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Pro Tour–Berlin Metagame Analysis

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The letter W!hat was expected to be a popular deck, but not the most popular, ended up giving perhaps the most impressive display of any archetype at a Pro Tour. Ever. Elves! placed six players in the Top 8, including a clean sweep of the Top 4. This is some rarefied territory here. With 33 different decks represented in the field, for one deck to show that level of dominance is pretty unique. Without getting too math-y here, the chances that a single deck in a 33-deck field would place six in the Top 8 are significantly less than 1%. Significantly less than .001%, even. Really, just very small. Elves! didn't stop with the Top 8 either; there were seven more decks in the Top 32 featuring those pointy-eared mana machines.

Before examining further the success of the Elves! deck, first let me recap what the field looked like as a whole, as first reported by Bill Stark.

Deck Competitors % of Field D2 Flow Through
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 D1 D2
Zoo 125 37 0 28% 23% 30%
Elves! 71 38 6 16% 24% 54%
Storm 39 7 0 9% 4% 18%
Next-Level Blue 32 15 0 7% 9% 47%
Junk 26 5 0 6% 3% 19%
Faeries 24 11 1 5% 7% 46%
Death Cloud Rock 21 11 0 5% 7% 52%
Affinity 18 3 0 4% 2% 17%
All-In Red 17 6 0 4% 4% 35%
Burn 17 6 0 4% 4% 35%
Dredge 9 4 0 2% 3% 44%
Hulk Combo 5 1 0 1% 1% 20%
Life from the Loam Rock 5 1 0 1% 1% 20%
Tezzeret Control 5 3 1 1% 2% 60%
Bant Control 4 1 0 1% 1% 25%
Martyr Proclamation 4 1 0 1% 1% 25%
Second Breakfast 4 1 0 1% 1% 25%
Blue-Red Tron 4 0 0 1% 0% 0%
White-Blue Tron 4 1 0 1% 1% 25%
Bant Aggro 2 2 0 0% 1% 100%
Goblins 2 1 0 0% 1% 50%
Swans Combo 2 2 0 0% 1% 100%
Battle of Wits 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Beasts 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Belcher Combo 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Black-Green Rock 1 1 0 0% 1% 100%
White-Black Tokens 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Green-White Slide 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Mindlock Orb Control 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Mono-Blue Control 1 1 0 0% 1% 100%
Rift Slide 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Seismic Loam 1 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Blue-Black Tron 1 1 0 0% 1% 100%

What Zoo lacked in dominance, it made up for in Day 1 numbers. All in all, 28% of the field showed up with aggressively costed creatures and a sprinkling of utility spells. Only 30% of those players had to wake up early on Saturday (excluding, of course, those who were opening Sealed decks at the PTQ). Elves!, however, pushed through over half of its mages, beating out Death Cloud Rock for Day 2 flow-through rate (for decks with 10 or more players). Storm, Junk, and Affinity all performed terribly on Day 1, failing to move even 1 of 5 players into Day 2.

Note that anything over 35% should be considered good for flow-through rate (160 players in Day 2 versus 454 in the event). Next-Level Blue and Dredge should both get a complimentary nod for shaking off the hits the set rotation gave them and showing up with very respectable numbers.

Day 2 flow though fails to paint the entire picture, though. To get a clearer idea of exactly what went down in Berlin, we need to examine the win rates. Of course, there is bound to be a variance here. We're talking about hundreds of different players, each with different skill levels and tweaks in their decks. Some arrived to Berlin early, some were jetlagged. Some tested a lot, some none at all. Some got a good night's sleep, some might have been out too late. Even with all of those differences, what we can glean from the 2,263 matches played is going to provide us with a solid understanding of the format. As usual, mirror matches are excluded. I'll include decks where there were not enough matches played to make concrete inferences—use those as a starting point. Don't read too much into them as they could prove to be misleading. These are not meant to be predictors, but rather historical analysis of what happened.

