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Feature: Archetype Breakdown for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica

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Sometimes a deck is the most popular because it's oppressive and the clear best deck available. Sometimes a format is small and there aren't a lot of options. Yet still, other times a deck's popularity is a result of a format being new and untested and the "obvious" deck is chosen by the majority. I'm not convinced that the Pro Tour Return to Ravnica metagame was a result of any of those reasons. The format actually seems healthy with plenty of innovation happening. However, the cascading bogeyman of Jund still cast a large shadow over the format.

Ray Walkinshaw, AKA blisterguy, had the honor of sifting through 383 decklists and classifying each deck so we could start to see what the metagame looked like, which you can see here. I've re-posted the table for ease of viewing, and focused only on the Day 1 metagame so we can see what people chose, not how those decks performed. We'll be getting to that part shortly.

Deck Players Percent
Jund 119 31.07%
Robots 36 9.40%
UW Control 32 8.36%
UWR Delver 18 4.70%
Naya Kiki-Jiki Combo 18 4.70%
GU Scapeshift 17 4.44%
Storm 17 4.44%
Scapeshift 12 3.13%
GR Tron 9 2.35%
Second Breakfast 8 2.09%
GUB Infect 6 1.57%
Eternal Command 5 1.31%
Dredgevine 5 1.31%
Splinter Twin Combo 5 1.31%
WB Tokens 4 1.04%
Soul Sisters 4 1.04%
Merfolk 4 1.04%
Zoo 3 0.78%
Gifts Control 3 0.78%
GU Infect 3 0.78%
RB Burn 3 0.78%
Bant 3 0.78%
Jund Dredgevine 3 0.78%
BG Zombie Dredgevine 2 0.52%
UR Control 2 0.52%
BRW Zombies 2 0.52%
GWB Junk 2 0.52%
Nivmagus Combo 2 0.52%
Hive Mind 2 0.52%
Grixis Reanimator 2 0.52%
Living End 2 0.52%
UGR Delver 2 0.52%
Naya Aggro 2 0.52%
Nivgamus Combo 2 0.52%
GWB Doran 2 0.52%
UR Delver 1 0.26%
UGR 1 0.26%
Wargate Scapeshift 1 0.26%
4 Color Jund Doran 1 0.26%
Unknown 1 0.26%
4 color Delver 1 0.26%
BUG Control 1 0.26%
GWB Melira 1 0.26%
Doran 1 0.26%
GUR Through the Breach 1 0.26%
Mono Red Burn 1 0.26%
GB Infect 1 0.26%
Mono Red Highlander 1 0.26%
Doran Zoo 1 0.26%
UR Fairies 1 0.26%
Boros Aggro 1 0.26%
BW Zombies 1 0.26%
Mono Black Control 1 0.26%
GUR Aggro Control 1 0.26%
Mono Blue Faeries 1 0.26%
UB Control 1 0.26%
BG Zombie 1 0.26%

If you're unfamiliar with any of the deck names, please take a minute to read through Nate Price's excellent glossary.

There Jund is, representing about the same number of players as the next five most popular decks combined. This is, I believe, the result of two things. First, Jund is an obvious choice any time it is legal. It was dominant when it was in Standard and many people are very familiar with how to play it while still owning the cards. Second, outside of Jund, the format is vibrant. No other deck even managed 10% of the field. So there are a lot of decks with 10 or so people playing them in a 383 person field.

The unfortunate side effect of such a varied landscape is that there are fewer matches played by each deck, allowing for much less significant analysis. But, in the words of Osyp Lebedowicz, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. So we'll carry on and examine what data we do have and maybe take an educated guess or two to fill in the blanks.

Deck Percent Matches
Mono Red Burn 70.00% 10
Doran 70.00% 10
Naya Aggro 66.67% 15
Wargate Scapeshift 60.00% 5
BG Zombie 60.00% 5
Soul Sisters 60.00% 35
BW Zombies 60.00% 5
UGR Delver 60.00% 20
UR Control 60.00% 15
UR Delver 60.00% 10
Second Breakfast 58.00% 50
GUB Infect 57.69% 52
Robots 57.64% 288
GWB Junk 57.14% 14
Merfolk 55.88% 34
UB Control 55.56% 9
GR Tron 55.56% 72
Nivmagus Combo 55.00% 20
BG Zombie Dredgevine 53.33% 15
Hive Mind 53.33% 15
Gifts Control 53.33% 30
Scapeshift 52.69% 93
UW Control 52.44% 225
GB Infect 50.00% 10
Mono Red Highlander 50.00% 10
Unknown 50.00% 6
Eternal Command 50.00% 40
Storm 49.63% 135
Dredgevine 48.84% 43
Naya Kiki-Jiki Combo 48.59% 142
Splinter Twin Combo 48.57% 35
Jund 47.57% 597
UWR Delver 46.83% 126
GU Scapeshift 46.56% 131
WB Tokens 46.43% 28
Zoo 45.00% 20
UGR 44.44% 9
GU Infect 44.00% 25
RB Burn 43.48% 23
BRW Zombies 42.86% 14
GWB Melira 40.00% 5
Doran Zoo 40.00% 5
Living End 40.00% 10
UR Fairies 37.50% 8
GWB Doran 35.71% 14
Bant 35.00% 20
Grixis Reanimator 33.33% 15
Nivgamus Combo 30.77% 13
Jund Dredgevine 30.00% 20
Mono Blue Faeries 25.00% 4
BUG Control 20.00% 5
Mono Black Control 20.00% 5
GUR Aggro Control 20.00% 5
4 color Delver 20.00% 5
GUR Through the Breach 14.29% 7
Boros Aggro 0.00% 5
4 Color Jund Doran 0.00% 5

