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Feature: Pro Tour Journey into Nyx Metagame Analysis

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2,668 matches involving forty-one archetypes is the total sum of the Theros Block Constructed metagame for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx. While it's impossible – and unfair – to assume each player as an equal on the battlefield, we can assume every player brought there best game to the greatest stage in Magic.

The result was a spectacular display of diversity with a clear concentration of popular archetypes. Here's the complete list of archetypes and their win percentage:

Archetype Win % Matches Played
R/G Elspeth 50.68% 392
Black Aggro 46.94% 365
Junk Constellation 47.65% 333
BUG Control 57.46% 315
W/U Heroic 42.25% 157
B/G Constellation 52.96% 141
Red Heroic 46.83% 126
Junk Reanimator 50.00% 120
Esper Control 53.92% 102
W/R Heroic 46.95% 71
R/G Monsters 55.00% 60
Junk Midrange 64.74% 52
R/G Aggro 59.57% 47
White Heroic 48.89% 45
U/B Inspired 58.14% 43
Jund Monsters 48.72% 39
Infinite Blossoms 40.40% 33
W/B Aggro 48.00% 25
U/B Control 50.00% 22
Blue Devotion 31.58% 19
Green Constellation 35.29% 17
Bant Heroic 53.33% 15
BUG Constellation 28.57% 14
5C Midrange 60.00% 10
Bant Control 53.33% 10
Bant Planeswalkers 70.00% 10
B/G Reanimator 50.00% 10
W/B/R Midrange 50.00% 10
W/U Control 60.00% 10
W/B Midrange 25.00% 8
W/B/R Control 37.50% 8
Bant Midrange 20.00% 5
Junk Monsters 20.00% 5
W/B Heroic 40.00% 5
W/G Devotion 80.00% 5
W/U Hour of Need 20.00% 5
B/R Midrange 0.00% 3
Grixis Control 0.00% 3
W/G Monsters 0.00% 3
White Aggro 0.00% 3
Bant Constellation 0.00% 2

While this is helpful in showing the breadth of decks played this weekend, looking at the most popular – those that were played in at least thirty matches – reins our win percentages scope into more believable data. Let's start with the top performing decks:

Archetype Win % Matches Played
Junk Midrange 64.74% 52
R/G Aggro 59.57% 47
U/B Inspired 58.14% 43
BUG Control 57.46% 315
R/G Monsters 55.00% 60

The leader far and away was the deck that Pro Tour Journey into Nyx champion and Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Patrick Chapin had brought. Unlike the control- or aggro-focused decks his teammates had chosen, Chapin's path was split down the middle. Featuring a mix of powerful, efficient creatures (Fleecemane Lion and Polukranos, World Eater) that quickly create pressure, a collection of the best removal (Hero's Downfall and Silence the Believers) in the format, the most powerful and popular planeswalker (Elspeth, Sun's Champion), and the mana-smoothing duo core of so many decks (Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix) was more than a pile of all the best cards: They create the eminent deck in the Standard of tomorrow.

Following close behind are four decks that also outperformed the pack significantly. While Red-Green Monsters use efficient creatures to follow a similar midrange trajectory of the Junk deck, it trades the trump of Elspeth for smoother mana, and access to spells like Anger of the Gods and Lightning Strike. Red-Green Aggro takes that trade-off to the extreme by swarming with Akroan Crusader and friends to then finish an opponent off with burn. While a field full of great blockers that make mana work – the Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix combo – going bigger or wider with tokens were ways around players' defenses.

The popularity of BUG Control was led by multiple top teams deciding on a flavor of the deck independently. While it served as the worst best-kept secret of this Pro Tour it's clear adapting the non-white elements of the Junk shell to blue was a strong choice. Prognostic Sphinx, nigh invincible once it was on the battlefield, neatly defeated the ubiquitous removal. Without white in the way, both Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Kiora, the Crashing Wave found their homes here. Ashiok was an efficient way to "draw" and play cards off opponents' decks, and Kiora was serviceable to both delay incoming damage with her +1 loyalty ability or accelerate and draw into useful cards with -2 loyalty. Knowing the popularity of Elspeth led those playing BUG Control to target the decks that would play her, using Thoughtseize like the Junk decks to begin games at an advantage of cards and knowledge.

