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Archetype Breakdown for Pro Tour Dark Ascension

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Way back in 2005, Chris Galvin announced the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame . Hard to believe it was almost seven years ago. In Hawaii this weekend, 3 of the 29 that have been elected (and 1 probable future inductee) navigated their way to the final day of competition at Pro Tour Dark Ascension from a field of 446. I'm writing this prior to that drama playing itself out, so I don't have the benefit of knowing what the winning deck is. Perhaps that is better for our chore today, though. Today, we're going to go through and see how the Standard portion of the event played out. It will be nice not to go into the analysis with a bias towards the winning deck, especially since Constructed matches only represent about two-thirds of the matches played.

Bill Stark already did the dirty work of sorting through deck registration sheets to show us what the metagame looked like. Here's a quick recap:

Deck Type Number Percentage
White-Green Aggro 1 0.22%
Red-Green Wolf Run Aggro 1 0.22%
Blue-Black Aggro 1 0.22%
White-Blue-Green Aggro 1 0.22%
Black-Red Heartless Summoning Control 1 0.22%
White-Black Control 1 0.22%
Control Lich 1 0.22%
White-Black-Red-Green Control 1 0.22%
Blue-White Control 1 0.22%
Esper Red 1 0.22%
Grand Architect/Heartless Summoning 1 0.22%
Lich Combo 1 0.22%
White-Blue Delverless Spirits 1 0.22%
Venser Control 1 0.22%
White-Red-Green Venser 1 0.22%
White-Red-Green Aggro 2 0.45%
Black-Red Control 2 0.45%
White-Red Control 2 0.45%
White-Green Midrange 2 0.45%
Lich Control 3 0.67%
RDW 3 0.67%
Rock 3 0.67%
White-Green Overrun 4 0.89%
Desperate Control 5 1.12%
Tezzerator 5 1.12%
Black-Red Aggro 8 1.79%
Mono Black Aggro 8 1.79%
Blue-Black Control 9 2.01%
Reanimator 9 2.01%
Birthing Pod 14 3.13%
Mono Green 18 4.03%
Tempered Steel 24 5.37%
Esper 28 6.26%
Wolf Run 76 17.00%
Delver 91 20.36%
White Weenie 115 25.73%


And without further ado, here's how they performed:

Deck Type Win % Matches
Spirits 20.00% 5
Lich 25.00% 28
Tempered Steel 37.14% 35
Overrun 40.00% 25
Aggro WGR 40.00% 10
Control 43.07% 137
Mono Green 45.63% 103
White Weenie 48.32% 863
Tezzerator 48.48% 33
RDW 50.00% 20
Esper 51.11% 180
Wolf Run 51.47% 511
Delver 51.48% 641
BR Aggro 51.72% 29
Rock 52.63% 19
Reanimator 54.10% 61
Aggro BR 55.00% 20
UB Aggro 55.56% 9
Aggro Mono Black 59.26% 54
Aggro BR 60.00% 10
Aggro RG Wolf Run 60.00% 5
Aggro WB 60.00% 5
Heartless Summoning 60.00% 15
Birthing Pod 60.38% 106
WGU Aggro 70.00% 10


I consolidated the groups a little bit. There's a surprise (to me, at least) top deck with Birthing Pod variants coming ahead, the meager ten matches from WUG Aggro simply aren't enough to go by. We're going to look at White Weenie, Delver, Wolf Run, Esper, Tempered Steel and of course Birthing Pod decks as well as their variants. Please remember that this is merely a record of what happened at Pro Tour Dark Ascension. Play skill, specific card choices, and randomization all play a role in a deck's success. And these numbers have excluded mirror matches, which are by definition a 50-50 split.

White Weenie

Perhaps the oldest archetype, White Weenie has survived countless set rotations to still be viable and even dominant at times. It was a quarter of the field this weekend, in a couple of different forms.

