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Pro Tour Kaladesh: By the Numbers


Pro Tour Kaladesh is in the books, which means it's time to break down the event by the numbers. Which decks performed best in constructed? Which decks underperformed on Magic's biggest stage? These are the questions we'll be answering today. We'll start off by breaking down the numbers of the seven most played decks at Pro Tour Kaladesh (every deck that started day one with a metagame share of at least 3%). Then, we'll talk a little bit about how the lesser-played decks performed in the all-pro field. After that, we'll shine the spotlight on a handful of the most interesting under-the-radar decks that managed at least 18 points (six wins) in constructed, before wrapping up with a list of the most played cards in the event, so let's get to it! If you want to see all the decklists in their glory, be sure to check out the Pro Tour Kaladesh Tournament Decklists.

The Big Seven

First off, we need some baseline stats to guide our discussion of the decks at Pro Tour Kaladesh. There were 466 players at Pro Tour Kaladesh, and of these players, 62.9% performed well enough to come back on day two. Then, at the end of the tournament, a total of 31.7% of the day one field ended up with at least six wins in constructed (18 points+), 15% managed seven or more wins (21+ points), and 5.15% finished with at least eight wins (24+ points). These numbers will form the foundation of our deck breakdown. In theory, decks that performed well at the Pro Tour will post percentages better than the baseline, while decks that performed poorly will have percentages that are worse than the baseline. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
82 55 67.1% 23 28% 5 6.1% 1 1.2%

Temur Aetherworks' story is a tale of two days. On day one, the deck posted one of the best conversion rates out of the big seven decks—more that 4% above expected—and considering that a lot of big teams were playing the deck, it seemed likely that Temur Aetherworks would end up being one of the big winners of Pro Tour Kaladesh. Unfortunately, the deck found the day two metagame to be a bit more challenging and, in the end, was very likely the worst-performing deck on day two, getting only 6.1% of its players to seven wins—a rate that is by far the worst of any of the big seven decks. In fact, Temur Aetherworks players were 2.5 times less likely to get to seven wins (21+ points) than the average deck at Pro Tour Kaladesh

My guess would be that Temur Aetherworks found itself on the wrong end of control matches during day two; while control decks didn't perform amazingly on day one, they ended up posting very solid day two results, mostly likely to the detriment of Temur Aetherworks, which looked horrible on camera pretty much every time it faced a control deck. As such, I'm concerned about Temur Aetherworks moving forward. I expect to see a lot more control in the coming weeks, and I'm not convinced that the Aetherworks Marvel deck can compete in a control-heavy metagame. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
55 30 54.4% 14 24.5% 7 12.27% 2 3.5%

GB Delirium looks to have been one of the worst overall decks at Pro Tour Kaladesh, posting the worst conversion rate of any of the big seven decks and then proceeding to come in below average at every point on the curve compared to the average. This said, I expect that the biggest problem was the large number of players who missed day two all togethe—it's really difficult for a deck to have a very below average day one and post good numbers at the end of the tournament (because, by default, players who miss day two will also miss the six-, seven-, and eight-win marks). 

This idea is supported by the numbers: if we throw out day one, just under half of GB Delirium players finished with at least six wins in constructed, which would rank in the top half of the big seven decks. As such, I'm really not sure what to make of GB Delirium moving forward. Is it a good deck that was punished for bad limited performances on day one, or is it a deck that struggled against the day one meta only to find day two slightly more friendly? Only time will tell, but for now we'll have to settle for a slightly below average and somewhat confusing performance from the deck. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
38 23 60.5% 9 23.7% 4 10.5% 1 2.6%

As we continue to move through the big seven decks, an interesting theme is beginning to emerge: all of the decks thus far have performed below average at just about every data point, which is extremely odd. Typically, when we break down the decks from a Pro Tour, we'll have a couple of big winners that performed way above expected, a couple of big losers that were simply horrible, and then a bunch of decks in the middle. Well, at Pro Tour Kaladesh, it seems that many of the most played decks were fine but not really good, coming in a bit below the average. 

