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2010 World Championships Metagame Breakdown

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The letter F!or Magic: The Gathering there are usually two different types of storyline: that of a player and that of a deck. Sometimes we see historic dominance by an individual that overshadows any new deck type or technology that has happened. Other times there is a hot new deck that managed to stay secret long enough to take a format by storm. The 2010 World Championships began looking like it would be one of those rare times when a dominant player and a hot new deck would be the same story. Brian Kibler and his white-blue "Caw-Go" control deck began 6-0, and Brian had only two losses by the end of day two. Most people believe they would see the dragonmaster become the birdmaster on Sunday (or, you know, Saturday night stateside). Kibler was still running hot coming into the tournament and had just gotten some new bling, Hall of Fame style. Of course he was going to win it all!

As they say in baseball, though, that's why they play the games. Extended proved to be Brian's undoing. With his falter, the story of the tournament became something different. Now it was no longer an exclamation point on Hall of Fame voting but a fight to see if the Brad "FFfreak" Nelson could hold onto his Player of the Year lead despite a below-average performance.

That story, too, is left without a cadence—at least until February. So we're left wondering: What was the real story of Worlds 2010? To get the answers, we'll turn to the numbers.

As usual, I've taken each round of results and mashed it up with what deck each player was using and have come up with win rates for the various decks. I excluded mirror matches (by definition 50%). What this will do is tell us, in general, which decks were doing well. Assuming enough data, we can even drill a little into why they did well or, of course, why they did poorly. Sample size and play skill disclaimers apply.

Standard

Rashad Miller already did some of the dirty work, classifying each gamer's deck and explaining what the Standard metagame looked like. For reference:

Deck Total % of Field
Valakut Ramp 114 32.39%
White-Blue Control 59 16.76%
Blue-Black Control 51 14.49%
Vampires 28 7.95%
Blue-Red-Green 22 6.25%
Quest 18 5.11%
Boros 15 4.26%
Genesis Wave 10 2.84%
Red Deck Wins 9 2.56%
Green Ramp 7 1.99%
Green-Blue-Black 6 1.70%
Monument Green 5 1.42%
Elves 3 0.85%
Infect 1 0.28%
Pyromancer Ascension 1 0.28%
Blue-Black-Red Control 1 0.28%
Blue-Red Planeswalkers 1 0.28%
White Weenie 1 0.28%
Total Players 352

Anything stand out to you there? Yeah, a lot of Valakut. If you look just a little closer though, you'll see that blue-based control took up almost as much of the field, though it was a nearly even split between companion colors of either white or black. We'll take a look at each of the decks that had at least 5% of the field as a nice, even, arbitrary cut-off. Before that, though, let's see how all the decks did:

Deck Matches Win %
Infect 6 66.67%
White Weenie 6 66.67%
Pyromancer Ascension 6 66.67%
Blue-Red-Green 125 56.00%
Elves 18 55.56%
Blue-Black Control 247 54.66%
Green-Blue-Black 33 54.55%
Boros 84 53.57%
Monument Green 30 53.33%
Valakut Ramp 470 49.79%
Vampires 159 49.69%
Red Deck Wins 52 48.08%
Quest 97 47.42%
Genesis Wave 57 45.61%
White-Blue Control 288 45.14%
Green Ramp 42 38.10%
Blue-Black-Red Control 6 33.33%
Blue-Red Planeswalkers 6 33.33

The Infect deck was manned by Italy's Francesco Hugony, the White Weenie deck by Japan's Hiroyuki Shimoya, and Pyromancer Ascension by Hong Kong's Sze Hang Chan. Sadly, with just six matches each and a 4-2 record we don't have anywhere near enough to go on. Blue-Red-Green decks came up big, as the surprising top performer. Black proved to be a better partner for blue than white, to the tune of a 9.5% difference in win percentage. Valakut was almost exactly even and Vampires were right there as well. Let's get some details, shall we? First up, the Molten Pinnacle.