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Aggro RG Wolf Run 0.00% 2
Aggro WG 0.00% 1
UB Aggro 0.00% 2
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
WUG Aggro 100.00% 1
Spirits 100.00% 1
Birthing Pod 15.38% 26
Rock 16.67% 6
Heartless Summoning 25.00% 4
RDW 25.00% 4
Aggro Mono Black 33.33% 15
Overrun 37.50% 8
Esper 38.60% 57
Tempered Steel 40.00% 10
Wolf Run 44.78% 134
Grand Total 47.56% 595
Aggro BR 50.00% 2
Tezzerator 50.00% 8
Mono Green 52.94% 34
Delver 53.03% 198
Lich 55.56% 9
Reanimator 55.56% 18
Control 63.64% 44
Aggro BR 66.67% 3
BR Aggro 85.71% 7


Control, in its generic templating, didn't fare well against White Weenie. This represents the control decks of varying types that didn't quite have enough players to constitute their own grouping. White Weenie also carried a small edge against the also-popular Delver decks. Let's look a little closer there.

Deck UB Delver UR Delver UW Delver Grand Total
White Weenie Black        
Win %   100.00% 69.23% 71.43%
Green White Weenie        
Win %     66.67% 66.67%
White Weenie Green        
Win %     55.56% 55.56%
White Weenie Blue        
White Weenie        
Win %     0.00% 0.00%
Matches 0 2 26 28
Matches 0 0 3 3
Matches 0 0 36 36
Matches 0 0 3 3
Win % 100.00% 50.00% 48.45% 50.00%
Total Win % 100.00% 60.00% 52.11% 53.03%
Matches 3 2 97 102
Total Matches 3 5 190 198


Further inspection reveals that the more common White-Blue version of White Weenie was just below 50-50 against White-Blue Delver but White-Green was about 7% better in the same pairing. Overall, however, the blue variant of White Weenie was at 50.15% whereas White-Green was 46.46%.

Delver

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
WGU Aggro 0.00% 1
Heartless Summoning 0.00% 3
Aggro GW 0.00% 1
Aggro RGW 0.00% 2
Aggro RG Wolf Run 100.00% 1
UB Aggro 100.00% 1
Lich 100.00% 8
Rock 100.00% 2
Aggro Monoblack 15.38% 13
Tezzerator 30.00% 10
White Weenie 46.29% 175
Control 46.43% 28
Aggro RB 50.00% 2
Wolf Run 51.52% 132
Grand Total 51.81% 525
Reanimator 54.55% 11
Aggro BR 57.14% 7
Esper 58.70% 46
Overrun 60.00% 5
Tempered Steel 60.71% 28
MonoGreen 64.71% 17
RDW 66.67% 6
RB Aggro 66.67% 6
Birthing Pod 80.00% 20


Delver decks didn't have a lot of matches against Pod, but 16-4 is a pretty strong showing and is the beginning of a convincing argument of a good matchup. Delver performed well in similarly low number of matches against Tempered Steel and really handled Esper. 51.5% isn't overwhelming but is still a solid performance against Wolf-Run. Really, the only problem is White Weenie.

If you're curious, here are the different variants:

Deck Win % Matches
UB Delver 33.33% 9
UR Delver 33.33% 15
Grand Total 51.81% 525
WU Delver 52.69% 501


Not a lot to go on, really nothing you could draw a conclusion from other than, "Gee, not a lot of people played Delver with Black or Red."

Wolf Run

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Aggro BR 0.00% 1
Rock 100.00% 3
Reanimator 14.29% 14
Aggro BR 25.00% 4
Birthing Pod 34.48% 29
BR Aggro 40.00% 5
Aggro Mono Black 42.86% 7
Delver 48.48% 132
RDW 50.00% 4
Aggro WGR 50.00% 4
Mono Green 50.00% 18
WUG Aggro 50.00% 2
Grand Total 51.72% 437
White Weenie 55.56% 117
Esper 57.14% 21
Control 59.09% 22
Tezzerator 60.00% 5
Lich 60.00% 5
Tempered Steel 65.38% 26
UB Aggro 66.67% 3
Aggro WG 66.67% 3
Heartless Summoning 75.00% 4
Overrun 87.50% 8


Tempered Steel, Control and Esper decks all came in with impressive returns but too few matches to say anything conclusively. White Weenie, however, was not happy about facing Wolf Run decks. Delver, as we've already mentioned, was slightly favored against the Titanic decks. These decks, like most others, had some different versions floating around. Red was by far the most common, but some players had Black (a la Conley Woods from a few weeks ago at GP Orlando), White, Blue or even a Rock variant out there from Brian Eason.

