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Players Tour Wrap Up and Brussels Pioneer Match Up Data


This weekend brought with it our first Players Tour events, which also marked the first time the Pioneer format got a chance to shine on Magic's brightest stage. As such, today we're going to take a few minutes and wrap up the events, including a look at the Top Eight lists from the event, matchup data from Players Tour Brussels, the most played cards at the tournaments and a look a some of the sweetest under-they-radar decks.

The biggest news of the weekend is that, with some small exceptions, the Pioneer format is still in a diverse place. In Nagoya the most played deck was Dimir Inverter at 19% of the metagame while in Brussels no deck managed to top 14%, with Mono-Black Aggro coming out on top. Along with general diversity, decks like Ken Yukuhiro's WB Sram brew show there is still room for innovation and for brand new decks to not only show up on the Players Tour stage, but have success.

While the new, hyped Dimir Inverter combo deck might be a threat to the format's diversity, with the archetype snagging 7 or the 16 Top Eight slots between the two events (while only making up about 15% of the day one meta), the deck is still new enough that it might be that the metagame can adjust. The matchup data that we'll look at in a minute does suggest that the deck has weaknesses. Plus, we have another Pioneer Players Tour event this weekend, and with Dimir Inverter's success in Nagoya and Brussels the results will be telling. Either the pros would decide that the deck is the best in the format and its metagame percentage will rise, or they will figure out a way to beat the deck, which could lead to a worst performance for the archetype next week. 

Top 8 Decks

Players Tour Brussels Matchup Data

While Top Eights and quality finishes are a fine way to judge a deck's success, we can get a more complete view from the matchup data. Below is a breakdown of the matchups for the most played decks at Players Tour Brussels. While looking over the data keep in mind that some of the individual matchups (especially for lesser played decks) suffer from small sample sizes, so the numbers should be backed up with further testing rather than taken for face value. 

 
Overall
Other
Azorius Control 47%
(192)
50%
(14)
30%
(10)
48%
(29)
0%
(6)
32%
(34)
17%
(6)
50%
(6)
80%
(10)
67%
(18)
33%
(9)
58%
(50)
Azorius Spirits 47%
(116)
70%
(10)
n/a
(0)
38%
(16)
20%
(5)
27%
(15)
50%
(8)
50%
(2)
33%
(6)
50%
(6)
43%
(7)
56%
(41)
Dimir Inverter 54%
(299)
52%
(29)
63%
(16)
50%
(42)
57%
(14)
61%
(46)
88%
(8)
36%
(11)
38%
(16)
74%
(19)
57%
(7)
49%
(91)
Izzet Ensoul 52%
(133)
100%
(6)
80%
(5)
43%
(14)
50%
(14)
50%
(20)
50%
(2)
40%
(5)
9%
(11)
71%
(14)
29%
(7)
57%
(35)
Mono-Black Aggro 50%
(325)
68%
(34)
73%
(15)
39%
(46)
50%
(20)
50%
(52)
100%
(2)
36%
(14)
60%
(15)
48%
(33)
0%
(5)
47%
(89)
Mono-Green Ramp 44%
(55)
83%
(6)
50%
(8)
13%
(8)
50%
(2)
0%
(2)
n/a
(0)
50%
(2)
n/a
(0)
80%
(5)
33%
(3)
37%
(19)
Mono-Red Aggro 58%
(78)
50%
(6)
50%
(2)
64%
(11)
60%
(5)
64%
(14)
50%
(2)
n/a
(0)
50%
(2)
43%
(7)
33%
(3)
62%
(26)
Mono-White Devotion 53%
(116)
20%
(10)
67%
(6)
63%
(16)
91%
(11)
40%
(15)
n/a
(0)
50%
(2)
50%
(8)
55%
(11)
50%
(4)
52%
(33)
Niv to Light 46%
(196)
33%
(18)
50%
(6)
26%
(19)
29%
(14)
52%
(33)
20%
(5)
57%
(7)
45%
(11)
50%
(16)
67%
(6)
54%
(61)
Simic Ramp 50%
(74)
67%
(9)
57%
(7)
43%
(7)
71%
(7)
100%
(5)
67%
(3)
67%
(3)
50%
(4)
33%
(6)
50%
(2)
24%
(21)
Other 49%
(672)
42%
(50)
44%
(41)
51%
(91)
43%
(35)
53%
(89)
63%
(19)
38%
(26)
48%
(33)
46%
(61)
76%
(21)
50%
(206)

The New Hotness

 
Overall
Dimir Inverter 54%
(299)
52%
(29)
63%
(16)
50%
(42)
57%
(14)
61%
(46)
88%
(8)
36%
(11)
38%
(16)
74%
(19)
57%
(7)
49%
(91)

Heading into the Players Tour weekend, Dimir Inverter was the talk of Pioneer town, and in general the deck backed up the hype, stealing the most Top Eight slots across the two events and posting a solid 54% overall win percentage in Brussels. One one hand, this might lead to more worries about the deck being too good for the Pioneer format. On the other, if we dig into the matchup data we find that the deck might have a big weakness: aggro. Both Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-White Devotion had success against Dimir Inverter. On the other hand, interaction doesn't seem like the best way to beat the deck, with Niv to Light and even Azorius Control losing more than they won against the Splinter Twin of Pioneer. 