Valakut Matches Win %
Blue-Red Planeswalkers 3 100.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 2 100.00%
Green Ramp 11 72.73%
White-Blue Control 121 55.37%
Vampires 50 54.00%
Quest 30 53.33%
Monument Green 10 50.00%
Blue-Red-Green 51 47.06%
Boros 28 46.43%
Blue-Black Control 105 44.76%
Genesis Wave 18 44.44%
Elves 7 42.86%
Red Deck Wins 21 42.86%
Green-Blue-Black 6 33.33%
Infect 3 0.00%
White Weenie 2 0.00%
Pyromancer Ascension 2 0.00%
Grand Total 470 49.79

Well, this looks pretty familiar, doesn't it? White-Blue losing 55% of the time, Blue-Black losing 45% of the time. Their records against Valakut almost mirror their records against the field as a whole. A little creepy if you ask me. Valakut also put up some good numbers against Vampires but could not really compete with Red Deck Wins or Genesis Wave in addition to its obvious flaws against Blue-Black Control.

White-Blue Control Matches Win %
White Weenie 1 100.00%
Blue-Red Planeswalkers 1 100.00%
Infect 1 100.00%
Red Deck Wins 6 66.67%
Genesis Wave 13 53.85%
Vampires 30 50.00%
Green-Blue-Black 6 50.00%
Quest 17 47.06%
Blue-Black Control 40 45.00%
Valakut Ramp 121 44.63%
Green Ramp 9 44.44%
Boros 13 38.46%
Blue-Red-Green 18 33.33%
Monument Green 3 33.33%
Elves 7 28.57%
Pyromancer Ascension 1 0.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 1 0.00%
Grand Total 288 45.14

White-Blue Control failed to win more than 45% against the two most popular decks in the field. This is a pretty good way to lose a lot of games. I would like to call out an upside, but I can't. None of the match-ups over 50% had more than 13 matches of data. Even if we discard the rules of statistics and say that 13 matches is enough to go on, we're still only saying that it won 54% of its matches against the eight most popular deck in the field. At least it broke even against deck #2. Historically, decks whose best match-up is the mirror have not been successful.

Blue-Black Control Matches Win %
Elves 1 100.00%
Infect 1 100.00%
Pyromancer Ascension 1 100.00%
Genesis Wave 7 85.71%
Red Deck Wins 7 71.43%
Quest 14 71.43%
Boros 10 70.00%
Valakut Ramp 105 55.24%
White-Blue Control 40 55.00%
White Weenie 2 50.00%
Vampires 30 46.67%
Blue-Red-Green 15 40.00%
Monument Green 3 33.33%
Green Ramp 5 20.00%
Green-Blue-Black 6 16.67%
Grand Total 247 54.66%

Now we've got some good numbers: Blue-Black Control, the mirror match Finals deck. Slayer of the deck that one out of three people played. Destroyer of the second most popular deck. Underdog to vampires and rugs. Alright, so it isn't all rainbows and lollipops, but it still is a pretty strong performance. In a field where there was not a single dominant deck played by a significant number of people, 55% qualifies as the best deck to play.

Vampires Matches Win %
Green Ramp 6 83.33%
Green-Blue-Black 5 80.00%
Red Deck Wins 3 66.67%
Boros 8 62.50%
Blue-Black Control 30 53.33%
White-Blue Control 30 50.00%
Genesis Wave 4 50.00%
Valakut Ramp 50 46.00%
Quest 8 37.50%
Blue-Red-Green 8 37.50%
Monument Green 5 20.00%
White Weenie 1 0.00%
Blue-Red Planeswalkers 1 0.00%
Grand Total 159 49.69

Now we're into the group of decks that were not quite in the majority but had enough people to avoid being called the minority. Vampires were about 8% of the field (still more than werewolves) and managed just shy of a 50% win rate. This is largely from 53% against Blue-Black Control and 46% against Valakut Ramp while going 15-15 against White-Blue. If the metagame shifts away from Valakut and towards Blue-Black Control, which isn't difficult to see happening considering the Top 8 and Finals, Vampires might become more attractive.

