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Pro Tour–San Diego Metagame Breakdown

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The letter S!an Diego has long been known as a locale with pristine weather conditions, breathtaking sunsets, and easy access to Mexico. On the penultimate weekend of February 2010 it became the site of one of the most dominant performances the game of Magic has ever seen.

Luis Scott-Vargas, LSV to his fans, put on a display that, while he came up short in the Semifinals, will be one of the things this Pro Tour is remembered for. In much the same way Josh Hamilton's 2008 MLB Home Run Derby display was the highlight of the event, the other things going on at PT–San Diego took a back seat to Mr. ChannelFireball's 17-0 start to the tournament. Sadly, at least for legend's sake, Luis was a little too New England Patriot and not enough Miami Dolphin, falling two match wins shy of the title.

The Finals, played out by two (previously) lesser-known characters, featured two different takes on a virtually unknown archetype: Jund. Well, unknown only if you aren't actually a Magic player. I'll go out on a ledge here and say that, since you're reading this article about Magic, on a website about Magic, that you are in fact a Magic player. And since you sling spells, you are probably no stranger to "Savage Lands, go."

Jund was expected to be the most played deck, as it has been for months now. Some expectations aren't lived up to. The Matrix Reloaded, Y2K, and Segways all fell extremely short of their hype and now stand as footnotes to history. Jund, however is LeBron James—worth every bit of the propaganda. As Bill Stark and Rashad Miller shared with us already here, Jund was easily the best represented deck. Jund was played by more people than the next three decks combined.

It is actually quite interesting how the remaining three-quarters of the field was built. Excluding Jund, we saw a pretty balanced field. Imagine for a moment that Jund wasn't there. Those 112 people all went surfing. Assuming that, this would be your revised metagame:

Archetype Total
White Weenie 13.58%
Vampires 10.93%
Bant 9.93%
All-American Control 8.61%
Zoo / Boss Naya 7.28%
Mono-Red 6.62%
White-Blue Control 6.29%
Junk 5.96%
Cruel Control 4.64%
Eldrazi Green 2.98%
Turbo-Fog 2.65%
Boros 2.65%
Summoning Trap 2.32%
Green-Red Valakut 1.66%
Tokens 1.66%
Naya Ramp 1.66%
Time Sieve 1.66%
Open the Vaults 1.66%
Runeflare Trap 1.32%
Polymorph 0.99%
Esper Control 0.99%
Unearth 0.99%
Warp World 0.66%
Red-Green Aggro 0.66%
Crabs 0.33%
Naya 0.33%
Jung 0.33%
Green-Blue Control 0.33%
Green-White Ramp 0.33%

When's the last time you saw a metagame with no deck breaking 15% of the field? Yeah, me either. Imagine a world with no Jund. It's easy if you try. But it is still just imagining. In reality, Jund was nearly 27% of the field. And it performed well too.

As always, mirror-matches have been removed and disclaimers about different builds, different play skill, mixed formats and small samples apply.

Archetype Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Zoo / Boss Naya 60.58% 137 56.94% 353
Crabs 60.00% 5 50.00% 14
Boros 59.65% 57 54.86% 144
White Weenie 58.04% 255 55.33% 638
Naya Ramp 55.26% 38 53.76% 93
Junk 53.23% 124 52.26% 310
Mono-Red 52.34% 128 51.70% 323
Jund 51.45% 550 50.65% 1384
Summoning Trap 51.16% 43 50.49% 103
Bant 50.79% 189 49.68% 467
Tokens 50.00% 30 46.75% 77
Green-Red Valakut 50.00% 34 51.85% 81
Green-White Ramp 50.00% 10 56.52% 23
Vampires 48.15% 189 47.99% 473
White-Blue Control 47.37% 95 50.41% 246
Open the Vaults 45.71% 35 45.45% 88
All-American Control 44.79% 163 46.08% 408
Time Sieve 42.86% 28 50.00% 72
Esper Control 40.91% 22 45.45% 55
Unknown 40.00% 5 42.86% 14
Turbo-Fog 38.46% 39 45.71% 105
Unearth 36.84% 19 42.31% 52
Cruel Control 35.44% 79 41.24% 194
Eldrazi Green 34.00% 50 41.67% 132
Polymorph 33.33% 18 38.64% 44
Warp World 30.00% 10 37.04% 27
Red-Green Aggro 30.00% 10 37.04% 27
Runeflare Trap 25.00% 20 31.25% 48
Green-Blue Control 0.00% 5 23.08% 13
Naya 0.00% 4 27.27% 11

