Hello and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, your weekly guide to the top decks and latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. Pioneer is on stage for yet another Regional Championship cycle, which kicked off with championship in France and Canada several weeks ago. However, most of the Regional Championships in this cycle are still to come. To highlight the most intriguing developments to keep an eye on, today's article will take a closer look at seven innovative Pioneer decks that found success at those first two Regional Championships.
Pioneer Metagame Update
Pioneer is the nonrotating format based on expansion sets and core sets from Return to Ravnica forward, with the most notable cards on the ban list being the allied fetch lands. With over 10,000 cards to choose from, Pioneer features a diverse range of competitive viably decks. While my in-depth format primer based on the Regional Championships in June and July still provides a useful introduction, the metagame constantly evolves.
To grasp the latest Pioneer developments, I analyzed over 600 successful decklists from competitive events over the past three weeks, excluding the Regional Championships in France and Canada that I covered in a previous article. Specifically, I used all published Magic Online decklists from scheduled Pioneer events held from September 28 through October 16. In addition, I used all decklists from the Classic Qualifier at LEC Lille, the CCS Pioneer $5K, the $5k RCQ at MXP Portland, and the $10K Showdown at NRG Indianapolis with net positive wins. To obtain a metric that combines popularity and performance, I awarded a number of points to each deck equal to its net wins (i.e., its number of match wins minus losses). Each archetype's share of total net wins can be interpreted as its share of the winner's metagame.
|Winner's Metagame Share
|1. Izzet Phoenix
|2. Rakdos Midrange
|3. Mono-Green Devotion
|4. Rakdos Sacrifice
|5. Lotus Field Combo
|6. Boros Convoke
|7. Mono-White Humans
|8. Gruul Vehicles
|9. Estrona to Light
|10. Boros Heroic
|11. Enigmatic Fires
|12. Azorius Control
|13. Abzan Greasefang
|14. Waste Not
|15. Azorius Spirits
|16. Mono-Red Aggro
|17. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo
|18. Omnath to Light
|19. Bant Auras
|20. Golgari Midrange
|21. Niv to Light
|22. Dimir Control
|23. Bant Spirits
|24. Azorius Lotus Field
|25. Archfiend Alteration
The "Other" category included such deck archetypes as Mono-Black Midrange, Mono-Blue Spirits, Rona Lukka Combo, Temur Phoenix, Atarka Red, Izzet Transmogrify, Elves, Dimir Rogues, Goblins, Selesnya Angels, Boros Pia, Selesnya Auras, Esper Control, Rakdos Transmogrify, and more. Deck familiarity and experience remains a key success factor in Pioneer; anything can win in the hands of a capable pilot.
As indicated by the arrows in the table, this winner's metagame over the past three weeks is slightly different from the raw metagame at the Regional Championships in France and Canada. Izzet Phoenix has risen from the ashes again, taking the first-place spot. Many pilots adopted the Picklock Prankster builds that excelled at the European Championship. As a result of the rise of Izzet Phoenix, decks that are well-positioned against it, such as Lotus Field Combo, are ticking up. Decks that struggle against Izzet Phoenix, such as Azorius Spirits, are in trouble and are ticking down.
Seven Sweet Pioneer Decks
Are you looking for a spicy new Pioneer deck to dazzle at your next event or to test for the upcoming Regional Championships? Then I have you covered with a selection of seven successful and novel Pioneer decks for you to check out. All of them finished in the money at the Regional Championships in France and Canada several weeks ago.
How many different combos can you fit into one Pioneer deck? According to Pro Tour champion Samuele Estratti, who earned a Pro Tour invite by finishing first after the Swiss at the European Championship, the answer is at least three. The deck he used can generate infinite mana with
In subsequent weeks, Aeterion and Arianne made Top 8s with the deck in Magic Online Challenges, Piper Powell took it to the Top 8 of the $10K Showdown at NRG Indianapolis. Adding in additional placements, the archetype has suddenly claimed a sizeable 4.1% of the winner's metagame, so it's a breakout deck that Regional Championship competitors should keep an eye on.
Jakob Jonsson Åberg, after finding previous success with Waste Not on Magic Online, went 10-5 at the European Championship, finishing in 44th place.
More recently, Edel and Brunoprince took Waste Not to Top 8s at Magic Online Challenges, reinforcing the deck's status as a legitimate contender. Over the past few weeks, it has climbed to 2.7% of the winner's metagame.
Alessandro Danesi finished 33rd at the European Championship with a 10-4-1 record. The key card in Danesi's deck is
Pascal Vieren qualified for his Regional Championship and the Pro Tour by going 14-1 in the Arena Qualifier Weekend in August, using an Izzet Transmogrify deck with
Egor Titov finished 22nd at the European Championship with an 11-4 record, earning a Pro Tour invite. Like Pascal Vieren's Izzet Transmogrify deck, Titov's build uses
Marc Tobiasch, who qualified for three Pro Tours in a row thanks to his Storm Herald Combo deck, finished 55th at the European Championship with a new Pioneer brew. On the way to his 10-5 record, I saw him sacrifice
Carson Bell finished 14th at Calgary's F2F Tour Championship with a 9-4 record. Bell's Golgari Midrange deck uses some of the most efficient interactive spells and the most powerful mid-sized creatures in Pioneer. In terms of Wilds of Eldraine additions,
As this article showed, Pioneer features a large diversity of archetypes that are capable of yielding positive records or even Pro Tour qualifications at the Regional Championships. Most of the Regional Championships are coming up over the next few weekends, and competitors who are still looking for a deck to tackle the metagame may benefit from the ones highlighted in this article.
The schedule for the remaining Regional Championships in this first cycle of the 2023–24 season is as follows:
- October 28–29: Australia and New Zealand and China.
- November 4–5: Brazil, Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean, South East Asia, Chinese Taipei.
- November 25–26: East Canada, South America, Japan and South Korea.
- December 15–17: S.A.
I can't wait to see in where the ever-evolving Pioneer metagame will go next!