Blue-Red-Green Matches Played Win %
Genesis Wave 4 100.00%
Monument Green 1 100.00%
Green-Blue-Black 3 66.67%
White-Blue Control 18 66.67%
Red Deck Wins 3 66.67%
Vampires 8 62.50%
Blue-Black Control 15 60.00%
Valakut Ramp 51 52.94%
Green Ramp 2 50.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 2 50.00%
Quest 8 37.50%
Boros 9 33.33%
Infect 1 0.00%
Grand Total 125 56.00

What have we here? Blue-Red-Green decks are the only legitimate challenger to the claim of "best deck." With positive results against the big three, albeit in limited matches, this is a very promising deck. This would be on my short list for a gauntlet.

Quest Matches Played Win %
Elves 1 100.00%
Green Ramp 2 100.00%
Red Deck Wins 4 75.00%
Vampires 8 62.50%
Blue-Red-Green 8 62.50%
White-Blue Control 17 52.94%
Pyromancer Ascension 2 50.00%
Valakut Ramp 30 46.67%
Boros 6 33.33%
Blue-Black Control 14 28.57%
Genesis Wave 3 0.00%
Green-Blue-Black 2 0.00%
Grand Total 97 47.42

Quest for the Holy Relic decks performed decently against White-Blue Control but could not handle its black counterpart. I suspect instant-speed removal played a big role in that gap. Of course, each has fewer than twenty matches, making them far from conclusive. I don't think anyone would really challenge those results too much, though. Couple that with a mediocre performance against Valakut Ramp, and this looks like it will remain a fringe deck. It was barely over 5% of the field as is, and I wouldn't expect it to go up at all.

Extended

And all of that was only day one! Let's skip over draft and move onto Extended. Rashad Miller gave us the Extended breakdown already here. For reference:

Archetype Number % of Field
Jund 48 15.19%
Vivid Control 41 12.97%
Scapeshift 32 10.13%
Faeries 30 9.49%
Green-White Hideaway 28 8.86%
White Weenie 21 6.65%
Elves 17 5.38%
Merfolk 17 5.38%
Polymorph 13 4.11%
Red Aggro 13 4.11%
Doran 7 2.22%
Pyromancer Ascension 7 2.22%
Reveillark 7 2.22%
Tempered Steel 7 2.22%
Mythic Conscriptions 5 1.58%
Naya 4 1.27%
Ooze Combo 4 1.27%
Blue-Red-Green 3 0.95%
Blue-Black-Red Control 3 0.95%
Boros 2 0.63%
Bant 1 0.32%
Green-Blue-Black 1 0.32%
White-Black Tokens 1 0.32%
Elementals 1 0.32%
Esper Control 1 0.32%
Junk 1 0.32%
Prismatic Omen 1 0.32%
Total 316

This is a huge difference from Standard. The top deck only represents 15% of the field, compared to 32% for the top dog in Standard. What this means is that there are more viable decks, or at least that people perceive it that way. This could also be due to Extended being less played and presumably less explored. That means that more of the decks that would normally prove themselves unfit through multiple tournaments have not yet had those tournaments and as such are still showing up in small numbers.

Deck Matches Win %
Blue-Black-Red Control 10 70.00%
Prismatic Omen 6 66.67%
Tempered Steel 39 61.54%
Faeries 156 61.54%
Mythic Conscriptions 28 53.57%
Scapeshift 152 52.63%
Pyromancer Ascension 40 52.50%
Vivid Control 190 51.58%
Polymorph 62 51.61%
Elves 95 50.53%
Blue-Red-Green 12 50.00%
Green-Blue-Black 6 50.00%
Bant 6 50.00%
Green-White Hideaway 143 49.65%
White Weenie 110 48.18%
Ooze Combo 23 47.83%
Doran 30 46.67%
Reveillark 40 45.00%
Merfolk 92 44.57%
Jund 218 44.50%
Red Aggro 62 43.55%
Naya 20 40.00%
Red-Green Aggro 5 40.00%
White-Black Tokens 6 33.33%
Boros 12 33.33%
Elementals 6 33.33%
Junk 6 33.33%
Esper Control 5 20.00

Remember back in the day when every Constructed article began and ended with Faeries? I do too. About 10% of the field remembered too. And 61.5% of the time they remembered why it was so dominant.

Remember back in the day when every Constructed article began and ended with Affinity*? I do too. About 2% of the field remembered too. And 61.5% of the time they remembered why it was so dominant.

