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.
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|
|Red Deck Wins||9||2.56%|
Anything stand out to you there? Yeah, a lot of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. 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:
|Red Deck Wins||52||48.08%|
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, the Molten Pinnacle was almost exactly even and Vampires were right there as well. Let's get some details, shall we? First up, the Molten Pinnacle.
|Red Deck Wins||21||42.86%|
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, the Molten Pinnacle almost mirror their records against the field as a whole. A little creepy if you ask me. Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 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 %|
|Red Deck Wins||6||66.67%|
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 %|
|Red Deck Wins||7||71.43%|
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.
|Red Deck Wins||3||66.67%|
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, the Molten Pinnacle Ramp while going 15-15 against White-Blue. If the metagame shifts away from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 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 %|
|Red Deck Wins||3||66.67%|
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 %|
|Red Deck Wins||4||75.00%|
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, the Molten Pinnacle 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.
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|
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.
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.
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 %|
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 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.
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 %|
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 %|
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.
|Country||Matches||Win %||Matches||Win %||Matches||Win %||Matches||Win %|
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.