All in all, the results of this weekend don't suggest that Dimir Inverter needs an emergency banning or anything along those lines, although it did prove itself to be one of the best decks this weekend, and pending the results of new weekends North American Players Tour event, it is possible that the calls for bannings increase. In the meantime, expect the mono-colored aggro decks to see an increase in play as a way to fight the Inverter of Truth / Thassa's Oracle menace. 

The Foils

 
Overall
Mono-Red Aggro 58%
(78)
50%
(6)
50%
(2)
64%
(11)
60%
(5)
64%
(14)
50%
(2)
n/a
(0)
50%
(2)
43%
(7)
33%
(3)
62%
(26)

Before hyping the deck, I should make it clear that Mono-Red Aggro wasn't very heavily played at Players Tour Brussels, so the small sample size problem does come into play. This said, Mono-Red was not only the best way to beat the Dimir Inverter, but it was the best deck at Players Tour Brussels overall according to its 58% match win percentage. While it does seem to struggle with ramp style decks like Niv to Light and Simic Ramp, it generally has even or better matchups against the top decks in the field, and absolutely beats up on the "other" decks (those not among the ten most played at the event). Expect more players to pick up the deck moving forward. The combination of a good Inverter matchup and decent matchups against other top decks means that even though Mono-Red Aggro might be a bit under the radar at the moment, its unlikely to stay there for long.

 
Overall
Mono-White Devotion 53%
(116)
20%
(10)
67%
(6)
63%
(16)
91%
(11)
40%
(15)
n/a
(0)
50%
(2)
50%
(8)
55%
(11)
50%
(4)
52%
(33)


Mono-White Devotion is a strange deck. While it wasn't as good as Mono-Red Aggro overall, posting a 53% match win percentage at Players Tour Brussels, it was the other deck that beat up on Dimir Inverter. In general, Mono-White Devotion performed well against most of the top archetypes in the field, including a 91% win percentage against Izzet Ensoul, but it does have one huge problem: it gets crushed (like win 20% of the time crushed) by Azorius Control. This said, Azorius Control was one of the most disappointing decks at Players Tour Brussels, so it might be on the downswing, which would be a huge boost for Mono-White Devotion. 

The Old Guard

Loading Indicator

 
Overall
Azorius Control 47%
(192)
50%
(14)
30%
(10)
48%
(29)
0%
(6)
32%
(34)
17%
(6)
50%
(6)
80%
(10)
67%
(18)
33%
(9)
58%
(50)

Heading into the Players Tour events this weekend, the old top decks in the Pioneer meta were Mono-Black Aggro, Niv to Light, Izzet Ensoul, Azorius Control and Azorius Spirits. All of these decks saw heavy play, but how did the perform? With one exception, the answer is not very well. Azorius Control posted a 47% overall win percentage, and apart from Mono-White Devotion and Niv to Light, didn't have many good matchups. The deck did beat "other" decks 58% of the time, which might help explain how Azorius Control could look very good on Magic Online but fizzle on the Players Tour stage. It might just be that the combination of planeswalkers, sweepers, and counterspells is really good at punishing players trying out random, undertuned decks in digital form, but not as good at beating tight, highly turned Players Tour level decks.

 
Overall
Azorius Spirits 47%
(116)
70%
(10)
n/a
(0)
38%
(16)
20%
(5)
27%
(15)
50%
(8)
50%
(2)
33%
(6)
50%
(6)
43%
(7)
56%
(41)

Azorius Spirits is good against Azorius Control and "other" decks, but has medium or bad matchups against all of the other tier decks in the field. With Bant Spirits putting some players in the Top Eight this weekend, I wouldn't be surprised to see Spirits players shift from two to three colors and embrace the power of Collected Company moving foward. 

