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Archetype Breakdown for Pro Tour Dark Ascension

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Way back in 2005, Chris Galvin announced the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame . Hard to believe it was almost seven years ago. In Hawaii this weekend, 3 of the 29 that have been elected (and 1 probable future inductee) navigated their way to the final day of competition at Pro Tour Dark Ascension from a field of 446. I'm writing this prior to that drama playing itself out, so I don't have the benefit of knowing what the winning deck is. Perhaps that is better for our chore today, though. Today, we're going to go through and see how the Standard portion of the event played out. It will be nice not to go into the analysis with a bias towards the winning deck, especially since Constructed matches only represent about two-thirds of the matches played.

Bill Stark already did the dirty work of sorting through deck registration sheets to show us what the metagame looked like. Here's a quick recap:

Deck Type Number Percentage
White Weenie 115 25.73%
Delver 91 20.36%
Wolf Run 76 17.00%
Esper 28 6.26%
Tempered Steel 24 5.37%
Mono Green 18 4.03%
Birthing Pod 14 3.13%
Blue-Black Control 9 2.01%
Reanimator 9 2.01%
Black-Red Aggro 8 1.79%
Mono Black Aggro 8 1.79%
Desperate Control 5 1.12%
Tezzerator 5 1.12%
White-Green Overrun 4 0.89%
Lich Control 3 0.67%
RDW 3 0.67%
Rock 3 0.67%
White-Red-Green Aggro 2 0.45%
Black-Red Control 2 0.45%
White-Red Control 2 0.45%
White-Green Midrange 2 0.45%
White-Green Aggro 1 0.22%
Red-Green Wolf Run Aggro 1 0.22%
Blue-Black Aggro 1 0.22%
White-Blue-Green Aggro 1 0.22%
Black-Red Heartless Summoning Control 1 0.22%
White-Black Control 1 0.22%
Control Lich 1 0.22%
White-Black-Red-Green Control 1 0.22%
Blue-White Control 1 0.22%
Esper Red 1 0.22%
Grand Architect/Heartless Summoning 1 0.22%
Lich Combo 1 0.22%
White-Blue Delverless Spirits 1 0.22%
Venser Control 1 0.22%
White-Red-Green Venser 1 0.22%


And without further ado, here's how they performed:

Deck Type Win % Matches
WGU Aggro 70.00% 10
Birthing Pod 60.38% 106
Aggro BR 60.00% 10
Aggro RG Wolf Run 60.00% 5
Aggro WB 60.00% 5
Heartless Summoning 60.00% 15
Aggro Mono Black 59.26% 54
UB Aggro 55.56% 9
Aggro BR 55.00% 20
Reanimator 54.10% 61
Rock 52.63% 19
BR Aggro 51.72% 29
Delver 51.48% 641
Wolf Run 51.47% 511
Esper 51.11% 180
RDW 50.00% 20
Tezzerator 48.48% 33
White Weenie 48.32% 863
Mono Green 45.63% 103
Control 43.07% 137
Overrun 40.00% 25
Aggro WGR 40.00% 10
Tempered Steel 37.14% 35
Lich 25.00% 28
Spirits 20.00% 5


I consolidated the groups a little bit. There's a surprise (to me, at least) top deck with Birthing Pod variants coming ahead, the meager ten matches from WUG Aggro simply aren't enough to go by. We're going to look at White Weenie, Delver, Wolf Run, Esper, Tempered Steel and of course Birthing Pod decks as well as their variants. Please remember that this is merely a record of what happened at Pro Tour Dark Ascension. Play skill, specific card choices, and randomization all play a role in a deck's success. And these numbers have excluded mirror matches, which are by definition a 50-50 split.

White Weenie

Perhaps the oldest archetype, White Weenie has survived countless set rotations to still be viable and even dominant at times. It was a quarter of the field this weekend, in a couple of different forms.

