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This Week in Legacy: The August Metagame Update


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving yet again into a monthly metagame update with where Legacy currently stands on MTGO. In addition to that we've got some paper news about an upcoming Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy event as well as some talk about last weekend's August London Legacy Monthly! As always, we've also got the Challenge data from last weekend and the data on the Season 2 Legacy Showcase Qualifier event.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Falling Into August - A Look at Legacy

It's the middle of August, and we are taking yet another look at the current state of the Legacy format, utilizing data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project. As of this past weekend's events and writing, the current data set within the project goes back to 1/29/2022 (the Ragavan ban), and has just under 6,000 entries from various Magic Online events (a little bit over 33,300 matches of data). These events are predominantly Challenges, Showcase Challenges, Showcase Qualifiers, and any major Super Qualifier or other events of that nature. You can find all of this data located here.

With that being said, let's take a look at a high level overview of the current format with a look at the macro archetypes.

As we can see, the big predominant aspects of the current Legacy format are centered around fair decks, primarily Tempo based decks and Midrange/Control shells. However, there is a reasonable amount of combo too in the format, as both Spell based Combo and Permanent Based Combo combined both make up more decks than the Midrange piles and are close to rivaling the Tempo decks in sheer numbers. It definitely makes for an interesting view of the format for sure.

Now let's take a look at the subarchetype data.

This is really interesting part. As we noted last month, a big chunk of the Tempo archetype (1,217 decks out of a total 1,392) is just UR Delver. Now it is worth noting that for consistency reasons, we do not currently separate UR "Delver" and the "Delverless" decks that have shown up in the format (with Ledger Shredder and DRC) as of late. The biggest reasoning for this is primarily identifying that the core of the deck does not necessarily need Delver of Secrets to be good and that "Delver" itself is merely a name at this point for a URx based Tempo strategy. In the future, we may consider renaming things to UR Tempo, but Legacy names stick with people more over time. Another reasoning here is the fact that identifying whether a deck actually has Delver of Secrets in it from a match replay in events is much more difficult than identifying the core of the deck being a Brainstorm/Force of Will/Daze/Wasteland deck is, and separating them would require a bit more work on average to identify. As the project is currently stretched a little thin on people able to watch replays in events, it currently makes no sense to issue this separation.

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This sort of thing also applies to other subarchetypes, as maintaining an internal consistency makes more sense, which is why you won't see any splits to things like D&T (Yorion vs Non Yorion) or Elves (Nettle Sentinel vs Elvish Reclaimer) because the core of their archetypes is still very much the same.

UR Delver is currently at a spot where again we are seeing a very strong metagame presence (20.5%) and an estimated non-mirror win rate that is exceptionally reasonable (53.7%). This deck is undeniably the S-Tier deck of the format, and while (as we will see) there are decks that can attack Delver's weaknesses, Delver's strengths are far more pronounced than ever before.

On down the line the second most popular deck in the format right now is Jeskai Control. Jeskai's presence in the format based on this data set is much much much smaller than UR Delver's but the deck has a great amount of gameplay versus UR Delver from a deckbuilding perspective. Quite often this deck is packing a great amount of removal like Swords to Plowshares, Prismatic Ending, and Pyroblast-like effects. Much of the format has shifted away from cards like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in Bant/4C-like variants of control in the past months, primarily due to the powerful threats that Delver has access to and the predominance of more efficient answers like Pyroblast.

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Just below Jeskai Control is two decks that exist in the spot that they do because of how they interact with the rest of the top decks of the format and that is D&T and Elves. D&T as a deck often has had a really strong performance against UR Delver as the deck packs a ton of inevitability with its removal and taxing effects. The issue with D&T at the moment is that it has a slightly unfavored matchup vs the Jeskai Control decks as the Jeskai decks are very predominantly basic heavy and play a lot of removal that lines up well against D&T. Elves on the other hand, isn't here because it has a great Delver matchup. While the matchup is reasonable enough (even though the data currently says its around 38.51% versus UR Delver), Elves has a great matchup versus Jeskai Control and D&T and capitalizes on those events where those decks are able to push UR Delver down a bit.

The next three down this list are Reanimator, 8Cast, and Red Stompy. Of these, Reanimator has continued to be one of the predominant graveyard decks of the format and is definitely capable of capitalizing on decks like D&T, Elves, etc being good by the sheer nature of being faster and resilient to hate with discard effects. Reanimator gaining access to multiple discard outlets in the form of both Unmask and Grief while gaining access to threats that are ever more powerful (Archon + Serra's Emissary) make it a force to definitely be reckoned with.

8Cast is an interesting duck because it's presence has actually been trending downward over the past few months, and primarily a lot of that has to do with the next deck we will talk about as well as more Delver being around in the format. 8Cast has pretty positive matchups versus Jeskai and D&T, but against Delver it's not so insane and Red Stompy is an abysmal matchup. 8Cast is still a very reasonable deck to play, but the current MTGO metagame is actively hostile to this type of deck in sideboard space for sure.

