Archetype Breakdown for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze

Posted in Event Coverage on May 19, 2013

By Paul Jordan

Block Constructed metagames are frequently an entertaining way to foreshadow the next year's Standard metagames. If that's the case time time around, then the next year of Standard will feature a lot of Sphinx's Revelations. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At Pro Tour Dragon's Maze, as has been becoming a trend, there were a wide variety of viable deck archetypes available to those who happened to find themselves planeswalking for the weekend. Blake Rasmussen and Nate Price did the dirty work of sorting through all of the handwritten decklists and categorizing them for us here. Esper Control was far and away the most popular deck, capturing more than a quarter of the field. That type of popularity isn't terribly uncommon. What's unusual about this particular metagame is that the next three most popular decks after #1 have fewer players combined than #1 does. There are fully a dozen decks that captured 2% or more of the field and only two that had more than 10% (and one of those was 10.1%). So while there was certainly a 'public-enemy-number-one' there was not agreement from the field on how to defeat it.

Analyzing these results gets a little sticky when we get into details due to not having enough matches to really comment on a particular matchup. Typically, to have any real confidence that a result is repeatable, you want to have at least 30 samples of data. And that's the bare minimum. So for each of the 44 decks out there we would want at least 1,290 matches (30 matches per opposing deck, 43 possible opposing decks). We had just over 2800 total matches - not per deck, total.

So, no, we're not going to be able to speak intelligently about how Grixis Whispering Madness does against BUG Whispering Madness. But we do still have over 2800 pieces of data to analyze. Surely we can find some high-level information about what happened. There were 7 decks that amassed 100+ constructed matches on the weekend. Here's how they did:

DECK Win % Matches
Esper Control 53.2% 591
Bant Control 53.2% 273
Junk Midrange 52.6% 194
Selesnya Aggro 50.5% 192
Naya Domri 49.5% 112
Mono-Red Aggro 48.1% 110
UWR Control 46.7% 139

I've been playing Magic for nineteen years and have been doing Pro Tour metagame analysis for five years. I've never seen an instance where the top performing decks mirror the most popular decks list so closely. Esper and Bant control decks were #1 and #2 in both lists, though the margin was much closer in performance (Esper was .04% higher). Then Junk, which was the fourth most common deck, was the third most successful and Selesnya Aggro - the third most common deck - was the fourth most successful. It's really quite eerie.

Weirder yet is that there was no dominant deck - not even close. For most events, a 53% win rate would put a deck in the realms of barely being worth mentioning. For reference, at Pro tour Gatecrash there were five decks with 53.2% or better. There's almost always some standout deck that gets 60% or more of its matches. Even changing the criteria from 100 matches to 75 gives us Azorious Control at 56.1%. There simply was not a standout deck. Dare I say it, this is a well-balance format.

Normally I would do a brief write-up for each of the popular decks on the apparent strengths and weaknesses of them. That would be spectacularly dry in this case though, as it is a sea of +/- 2% matches. The most insight I can find is that Esper Control was between 54% and 56% against Junk Midrange, Bant Control, and Selesnya Aggro. Maze's End Control was the only real outlier, winning 62.5% of its matches against Esper Control. Even for that though, Esper is the only deck Maze's End Control played more than 14 times.

So, instead, let's talk about teams. A lot of talk surrounded the various teams that had formed to test for this Pro Tour. I wonder how they all did:

  Constructed   Draft   Total  
Team Win % Matches Win % Matches Win % Matches
ChannelFireball 61.61% 115 55.84% 77 59.26% 192
Team European Union 56.07% 110 68.18% 66 60.69% 176
ManaDeprived 36.00% 75 58.49% 53 45.31% 128
Northern Planeswalker Alliance 57.14% 44 40.00% 30 50.00% 74
TCGPlayer 53.85% 55 60.00% 36 56.32% 91
Team Legit 48.39% 63 60.53% 38 53.00% 101
Team Luxurious Hair 52.94% 71 51.06% 47 52.17% 118
Team roUrix 43.59% 39 46.15% 26 44.62% 65
TeamSCG 56.08% 151 61.29% 93 58.09% 244
Wilson Gone Wild 52.81% 89 43.33% 60 48.99% 149

Team European union really demolished their Draft opponents, averaging just over a 2-1 at every draft they were in. They weren't necessarily slouches in Constructed either, ending in a virtual tie for third best Constructed team. Team ChannelFireball takes the honors for Constructed though and by a comfortable margin. It wasn't enough to overcome the Europeans for best overall record. Team SCG was second in draft and third in constructed which placed them at third overall.

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