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PT Philly Modern Metagame Breakdown

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The letter N!ew formats are like new relationships. Every new deck idea you think of has the potential to be a lifelong mate. Every small card interaction could change the way you look at the format. You swoon over sideboards and ogle mythic rares. You might even reminisce about decks of past and think, "Hey, why don't I give that deck a call? We had a good thing going back then." And of course, there are plenty of fish in the proverbial new format metagame sea.

Yeah, new formats are pretty awesome. Modern is no different, and plenty of new relationships decks came to the Modern party in Philadelphia last weekend. You can read about Pro Tour Philadelphia in the official coverage, including a brief look at the expected archetypes heading into the tournament that explains how some of the major decks work.

Modern was different than most new formats in that it wasn't new because of new cards, but rather because of new combinations of sets. With so many sets available, this was expected to be a very diverse field. Going into the tournament, Twelvepost decks were the presupposed darling and nothing else was garnering significant coverage. People assumed Zoo decks would make a showing, sure. And combo would certainly make a showing, though which combo was up in the air. Rashad Miller did the legwork for us to show what actually happened here, reposted below for convenience.

Archetype Number Percentage
Twelvepost 82 19.66%
Splinter Twin 70 16.79%
Zoo 65 15.59%
Affinity 32 7.67%
Pyromancer Ascension 27 6.47%
Infect Combo 20 4.80%
Storm 19 4.56%
Elves 13 3.12%
Hive Mind 12 2.88%
Jund 9 2.16%
Death Cloud 7 1.68%
Melira 7 1.68%
Living End 6 1.44%
Birthing Pod 4 0.96%
Mono-Red 4 0.96%
Bant 3 0.72%
Barely Boros 3 0.72%
Doran 3 0.72%
Rock 3 0.72%
Ad Nauseam 2 0.48%
Gifts 2 0.48%
Goryo's Vengeance 2 0.48%
Hulk 2 0.48%
Junk 2 0.48%
Mythic Conscription 2 0.48%
Next-Level Blue 2 0.48%
Four-Color Æther Vial 1 0.24%
Green-Blue-Black (BUG) 1 0.24%
Cruel Control 1 0.24%
Esper Aggro 1 0.24%
Faeries 1 0.24%
Hate Bears 1 0.24%
Land Destruction 1 0.24%
Merfolk 1 0.24%
Mono-White Control 1 0.24%
Open the Vaults 1 0.24%
Restore Balance 1 0.24%
Teachings 1 0.24%
Tezzerator 1 0.24%
Through the Breach 1 0.24%

Twelvepost was indeed the most popular deck, though it was hardly dominant. Formats past have seen 25% and 30% or more for the most popular deck, so just under 20% is not something to get overly excited over. Perhaps the dominant archetype could be considered "combo." My unofficial count says just shy of 44% of the field had some form of a combo. Though, of course, that could vary by the way you define combo. Within that though are a baker's dozen different decks, so it is fair to say the format is diverse. In fact, only through decks were chosen by at least 10% of the field, and only two more decks were played by more than 5%. The top five decks accounted for two out of three competitors, which is just about normal. (Usually it is a little more top heavy, but not much.)

All of that is a preamble. It doesn't speak to how a deck did, only to what people thought was good before the tournament started. Performance is another story entirely.

Deck Win % Matches
Faeries 77.78% 9
Four-Color Æther Vial 70.00% 10
Next-Level Blue 68.42% 19
Melira 60.98% 41
Hate Bears 60.00% 10
Mythic Conscription 60.00% 15
Green-Blue-Black (BUG) 60.00% 5
Open the Vaults 60.00% 5
Through the Breach 60.00% 10
Goryo's Vengeance 60.00% 10
Infect Combo 57.69% 130
Zoo 57.22% 381
Birthing Pod 55.88% 34
Storm 53.85% 130
Splinter Twin 52.45% 408
Affinity 52.05% 219
Pyromancer Ascension 51.79% 168
Bant 50.00% 18
Living End 48.84% 43
Death Cloud 48.15% 54
Hive Mind 46.88% 64
Mono-Red 44.44% 18
Elves 43.24% 74
Twelvepost 40.26% 385
Mono-White Control 40.00% 10
Hulk 40.00% 10
Teachings 40.00% 5
Cruel Control 40.00% 5
Restore Balance 40.00% 10
Jund 37.78% 45
Merfolk 37.50% 8
Doran 36.84% 19
Junk 35.71% 14
Tezzerator 30.00% 10
Ad Nauseam 30.00% 10
Esper Aggro 25.00% 4
Barely Boros 23.08% 13
Land Destruction 20.00% 5
Gifts 20.00% 10
Rock 14.29% 14

Æther Vial and Faeries. Hmmm, I think I've heard of those two before. Each one only had a single pilot, though, so it is difficult to glean anything meaningful. Similarly, Next-Level Blue only had two folks. Melira, Sylvok Outcast combo decks are the first archetype we can really point to. With 41 non-mirror matches and a 61% win rate, I'd say it was the best candidate for "best deck." You could make an argument, however, for Infect Combo decks. Making Top 4 adds to that argument, of course. The top five decks in popularity had primarily successful weekends, with Zoo winning 57% and Twin, Affinity, and Ascension all hovering around 52%. The only loser was Twelvepost, which lost heavily. So, what went wrong with Twelvepost?