Deck Win % Matches
Wolf Run Blue 12.50% 8
Wolf Run White 50.00% 46
Wolf Run Black 51.72% 58
Grand Total 51.72% 437
Wolf Run 52.81% 320
Rock Wolf Run 60.00% 5


Traditional and black variants were about 1% apart with traditional coming out on top. White decks broke even on the weekend.

Esper

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Aggro BR 0.00% 2
Aggro RG Wolf Run 0.00% 1
Lich 0.00% 1
Tezzerator 0.00% 1
UB Aggro 100.00% 1
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
Reanimator 100.00% 1
Rock 100.00% 2
Birthing Pod 16.67% 6
Delver 41.30% 46
Wolf Run 42.86% 21
Control 50.00% 4
Grand Total 51.23% 162
White Weenie 61.22% 49
Mono Green 62.50% 8
Aggro Mono Black 66.67% 6
BR Aggro 66.67% 3
Tempered Steel 66.67% 9


White Weenie decks fueled an above average performance for Esper decks. Without that pairing, Esper decks fell to 46.9% against the field. Wolf Run and Delver decks both were well above average against Delver, though Wolf Run didn't have a lot of matches.

Tempered Steel

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
WUG Aggro 0.00% 1
Birthing Pod 0.00% 5
RDW 0.00% 1
Tezzerator 100.00% 4
Spirits 100.00% 1
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
Reanimator 20.00% 5
Esper 33.33% 9
Wolf Run 34.62% 26
Control 37.50% 8
Delver 39.29% 28
Grand Total 41.13% 141
White Weenie 45.24% 42
Heartless Summoning 50.00% 2
Aggro Mono Black 50.00% 2
Mono Green 50.00% 2
Lich 75.00% 4


A mere three months ago, Team ChannelFireball took Worlds by surprise with a straight-forward, almost generic Tempered Steel deck and dominated. The deck, overall, went 70-44 (61%). The consensus was that the deck was relatively easy enough to prepare for, but nobody had prepared. It seems that the Pro Tour Players weren't about to make the same mistake twice. There wasn't a single good matchup for those small-but-sometimes-huge artifacts.

Birthing Pod

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
WUG Aggro 0.00% 1
Birthing Pod 0.00% 5
RDW 0.00% 1
Tezzerator 100.00% 4
Spirits 100.00% 1
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
Reanimator 20.00% 5
Esper 33.33% 9
Wolf Run 34.62% 26
Control 37.50% 8
Delver 39.29% 28
Grand Total 41.13% 141
White Weenie 45.24% 42
Heartless Summoning 50.00% 2
Aggro Mono Black 50.00% 2
Mono Green 50.00% 2
Lich 75.00% 4


Obviously we're talking about very few matches here. My initial thought was, wow, this is an all-or-nothing deck. Wolf Run and Delver appear right next to each other in the list, but there was a 45% gap between them. So, if these rates were to hold true over more matches we'd be looking at a deck that either went 2-1 or better against a deck or 1-4 or worse. Of course, this is the real world and over a larger sample that wouldn't hold true. But it sure looks fun. As for what we can actually say, well, not much. The most matches against a single archetype was 29 against Wolf Run. General rule for any reliability in statistics is to have a sample of at least 30, and that's really not even a lot. So Wolf Run has the beginnings of a god matchup. As does White Weenie (a very good matchup, actually). And Delver has the beginnings of a matchup about as bad as the White Weenie matchup is good. But, again, small sample sizes here. Best I can say is Birthing Pod looks like it could be situated in a very interesting way in the metagame and it sure looks fun to play. Check out the video Deck Tech with BDM and Gaudenis Vidugiris for more information.

That wraps up the analysis for this Pro Tour. I'm looking forward to watching some of the coverage of the Top 8. Then I might fire up Magic Online and try some of these decks out to see how good they are (or, perhaps more importantly, how fun they are).

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