Last week in Pioneer 6-20-24
June 21, 2024
By darthjacen

How’s it going everyone! It’s once again time to look at the week that was in Pioneer and look at some of the interesting decks that were able to steal some top spots in last week’s challenges. If you are looking for some more forward-facing data analysis or want to know what you should be playing in your upcoming RCQ, be sure to check out Sam’s latest article!

But for now, let’s dive right into the data!  

Looking at the Data

Starting out, we have the overall metagame. With seventeen percent of the metagame, this week like many others, belongs to Vampires. However, we have finally seen Amalia uproot Phoenix for this week with fourteen percent of the overall metagame vs Phoenix’s eleven. In line with the discussion from last week, devotion also joins these top decks with ten percent of the metagame. These four decks account for over fifty percent of the overall metagame last week and need your consideration when determining what you want to play moving forward.

Moving on, we see a huge clumping of other decks with a marked drop-off. Usually, we see a few decks hanging around between ten percent and five percent to ease the transition from top decks to the more mid-tier decks. This week, the numbers all fell such that Gruul Aggro, Rakdos Midrange, Azorius Spirits, and Niv all had four percent of the metagame with Quint combo and Azorius Control sitting at three percent. With only 763 results this week rather than the normal 1000+, likely from the launch of MH3 drawing more players to Modern, it isn’t shocking to see some dip in the play rate of some of these decks. Still, it’s worth seeing if the clear drop-off remains present once we move towards the premier metagame.

Here we see Vampires hold onto first place with seventeen percent, but second place is much more hotly contested. Phoenix and Amalia each sit with thirteen percent, showing that in the premier events, Phoenix is still a little more of a go-to deck for the players in these events. Unsurprisingly, Devotion rounds out the top 4 with eleven percent.

This time, though, we see Azorius Spirits and Rakdos Mid each move up to five percent with Gruul Aggro just below at four percent. The large clump of three and four percent decks from the overall metagame instead splitting down into three and two percent here.

When looking at the jump from overall to Premier, it isn’t too surprising to see many of the same decks hold their positioning, but will that continue as we move onto the winner’s metagame?

Here we see Vampires and Amalia really distance themselves from the field. With eighteen and seventeen percent of the winner’s metagame respectively, even Devotion in third with thirteen percent and Phoenix in fourth with eleven percent are starting to fall behind. It’s also worth noting that Devotion made a solid jump from ten percent overall play to eleven percent premier and thirteen percent winner’s metagame share, showing that the deck outperformed its play rate last week.

Spirits also clearly outperformed, which makes sense given the rise of devotion, with seven percent of the winner’s metagame despite starting with just four percent of the overall metagame. Rakdos Mid and Lotus Field join Spirits as the only other decks above three percent with Gruul Aggro, Ensoul, and Quint combo rounding out the decks at a mere three percent.

We are starting to see some heavy consolidation this week and while I want to give some credit to the nearly 400 less results we had this weekend, I am a little worried that we will continue to see Amalia and Devotion climb the standings and challenge Phoenix and Vampires, creating a four-way power struggle at the top of the metagame that will push out most other decks by virtue of losing to at least one of these four matchups.

But is that how it played out in terms of reaching the challenge top 8s? Let’s find out:

It turns out, yes. Amalia crushed the field last week with fifteen top 8s, accounting for twenty-three percent of challenge top 8s. Vampires wasn’t far behind with twelve top 8s and even Phoenix had a solid showing with nine. From there we see Devotion and Spirits with six and five respectively before the drop-off happens again.

Rakdos Mid continues to be a solid deck just below the top tier with three top 8s alongside Lotus Field, Ensoul, and Dimir Control as the only decks with two challenge top 8s as well. The metagame is becoming more consolidated at the top and Amalia going from seventeen percent of the winner’s metagame to twenty-three percent of the challenge top 8s is quite the jump and may indicate it as the deck to beat heading into this weekend.

As a note, here are the conversion rates for each deck that showed up in the premier metagame in relation to their ability to make the winner’s metagame and make challenge top 8s!

Deck Highlights

UG Deserts

Laa11 is at it again. This time taking quite a bevy of cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction limited and turning them into a 17th place deck. This style of deck should do very well into other creature decks thanks to an onslaught of well costed creatures and the ability to quickly ramp with Freestrider Lookout along with interaction like Fading Hope and Spell Pierce. Add in a Wish board thanks to Fae of Wishes and the deck has access to plenty of potent sideboard answers to the metagame. Much like with any Laa11 deck, it may take some time to get used to the oddities of the list and how they all interact with each other, but if you are looking for a sweet FNM deck or something to try out in the leagues, you’ll always find something spicy on Laa11’s clipboard.

Dimir Midrange

This is a style of deck I quite enjoy. Leveraging some of the best spells in the format in Fatal Push, Thoughtseize, and Treasure Cruise along with Proft’s Eidetic Memory to make you creatures huge, you can quickly take down unsuspecting opponents. As opposed to the more conventional Dimir Control decks, this version allows you to still play the Jace Reawakened and Valki, God of Lies package while having some solid two-drops to slow down opposing aggro decks or get under control and combo decks.

While this style of deck can suffer against certain matchups in game one, the benefit of these style decks is you can easily pivot to a more controlling role or aggressive role to best attack the opponent from the sideboard. Add in the number of cards you see each game and it becomes easy to find your specific answers while still applying some pressure. This is a type of deck I found would regularly 4-1 leagues and here even managed a top 4 finish in a challenge. If you enjoy midrange decks with powerful interaction and card drawing and for some reason you hate Phoenix, this is a great potential alternative.

Tree of Perdition

Tree of Perdition won a Pioneer challenge. As a three-of. This deck is sweet. It leverages Tree of Perdition and Agatha’s Soul Cauldron to make one of your many other creatures gain the Tree ability, before changing your opponent’s life total down to some number below three and finishing the game with a Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord, Voldaren Epicure, Voldaren Thrillseeker, or creature lands.

Overall, the card quality in this deck is quite high, despite having a few odd cards and given access to the Sorin backup plan of vampires, I can see how it managed to have some strong finishes this week. The sideboard also gives access to some more traditional Rakdos Midrange tools and even adds Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, which can single-handedly beat up on control decks. While this might be a flash in the pan deck, when something wins a challenge and then puts up more results the next week, it is always worth taking a look and potentially even testing the deck out, since it is clearly doing something right.

Even if that thing includes playing Tree of Perdition.

Wrapping Up

That’s it for the last week in Pioneer. The format shows some interesting consolidation at the top and Amalia is really flexing its muscles. With tons of new decks coming out of the woodworks and winning challenges like Simic Merfolk and Tree of Perdition, there’s still a lot of room for the format to continue developing. That being said, with an upcoming B&R, it will be interesting to see if Amalia, Vampires, Phoenix, or Devotion are in WOTC’s sights heading towards the RC. 

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