*OK, you got me. Tempered Steel isn't quite Affinity, but I couldn't help myself.

Jund Matches Win %
Junk 1 100.00%
Green-Blue-Black 1 100.00%
Boros 4 75.00%
Merfolk 19 63.16%
Red Aggro 8 62.50%
Pyromancer Ascension 5 60.00%
Vivid Control 36 52.78%
Red-Green Aggro 2 50.00%
Mythic Conscriptions 10 50.00%
Naya 2 50.00%
Faeries 19 47.37%
Scapeshift 20 40.00%
Green-White Hideaway 25 40.00%
Doran 5 40.00%
White Weenie 21 38.10%
Polymorph 8 37.50%
Elves 12 25.00%
Reveillark 8 25.00%
Ooze Combo 4 25.00%
Bant 2 0.00%
Blue-Red-Green 1 0.00%
Tempered Steel 4 0.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 1 0.00%
Grand Total 218 44.50%

Remember back in the day when every Constructed article began and ended with Jund? Those days are gone, it seems. While it did reasonably well against Vivid Control, there wasn't much else to hang a hat on. Below 50% against Faeries, Scapeshift, Green-White Hideaway, and White Weenie brought the total down to 44.5%

Vivid Control Matches Win %
Boros 1 100.00%
Reveillark 3 100.00%
Naya 1 100.00%
Green-Blue-Black 1 100.00%
Blue-Red-Green 2 100.00%
White-Black Tokens 1 100.00%
Esper Control 1 100.00%
White Weenie 14 78.57%
Elves 15 60.00%
Scapeshift 20 60.00%
Green-White Hideaway 15 60.00%
Pyromancer Ascension 4 50.00%
Mythic Conscriptions 4 50.00%
Jund 36 47.22%
Tempered Steel 11 45.45%
Red Aggro 11 45.45%
Merfolk 12 41.67%
Faeries 23 34.78%
Doran 3 33.33%
Ooze Combo 4 25.00%
Polymorph 7 14.29%
Blue-Black-Red Control 1 0.00%
Grand Total 190 51.58

Vivid Control, what many believed would be the top deck of Pro's, came out slightly above average. It was propped up by good performances against White Weenie, Elves, Scapeshift and Hideaway but dragged down by Jund and Faeries primarily. The Jund match-up looks manageable but 35% against Faeries is pretty scary. Anyone looking to use Vivid Control any time soon had better put some serious thought into how to beat the blue and black.

Scapeshift Matches Win %
Mythic Conscriptions 1 100.00%
Boros 1 100.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 1 100.00%
Red Aggro 11 81.82%
Junk 3 66.67%
Jund 20 60.00%
Faeries 17 58.82%
Green-White Hideaway 19 57.89%
Merfolk 7 57.14%
Prismatic Omen 2 50.00%
Esper Control 2 50.00%
Pyromancer Ascension 6 50.00%
Doran 4 50.00%
Polymorph 8 50.00%
Naya 2 50.00%
Elves 9 44.44%
Tempered Steel 7 42.86%
Vivid Control 20 40.00%
Reveillark 3 33.33%
Blue-Red-Green 4 25.00%
Ooze Combo 1 0.00%
White Weenie 3 0.00%
Elementals 1 0.00%
Grand Total 152 52.63

Scapeshift is the first deck to do well against Faeries, which is promising. In fact, most of this looks promising until you get down to Vivid Control. So Scapeshift beats Faeries, Faeries beats Vivid Control, and Vivid Control beats Scapeshift. Classic rock-paper-scissors.