This is especially true of BR Aggro, which performed just a bit below average at every single point on the curve—not bad enough to really call the deck a loser, but certainly not good enough to call the deck a winner. The main problem with BR Aggro is that it was almost strictly worse than BR Madness (which we'll talk about in a couple of minutes), so if you are looking to play an aggressive RB deck moving forward, it's probably best to throw in some graveyard synergies and Voldaren Pariahs. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
31 19 61.3 8 25.8 4 12.9 1 3.2

Another deck, another performance that was slightly below expected across the board. Just like RB Aggro, GR Energy wasn't bad at Pro Tour Kaladesh, but it performed just a bit worse than average, so it's really hard to make any firm winner / loser declarations about the deck. So, instead of trying to break down its performance, let's instead talk a bit about the two different types of GR Energy decks to show up at the Pro Tour and see if we can figure out which build is better moving forward. 

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Heading into Pro Tour Kaladesh, the default build of GR Energy was the Infect-esque combo deck built around Electrostatic Pummeler and pump spells, and while most of the GR Energy decks to show up at the Pro Tour were similar, the single best GR Energy deck wasn't even playing Electrostatic Pummeler! Instead, Shaun McLaren opted to go with a more midrange build with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Tireless Tracker to back up powerful energy creatures like Lathnu Hellion and Bristling Hydra. While the sample size is so small that it's hard to say anything with certainty, it's worth noting that there is apparently more than one way to build a successful GR Energy deck, and it will be interesting to see which build becomes the default moving forward in Kaladesh Standard. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
29 20 69% 10 34.5% 5 13.79% 1 3.44%

Finally, a deck that performed well enough to be considered a winner! RW Vehicles started off the tournament as only the fifth-most-played deck at Pro Tour Kaladesh, which was a bit of a surprise, but its performance may end up making some players regret going with other options. It started off strong, posting among the best conversion rates of any of the big seven decks, and backed it up by putting an above average number of players into the 18+ point (six-plus win) bracket. While the number of high-end finishes was about average, it did manage to put a player into the Top 8, which means another entire day of video coverage. 

As such, based on its Pro Tour Kaladesh performance, I don't expect to see RW Vehicles disappear from the format. While it might be temporarily displaced by some of the sweet new options to emerge from the tournament, it looks like the most popular week one deck of Kaladesh Standard is in it for the long haul. Whether this means the deck remains tier one or sits firmly in the second tier remains to be seen, but Smuggler's Copter, Depala, Pilot Exemplar, and friends are here to stay. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
21 15 70.4% 5 23.8% 4 19.1% 1 4.7%

The story of BR Madness (which is essentially Grixis Emerge but without any of the emerge payoffs like Elder Deep-Fiend or Distended Mindbender) is a strange one. The deck was the single best performing of the big seven on day one, putting a massive 70.4% of its players into day two, and then followed this up by putting an above average number of players into the seven-win (21+ point) bracket. Sounds good, right? The problem is the deck did an incredibly poor job of giving players solid (18+ point) finishes, with only one-third of the BR Madness players who made day two getting to this level (while the average was 50.4%). As such, BR Madness was essentially the all-or-nothing deck on day two, either giving players great finishes or horrible finishes—there was no in-between with BR Madness. 

The future of BR Madness is murky at best, since it missed out on the Top 8, which means it's fairly likely to be lost in the shuffle, even though its overall performance was better than most of the other big decks at Pro Tour Kaladesh. If you're looking for a powerful and slightly under-the-radar option for your next FNM or SCG Open, keep BR Madness in mind. 

