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.
|Four-Color Æther Vial||1||0.24%|
|Open the Vaults||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.
|Four-Color Æther Vial||70.00%||10|
|Open the Vaults||60.00%||5|
|Through the Breach||60.00%||10|
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?
|Four-Color Æther Vial||50.00%||4|
|Through the Breach||0.00%||1|
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?
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.
|Four-Color Æther Vial||0.00%||1|
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.
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.
|Four-Color Æther Vial||100.00%||1|
|Through the Breach||50.00%||4|
|Open the Vaults||50.00%||2|
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|
|Open the Vaults||0.00%||1|
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).