Faeries Matches Win %
Prismatic Omen 1 100.00%
Naya 2 100.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 2 100.00%
White-Black Tokens 2 100.00%
Mythic Conscriptions 1 100.00%
Reveillark 8 87.50%
Merfolk 6 83.33%
Elves 12 75.00%
Tempered Steel 6 66.67%
Pyromancer Ascension 6 66.67%
Vivid Control 23 65.22%
White Weenie 10 60.00%
Red Aggro 7 57.14%
Green-White Hideaway 14 57.14%
Jund 19 52.63%
Doran 4 50.00%
Elementals 2 50.00%
Ooze Combo 4 50.00%
Polymorph 9 44.44%
Scapeshift 17 41.18%
Boros 1 0.00%
Grand Total 156 61.54

The tooth fairy has nothing on these guys. If it wasn't for Scapeshift this would be flat-out dominant. Of course, Scapeshift is still there. I'd love to be able to say that this is the clear best deck, but the unfortunate truth is that not a single deck faced off against the Fae even 25 times. The overall picture is quite impressive. The details are encouraging, but not conclusive.

Green-White Hideaway Matches Win %
Elementals 1 100.00%
Doran 2 100.00%
White-Black Tokens 1 100.00%
Esper Control 1 100.00%
Reveillark 4 75.00%
White Weenie 13 69.23%
Jund 25 60.00%
Polymorph 7 57.14%
Blue-Red-Green 2 50.00%
Red Aggro 4 50.00%
Naya 2 50.00%
Elves 13 46.15%
Faeries 14 42.86%
Scapeshift 19 42.11%
Vivid Control 15 40.00%
Merfolk 8 37.50%
Pyromancer Ascension 3 33.33%
Tempered Steel 4 25.00%
Green-Blue-Black 2 0.00%
Boros 1 0.00%
Blue-Black-Red Control 2 0.00%
Grand Total 143 49.65

Nearly 9% of the field came bearing Hideaway lands, and overall they were just barely under average. Some strong results against White Weenie and Jund were hampered by worse results against some of the top decks in the field.

White Weenie Matches Win %
Bant 1 100.00%
Scapeshift 3 100.00%
Red-Green Aggro 2 100.00%
Doran 1 100.00%
Elementals 1 100.00%
Ooze Combo 4 75.00%
Merfolk 4 75.00%
Tempered Steel 3 66.67%
Jund 21 61.90%
Elves 11 54.55%
Red Aggro 8 50.00%
Boros 2 50.00%
Faeries 10 40.00%
Naya 3 33.33%
Green-White Hideaway 13 30.77%
Polymorph 4 25.00%
Vivid Control 14 21.43%
Reveillark 2 0.00%
White-Black Tokens 1 0.00%
Pyromancer Ascension 1 0.00%
Mythic Conscriptions 1 0.00%
Grand Total 110 48.18

White Weenie has been around in one form or another since before most current Magic players had even learned to shuffle. It comes and goes, and there are people who cannot be convinced to play any other deck. This could be called stubborn, it could be called loyal. Either way, it is at least competitive—not dominant, not even above average, but it's not like it was embarrassing. It took down the most popular deck at a 62% clip, likely what led to people registering Plains in the first place.