The rise of Red Stompy back up through the ranks is definitely hinged on the fact that cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Fury exist for the deck, and the fact that Chalice of the Void is a very reasonable card specifically against UR Delver. Blood Moon has a good amount of text versus other decks in the current format, and Fable giving the deck a great way to push through dead cards in the deck while being an actively powerful threat have really reinforced this deck's power level quite a bit.

Down in the lower half of the Top 100 decks here we have a good smattering of various strategies, from ANT, Lands, Sneak and Show, and GW Depths. GW Depths is an interesting one because it has quite a strong matchup versus Delver, so much so that it has several high profile paper event finishes in the past few months from folks like Michael Mapson and Rodney Bedell. GW Depths also has a very strong matchup versus both D&T and Elves, but the biggest weak point here is Jeskai Control. Jeskai has quite a lot of removal, and sideboard plans that leverage well against GW Depths, making it a much more difficult matchup. However, this issue may long term be addressed with the addition of cards like Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes to the MTGO platform.

Yorion Zenith has also had a good number of reasonable finishes in the past few months, and it has some powerful stuff going on there as well, given that the decks are generally Bant splashing red for stuff like Blast effects and Expressive Iteration, which gives the deck a lot of what Jeskai Control has but a little bit bigger and more inevitable. In fact, Yorion Zenith has a pretty positive UR Delver matchup because of this.

Is Legacy Healthy?

The big question on everyone's minds is whether or not Legacy is currently healthy or not. It's obvious that not much has changed from last month and that the format still heavily revolves around the presence of UR Delver and decks that either beat UR Delver or beat decks that beat UR Delver. While this does create an interesting back and forth and there is always going to be a best deck in the format, it's fairly obvious that there is some health concerns with the format that should be addressed.

That being said, I do think it would make sense to align paper Legacy and MTGO much more by being able to get cards added to MTGO that reflect what is happening in large paper events. While many times, these paper events aren't too far off from MTGO's metagame (as is often the case with large events that have big prizes) the presence of cards not on MTGO does have something of a meaningful impact here (Maddening Hex, Minsc & Boo) so I feel like we should potentially focus on having this corrected first before making any big changes ban-wise to the format. I do expect that the end result of getting these cards added to the client won't make a huge difference, but the problem with the paper metagame in this regards is that the sample size is much smaller and the hive mind is much smaller in determining the best way to attack the metagame. MTGO does allow for many things to be discovered and it may end up potentially discovering a deck that abuses new cards that may have an impact, as we've seen in the past year or so with decks like 8Mulch, 8Cast, and Riddlesmith Combo.

I don't believe Legacy is healthy on a premier play level though, and I do expect that it's possible that both Expressive Iteration and Murktide Regent are the cards everyone is expecting will be removed from the format, but at the same time I do believe Legacy can be fun at a smaller FNM level and League play. While Leagues are pretty random, there's quite a bit of interesting diversity that allows players to play just about anything. I also do still hold onto the belief that there are plenty of open "holes" in Legacy that people are not filling with ideas because of the echo chamber of what is good and what isn't. We've seen quite a bit of people step outside of this comfort zone and try new things in the past year and they have paid off. All it took was people asking the right questions and utilizing the correct context within the format.

Legacy Primer on the Riddler

The Riddlesmith Combo deck has been a big topic of contention as of late, and thanks to the hard work of KillaBee (the one and only) we've got a sweet new primer up over at MTGMeta.io! Be sure to go check out this primer right over here, compiled by both the work of KillaBee and Nathan Lipetz of MTGMeta.io.

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This is a very complex deck, and the primer is very well written and super solid!

Paper Event News - Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy 10

We had some awesome news on Friday with the announcement of yet another entry in the Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy series. BCD10 is happening on September 17 at The Warp Gate in Westerville, OH! You can check out the Twitter announcement right over here!

I can definitely make it to this event, so please come say hello if you're there!

London Legacy Monthly 8/13

There was a London Legacy Monthly event this past month! These events are super cool and are held at Rogue's Quarter with prizes by Axion Now. Organized by our good friend Callum Smith of Everyday Eternal, these events look like they have great turnouts, fun prizes, and excellent competition.

The end finals of this past weekend's event boiled down to a Riddlesmith vs Mono Red Stompy match, with Riddlesmith taking it down! The pilot posted a tournament report over on the Legacy subreddit right here.

Also special shoutout to Sahar Mirhadi, who was the other finalist on Mono Red Stompy! You can check out the overview of her event right here on Twitter!