As is usually the case when a single deck has so much of the field, overall it was not an overwhelming favorite. In this case, however, it wasn't even a favorite. Bear in mind that I've excluded mirror matches (what with them being a guaranteed 50% and all).

Starting at the top of the list, what you see is really a lot of decks with only a handful of players using them. 60% is generally considered a very good win rate for a deck in a tournament. But for a single player in that same tournament it means losing 2 out of every five matches, which is not a recipe for making the top 8 (the lowest threshold of points for top 8 is usually around 36, which is a 12-4 record. Sometimes it's 12-3-1. Either way, that's at least a 75% win rate).

I normally try to sift through these results and identify a "best deck" for a tournament. It's subjective, at best, but I look at overall win rate as well as some larger number of matches played. With such a varied field, there's really not a lot to look at. Judging by this, I'd say Robots (or Affinity) was the clear best deck. No other deck within five percentage points of win rate had anywhere near the number of matches played. That's what I would say in a vacuum, with only the above table as information.

Thankfully, I have more information. Like many of you, I was watching coverage throughout the weekend, either on my computer or, yes, I stole a few moments of #PTRTR while out with my family with the aide of my smart phone. And the clear story of the event was the Second Breakfast deck. 50 matches is certainly enough to warrant discussion, showing that it had more than just one dominant performance from Stanislav Cifka. Let's dig deeper.

Second Breakfast Win Percent Matches
UWR Delver 100.00% 2
UB Control 100.00% 1
Zoo 100.00% 1
Boros Aggro 100.00% 1
UR Delver 100.00% 1
Doran 100.00% 1
WB Tokens 100.00% 1
GU Scapeshift 100.00% 3
Splinter Twin Combo 100.00% 1
Living End 100.00% 1
GR Tron 75.00% 4
Robots 75.00% 4
Jund 61.54% 13
UW Control 50.00% 2
Storm 33.33% 3
Merfolk 0.00% 1
RB Burn 0.00% 1
Grixis Reanimator 0.00% 1
BW Zombies 0.00% 1
UR Fairies 0.00% 1
BRW Zombies 0.00% 1
Nivmagus Combo 0.00% 1
BG Zombie 0.00% 1
GU Infect 0.00% 1
UGR Delver 0.00% 1
GB Infect 0.00% 1
Grand Total 58.00% 50

Okay, that hardly gave us anything to go on. Outside of Jund, there weren't any pairings of even five matches. And 13 isn't really enough to go on. So instead of looking into how each match went, unfortunately we can only say one thing: Second Breakfast performed well against a varied field.

Robots Win Percent Matches
GWB Doran 100.00% 2
UB Control 100.00% 1
RB Burn 100.00% 1
BW Zombies 100.00% 1
GUR Aggro Control 100.00% 1
Doran 100.00% 1
4 Color Jund Doran 100.00% 1
Doran Zoo 100.00% 1
Eternal Command 100.00% 1
GB Infect 100.00% 1
Dredgevine 80.00% 10
GU Infect 80.00% 5
BG Zombie Dredgevine 75.00% 4
Jund Dredgevine 75.00% 4
Scapeshift 70.00% 10
Jund 67.42% 89
Merfolk 66.67% 3
Grixis Reanimator 66.67% 3
Storm 63.64% 11
WB Tokens 60.00% 5
UWR Delver 58.82% 17
UW Control 56.25% 32
Soul Sisters 50.00% 2
GU Scapeshift 50.00% 20
GUB Infect 50.00% 6
Nivmagus Combo 50.00% 2
Splinter Twin Combo 42.86% 7
Naya Kiki-Jiki Combo 33.33% 18
Second Breakfast 25.00% 4
Mono Red Burn 25.00% 4
GR Tron 22.22% 9
Mono Red Highlander 0.00% 3
UR Delver 0.00% 1
UGR Delver 0.00% 1
Naya Aggro 0.00% 1
BRW Zombies 0.00% 1
GWB Junk 0.00% 1
Living End 0.00% 1
Gifts Control 0.00% 2
Hive Mind 0.00% 1
Grand Total 57.64% 288
 

I have to be honest here, I'm a little surprised by this. There is only one bad matchup, and even that one could easily be a fluke of 18 matches. However, there are positive results against the two most popular decks, including a staggering record against the bogeyman of Jund.