National Breakdown

Standard Draft Extended Total
Country Matches Win % Matches Win % Matches Win % Matches Win %
PAN 6 66.67% 6 50.00% 6 83.33% 18 66.67%
SWE 54 53.70% 53 66.04% 54 59.26% 161 59.63%
FRA 71 59.15% 64 60.94% 50 58.00% 185 59.46%
ENG 25 44.00% 23 60.87% 22 68.18% 70 57.14%
FIN 37 62.16% 38 47.37% 41 60.98% 116 56.90%
CAN 34 58.82% 36 50.00% 34 61.76% 104 56.73%
CRI 18 66.67% 18 55.56% 17 47.06% 53 56.60%
AUS 36 55.56% 35 60.00% 30 53.33% 101 56.44%
CZE 42 57.14% 37 56.76% 35 54.29% 114 56.14%
NZL 24 50.00% 24 54.17% 24 62.50% 72 55.56%
BLR 6 33.33% 6 50.00% 6 83.33% 18 55.56%
BRA 48 54.17% 48 54.17% 38 55.26% 134 54.48%
SVK 30 60.00% 30 46.67% 30 56.67% 90 54.44%
POL 24 79.17% 24 54.17% 22 27.27% 70 54.29%
HKG 48 56.25% 41 51.22% 36 52.78% 125 53.60%
RUS 30 53.33% 30 46.67% 24 62.50% 84 53.57%
HRV 22 45.45% 23 52.17% 17 64.71% 62 53.23%
SGP 35 65.71% 36 58.33% 31 32.26% 102 52.94%
MKD 6 33.33% 6 66.67% 5 60.00% 17 52.94%
CHE 42 50.00% 38 60.53% 38 47.37% 118 52.54%
USA 289 53.29% 271 53.14% 235 50.21% 795 52.33%
ESP 29 48.28% 29 55.17% 28 53.57% 86 52.33%
JPN 249 52.61% 245 50.20% 182 52.20% 676 51.63%
DNK 24 50.00% 23 47.83% 23 56.52% 70 51.43%
AUT 48 52.08% 46 54.35% 45 44.44% 139 50.36%
BEL 48 47.92% 47 46.81% 45 55.56% 140 50.00%
IDN 6 66.67% 6 66.67% 6 16.67% 18 50.00%
MEX 22 45.45% 21 61.90% 24 41.67% 67 49.25%
THA 33 39.39% 29 48.28% 29 58.62% 91 48.35%
MYS 30 53.33% 30 40.00% 29 51.72% 89 48.31%
DOM 12 50.00% 11 54.55% 6 33.33% 29 48.28%
ZAF 24 50.00% 23 47.83% 24 45.83% 71 47.89%
ITA 66 48.48% 62 46.77% 54 48.15% 182 47.80%
DEU 48 43.75% 47 51.06% 40 47.50% 135 47.41%
CHN 48 41.67% 46 52.17% 41 48.78% 135 47.41%
NLD 41 58.54% 40 32.50% 36 47.22% 117 46.15%
NOR 24 45.83% 23 60.87% 18 27.78% 65 46.15%
ISR 24 54.17% 24 45.83% 24 37.50% 72 45.83%
BGR 6 83.33% 5 0.00% 0 n/a 11 45.45%
PRT 24 45.83% 22 31.82% 18 61.11% 64 45.31%
TWN 42 50.00% 41 43.90% 34 41.18% 117 45.30%
SVN 24 33.33% 22 50.00% 23 52.17% 69 44.93%
ECU 6 83.33% 6 33.33% 6 16.67% 18 44.44%
PRY 24 37.50% 24 45.83% 18 50.00% 66 43.94%
UKR 23 26.09% 22 54.55% 22 50.00% 67 43.28%
SCG 24 50.00% 24 33.33% 24 41.67% 72 41.67%
KOR 23 39.13% 23 47.83% 18 33.33% 64 40.63%
GRC 24 33.33% 23 47.83% 6 33.33% 53 39.62%
GTM 18 27.78% 16 31.25% 18 55.56% 52 38.46%
BOL 18 38.89% 17 29.41% 17 47.06% 52 38.46%
IRL 6 33.33% 6 50.00% 4 25.00% 16 37.50%
VEN 17 35.29% 15 40.00% 0 n/a 32 37.50%
TUR 18 33.33% 16 25.00% 18 50.00% 52 36.54%
ARG 18 33.33% 15 40.00% 6 33.33% 39 35.90%
PHL 17 35.29% 16 43.75% 6 16.67% 39 35.90%
ISL 6 33.33% 6 50.00% 6 16.67% 18 33.33%
HUN 17 23.53% 14 28.57% 10 30.00% 41 26.83%
NIR 12 8.33% 11 54.55% 7 14.29% 30 26.67%
ROU 18 27.78% 15 13.33% 17 29.41% 50 24.00%
LTU 6 16.67% 6 16.67% 5 20.00% 17 17.65%
Grand Total 2094 50.00% 2004 50.00% 1732 50.00% 5830 50.00

As if having the finalists both be from France wasn't enough, as you can see, French players won 59% of their matches overall, barely losing out to Sweden for best performance by a country (excluding Panama, whose sole representative, Saul Alvarado, had a pretty good tournament). I'm sure the French will be quite pleased with the trophy they got instead. Take a look at Finland up there. Absolute dominance in Constructed but some trouble when there are twenty fewer cards in the deck. I love this part of Worlds, as it is always fun to see if certain countries have strengths and weaknesses. The U.S.A., for example, came off pretty solid. Definitely consistent, but not really dominant at all.

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