Deck Win % Matches
Blue-Black Tron 68.75% 16
Black-Green Rock 68.75% 16
Goblins 65.22% 23
Tezzeret Control 60.66% 62
Elves! 60.35% 645
Dredge 59.14% 95
Faeries 58.06% 255
Swans Combo 56.25% 32
Mono-Blue Control 56.25% 16
Bant Aggro 56.25% 32
Next-Level Blue 50.97% 315
Death Cloud Rock 50.71% 217
All-In Red 50.60% 166
Martyr Proclamation 50.00% 36
Black-White Token 50.00% 8
Life from the Loam Rock 48.94% 47
Burn 48.24% 170
Bant Control 47.06% 34
Blue-White Tron 45.00% 40
Zoo 44.78% 842
Junk 43.63% 207
Green-White Slide 42.86% 7
Beasts 42.86% 7
Storm 42.31% 291
Affinity 41.55% 142
Blue-Red Tron 39.29% 28
Hulk Combo 36.84% 38
Second Breakfast 34.48% 30
Seismic Loam 28.57% 8
Rift Slide 25.00% 8
Battle of Wits 25.00% 8
Mindlock Orb Control 25.00% 8
Belcher Combo 14.29% 7

At the top, we see Blue-Black Tron and Black-Green Rock decks that each went 11-5—good for 31st and 36th places, respectively. I'll avoid further discussion on these, as each had only one player using the deck. If you're interested, look up Shouta Yasooka's (Tron) and Lasse Nørgaard's (Rock) decklists in the coverage.

Goblins had one pilots, one finishing 10th (Johan Sadeghpour) and one in 305th. If you're interested, go check out Johan's deck.

Tezzeret Control ("The Tezzerator")

Tezzeret is something we can talk about. One of 2 non-Elf decks on day 3, Tezzeret was only overshadowed by Rofellos's family for generating the most chatter at the tournament. 3 of its 5 mages were playing on day 2, but only Kenny Öberg placed in the money.

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Hulk Combo 100.00% 1
Goblins 100.00% 1
All-In Red 100.00% 1
Burn 100.00% 2
Junk 75.00% 4
Faeries 71.43% 7
Next-Level Blue 66.67% 6
Affinity 66.67% 3
Zoo 53.33% 15
Storm 50.00% 2
Dredge 50.00% 2
Elves! 50.00% 14
Death Cloud Rock 33.33% 3
Grand Total 60.66% 61

Those are pretty good numbers across a host of different decks. You'll notice that against our newly crowned champion, Tezzeret earned a full-on split. No opponent looked truly frightening for this deck. It's possible that people weren't really sure what to expect, but whatever the reason was, Tezzerret certainly performed admirably.

Elves!

No slow-roll intended here—I'm showing Elves! this far into the analysis because that's where it fell.

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Seismic Loam 100.00% 2
Rift Slide 100.00% 3
Mono-Blue Control 100.00% 3
Mindlock Orb Control 100.00% 1
Beasts 100.00% 2
Battle of Wits 100.00% 2
Hulk Combo 87.50% 8
Martyr Proclamation 85.71% 7
Junk 78.95% 38
Affinity 76.19% 21
Bant Control 71.43% 7
Death Cloud Rock 71.11% 45
Burn 69.57% 23
Storm 68.52% 54
All-In Red 64.00% 25
Zoo 56.91% 188
Next-Level Blue 55.17% 58
Life from the Loam Rock 54.55% 11
Black-Green Rock 50.00% 4
Tezzeret Control 50.00% 14
Bant Aggro 50.00% 4
Faeries 47.54% 61
Swans Combo 44.44% 9
Blue-White Tron 40.00% 10
Dredge 38.89% 18
Blue-Red Tron 33.33% 3
Blue-Black Tron 33.33% 3
Second Breakfast 25.00% 4
Goblins 20.00% 5
Grand Total 60.35% 633

There are a lot of matches played here, and a lot that were won. Surveying the numbers, Faeries should be the one that jumps at you as being scary. Though it didn't happen that way in the Top 8, Faeries is certainly a threat. The good news, though, is that there are a lot of very good numbers up there. The 188 matches against Zoo actually lowered the win percent.

