Pioneer Breakdown – April 24, 2022

Data man Arinceo discusses results from the most recent Challenges as well as the Season Wrap up in this edition of the Pioneer Breakdown.

Arinceo, Master Arithromancer

Welcome to the Pioneer Breakdown! I’m your host arinceo, and this week we’re looking at the weekend’s MTGO challenges and analysing some data on the Neon Dynasty season of MTGO before Streets of New Capenna releases this week!

Saturday MTGO Challenge

There’s been plenty of talk about Winota this week in the context of the newly-announced Explorer format for MTG Arena, with Winota set to be a major force in the format while other tier decks in Pioneer are missing key pieces.

While Winota has been on a poor run of results in Pioneer of late compared to its hype, the deck showed it’s capable of putting up a result if the meta is not prepared. Matias De la Parra took down the Saturday challenge, winning every match after a first round loss to Mono Green Devotion. This is the first time Winota has finished in the finals of a Top 8 since March 13th.

Event Meta Breakdown – Full Decklists

ArchetypeTop 32Top 16Top 8
Mono Green Devotion940
Izzet Phoenix411
Rakdos Midrange331
Naya Winota322
Izzet Control221
Mono Blue Spirits210
Mono Red Burn200
Other733

The real stars of the challenge though were the decks that finished 2nd to 4th – with laa11 finishing as runner-up with a wild Golos, Tireless Pilgrim / Fires of Invention deck.

There’s a lot to unpack here – the manabase core is Blue/Red, but then runs a playset of Cascading Cataracts plus a copy of The World Tree, both of which can be fetched out by Golos and thereafter pay for its activated ability. Farewell is run as a catch-all sweeper but there’s also Anger of the Gods for the aggro decks and plenty of targeted removal as well to survive while the deck’s engine gets online.

The next two finishers were both Devotion decks powered by Nykthos; SeventhProphet running the Mono White list we profiled in last week’s article; and MOAOZIS playing a sweet Mono Black Devotion deck.

The key element of this deck is Wishclaw Talisman, which can be use to pull out relevant answers like The Meathook Massacre, Bloodchief’s Thirst and Thoughtseize, but also complete a combo kill with Underworld Dreams and Peer into the Abyss.

Sunday MTGO Challenge

Despite a lower number of representatives in the Top 32, Sunday’s challenge was successful for Mono Green Devotion, putting two pilots into the Top 8 and seeing McWinSauce split the finals with remf on Bant Spirits

Perhaps sensing that the meta was unprepared for the deck in this event, three Lotus Field Combo players ending up in the Top 16 and cws finishing in the Top 8.

Event Meta Breakdown – Full Decklists

DeckTop 32Top 16Top 8
Mono Green Devotion732
Naya Winota511
Lotus Field Combo331
Mono Red Burn321
Izzet Phoenix310
Enigmatic Fires211
Izzet Control210
Other742

It was a surprising performance from Bant Spirits, which has fallen off in favour of the Mono Blue version of the deck in recent weeks but secured its first Top 8 since March 26. The event also marked a first Top 8 appearance for NJAMTG and the Enigmatic Fires deck, also featuring a second pilot in the Top 32 after placing 23rd in the Saturday challenge.

Season Wrap-Up

DeckVOW Top 8NEO Top 8Top 32Conversion %
Izzet Phoenix35237431.08%
Azorius Control10227330.14%
Naya Winota11156622.73%
Lotus Field Combo16155726.32%
Blood Sacrifice7134528.89%
Rakdos Midrange9124626.09%
Izzet Control2113333.33%
Vampires20070%
Jeskai Ascendancy Combo1631520.00%
Boros Heroic1441330.77%
Mono Red Burn1493625.00%
Jund Sacrifice1363020.00%

The table above includes the archetypes that achieved 10 or more Top 8s in the NEO season, the number of Top 32s and the conversion percentage from T32 into T8. I’ve also added a column including Top 8s from VOW season based on my previous data compilation, and then included additional rows in the table to see how successful VOW decks have dropped off in the NEO season.

Phoenix is rewarded for its overall consistency with 23 top 8 finishes and the highest number of 32s as well, but unlike VOW season was matched all the way by Azorius Control (and Blood Sacrifice before the Luurus ban).

It’s interesting to note that Winota had a much lower conversion rate than the other top tier decks, but that does reflect the nature of the deck – an early unanswered Winota will close the game out early but sometimes you don’t draw it fast enough or the opponent has the correct removal. 

Izzet Control is a big mover in NEO season, and has also really picked up the majority of its results in the past few weeks with a solid conversion rate – it will be interesting to see if this can be sustained over the coming months as we head into Streets of New Capenna season.

If you want to dive into this season data further, click here to check out the full spreadsheet.

Next Week

We celebrate release weekend next week, but also the finals for this month’s Manatraders event, which usually features a large field of some of the best MTGO players.

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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