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
WUG Aggro 100.00% 1
Spirits 100.00% 1
BR Aggro 85.71% 7
Aggro BR 66.67% 3
Control 63.64% 44
Lich 55.56% 9
Reanimator 55.56% 18
Delver 53.03% 198
Mono Green 52.94% 34
Aggro BR 50.00% 2
Tezzerator 50.00% 8
Wolf Run 44.78% 134
Tempered Steel 40.00% 10
Esper 38.60% 57
Overrun 37.50% 8
Aggro Mono Black 33.33% 15
Heartless Summoning 25.00% 4
RDW 25.00% 4
Rock 16.67% 6
Birthing Pod 15.38% 26
Aggro RG Wolf Run 0.00% 2
Aggro WG 0.00% 1
UB Aggro 0.00% 2
Grand Total 47.56% 595


Control, in its generic templating, didn't fare well against White Weenie. This represents the control decks of varying types that didn't quite have enough players to constitute their own grouping. White Weenie also carried a small edge against the also-popular Delver decks. Let's look a little closer there.

Deck UB Delver UR Delver UW Delver Grand Total
White Weenie Black        
Win %   100.00% 69.23% 71.43%
Matches 0 2 26 28
Green White Weenie        
Win %     66.67% 66.67%
Matches 0 0 3 3
White Weenie Green        
Win %     55.56% 55.56%
Matches 0 0 36 36
White Weenie Blue        
Win % 100.00% 50.00% 48.45% 50.00%
Matches 3 2 97 102
White Weenie        
Win %     0.00% 0.00%
Matches 0 0 3 3
Total Win % 100.00% 60.00% 52.11% 53.03%
Total Matches 3 5 190 198


Further inspection reveals that the more common White-Blue version of White Weenie was just below 50-50 against White-Blue Delver but White-Green was about 7% better in the same pairing. Overall, however, the blue variant of White Weenie was at 50.15% whereas White-Green was 46.46%.

Delver

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Aggro RG Wolf Run 100.00% 1
UB Aggro 100.00% 1
Lich 100.00% 8
Rock 100.00% 2
Birthing Pod 80.00% 20
RDW 66.67% 6
RB Aggro 66.67% 6
MonoGreen 64.71% 17
Tempered Steel 60.71% 28
Overrun 60.00% 5
Esper 58.70% 46
Aggro BR 57.14% 7
Reanimator 54.55% 11
Wolf Run 51.52% 132
Aggro RB 50.00% 2
Control 46.43% 28
White Weenie 46.29% 175
Tezzerator 30.00% 10
Aggro Monoblack 15.38% 13
WGU Aggro 0.00% 1
Heartless Summoning 0.00% 3
Aggro GW 0.00% 1
Aggro RGW 0.00% 2
Grand Total 51.81% 525


Delver decks didn't have a lot of matches against Pod, but 16-4 is a pretty strong showing and is the beginning of a convincing argument of a good matchup. Delver performed well in similarly low number of matches against Tempered Steel and really handled Esper. 51.5% isn't overwhelming but is still a solid performance against Wolf-Run. Really, the only problem is White Weenie.

If you're curious, here are the different variants:

Deck Win % Matches
WU Delver 52.69% 501
UB Delver 33.33% 9
UR Delver 33.33% 15
Grand Total 51.81% 525


Not a lot to go on, really nothing you could draw a conclusion from other than, "Gee, not a lot of people played Delver with Black or Red."

Wolf Run

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Rock 100.00% 3
Overrun 87.50% 8
Heartless Summoning 75.00% 4
UB Aggro 66.67% 3
Aggro WG 66.67% 3
Tempered Steel 65.38% 26
Tezzerator 60.00% 5
Lich 60.00% 5
Control 59.09% 22
Esper 57.14% 21
White Weenie 55.56% 117
RDW 50.00% 4
Aggro WGR 50.00% 4
Mono Green 50.00% 18
WUG Aggro 50.00% 2
Delver 48.48% 132
Aggro Mono Black 42.86% 7
BR Aggro 40.00% 5
Birthing Pod 34.48% 29
Aggro BR 25.00% 4
Reanimator 14.29% 14
Aggro BR 0.00% 1
Grand Total 51.72% 437


Tempered Steel, Control and Esper decks all came in with impressive returns but too few matches to say anything conclusively. White Weenie, however, was not happy about facing Wolf Run decks. Delver, as we've already mentioned, was slightly favored against the Titanic decks. These decks, like most others, had some different versions floating around. Red was by far the most common, but some players had Black (a la Conley Woods from a few weeks ago at GP Orlando), White, Blue or even a Rock variant out there from Brian Eason.