A 60% win rate is extremely difficult to keep up. For reference, Jon Finkel has a 62% win rate in over 1,200 draft matches. If a deck is competing with Jon over any large sample size, that deck is dominant. There's no way of getting around it: Elves! was the best deck at this tournament. In subsequent tournaments of the same format, that may not be the case, as people will likely have their decks adjusted and tuned against those Orlando Bloom lookalikes. But in Berlin, on Halloween weekend, by any measure, Elves! were the best.

Dredge

Remember Dredge? Remember when it was the deck of Extended? Leyline of the Void and Tormod's Crypt were everywhere. Then a lot of cards rotated out. Most people assumed that the archetype was dead. Others wondered, "What if"? Here's what happened to those others:

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Blue-Red Tron 100.00% 1
Second Breakfast 100.00% 1
All-In Red 100.00% 1
Bant Aggro 100.00% 1
Bant Control 100.00% 1
Life from the Loam Rock 100.00% 1
Black-White Token 100.00% 1
Hulk Combo 100.00% 1
Storm 83.33% 6
Next-Level Blue 75.00% 4
Blue-Black Tron 66.67% 3
Death Cloud Rock 66.67% 6
Elves! 61.11% 18
Affinity 60.00% 5
Junk 50.00% 2
Tezzeret Control 50.00% 2
Swans Combo 50.00% 2
Faeries 50.00% 8
Zoo 47.83% 23
Burn 25.00% 4
Martyr Proclamation 0.00% 1
Mindlock Orb Control 0.00% 1
Grand Total 59.14% 93

Not too shabby for a "dead" archetype. Dredge placed two people in the Top 16 (Phillip Summereder and Nikolaus Eigner) and one more in the money. The deck was popular with the Austrians, as five of the nine graveyard magicians were from that country. Somewhat scary numbers against Zoo notwithstanding, the environment lent itself to a successful Dredge deck. While the deck was certainly less powerful than its predecessors, the hate was virtually nonexistent, making this an extremely well timed deck decision.

Faeries

First Faeries were transported from Block to Standard. Now they're invading Extended.

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Blue-White Tron 100.00% 1
Mindlock Orb Control 100.00% 1
Martyr Proclamation 100.00% 4
Bant Aggro 100.00% 2
Beasts 100.00% 1
Belcher Combo 100.00% 1
Life from the Loam Rock 100.00% 4
Death Cloud Rock 90.00% 10
Second Breakfast 75.00% 4
Junk 71.43% 14
Next-Level Blue 63.16% 19
Affinity 60.00% 5
Swans Combo 60.00% 5
Storm 56.25% 16
Zoo 53.33% 60
Elves! 52.46% 61
Blue-Black Tron 50.00% 2
Hulk Combo 50.00% 2
Burn 50.00% 6
Dredge 50.00% 8
All-In Red 45.45% 11
Tezzeret Control 28.57% 7
Goblins 25.00% 4
Grand Total 58.06% 248

Fae players played almost half of their non-mirror matches against two decks, Zoo and Elves!. While posting about 53% against those two decks is good, posting 63% against the rest is great. In addition to netting the second non-Elves! Top 8 berth (along with Tezzeret Control), Faeries also had three more in the Top 16 and four more after that in the money. This is an impressive performance. Riptide Laboratory never looked so good!

Zoo

It was an undefined format. Several sets had rotated out, injuring many existing archetypes, but not Zoo. Shards of Alara came in, offering some more gas for the deck. It looked like this format could be Zootopia.