Day One Players Day Two Players Conversion Rate 18+ Point Players 18+ % 21+ Point Players 21+ % 24+ Point Players 24+ %
18 11 61.1% 8 44.4% 3 16.7% 3 16.7%

After day one, I was pretty down on Jeskai Control. While its conversion rate was only slightly below average, it looked really, really bad when we saw it on camera (spending a lot of time tapping out for Dovin Baan only to see it immediately die to Smuggler's Copter). As a result, when I sat down to write this article, I expected to be declaring Jeskai Control a loser, even though it managed to sneak a player into the Top 8. I couldn't have been more wrong. 

By the numbers, Jeskai Control was—by far—the best of the big seven decks at Pro Tour Kaladesh. Despite the middling conversion rate, it did an amazing job of giving players at least 6 wins (44.4% compared to a field-wide average of 31.7%), and then it tripled up on the expected number of 8+ win finishes, giving 16.7% of its players a 24+ point finish (when the average was 5.15%). While this type of performance would be great for any deck, it's especially impressive for a deck that only performed average on day one. Of the 11 players who made day two, eight (72.7%) finished with at least six wins in constructed, three finished with at least eight wins, and one player made it to the Top 8. 

Apparently, the narrative that control is dead is completely off base, at least for Pro Tour Kaladesh, and if Temur Aetherworks continues to be a major part of the format, the future is looking bright for the archetype over the next few months of Kaladesh Standard. 

The Best of the Rest

  • I mentioned that nearly all of the big seven decks (discounting Jeskai Control) performed a little bit below average by the numbers, putting fewer expected players into the six-, seven-, and eight-win brackets. So, what decks picked up the slack and filled out these slots? A bunch of lesser-played decks.
  • Maybe the biggest winner of the entire event was UW Flash / Midrange (not exactly the same deck but close enough that I'm tossing them together). At Pro Tour Kaladesh, a total of four decks managed to go 9-1 in the constructed rounds—all four of them were UW Flash / Midrange, a crazy performance considering that the decks only started with eight players on day one. The performance was absolutely stunning, and if it wasn't for poor limited performances from the players on the deck, it would be the talk of the tournament. If you are looking for a below-the-radar choice to crush your next FNM, this is it. 
  • From a more meta perspective, a lot of slots were taken up by various control decks that were only played by a small number of players. Apart from the Grixis Control and Dynavolt Tower decks in the Top 8, we saw UW Control, UR Control, and UB Control all push their way into the 6+ win groups. 
  • We also saw a lot of old decks with new splash colors take up slots near the top of the format. While GR Energy was the most popular build, we also had a lot of Temur Energy decks (essentially the same deck splashing blue for Negate and Ceremonious Rejection in the sideboard) perform well. We also had three Metalwork Colossus decks in our sample, but they were divided up between three different color combinations (Grixis, Temur, and Jeskai).
  • As such, one of the big takeaways from Pro Tour Kaladesh is that the format is still wide open. We normally look to a Pro Tour to set the metagame moving forward, and while there is little doubt that Pro Tour Kaladesh will have an impact on the metagame, with eight different decks in the Top 8 and a ton of different decks doing well, there really is no default best deck moving forward, and right now, there are probably 12 decks with a legitimate argument that they could be tier one a month from now, which is the sign of an exciting and healthy Standard format!

The Sweetest (Under-the-Radar) Decks from Pro Tour Kaladesh!

While its name is Black-Red Aggro, if you look a bit deeper, it's clear that Del Rosa's deck is actually RB Vampires with a few extras thrown in to fill out the curve. In fact, the deck is not only running the full four copies of Olivia, Mobilized for War but a Drana, Liberator of Malakir as well, along with Stromkirk Condemned as another pseudo-Vampire lord! If you're looking for something different to play and you're a fan of tribal synergies and aggressive decks, this might be the Pro Tour Kaladesh deck for you!

While we've seen some powerful midrange decks in Standard recently, being Sultai really sets Takao's deck apart from the rest. While the shell is mostly green and black, dipping into blue allows for not only some powerful sideboard options like Negate and Ceremonious Rejection but also Eldrazi Skyspawner, which in turn gives the deck enough colorless mana to consistently cast Thought-Knot Seer and Spatial Contortion (which is a great answer to Smuggler's Copter). Plus, we actually get to see two of the most powerful green mythics from Kaladesh in action in Nissa, Vital Force and Verdurous Gearhulk.

