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This Week in Legacy: The Post Eternal Weekend 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 into the current state of the Legacy Metagame after we've crossed the threshold of Eternal Weekend 2021 and also last weekend's Showcase Challenge. We do have that Challenge to discuss of course as well as a Spice Corner.

I'm also going to be gearing up for my end of year Mailbag Article and our final Round Table of the year so be on the lookout for those soon!

Also, if you have not seen the news about it, there is confirmation that multiple cards from the next Un-set Unfinity will be Eternal legal. I'll be handling anything related to that set as soon as we have a full set to look at.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Current State of Legacy - December 2021

It's been a hot minute since we dove into the current state of the Legacy metagame, and since it seems like there is not much traction as of late on bannings or changes in the format, it's a good idea to talk about the current format and where things stand.

One of the things I have done since I last did one of these is that I redid our Combined Metagame Sheet we use in the Legacy Data Collection Project in order to help streamline it a bit better and to also reduce a lot of the overhead so as to make adding new features down the line much easier. If you want to mess around with the sheet itself, it is super easy now for people to make a copy of the sheet and play with the numbers. Remember, if you manage to produce something interesting out of it and want to post it please credit the Legacy Data Collection Project and also share it over in our Discord!

You can find the new Combined Metagame Sheet here.

One feature I am working on adding to this new sheet that isn't quite ready yet is the function of Head-to-Head results and Subarchetype Matrix Win Percentages. This is a subset of data we're now able to collect because we're collecting the round-by-round data in events now, I just haven't had the time to get everything into the new sheet yet.

As of this writing, the current Combined sheet has accrued 5,000 entries of decks from the current format, an estimated number of 28,850 matches. This is superb and really a lot of the credit goes to the people doing the hard work collecting this data within the Legacy Data Collection Project.

Let's start by looking at things from a high level overview of what the current macro archetypes look like in Legacy right now.

As we've come to somewhat expect over the past several months, since the release of Modern Horizons 2 the format is heavily skewed towards Tempo variants and Midrange/Control decks. The representation of Tempo variants is nearly almost half of the Midrange/Control decks in the current format alone. Of the Tempo variants in the format, the primary top dog in terms of sheer representation is of course, the UR Delver shell.

It is also worth noting that there is also a lot of Combo decks in the format, and if you had to combine them for the sake of this data set, there would be more combo than the Midrange/Control decks as well, with 648 Permanent based Combo decks and 544 Spell Combo decks (as well as 302 Graveyard combo decks). This is certainly a fair amount of combo, but not as much as there are fair decks overall (if you were to lump together all the fair blue decks it would be over 2,000 decks in the current format).

Other fair decks in the format such as those utilizing more Land based strategies and Aether Vial are also a fair chunk however, a direct response to the metagame being exceedingly fair. We see this a fair amount in decks like Lands and D&T being very powerful right now.

Now let's take a look at both the Subarchetype breakdowns and the Win Rate data. I will stress that it is far easier to understand the Win Rate data and the chart if you are also looking at the actual data sheet.

UR Delver with a close to 800 copies overall in the data set is pretty impressive, putting it at close to 16% of the overall metagame. In addition to this representation, the current MWP w/ Mirrors is estimated at around 52.5% and w/o mirrors at 53%. It's worth noting that this is the only deck in the data set where the lower CI Min Win Rate is slightly above 50% (50.51%) and the CI Max is at 55.47% meaning that the true win rate of the deck lies somewhere in between these values.

This says a lot about the power of the UR Delver shell. Not only is it an exceptionally popular play style in the Legacy format, but even when it has a target on its back already the deck is capable of maintaining a positive over 50% win rate. I have said it before, but the Tempo URx shells are so incredibly adaptable that they can easily figure out how to defeat most strategies in the current format. A lot of what this data shows definitely tells us that even with a lot of the format trying to actively take it on, the deck is still very strong.

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The Jeskai Ragavan deck is similarly a deck that also has a fairly positive win rate (52.3% w/ mirrors) and is the next set of sample size below UR Delver (by more than half). This deck is strong and the addition of white for removal such as Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending is very good. I suspect that this deck does have a set of issues attributed mostly to Tempo shell variants that are more than two colors and that is the inherent weakness of its manabase. The color requirements are far less stringent than say, RUG Delver during Oko era was, but the fact that the shell dips into a third color is fairly relevant. A lot of the times we've seen a lot of inherent power in the Tempo shell has quite often been in scenarios where the default best shell is straight UR (with the exceptions of the sheer strength of cards like Wrenn and Six and Oko). Dipping into a thid color is usually a weakness for the Tempo decks, but only because that dip allows them access to effects they don't have in just UR colors, and based on the times I've played against this deck it definitely is strong but that need for a third color is exploitable.