Jund Win Percent Matches
Mono Blue Faeries 100.00% 2
4 Color Jund Doran 100.00% 1
GWB Melira 100.00% 2
BRW Zombies 100.00% 4
Mono Black Control 100.00% 1
BW Zombies 100.00% 1
Grixis Reanimator 100.00% 4
Hive Mind 80.00% 5
Bant 77.78% 9
Jund Dredgevine 75.00% 8
Mono Red Highlander 75.00% 4
Splinter Twin Combo 70.00% 10
UWR Delver 68.75% 32
RB Burn 66.67% 6
Unknown 66.67% 3
GUR Through the Breach 66.67% 3
UR Delver 66.67% 3
UR Fairies 66.67% 3
GUR Aggro Control 66.67% 3
Nivmagus Combo 66.67% 9
Nivgamus Combo 66.67% 6
GU Infect 66.67% 6
GWB Doran 60.00% 5
Eternal Command 60.00% 15
WB Tokens 55.56% 9
GU Scapeshift 54.84% 31
GUB Infect 53.85% 13
Mono Red Burn 50.00% 2
GWB Junk 50.00% 6
Doran Zoo 50.00% 2
UGR 50.00% 4
Merfolk 50.00% 8
UW Control 46.88% 64
Naya Kiki-Jiki Combo 42.22% 45
Storm 42.11% 38
GR Tron 40.00% 25
Gifts Control 40.00% 10
BG Zombie Dredgevine 40.00% 5
UGR Delver 40.00% 5
Second Breakfast 38.46% 13
Living End 33.33% 3
Zoo 33.33% 6
UR Control 33.33% 6
Robots 32.58% 89
Scapeshift 32.14% 28
Soul Sisters 31.25% 16
Dredgevine 28.57% 7
GB Infect 20.00% 5
Naya Aggro 16.67% 6
Wargate Scapeshift 0.00% 3
UB Control 0.00% 1
Doran 0.00% 1
BG Zombie 0.00% 1
Grand Total 47.57% 597

Jund mangled UWR Delver and GU Scapeshift decks but otherwise had a wholly unsatisfactory showing. This is even worse than I expected. Typically, a popular deck such as Jund would have a mix of strong and weak pairings balancing each other. Here, however, it's almost mono-bad. Six different decks had 20+ matches against Jund and came out one top better than half of the time.

UW Control Win Percent Matches
Nivgamus Combo 100.00% 2
BUG Control 100.00% 2
Zoo 100.00% 1
4 Color Jund Doran 100.00% 1
GUR Through the Breach 100.00% 1
BG Zombie 100.00% 1
UGR Delver 100.00% 1
Boros Aggro 100.00% 1
BRW Zombies 100.00% 1
GWB Junk 100.00% 1
GUB Infect 80.00% 5
GU Scapeshift 76.92% 13
UWR Delver 72.73% 11
Mono Red Highlander 66.67% 3
RB Burn 60.00% 5
Naya Kiki-Jiki Combo 54.55% 11
Storm 53.33% 15
Jund 53.13% 64
Grixis Reanimator 50.00% 2
Second Breakfast 50.00% 2
Splinter Twin Combo 50.00% 2
Naya Aggro 50.00% 2
UR Control 50.00% 2
Eternal Command 50.00% 2
Dredgevine 50.00% 6
Scapeshift 44.44% 9
Robots 43.75% 32
GR Tron 28.57% 7
Merfolk 25.00% 4
GU Infect 25.00% 4
Nivmagus Combo 0.00% 3
Soul Sisters 0.00% 3
UR Delver 0.00% 1
GWB Doran 0.00% 1
WB Tokens 0.00% 1
Bant 0.00% 1
4 color Delver 0.00% 1
Doran 0.00% 1
Grand Total 52.44% 225

UW control, despite being the second most common deck in the field, only played against two decks more than 20 times, both of which we've already covered.

This was an odd Pro Tour in the respect that there were so many different decks out there that there wasn't a clear, slam-dunk answer. Jund, with 31% of the field on Day 1, managed to gain share when looking at Day 3 up to 37.5%.

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