Legacy Challenge 8/13

Our first Challenge event this past weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 79 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver had a bit of a presence, but not a great win rate overall. 8Cast did reasonably well as did Red Stompy.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Delver 1st TrueHero
Elves 2nd EronRelentless
Reanimator 3rd YungDingo
Elves 4th Testacular
Bant Control 5th DominusDeus
Thought Lash Combo 6th romariovidal
Mono Green Cloudpost 7th into_play
8Cast 8th Minest110

Definitely an interesting Top 8 here. At the end of the event though it was TrueHero on Jeskai Delver that took it all down.

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Four copies of Stifle here seems really good with the way the current format is structured at the moment. Esper Sentinel and True-Name Nemesis are also very interesting overall.

The Second Place finalist was our friend EronRelentless on Elves.

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Shriekmaw has definitely stuck as a solid sideboard card that removes Murktide Regent well. This is a powerful list and is looking very good.

Further down we had a showing by Bant Control.

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Utilziing Loam here with Field of the Dead shenanigans is a very powerful thing to be doing for sure. Uro still has quite a bit to offer really despite having been mostly pushed to the side by Jeskai Control.

Also in this Top 8 we had UG Thought Lash Combo, piloted by our good friend Romario Neto.

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This deck is super sweet. It does so many cool things that I just absolutely adore it.

Legacy Challenge 8/14

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event, which had 89 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Delver delivered this event in both metagame representation and win rate (60.24% non-mirror!). Elves also had a solid performance, as did Reanimator.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st JUJUBEAN__2004
UR Delver 2nd discoverN
Elves 3rd Julian23
UR Delver 4th BuenosLoko
Stoneblade 5th Alico
Yorion Zenith 6th LeoFa
Red Stompy 7th MJ_23
UR Delver 8th Nammersquats

Quite a bit of Delver here, and speaking of the finals even more so since the end of the event was decided by a Delver v "Delver" matchup.

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The dichotomy of Delver decks in one fell swoop of an event here for sure. One of these decks is playing Delver, the other is not and is focusing more on Ledger Shredder and DRC. Definitely a lot of interesting micro decisions to each, but at the end of the event it was the Delver based variant that took it all down.

Also in this Top 8 we have Jeskai Stoneblade.

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DRC makes for a very neat threat in Stoneblade decks, given that it picks up equipment like Umezawa's Jitte quite well. This looks like a pretty solid list for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we have Red Stompy.

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Definitely super aggressive here, and we are seeing a big shift off of cards like Fireflux Squad in general because Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is just so incredibly strong. This is a solid list for sure.

Legacy Showcase Qualifier 8/14

This past weekend was also the culmination of the Season 2 Premier Play on Magic Online with the Showcase Qualifier event. These events are invitation only events feeding from the Showcase Challenges and often are fairly inbred metagame-wise as they often lead to players making choices for a very small field of players. In this case, this event had 29 players in it, thanks to the data collected via the Legacy Data Collection Project.

Because of the nature of this event, Wizards does not often publish decklists for these events, and it's hard to take the construction of these decks into hard consideration because they're often heavily adjusted for the smaller invitation-only metagame.

You can find the data sheet here.

UR Delver had a lot of pilots on it, so people reacted accordingly with GW Depths and Red Stompy based decks. Red Stompy did quite well, so did Oops! All Spells.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Yorion Zenith 1st cftsoc3
UR Delver 2nd Baku_91
GW Depths 3rd nathansteuer
Oops! All Spells 4th PunishingWaterfalls
Cephalid Breakfast 5th Thalai
Sneak and Show 6th twinlesstwin
Elves 7th fluffy21
GW Depths 8th stainerson

This is certainly a pretty varied Top 8, but that's bound to happen with these smaller events like this. At the end of the event, the winner going home with the MOCS invitation is cftsoc3 on a very super cool Yorion Zenith build.

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This list is pretty amazing, and it really shows the cleverness of the deckbuilding here by focusing solely on the matchups they expected to see (Delver primarily and probably GW Depths) and really honing in on the things that are good against those decks. Definitely some solid metagaming here. Congrats to cftsoc3 on their victory in this event!

Around the Web

  • Bryant Cook is playing some SMOG COMBO. Check it out here.
  • TonyScapone vs Bryant Cook in some EPIC Gamble action. Check it out here.
  • Everyday Eternal has a great episode out on looking at Legacy data. Thanks to them for the shoutout of the Legacy Data Collection Project! Check out the episode here.
  • Nether Void Stompy
  • Manaless Dredge!
  • Julian Knab has some spicy stuff cooked up with UW Moderation Control. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Brian Coval is putting Dreadnoughts into play.

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Pure Izzet Phoenix is super interesting.

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Esper Demigod of Revenge Reanimator is amazing!

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Very sick Helm combo deck here. March of Wretched Sorrow!

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RUG Rhinos featuring some sweet new cards like Colossal Skyturtle.

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Enchantress is super sweet here with some really interesting Living Wish packages.

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HAMMER TIME BABY

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!



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