 
Overall
Mono-Black Aggro 50%
(325)
68%
(34)
73%
(15)
39%
(46)
50%
(20)
50%
(52)
100%
(2)
36%
(14)
60%
(15)
48%
(33)
0%
(5)
47%
(89)

Mono-Black Aggro has been near the top of the meta for a couple of months now, but overall its Players Tour weekend was just okay. The rise of Dimir Inverter seems to be a bad thing for the deck, as is the fact that Mono-Red Aggro is the best deck for beating Dimir Inverter, since these are Mono-Black Aggro's two worst matchups in the field. Meanwhile, Mono-Black Aggro's good matchups - Azorius Control and Azorius Spirits - are potentially two decks on the decline based on their performance this weekend (although part of their bad performance is likely do to getting beat up by Mono-Black Aggro). This doesn't mean that Mono-Black Aggro is bad (a 50% overall win percentage is reasonable for a heavily played deck), but its grip on the title of "best deck in Pioneer" might be slipping. 

 
Overall
Niv to Light 46%
(196)
33%
(18)
50%
(6)
26%
(19)
29%
(14)
52%
(33)
20%
(5)
57%
(7)
45%
(11)
50%
(16)
67%
(6)
54%
(61)

Niv to Light was the worst deck at Players Tour Brussels. Not only did is post the worst total win percentage at 46%, but it got beaten badly in several important matchups, winning just 26% of the time against Dimir Inverter, 33% of the time against Azorius Control and 31% of the time against Izzet Ensoul. This is a very bad sign for the deck moving forward. While it is true that you can win with the deck - PVDDR made the Top Eight in Brussels - its hard to recommend to players who aren't on the short list for greatest of all time.

 
Overall
Izzet Ensoul 52%
(133)
100%
(6)
80%
(5)
43%
(14)
50%
(14)
50%
(20)
50%
(2)
40%
(5)
9%
(11)
71%
(14)
29%
(7)
57%
(35)

Izzet Ensoul was the one old guard deck that actually managed to win more than it lost at Players Tour Brussels, although there are some reasons to think it is about to be surpassed by Mono-Red Aggro and/or Mono-White Devotion as the premiere non-black aggro deck in the format. First, while both Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-White Devotion seem to have good matchups against Dimir Inverter, Izzet Ensoul is one of the aggro decks that is bad against the new combo/control deck, winning just 43% of the time. Second, Izzet Enoul isn't good against Mono-Red Aggro (winning just 40% of the time) and is laughably bad against Mono-White Devition (with a 9% win rate), and these are two decks that should be on the rise. Toss in the fact that some of Izzet Ensouls best matchups - Azorius Control, Azorius Spirits and Niv to Light - are decks that performed comparatively poorly this weekend, and the meta moving foward will likely be a bit more hostile to the artifact aggro deck.

Ramp Decks

 
Overall
Mono-Green Ramp 44%
(55)
83%
(6)
50%
(8)
13%
(8)
50%
(2)
0%
(2)
n/a
(0)
50%
(2)
n/a
(0)
80%
(5)
33%
(3)
37%
(19)

 
Overall
Simic Ramp 50%
(74)
67%
(9)
57%
(7)
43%
(7)
71%
(7)
100%
(5)
67%
(3)
67%
(3)
50%
(4)
33%
(6)
50%
(2)
24%
(21)

If you want to play ramp, you pretty much have to play Simic rather than straight Mono-Green Ramp, because Mono-Green Ramp simply can't beat Dimir Inverter (winning just 13% of the time across eight matches). While Simic Ramp isn't great against Inverter (43% win rate in seven matches) it is significantly better than Mono-Green Ramp - adding counterspells to the sideboard seem to go a long way towards improving the matchup. 

Most Played Cards Overall

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Card Total Copies Total Decks
Thoughtseize 556 161
Fatal Push 512 147
Fabled Passage 420 126
Mutavault 417 130
Opt 364 91
Hallowed Fountain 326 89
Dig Through Time 318 102
Murderous Rider 279 80
Glacial Fortress 275 71
Teferi, Time Raveler 268 87
Watery Grave 256 87
Knight of the Ebon Legion 244 61
Castle Locthwain 243 67
Scrapheap Scrounger 241 61
Mystical Dispute 225 202
Bloodsoaked Champion 215 54
Censor 212 80
Drowned Catacomb 206 53
Thassa's Oracle 200 56
Breeding Pool 195 63
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 194 66
Inverter of Truth 192 48
Supreme Verdict 187 70
Botanical Sanctum 180 64
Wild Slash 180 54
Sylvan Caryatid 172 43
Rankle, Master of Pranks 164 60
Arboreal Grazer 152 40
Walking Ballista 152 50
Brazen Borrower 147 50
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries 146 57
Spirebluff Canal 144 44