For a new twist, I included game win rates. I'm not entirely certain what they might tell us, but if we have the data, mise well use it, right? So what can we see here? Boss Naya jumps out as the clear favorite, posting an excellent record over a significant number of matches. White Weenie also put up some very strong numbers. Junk and Mono-Red were both very pretty solid.

And then there's Jund, the fifth-best deck of those that had one hundred or more matches. In one way, it is a let-down. A deck that is so popular should really win more than 51% of its matches, right? Why else would more than one in four people play it?

In another way it is impressive. Sustaining an above-average record over such a massive number of matches is not something to sneeze at. Bear in mind that this deck, since it was played by so many people, very likely had some of the less-skilled gamers piloting it. It didn't have the luxury of Boss Naya, which had major names for about half of its pilots. Jund went out there with what had to be a very mixed bag of seasoned pros and newcomers, people who tested and people who did not, at its helm, and it was still able to win more than half of its matches.

After Jund, there is a barely-over-50-percent performance by Bant decks and a subpar showing from Vampires and All-American Control. Here's the table again, removing those that didn't have one hundred or more matches:

Archetype Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Zoo / Boss Naya 60.58% 137 56.94% 353
White Weenie 58.04% 255 55.33% 638
Junk 53.23% 124 52.26% 310
Mono-Red 52.34% 128 51.70% 323
Jund 51.45% 550 50.65% 1384
Bant 50.79% 189 49.68% 467
Vampires 48.15% 189 47.99% 473
All-American Control 44.79% 163 46.08% 408

These are the ones we're going to focus on. So far, I haven't seen anything to indicate something is fishy with the games. The biggest oddity I see is that White Weenie had about 3% better game win percentage than Junk, but that translated to almost 5% more matches. That leads me to believe that more Game 3s were needed, which probably indicates that White Weenie decks had strong sideboard plans. We'll take a closer look at that when we get into the deck breakouts. Speaking of, here's Boss Naya:

Zoo / Boss Naya Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Summoning Trap 100.00% 2 100.00% 4
Polymorph 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Green-Blue Control 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Esper Control 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Runeflare Trap 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Green-Red Valakut 100.00% 2 100.00% 4
Time Sieve 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Green-White Ramp 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Cruel Control 85.71% 7 75.00% 16
Mono-Red 80.00% 10 69.23% 26
White Weenie 65.00% 20 55.77% 52
All-American Control 62.50% 8 60.00% 20
Bant 61.54% 13 59.38% 32
Junk 60.00% 5 58.33% 12
Vampires 54.55% 11 51.61% 31
White-Blue Control 50.00% 2 57.14% 7
Warp World 50.00% 2 50.00% 6
Tokens 50.00% 2 50.00% 6
Naya Ramp 50.00% 2 40.00% 5
Turbo-Fog 50.00% 2 50.00% 4
Open the Vaults 50.00% 2 50.00% 6
Jund 43.59% 39 47.52% 101
Boros 0.00% 1 33.33% 3
Grand Total 60.58% 137 56.94% 353

You really have to love the commitment there. You know Jund is going to be the most popular deck. I mean you absolutely know it. You know your deck is a dog to Jund. But you also know that, hey, I bash literally everything else. So if I'm slightly less than a coin flip a quarter of the time and the rest of the time I'm pushing 70%, I think I'll do just fine. Sure enough, the strategy earned top honors. Of course, LSV might say that the strategy failed after his Semifinals loss to, drumroll please: Jund.