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The other deck we have in our Top 3 is Death and Taxes in terms of overall representation, and while this deck has a solid track record versus the Delver/Tempo shells of the format, it's win rates are slightly lower than 50%. I don't believe this makes the deck look terrible, on the contrary it definitely shows that the deck is good but in very specific situations contextual to the current metagame and also how these rates can be dragged down a bit. D&T is often recommended for players newer to the format, and it is a hard deck to fully grasp well. While it does have a solid matchup versus Delver, it does struggle against some of its more natural predators like Elves and some of the faster combo decks like Doomsday.

Elves is another deck hot on the radar, and it too has a pretty positive win rate overall (just over 50%). This is another deck that has keyed itself in on beating the Tempo shell and it can definitely do so very well. That being said, the deck is very difficult to play well, and Delver shells do have the ability to tech for it with sideboard cards if it really has the deck in its sights in an event.

Is the Format Healthy?

I think this is the biggest question, and I do firmly believe the answer to this question is no. While there's a lot going on in the current format, much of the format is keyed and teching to attack the perceived best deck in the format (UR Delver) and that deck is still doing exceptionally well. It speaks a lot to the general strength of the Tempo shell when nearly everyone in the format has got your number and yet you still manage to perform well.

Now let me be clear about something, I don't actually personally mind that there is a best deck in the format nor do I mind that the deck in question is some sort of fair deck (in fact I really enjoy the fact that D&T is a solid choice right now myself), but looking at this data and seeing not only the reduction in Challenges overall but also the win rate and representation of that best deck combined with the deckbuilding seen in other decks in the format that I don't feel overly happy with the current state of things. Whether or not Wizards chooses to make any changes to the format soon is a solid matter to ponder, as many have expected and asked for it immediately after Eternal Weekend ended.

I don't fully believe a change will be made until after the New Year, but I also believe that this is because the changes that Wizards may be considering making to the format are more sledgehammer-esque and less scalpel-like. We may be in for sweeping changes to the format, I can't really say, but I do know this kind of waiting and deliberation does mean we may get something more than just banning Ragavan.

Regardless of what happens, I'm still finding small ways to have fun in the format until a change does occur, but I do know that it will be interesting to see what comes next when that change does come down.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 12/5

We had a Legacy Showcase Challenge over this past weekend. Showcase Challenges are generally bigger premier events because they feed into qualifications for the Showcase Qualifier event at the end of the season, thus they cost Qualification Points (40 QPs to be exact) to enter. This event had 144 players in it thanks to data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

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

Delver had a strong representation like we've come to expect, followed up by the Blue Zenith decks that have been more popular since Eternal Weekend. UR Delver did only have a fair win rate at ~51%, but the thing to remember is that even if it didn't make a Top 8 appearance in this event, its win rate was still above 50% with most of the format gunning for it and still being at close to 20% of the metagame. That in of itself is still pretty good.

Reanimator also had a pretty positive showing in regards to Top 8 conversion, but was dragged down a bunch in win rate by a lot of the players near the bottom.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Blue Zenith 1st McWinSauce
Lands 2nd rexjak
Reanimator 3rd golphinus
Madness 4th MrJACEone
4C Control 5th Ozymandias17
Blood Moon Aggro 6th bomberboss
Reanimator 7th kanister
Death and Taxes 8th luinil

Definitely an interesting Top 8, with nary a Delver to be seen. Instead, we had some Reanimator action and a solid finish by the Yorion Blue Zenith deck that's been putting up results since Eternal Weekend.

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This deck is very versatile and has a lot of powerful grindy options. The fact alone that this is running full four of Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending says a lot though about the power level of these removal spells and how they line up against the format.

The Second Place finalist was on a Bant Lands deck!

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This deck is based on a list that Javier Dominguez played in a Challenge event as well, eschewing main deck Force of Will effects for the Lands package of Exploration and Loam. Very interesting list overall.

We had two Reanimator decks in the Top 8, so let's look at the higher placing one.

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Grief actually added quite a bit to this deck. It's a solid play to Grief someone and then Reanimate the Grief again for value and a 3/2 with Menace. Sometimes that alone can be lights out. Serra's Emissary is also an exceptionally powerful card versus a lot of different decks (naming Creature in many cases just wins the game).

Speaking of creatures we also had a showing by Madness.

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This deck is always super fun and interesting. One of the more intriguing Lion's Eye Diamond decks in the current format given that it actually uses LED for mana.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had a showing by Blood Moon Aggro/Red Stompy.

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Main deck THREE Pyroblast in a Chalice of the Void deck is something, but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

Our good friend Sam Dams is the Infect Master! Taking some cues from Modern it's Phyrexian Crusader time!

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jtl005 is back with some Esper Vial action! Kaya, Ghost Assassin in the sideboard!

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Grixis Shadow in 2021?!?!

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Our good friend Colron Chambers (paragon249) continues to amaze me.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I may have jumped onto the D&T train as of late. The deck seems pretty incredible and has been super fun to learn.

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time!

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