I mentioned earlier that UW Midrange was the best deck at Pro Tour Kaladesh by the numbers, so it only feels right to show off the list. While the deck itself isn't all that innovative, actually looking a lot like something that would have been played before the release of Kaladesh, the amazing record it posted in such a tough field is reason enough alone to give the deck its due. 

Dan Ward is a madman. While killing people with Aetherworks Marvel and cheating Eldrazi into play were pretty common at Pro Tour Kaladesh, only Ward went deep enough to be playing Madcap Experiment to find the Aetherworks Marvel! Of course, the Madcap Experiment plan is risky; it's easy to just die to the damage it deals, which is where Consulate Surveillance comes into play, allowing you to prevent all of the damage! Oh yeah, and when everything else goes wrong, you can just ping your opponent to death six damage at a time with Aethertorch Renegade. While I have no idea if this deck is actually playable, it certainly is sweet!

Most Played Cards

Let's wrap things up by talking about the most played cards from Pro Tour Kaladesh. These lists are pulled from all of the lists published on the Mothership (every deck with at least six wins in constructed), so they should give us a pretty good idea of the winners and losers from a broad perspective. Let's start by looking at the most played non-land cards in general, regardless of set. 

  • Unsurprisingly, the most played card at Pro Tour Kaladesh was Smuggler's Copter. Out of the 148 decks that managed at least six wins in constructed, the looter scooter showed up in more that half of the decks. More impressive, the average deck played 3.92 copies, meaning it's essentially a four-of in every single deck that wants it. The card is that good. 
  • While the format is rough for planeswalkers, this didn't seem to impact Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the only card of the type to show up among the top 25 cards at Pro Tour Kaladesh.
  • The big story about Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Emrakul, the Promised End was the average number of copies that showed up in a deck. Emrakul, the Promised End, for example, was at 1.6 before the Pro Tour, and with the emergence of Temur Aetherworks, the number jumped all the way up to 2.7—a massive increase in play for the mythics. 
  • Scrapheap Scrounger has clearly proven that it isn't another Despoiler of Souls; instead, it's looking to be a top 10 creature in Standard thanks to the power of being colorless. 
  • First off, there's little doubt that Kaladesh had a massive impact on Standard. Even discounting the lands, 10 of the top 25 cards from Pro Tour Kaladesh come from the set, which is amazingly refreshing, considering it was only a year ago at this time that I was writing about how Battle for Zendikar was completely missing from its own Pro Tour. 
  • The lands are obviously hugely important to the format. While I'm not sure how expensive they will end up being, since Masterpieces complicate things, if you are planning on playing Standard over the next 18 months, you might as well pick up your copies now—you're going to need them. 
  • Nissa, Vital Force didn't show up much on camera (or at all, from what I remember), but it was actually more played than one of the biggest winners of the event, Torrential Gearhulk. It just goes to show how much the decks that show up on coverage and in the Top 8 end up influencing the perceptions of cards. 
  • Ceremonious Rejection is apparently the secret sauce of Kaladesh Standard. Not only did it come in as the fifth-most-played Kaladesh card (and also the fifth-most-played non-land card), but we actually saw a lot of decks splashing blue specifically for the counterspell, and some decks are even running it in the main deck. Keep it in mind as you build decks moving forward. 
  • While Chandra, Torch of Defiance didn't make the top 30, it's worth mentioning that she actually saw just as much play as Depala, Pilot Exemplar and Electrostatic Pummeler—two cards that are Standard staples, more or less. So, even though Chandra, Torch of Defiance didn't break out at Pro Tour Kaladesh, she didn't exactly flop either. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Pro Tour Kaladesh was amazing, and the Standard format looks incredibly diverse! What do you think of these numbers? What decks stood out to you? Let me know in the comments, and as always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 


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