November 25, 2015

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GP Pittsburgh: Meta summary

GP Pittsburgh's high attendance (over 2,500 Modern players) gives us a significant sample size to analyze. When over 300 decks are making Day 2, you can rely a little more on the data that comes out of the event as you have additional granularity with your data. For the uninitiated, I'll be referencing the articles provided by the mothership: Day 2 Metagame Breakdown and Day 1 Undefeated Decklists. Unfortunately, we are restricted by the data we have. I would have preferred to know the meta spread before going Day 1.

Let's talk about some of the fun things we learned from this event.

Unfun decks aren't strong Day 1 decks (Yay)

I think even the decks' pilots can agree that Hexproof Auras, 8 Rack and Lantern Control are some of the most frustrating decks to play against. If you agree, perhaps there's some solace in knowing that combined, they only accounted for only 2% of decks (or 1 out of every 50) that made Day 2. If you happen to pilot one of these decks, at least you can sleep easy knowing you don't need to expect sideboard hosers specific to your deck.

There is still room for fringe decks at GPs

Because of our large sample size, we're able to see a few fringe decks push into Day 2. Mono-Blue Delver, Green-White Tron, White-Blue aggro, and Hulk combo among others all must have done something right to earn their spots. If you think of Faeries and Elves as fringe decks, those even went undefeated Day 1 scoring nine wins in a row.

For the benefit of brewers everywhere, I do wish they expanded decklist availability to Day 2.

Hype does not necessarily mean success

Earlier this month, Protean Hulk (the centrepiece of a combo deck featuring its name) more than quadrupled in price. How many Protean Hulk combo decks made Day 2? One. It's safe to say Hulk Combo won't be breaking into Tier 2 status anytime soon. Unfortunately, all the hype did is make it more expensive deck to play.

Fringe decks can still Top 8

Though it's been around a while, Primeval Titan Scapeshift is far from the most popular Scapeshift variant. In addition, if the showing itself isn't impressive, it did so with some rather unconventional deck decisions:

Even the most popular Scapeshift variant isn't Tier 1 by any means, so this showing hopefully reassures those who play fringe decks that there is hope for Top 8.

Jund, Twin and Affinity are still the pillars of the format

Jund, Twin and Affinity continue to together account for more than 30% of decks you'll see Day 2. That means you'll face off against one of these almost one of every three matches, on average. For anyone surprised, it was very similar breakdown at GP Porto Alegre. Even when people expect it and dedicate numerous sideboard slots to these matchups, they STILL continue to perform.

Note: Though some of you may disagree, all Twin variants were combined for the stats above.

The hive mind can be wrong

Most people will tell you (at least, up until Sunday) that:

  • UR Twin offers consistency;
  • Grixis offers grindiness;
  • Temur offers pressure; and
  • Jeskai offers match losses.

Jeskai Twin surprised many and took 1st place at the GP. Is that enough to push Jeskai forward as a legitimate variant and change opinions? Time will tell.

Additionally, the results to continue to confirm that straight UR Twin is the strongest variant (vs. Grixis or Temur) at an unknown meta such as a GP.

Bring to Light Scapeshift is the new Scapeshift

After disappearing when Dig Through Time was banned, Scapeshift has been slowly inching its way back into the meta. It seemingly received a tiny boost as Bring to Light has been seeing some good finishes at RPTQs and online. I think we can safely say the variant has dethroned its vanilla victor.

And finally, there is still hope for slivers players

I can imagine that there are people whose days were made by seeing a sliver deck make Day 2. Without a decklist, it even leaves us wondering: Did they use Collected Company? Aether Vial? A pile of Changelings and a Sliver Hive? We'll never know.


Overall, I think these GPs results had something for everyone.

  • It further reassured players that the meta is fairly stable.
  • Players are reassured there aren't bans impending on their pet deck . (Though Twin accounted for 3/8 Top 8 finishes, no deck really stood out as too strong going into Day 2.)
  • It gives brewers and fringe deck players hope.

Most of all, I think it paints a picture of a healthy, diverse format.