Twelvepost Win % Matches
Land Destruction 100.00% 1
Jund 100.00% 1
Restore Balance 100.00% 1
Cruel Control 100.00% 1
Junk 100.00% 1
Doran 100.00% 3
Mono-White Control 100.00% 2
Esper Aggro 100.00% 1
Rock 100.00% 2
Gifts 100.00% 2
Goryo's Vengeance 100.00% 1
Tezzerator 80.00% 5
Living End 77.78% 9
Barely Boros 66.67% 3
Merfolk 50.00% 2
Ad Nauseam 50.00% 2
Death Cloud 50.00% 8
Bant 50.00% 2
Melira 50.00% 6
Four-Color Æther Vial 50.00% 4
Zoo 44.93% 69
Affinity 43.90% 41
Pyromancer Ascension 43.75% 32
Hive Mind 38.46% 13
Storm 37.50% 24
Splinter Twin 31.33% 83
Birthing Pod 25.00% 8
Mono-Red 25.00% 4
Elves 25.00% 16
Infect Combo 16.67% 24
Hate Bears 0.00% 1
Next-Level Blue 0.00% 4
Teachings 0.00% 1
Hulk 0.00% 1
Through the Breach 0.00% 1
Faeries 0.00% 2
Green-Blue-Black (BUG) 0.00% 1
Mythic Conscription 0.00% 3
Grand Total 40.26% 385

What went wrong was everything. Not a single deck of the top five had a losing record against Twelvepost. As you may be aware, losing to the top decks and beating some randoms is not a good strategy. Really, there's nothing positive to take from this, unless you hate ramp decks. Let's just move away from this one and work our way up the chain, shall we?

Pyromancer Ascension Win % Matches
Living End 100.00% 1
Gifts 100.00% 1
Faeries 100.00% 1
Ad Nauseam 100.00% 1
Jund 100.00% 1
Bant 100.00% 3
Rock 100.00% 1
Barely Boros 100.00% 1
Hive Mind 100.00% 1
Death Cloud 83.33% 6
Birthing Pod 66.67% 3
Infect Combo 60.00% 10
Twelvepost 56.25% 32
Mythic Conscription 50.00% 2
Mono-Red 50.00% 2
Affinity 50.00% 12
Melira 50.00% 2
Land Destruction 50.00% 2
Splinter Twin 48.48% 33
Zoo 44.83% 29
Storm 41.67% 12
Elves 33.33% 3
Four-Color Æther Vial 0.00% 1
Through the Breach 0.00% 2
Hate Bears 0.00% 1
Merfolk 0.00% 1
Next-Level Blue 0.00% 2
Green-Blue-Black (BUG) 0.00% 1
Hulk 0.00% 1
Grand Total 51.79% 168

Good against infect, obviously good against Twelvepost, and that about covers it. Not too bad against Twin, but still below 50%. Bad against Storm and Zoo, though in some small samples. Some of the success comes from just beating the one-off decks. All told, good against miscellaneous and half of the most popular decks. A reasonable plan, though not a comprehensive plan.

Affinity Win % Matches
Restore Balance 100.00% 1
Mythic Conscription 100.00% 1
Jund 100.00% 2
Cruel Control 100.00% 1
Mono-Red 100.00% 1
Melira 66.67% 3
Junk 66.67% 3
Barely Boros 66.67% 3
Elves 62.50% 8
Death Cloud 60.00% 5
Hive Mind 60.00% 5
Twelvepost 56.10% 41
Splinter Twin 51.16% 43
Pyromancer Ascension 50.00% 12
Living End 50.00% 4
Bant 50.00% 2
Birthing Pod 50.00% 2
Hulk 50.00% 2
Infect Combo 50.00% 14
Zoo 48.84% 43
Storm 37.50% 16
Mono-White Control 33.33% 3
Next-Level Blue 0.00% 1
Hate Bears 0.00% 1
Four-Color Æther Vial 0.00% 1
Goryo's Vengeance 0.00% 1
Grand Total 52.05% 219

You know what, good against Twelvepost! Also a little above average against Twin, which is exactly balanced by slightly below average against Zoo. Average against other top decks. Very strong against the "random" decks out there. So the strategy here is to break even against the top decks and then beat up on the other decks that show up.