Blue-Black Inspired is a deck you might have missed throughout the weekend, but it was a deck on the radar for many teams. No. 4 Ranked Player and Top 4 competitor Josh Utter-Leyton shared his interest in the deck during his team's testing. Relying on Springleaf Drum, something often thought of in the context of Modern Affinity decks, to provide easy access to mana and getting creatures tapped, the deck used a variety of inspired triggers to take over games: Daring Thief would trade awful creatures for an opponents' excellent ones, and King Macar, the Gold-Cursed could exile the rest. It's an exciting deck that plays unlike anything else seen all weekend.

Archetype Win % Matches Played
Esper Control 53.92% 102
B/G Constellation 52.96% 141
R/G Elspeth 50.68% 392
Junk Reanimator 50.00% 120
White Heroic 48.89% 45
Jund Monsters 48.72% 39
Junk Constellation 47.65% 333

Decks in the middle of the pack were often similar to the more successful choices, but deviated in key ways. Esper Control was a mash of the blue in BUG Control with white for Elspeth, Sun's Champion and the tools it brought along: Banishing Light, Deicide, and a host more. Unsurprisingly, the core of black removal ensured it could live long enough to turn its value engines on. Black-Green Constellation moved away from just using Eidolon of Blossoms to draw into cards and added in the one-sided destruction of Doomwake Giant. Again, black removal was crucial for staying alive.

What both of those decks lacked were the Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix combo found almost everywhere else, which was a feature in each of Red-Green Elspeth, Jund Monsterd, and Junk Constellation. Red-Green Elspeth was Red-Green Monsters that added Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Junk Constellation twisted the Junk Midrange package to include Eidolon of Blossoms and Brain Maggot to hold control and grind card advantage. Jund Monsters put the power of black removal, and access to Thoughtseize, into the monsterous deck.

Junk Reanimator was another one of the decks that had appeared on Magic Online beforehand, and it played like a super-charged version of the black-green Theros block Draft deck. Satyr Wayfinder and Commune with the Gods would both fix mana and dump creatures into the graveyard, including fatties such as Ashen Rider, where Return from the Underworld, Whip of Erebos, Nemesis of Mortals and Nighthowler could take advantage of them.

White Heroic is the another novel deck in the middle, and it's the fundamental core of several more. Using a hyper aggressive curve of small heroic creatures (Favored Hoplite, Phalanx Leader, Hero of Iroas, and Fabled Hero) with efficient ways to target them multiple times (Gods Willing, Ajani's Presence, and Launch the Fleet), White Heroic was one of two known aggro decks coming into the weekend, and spawned derivatives using different colors.

Archetype Win % Matches Played
W/R Heroic 46.95% 71
Black Aggro 46.94% 365
Red Heroic 46.83% 126
W/U Heroic 42.25% 157
Infinite Blossoms 40.40% 33

The bottom of the pack is where the balance of the Heroic deck was found. The white-red variant went wider with Akroan Crusader and Coordinated Assault, which was good enough for No. 14 Ranked Player Stanislav Cifka to sneak into the Top 8 and the lone representative of aggressive decks. The purely red version used cards like Mogis's Warhound to go bigger and layer in burn spells. The white-blue take took advantage of Battlefield Hoplite and Aqueous Form to set up draws and strike regardless of the blockers in the way.

Black Aggro was the other readily known aggro deck for the weekend, and was a feature of the Magic Online metagame before the event started. While the typical removal and disruption package let it handle nearly anything opponents could play, it's focus was more proactive: Tormented Hero, Herald of Torment, Master of Feasts, and Spiteful Returned among other are the core of that deck.

The final deck of the weekend was arguably the most exciting to consider. Using Market Festival, Thassa's Ire, and Kiora's Follower to generate infinite mana. In combination with other inspired cards it's possible to anything from build and army to gain an arbitrary amount of life.

While these decks may have been the under-performers, plenty will change between now and when the new Standard hits this fall. Which deck will you be planning to build in the future?

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