White Weenie Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Red-Green Aggro 100.00% 3 85.71% 7
Time Sieve 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Runeflare Trap 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Boros 100.00% 4 88.89% 9
Turbo-Fog 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Cruel Control 87.50% 8 71.43% 21
Open the Vaults 80.00% 5 69.23% 13
Tokens 75.00% 4 70.00% 10
Vampires 75.00% 20 62.96% 54
All-American Control 63.16% 19 57.69% 52
Jund 62.64% 91 58.90% 219
Green-Red Valakut 60.00% 5 53.85% 13
Mono-Red 55.56% 9 56.52% 23
White-Blue Control 50.00% 6 46.67% 15
Unearth 50.00% 2 60.00% 5
Polymorph 50.00% 2 50.00% 6
Eldrazi Green 50.00% 4 50.00% 12
Summoning Trap 44.44% 9 42.86% 21
Junk 37.50% 16 38.46% 39
Bant 36.84% 19 40.91% 44
Naya Ramp 33.33% 3 44.44% 9
Zoo / Boss Naya 30.00% 20 42.31% 52
Green-White Ramp 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Esper Control 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Grand Total 58.04% 255 55.33% 638

White Weenie, on the other hand, went a different route. If you can't beat 'em, beat 'em. A win rate of 63% against a deck that is 27% of the field is a pretty good start to winning a tournament. After that there is a bit of a mix versus the other top decks that brought the overall performance down a bit. It's fascinating to look at the different approaches these decks took against the metagame. White Weenie solved Jund, more or less, but did it at the expense of the field, whereas Boss Naya solved the field at the expense of Jund.

Opposing Archetype Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Green-Blue Control 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Runeflare Trap 100.00% 5 90.91% 11
Unknown 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Crabs 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Naya 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Turbo-Fog 73.33% 15 60.98% 41
Summoning Trap 70.00% 10 68.18% 22
Esper Control 70.00% 10 65.38% 26
Eldrazi Green 70.00% 20 58.93% 56
Time Sieve 66.67% 6 60.00% 15
Vampires 64.58% 48 61.34% 119
Naya Ramp 60.00% 15 57.14% 35
White-Blue Control 58.82% 34 51.72% 87
Zoo / Boss Naya 56.41% 39 52.48% 101
Green-Red Valakut 54.55% 11 50.00% 26
Bant 50.98% 51 51.56% 128
Warp World 50.00% 2 50.00% 6
All-American Control 50.00% 38 49.47% 95
Green-White Ramp 50.00% 6 42.86% 14
Unearth 50.00% 8 50.00% 22
Polymorph 50.00% 2 60.00% 5
Cruel Control 47.06% 17 48.78% 41
Junk 44.44% 45 46.55% 116
Open the Vaults 44.44% 9 47.83% 23
Mono-Red 39.47% 38 42.55% 94
White Weenie 37.36% 91 41.10% 219
Red-Green Aggro 33.33% 3 44.44% 9
Tokens 33.33% 6 47.06% 17
Boros 28.57% 14 37.84% 37
Grand Total 51.64% 548 50.76% 1379

As we discussed before, Jund did well. That sounds like an understatement for a deck that occupied both seats in the finals, but really that's what it did. I think Pro Tours are a lot like Major League Baseball in that you can build a deck (or team) to succeed in the Swiss (regular season), but the Top 8 (playoffs) are far less in your control. The small sample size of elimination rounds (the sample size is 1, after all) leads to much higher variance. You can build your deck to mulligan less frequently or to be less impacted when it does mulligan. You can build your deck to perform well in the early game. You can design your deck with redundancies to ensure consistency. All of these things will help reduce variance over the course of a long tournament. But they will not eliminate it, and if it strikes in the Finals, so be it. The best deck may not win. That's part of the fun of it all, isn't it?

Sometimes we'll see the best deck or player win. But a lot of the time we will not. No offense to Jund here—it has been dominant for quite a while now—but in this case I simply do not think it was the best deck for the tournament.

All of that aside, some of you might be wondering how the differing variants of Jund did. Well, the clearest delineation was between the decks that played Putrid Leech and the ones that did not. Decks with the Leech were a full 5% better than those without against the field. Against other Jund decks, the No-Leech builds were even worse, dropping 63.5% of the matches. I suppose the lesson there is that two mana 4/4s are good.

The remaining decks don't have a whole lot of information in them, because the breakouts give us far too few matches to examine. I'm posting their results here and encourage you to read them at your leisure, but I'll spare you the not-much-to-talk-about speech a couple of times.