Most Played Theros: Beyond Death Cards

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Card Total Copies Total Decks
Thassa's Oracle 200 56
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 194 66
Field of Ruin 108 44
Heliod, Sun-Crowned 96 25
Omen of the Sea 55 23
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun 52 22
Thassa's Intervention 46 25
Dream Trawler 41 35
Agonizing Remorse 41 36
Drag to the Underworld 39 30
Underworld Breach 35 10
Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis 29 18
Temple of Deceit 26 17
Alseid of Life's Bounty 23 10
Shadowspear 23 21
Thirst for Meaning 14 4
Temple of Enlightenment 13 7
Elspeth Conquers Death 13 7
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos 11 11
Soul-Guide Lantern 8 7
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse 8 8
Polukranos, Unchained 7 7
Return to Nature 5 5
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger 5 2
Temple of Abandon 5 5
Erebos's Intervention 5 4
Phoenix of Ash 4 1
Infuriate 4 1
Slaughter-Priest of Mogis 4 1
Banishing Light 4 3
Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea 3 1
Wolfwillow Haven 3 1
Chainweb Aracnir 3 3
Temple of Malice 3 2
Temple of Plenty 2 2
Pharika's Libation 2 2
Woe Strider 2 1
The Binding of the Titans 2 1
Gray Merchant of Asphodel 2 1
Idyllic Tutor 2 2
Eat to Extinction 2 2
The Birth of Meletis 2 1
Mystic Repeal 2 2
Shatter the Sky 1 1
Ashiok's Erasure 1 1
Revoke Existence 1 1
Heliod's Intervention 1 1
Whirlwind Denial 1 1
Nylea, Keen-Eyed 1 1

Sweetest Under-the-Radar Decks

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While Inverter of Truth was the talk of the weekend, most of the builds of the deck are essentially just blue-black control builds with the combo of Inverter of Truth and Thassa's Oracle to finish the game. Sultai Inverter, while winning with the same combo, is a very different take on the deck, with the goal being to ramp into the combo with the help of Sylvan Caryatid and Paradise Druid while using Eldritch Evolution and Finale of Devastation to tutor up combo pieces. 

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Speaking of unique takes on Inverter of Truth, Mono-Blue Inverter Devotion (which technically is Mono-Blue, at least in the main deck, since Inverter of Truth is devoid) is my favorite of the bunch. It's basically a normal Mono-Blue Devotion deck that can also just accidentally win the game with Inverter of Truth and Thassa's Oracle. Unlike Blue-Black Inverter, rather than trying to make sure the graveyard is empty to facilitate the Inverter / Oracle kill, Mono-Blue Inverter Devotion goes the other direction by adding a ton of blue mana symbols to the battlefield, while means even if Inverter of Truth ends up inverting several (or even many) cards back into your library, Thassa's Oracle should still be lethal most of the time. 

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If you're looking for a deck that you can play in both Standard and Pioneer, Boros Feather is as good as it gets. While there are a few new additions to the Pioneer build of Feather, the Redeemed like Favored Hoplite and Monastery Swiftspear, most of the deck is random Standard-legal Commons and Uncommons, which should make the deck fairly easy to put together, and doubly easy if you already have a Standard Feather deck.

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Players love tribal. Players love reanimator. Goblin Gift offers both, being partly a Goblin tribal deck complete with payoffs like Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Piledriver, while also being a reanimator deck with the help of Gate to the Afterlife and Skirk Prospector. With a Skirk Prospector on the battlefield you can sacrifice some random Goblins to trigger Gate to the Afterlife and eventually tutor out a God-Pharaoh's Gift to start reanimating Goblins in 4/4 token form! The best part? The deck is only $55 in paper and 17 tix on Magic Online, essentially making it an ultra-budget deck that showed up on the Players Tour stage!

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While Inverter of Truth stole some of Heliod, Sun-Crowned's thunder as Theros: Beyond Death combo deck of choice in Pioneer, there were still plenty of Heliod / Walking Ballista decks to show up to this weekends Players Tour. While most were either white lifegain or devotion shells, by far the most interesting Heliod Combo deck was Green-White Heliod Ramp. The deck basically looks like a regular green ramp deck, with tons of early game mana production and big finishers like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and friends, but also randomly plays Heliod, Sun-Crowned, allowing it to go infinite with Walking Ballista when the opponent's shields are down. While ramp isn't the most obvious home for the new white God, considering the deck already wants Walking Ballista as an early game play that doubles as a finish after you make a ton of mana, in a weird way it makes some sense.

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There are a lot of powerful cards in Pioneer. How can you deal with all of the powerful threats and combos of the format? Make your opponent discard all of their cards! 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. In general, the Pioneer metagame looks healthy, although Dimir Inverter is certainly a concern. The good news is that we have another Players Tour event next weekend, so we should get a clearly picture of if (and how) the metagame can evolve to fight the new top deck in the format. My guess is we'll see an increase in mono-colored aggro to fight Dimir Inverter. Will it be enough to keep Pioneer Splinter Twin in check? We'll find out in a week!

Until then, what did you think of our first Players Tour weekend? What are your feeling on the current Pioneer meta? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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