Splinter Twin Win % Matches
Mono-White Control 100.00% 1
Hate Bears 100.00% 3
Rock 100.00% 1
Doran 100.00% 3
Merfolk 100.00% 2
Esper Aggro 100.00% 1
Open the Vaults 100.00% 1
Gifts 100.00% 2
Teachings 100.00% 1
Goryo's Vengeance 100.00% 1
Elves 72.73% 11
Twelvepost 68.67% 83
Restore Balance 66.67% 3
Birthing Pod 66.67% 3
Melira 66.67% 9
Barely Boros 66.67% 3
Storm 64.52% 31
Hive Mind 58.33% 12
Living End 57.14% 7
Jund 53.85% 13
Pyromancer Ascension 51.52% 33
Through the Breach 50.00% 2
Affinity 48.84% 43
Bant 40.00% 5
Zoo 36.25% 80
Mono-Red 33.33% 3
Death Cloud 30.00% 10
Infect Combo 29.63% 27
Next-Level Blue 20.00% 5
Mythic Conscription 0.00% 1
Four-Color Æther Vial 0.00% 2
Ad Nauseam 0.00% 1
Tezzerator 0.00% 1
Faeries 0.00% 2
Hulk 0.00% 1
Junk 0.00% 1
Grand Total 52.45% 408

Hey look, great against Twelvepost! Also very strong against Storm and kind of good against Ascension. However, absolutely terrible against Zoo and more terrible against Infect Combo. Twin performed better against the field than Affinity (by a small margin) despite bad performances against Zoo and Infect due to awesome work against Twelvepost and some of the lesser-known decks.

Zoo Win % Matches
Green-Blue-Black (BUG) 100.00% 1
Tezzerator 100.00% 3
Esper Aggro 100.00% 1
Four-Color Æther Vial 100.00% 1
Teachings 100.00% 2
Ad Nauseam 100.00% 2
Hulk 100.00% 1
Next-Level Blue 80.00% 5
Jund 80.00% 10
Death Cloud 72.73% 11
Elves 70.59% 17
Rock 66.67% 3
Junk 66.67% 3
Splinter Twin 63.75% 80
Hive Mind 58.33% 12
Pyromancer Ascension 55.17% 29
Twelvepost 55.07% 69
Infect Combo 53.33% 30
Affinity 51.16% 43
Restore Balance 50.00% 2
Hate Bears 50.00% 2
Mythic Conscription 50.00% 4
Birthing Pod 50.00% 6
Goryo's Vengeance 50.00% 2
Through the Breach 50.00% 4
Faeries 50.00% 2
Open the Vaults 50.00% 2
Living End 33.33% 9
Melira 33.33% 3
Storm 27.78% 18
Mono-White Control 0.00% 1
Merfolk 0.00% 1
Bant 0.00% 1
Doran 0.00% 1
Grand Total 57.22% 381

There really wasn't a weak spot for Zoo, in all of its varieties. You can argue Storm, though eighteen matches is really, really not enough to judge on. Success against Affinity, Infect, Twelvepost, Ascension, and Twin (to varying degrees, of course) is about as much as you can ask for at this Pro Tour. Zoo remains a litmus test for being a competitive deck. If you can't beat Zoo, you should probably go back to the drawing board. Or, if you can't draw, back to the deck editor in Magic Online.

Infect Combo Win % Matches
Rock 100.00% 2
Living End 100.00% 1
Hulk 100.00% 1
Barely Boros 100.00% 1
Mono-Red 100.00% 1
Birthing Pod 100.00% 1
Doran 100.00% 1
Twelvepost 83.33% 24
Splinter Twin 70.37% 27
Death Cloud 50.00% 2
Affinity 50.00% 14
Storm 50.00% 2
Zoo 46.67% 30
Pyromancer Ascension 40.00% 10
Elves 25.00% 4
Jund 0.00% 1
Ad Nauseam 0.00% 1
Open the Vaults 0.00% 1
Faeries 0.00% 1
Green-Blue-Black (BUG) 0.00% 1
Melira 0.00% 3
Goryo's Vengeance 0.00% 1
Grand Total 57.69% 130

Aside from Zoo, this is a good story for Infect. Of course, none of these are really large samples and the deck was somewhat under the radar, so you could make the argument that this deck will not sustain the test of time. You could also make the argument that this deck, over 130 matches, against the best competition in the world, won almost 58% of its matches. So there's that.

As awesome as a new format with tons of cards available is, and as great as a diverse metagame is, it leads to some dull analysis (as opposed to all of that electrifying analysis that there is out there). A lot of decks means fewer matches for each deck, which in turn means fewer matches against each archetype, which in turn means samples that could easily be meaningless. So while the deck by deck analysis is done here, I still have some nuggets for you to chew on.

  • Zoo players, despite their outstanding 57% in Constructed, only won 46% of their Draft matches. Twelvepost players, despite their lamentable 40% in Constructed, managed to win 46% of their Draft matches. Funny how perspective changes things.
  • There were 26 draws in the tournament. 15 of them were in the final round.
  • There were 208 matches in Round 1 and 53 in Round 16. So about a 75% of the field was no longer playing by the end of the Swiss.

I've included the full deck on deck breakdown. You can download it by clicking here (30 KB download).

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