywhere below B Tier for this initial tier list. It is to be seen how the deck adapts, but we do not believe it was hit as hard by the ban as the Prowess deck was.

Heroic (Up): As aggressive players move away from Winota and search for decks that scratch the same itch, the potential explosiveness and resilience of Boros Heroic is sure to be a draw. With the decks ability to pivot into a controlling role in the aggro mirror, it offers flexibility while providing a different approach that players who don’t enjoy mono red may be searching for. It has also opened up in terms of sideboard slots as it no longer needs to combat the great winota menace, and has been given the opportunity to show off how adaptive the archetype can be. Losing two of it’s worst matchup means that it’s one of those poised for a breakthrough, though it could potentially struggle if Rakdos steps up to dominate the meta game. 

Rakdos Sacrifice (Up): For a deck that looked to grind opponents out in the long game, the loss of Expressive Iteration comes as a major boon. Winota was also a historically bad matchup for the deck, so once again a major boon for Sacl. However, the loss of Winota means that Anvil’s natural predator, Karn, has also moved up the food chain. The recent pivot away from Oni-Cult Anvil should help prevent the deck from being completely shut off by Karn.

MU Spirits (Up): Looking at the other decks set to take the top spots on the tier list, Mono-Blue Spirits looks well-positioned as a counter-meta tempo deck, going underneath UW Control, countering combo pieces in Mono-Green and Lotus Field, and having an about even matchup with Rakdos Midrange. Winota wasn’t an impossible matchup for spirits, but it certainly wasn’t favored. Prowess, on the other hand, was significantly more difficult. Depending on the prevalence of Mono-Red, we could see Blue Spirits rise even higher over the next couple of weeks.

C Tier

Prowess (Down): The Expressive Iteration ban hurt Prowess quite a bit, but before we decide that the deck is “dead”, we’re comfortable placing it in C Tier and seeing how it adapts and where it goes from here.

Greasefang (Up): Greasefang decks had a strong weekend, putting multiple people in the Top 16. The appeal to Greasefang was its excellent Winota matchup and the fall of Mono-Green Karn. Going forward with the bans, I would be hesitant to play Greasefang. 

Niv (Up): With this format looking to get a bit more fair, there’s nothing better to bring to a midrange fight than Niv. This deck dominates RB Midrange, and any other decks that aren’t trying to kill you quickly. Due to lack of diverse data with this deck, we aren’t able to put it on any higher pedestal. 

Angels (Up): Angels could never beat Winota. Ever. Even though your creatures could sometimes be a bit bigger than theirs, they were able to overwhelm you eventually. Now that Angels doesn’t need to worry about that matchup, the deck is able to dedicate a lot more of its sideboard slots to beating removal-heavy decks, with cards like Shapers’ Sanctuary. This deck may not be able to interact well with the Ramp or Combo decks, however, which is why it’s not able to move up any further.

D Tier

Bant Spirits (Stable): Unlike its mono-colored sibling, Bant Spirits is going to run up against several hostile matchups that can leverage their way around Spell Queller. The expected uptick in Mono-Green Karn presents a lot of spells that Spell Queller can’t interact with like Storm the Festival and Cavalier of Thorns. Meanwhile, the lack of extra counterspells like Lofty Denial and Geistlight Snare means that decks like Rakdos Midrange can set up a cascading wave of removal spells if they can pick off a Queller holding onto something like a Dreadbore.

Atarka Ramp (New): A new take on a tried and true strategy, Eldrazi Green is a deck that constantly makes a splash and disappears just as quickly as it appeared. For a fun splashy deck it packs quite the punch being able to quickly play out a World Breaker or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This time around, it’s also added red to play big momma Dragonlord Atarka to clean up all the little creatures sitting on the opponent’s side of the board. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Competitive Guide

    Sam is an OG Pioneer player, brewing decks with his team since day one of this format, fleshing out the early metagame with the rest of the MTGO grinders. He knows the ins and outs of the format and spends way too much time playing it. He is known for creating Jeskai Lukka Fires, World Tree Combo, and Omnath Turns, and continues to create new and awesome decks while providing video content for all to consume.

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