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Seismic Loam 100.00% 2
Second Breakfast 100.00% 7
Belcher Combo 100.00% 3
Battle of Wits 100.00% 3
Blue-White Tron 66.67% 12
Affinity 59.46% 37
Blue-Red Tron 57.14% 7
Hulk Combo 55.56% 9
Storm 55.06% 89
Junk 53.45% 58
Dredge 52.17% 23
Swans Combo 50.00% 4
Rift Slide 50.00% 2
Green-White Slide 50.00% 2
Tezzeret Control 46.67% 15
Faeries 46.67% 60
Life from the Loam Rock 46.15% 13
Elves! 43.09% 188
Next-Level Blue 41.05% 95
Goblins 40.00% 5
Mono-Blue Control 37.50% 8
Burn 36.96% 46
Bant Control 36.36% 11
Black-White Token 33.33% 3
All-In Red 33.33% 48
Beasts 33.33% 3
Death Cloud Rock 27.78% 54
Bant Aggro 27.27% 11
Black-Green Rock 0.00% 7
Blue-Black Tron 0.00% 2
Martyr Proclamation 0.00% 6
Grand Total 44.78% 833

But it wasn't, thanks to Elves!, Next-Level Blue, Burn, All-In Red, Death Cloud Rock—just to name a few. Zoo got beaten up, and beaten up frequently. People were prepared for it, and the deck that made up 30% of the field on Day 1 put only two people in the Top 32, none higher than 19th (Aj Sacher).

Magic has long ago become a global game. Frequently in Top 8s you can see (or hear) the participants' countrymen cheering them on, in the name of national pride. Taking that into consideration, I was curious as to how each country performed in Berlin. Wouldn't you know it, we have that info.

Country Win % Matches
Colombia 73.33% 15
Czech Republic 63.79% 58
Thailand 61.29% 31
Panama 60.00% 15
Belgium 60.00% 90
Slovak Republic 59.38% 32
Austria 58.88% 107
Croatia (Hrvatska) 58.62% 29
South Africa 57.89% 19
Denmark 57.45% 47
Japan 56.08% 378
Chile 55.56% 18
Turkey 53.85% 13
Sweden 53.72% 121
Portugal 52.38% 63
France 52.27% 308
Germany 52.24% 268
Canada 51.90% 79
Russian Federation 50.82% 61
Estonia 50.00% 8
Venezuela 50.00% 10
Argentina 50.00% 72
Philippines 50.00% 8
Ukraine 50.00% 12
Poland 49.33% 75
Brazil 49.18% 61
Spain 48.91% 184
Mexico 48.15% 27
Netherlands 47.41% 116
England 47.37% 95
United States 46.62% 843
Australia 45.45% 55
Switzerland 45.28% 53
Finland 42.50% 40
New Zealand 41.38% 29
Italy 40.96% 188
Taiwan 40.74% 27
Israel 40.00% 20
Greece 40.00% 25
Norway 39.29% 28
China 37.50% 8
Hungary 37.50% 24
Iceland 33.33% 6
Slovenia 33.33% 3
Singapore 27.27% 11
Peru 25.00% 4
Republic of Korea 16.67% 6
Malaysia 11.11% 9
Ireland 0.00% 3

First off, that's 49 countries. I knew there were a lot of countries represented at PTs, but I don't think it quite hit me that there were almost 50. Colombia is your winner, thanks to its lone representative, Carlos Amaya Troncoso and his Death Cloud Rock deck. Congratulations!

And finally, the largest concentration of a single deck from a single country came from the Americans, who sent 40 people playing Zoo. The next highest number came from the Japanese and their 20 Elves! players.

So far we've gone through a lot of empirical data, but to really understand the dominance of the Elves! deck I highly recommend going through some of the feature match coverage. The resiliency that the deck showed across numerous matches; against mass removal, opposing combos, and mass disruption among other things really made an impression on me. These numbers should only enhance your understanding of the extended metagame, not define it. Read the feature matches, play some games. It is very enlightening.

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