Junk Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Turbo-Fog 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Polymorph 100.00% 3 100.00% 6
Unearth 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Eldrazi Green 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
White-Blue Control 66.67% 3 62.50% 8
White Weenie 62.50% 16 61.54% 39
All-American Control 57.14% 7 55.56% 18
Jund 54.35% 46 52.54% 118
Mono-Red 50.00% 6 50.00% 14
Vampires 50.00% 8 45.00% 20
Bant 45.45% 11 48.15% 27
Zoo / Boss Naya 40.00% 5 41.67% 12
Boros 40.00% 5 46.15% 13
Cruel Control 33.33% 6 33.33% 15
Summoning Trap 0.00% 2 20.00% 5
Crabs 0.00% 1 33.33% 3
Green-Red Valakut 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Grand Total 53.23% 124 52.26% 310

Mono-Red Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Green-Blue Control 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Summoning Trap 100.00% 2 66.67% 6
Green-Red Valakut 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Unearth 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Time Sieve 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Eldrazi Green 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Unknown 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Esper Control 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Warp World 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Vampires 88.89% 9 73.91% 23
Cruel Control 75.00% 4 60.00% 10
White-Blue Control 71.43% 7 61.11% 18
Turbo-Fog 66.67% 3 55.56% 9
Jund 58.97% 39 56.25% 96
Junk 50.00% 6 50.00% 14
White Weenie 44.44% 9 43.48% 23
Bant 37.50% 8 42.86% 21
Open the Vaults 33.33% 3 50.00% 8
Boros 25.00% 4 25.00% 8
Zoo / Boss Naya 20.00% 10 30.77% 26
Crabs 0.00% 1 33.33% 3
Tokens 0.00% 2 33.33% 6
All-American Control 0.00% 10 23.08% 26
Naya Ramp 0.00% 1 33.33% 3
Grand Total 52.34% 128 51.70% 323

Bant Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Turbo-Fog 100.00% 4 64.29% 14
Warp World 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Unknown 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Red-Green Aggro 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Tokens 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Naya 100.00% 1 66.67% 3
Eldrazi Green 75.00% 4 77.78% 9
Summoning Trap 66.67% 6 64.29% 14
Time Sieve 66.67% 3 57.14% 7
White Weenie 63.16% 19 59.09% 44
Mono-Red 62.50% 8 57.14% 21
Cruel Control 57.14% 7 50.00% 16
Junk 54.55% 11 51.85% 27
Boros 50.00% 6 50.00% 16
Naya Ramp 50.00% 4 55.56% 9
Jund 50.00% 52 48.85% 131
Runeflare Trap 50.00% 2 60.00% 5
Zoo / Boss Naya 38.46% 13 40.63% 32
All-American Control 38.46% 13 40.63% 32
Vampires 35.29% 17 42.50% 40
Polymorph 33.33% 3 37.50% 8
White-Blue Control 20.00% 5 33.33% 12
Green-Red Valakut 0.00% 2 0.00% 4
Unearth 0.00% 1 33.33% 3
Esper Control 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Open the Vaults 0.00% 2 0.00% 4
Grand Total 50.79% 189 49.68% 467

Vampires Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Polymorph 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Open the Vaults 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Cruel Control 100.00% 8 80.00% 20
Unearth 100.00% 2 80.00% 5
Tokens 66.67% 3 66.67% 6
Runeflare Trap 66.67% 3 50.00% 8
All-American Control 66.67% 15 62.16% 37
Green-Red Valakut 66.67% 3 57.14% 7
Bant 64.71% 17 57.50% 40
Eldrazi Green 62.50% 8 55.00% 20
Summoning Trap 50.00% 4 44.44% 9
Turbo-Fog 50.00% 4 50.00% 10
Time Sieve 50.00% 6 47.06% 17
Warp World 50.00% 2 60.00% 5
Boros 50.00% 4 55.56% 9
Esper Control 50.00% 2 40.00% 5
Naya Ramp 50.00% 2 40.00% 5
Junk 50.00% 8 55.00% 20
Zoo / Boss Naya 45.45% 11 48.39% 31
Jund 36.17% 47 39.32% 117
White Weenie 28.57% 21 38.60% 57
White-Blue Control 14.29% 7 20.00% 15
Mono-Red 11.11% 9 26.09% 23
Grand Total 48.15% 189 47.99% 473