Deck Win % Matches
Rock Wolf Run 60.00% 5
Wolf Run 52.81% 320
Wolf Run Black 51.72% 58
Wolf Run White 50.00% 46
Wolf Run Blue 12.50% 8
Grand Total 51.72% 437


Traditional and black variants were about 1% apart with traditional coming out on top. White decks broke even on the weekend.

Esper

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
UB Aggro 100.00% 1
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
Reanimator 100.00% 1
Rock 100.00% 2
Aggro Mono Black 66.67% 6
BR Aggro 66.67% 3
Tempered Steel 66.67% 9
Mono Green 62.50% 8
White Weenie 61.22% 49
Control 50.00% 4
Wolf Run 42.86% 21
Delver 41.30% 46
Birthing Pod 16.67% 6
Aggro BR 0.00% 2
Aggro RG Wolf Run 0.00% 1
Lich 0.00% 1
Tezzerator 0.00% 1
Grand Total 51.23% 162


White Weenie decks fueled an above average performance for Esper decks. Without that pairing, Esper decks fell to 46.9% against the field. Wolf Run and Delver decks both were well above average against Delver, though Wolf Run didn't have a lot of matches.

Tempered Steel

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Tezzerator 100.00% 4
Spirits 100.00% 1
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
Lich 75.00% 4
Heartless Summoning 50.00% 2
Aggro Mono Black 50.00% 2
Mono Green 50.00% 2
White Weenie 45.24% 42
Delver 39.29% 28
Control 37.50% 8
Wolf Run 34.62% 26
Esper 33.33% 9
Reanimator 20.00% 5
WUG Aggro 0.00% 1
Birthing Pod 0.00% 5
RDW 0.00% 1
Grand Total 41.13% 141


A mere three months ago, Team ChannelFireball took Worlds by surprise with a straight-forward, almost generic Tempered Steel deck and dominated. The deck, overall, went 70-44 (61%). The consensus was that the deck was relatively easy enough to prepare for, but nobody had prepared. It seems that the Pro Tour Players weren't about to make the same mistake twice. There wasn't a single good matchup for those small-but-sometimes-huge artifacts.

Birthing Pod

Opponent's Deck Win % Matches
Tezzerator 100.00% 4
Spirits 100.00% 1
Aggro WGR 100.00% 1
Lich 75.00% 4
Heartless Summoning 50.00% 2
Aggro Mono Black 50.00% 2
Mono Green 50.00% 2
White Weenie 45.24% 42
Delver 39.29% 28
Control 37.50% 8
Wolf Run 34.62% 26
Esper 33.33% 9
Reanimator 20.00% 5
WUG Aggro 0.00% 1
Birthing Pod 0.00% 5
RDW 0.00% 1
Grand Total 41.13% 141


Obviously we're talking about very few matches here. My initial thought was, wow, this is an all-or-nothing deck. Wolf Run and Delver appear right next to each other in the list, but there was a 45% gap between them. So, if these rates were to hold true over more matches we'd be looking at a deck that either went 2-1 or better against a deck or 1-4 or worse. Of course, this is the real world and over a larger sample that wouldn't hold true. But it sure looks fun. As for what we can actually say, well, not much. The most matches against a single archetype was 29 against Wolf Run. General rule for any reliability in statistics is to have a sample of at least 30, and that's really not even a lot. So Wolf Run has the beginnings of a god matchup. As does White Weenie (a very good matchup, actually). And Delver has the beginnings of a matchup about as bad as the White Weenie matchup is good. But, again, small sample sizes here. Best I can say is Birthing Pod looks like it could be situated in a very interesting way in the metagame and it sure looks fun to play. Check out the video Deck Tech with BDM and Gaudenis Vidugiris for more information.

That wraps up the analysis for this Pro Tour. I'm looking forward to watching some of the coverage of the Top 8. Then I might fire up Magic Online and try some of these decks out to see how good they are (or, perhaps more importantly, how fun they are).

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