All-American Control Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
Naya Ramp 100.00% 1 100.00% 2
Mono-Red 100.00% 10 76.92% 26
Cruel Control 75.00% 8 66.67% 18
Bant 61.54% 13 59.38% 32
Runeflare Trap 50.00% 2 60.00% 5
Tokens 50.00% 2 40.00% 5
Jund 50.00% 38 50.53% 95
Junk 42.86% 7 44.44% 18
White-Blue Control 42.86% 7 44.44% 18
Boros 40.00% 5 46.15% 13
Eldrazi Green 40.00% 5 46.15% 13
Zoo / Boss Naya 37.50% 8 40.00% 20
White Weenie 36.84% 19 42.31% 52
Turbo-Fog 33.33% 3 28.57% 7
Vampires 33.33% 15 37.84% 37
Time Sieve 25.00% 4 22.22% 9
Green-White Ramp 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Esper Control 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Polymorph 0.00% 1 0.00% 2
Green-Red Valakut 0.00% 2 0.00% 4
Summoning Trap 0.00% 7 17.65% 17
Unearth 0.00% 1 33.33% 3
Open the Vaults 0.00% 3 25.00% 8
Grand Total 44.79% 163 46.08% 408

Finally, in the spirit of the Olympics, here is the county breakdown for Standard results:

Country Match Win % Total Matches Game Win % Total Games
TUR 88.89% 9 68.00% 25
PHL 66.67% 3 57.14% 7
SVK 66.67% 15 57.50% 40
PAN 60.00% 5 61.54% 13
BOL 60.00% 5 53.85% 13
AUT 59.26% 27 56.72% 67
CHE 58.82% 34 55.81% 86
SGP 56.00% 25 54.84% 62
BRA 55.26% 38 53.13% 96
JPN 55.14% 292 53.09% 727
NLD 55.13% 78 53.81% 197
DEU 52.98% 151 53.68% 380
BEL 52.63% 76 52.06% 194
ENG 51.92% 52 50.81% 124
FIN 51.72% 29 49.25% 67
GRC 50.00% 8 50.00% 20
USA 49.88% 864 49.84% 2183
ITA 48.48% 66 48.48% 165
MEX 48.28% 29 45.07% 71
CAN 47.83% 92 48.94% 235
FRA 47.83% 138 48.42% 349
CZE 47.56% 82 49.75% 201
AUS 47.27% 55 47.73% 132
SWE 47.22% 36 48.91% 92
NZL 44.83% 29 47.22% 72
POL 44.12% 34 46.59% 88
CHN 42.86% 14 40.00% 35
PRT 41.38% 29 44.59% 74
MYS 40.00% 5 38.46% 13
ARG 40.00% 5 46.15% 13
KOR 40.00% 5 46.15% 13
NOR 40.00% 5 46.15% 13
PER 40.00% 5 46.67% 15
DNK 38.46% 13 42.86% 35
ESP 38.24% 68 41.18% 170
TWN 37.50% 8 40.91% 22
THA 37.50% 8 42.86% 21
RUS 30.43% 23 42.86% 63
IRL 25.00% 4 25.00% 8
CHL 25.00% 8 27.78% 18
ISR 20.00% 5 27.27% 11
VEN 20.00% 5 35.71% 14
COL 12.50% 8 26.32% 19

And the Gold went to Germany.

Pro Tour–San Diego was exciting to follow—between all the tweets, the text coverage, and of course the webcast I feel like I was basically there. Strangely I also feel jetlagged. Luis Scott-Vargas was the story of the event, and his deck was the best one there. In the end, Boss Naya doesn't have the novelty-sized check, though, and isn't that what this is all about anyway?

A final note that I want to make here is the importance of sideboards. Sideboarding is so often overlooked in playtesting that it is criminal. In this tournament, there were 2,391 Game 1s and 3,628 games after that. That's 52% more games played with sideboard than those played without. Something to think about the next time you're playtesting.


You can download a full breakdown of Standard match-ups at Pro Tour–San Diego by archetype in Excel format (64 KB).

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