With the first weekend of Dark Ascension for Pro Tour competition on display, I've taken the time to break down the archetypes present here at Pro Tour Dark Ascension. Here are the raw numbers:
|Mono Black Aggro||8||1.79%|
|Red-Green Wolf Run Aggro||1||0.22%|
|Black-Red Heartless Summoning Control||1||0.22%|
|Grand Architect/Heartless Summoning||1||0.22%|
|White-Blue Delverless Spirits||1||0.22%|
As you can see, there are actually quite a variety of archetypes being played this weekend. Within the archetype categories, the decks break down even further into sub-categories. Let's look at some of the largest.
For the purposes of discussion, "White Weenie" refers to any white-based aggro deck whose contents feature almost entirely white creatures but don't feature Delver of Secrets or Tempered Steel. At a tally of 115 competitors, White Weenie is the largest portion of the field with just under 26%. But hardly anyone is playing solely white in their decks; instead, players are splashing blue for Moorland Haunt, black for cards like Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, or green for Gavony Township.
|Archetype||Number||Weeny Percentage||Field Percentage|
|White Weenie Blue||76||66.09%||17.00%|
|White weenie Green||20||17.39%||4.47%|
|White Weenie Black||17||14.78%||3.80%|
|White Weenie Black-Green||2||1.74%||0.45%|
Blue is by far the most popular addition to white, with green a distant second. If you categorize the decks into these sub groups, White Weenie Blue is actually the second most played archetype in the field, behind a flavor of Delver deck which we'll get to in a moment. Verdict? The field is relatively healthy with the most popular deck clocking in at a quarter of the field, and within that quarter having multiple smaller categories to break down into further. But if you're looking for tech for Friday Night Magic, I'd offer up this: be able to deal with 1/1 token creatures.
Perhaps the most talked about archetype headed into the weekend, Delver of Secrets has put up the numbers to demonstrate that the hype is well deserved. As a whole, Delver decks were outpaced slightly by White Weenie (25% to 20% respectively) but when you break the archetypes down into their sub-categories, the top played archetype on the weekend was actually White-Blue Delver.
|Archetype||Number||Delver Percentage||Field Percentage|
Under this view, the "blue Wild Nacatl" actually occupies 19% of the entire field while blue versions of White Weenie, the most popularly played version of that archetype, take up only 17% of the total. Verdict? White Weenie is the most popular deck in aggregate but according to the pros there's a lot more room for individual preferences. If you want to play Delver, stick with the white versions.
In general, the Wolf Run decks are red and green (which seems obvious enough) with the real question being how many Kessig Wolf Run should be played. Most players opted for two, but a hardy few are running the full playset. It's also worth noting that for purposes of this exercise, "Wolf Run decks" refer to builds whose primary game plan is using Primeval Titan
|Archetype||Number||Wolf Run Percentage||Field Percentage|
|Wolf Run Black||10||13%||2.24%|
|Wolf Run White||10||13%||2.24%|
|Wolf Run Blue||2||3%||0.45%|
Like the White Weenie and Delver archetypes, the correct build of Wolf Run with regards to color is up for debate. Here's how things broke down this weekend:
Esper and Tempered Steel
The big deck coming out of Worlds was unquestionably Tempered Steel, but its numbers this weekend are smaller than they were then. The top control deck was colloquially referred to as "Esper" for its white-blue-black construction, empowered by the printing of Lingering Souls in Dark Ascension. While these archetypes were popular, they made a combined total of 11% of the field, putting them at about half the numbers the top three decks were putting up.
There were a number of rogue builds that convinced a few players to take some risks and play outside the conventional wisdom. Gravecrawler from Dark Ascension has nudged a number of beatdown players to try their hands at mono-black or red-black constructions. Birthing Pod has drawn plenty of attention as well, the powerful artifact making its way into over a dozen players' main decks despite the existence of Grafdigger's Cage. One surprise? Only three brave souls have brought Red Deck Wins to the tables, despite its strong performance at Worlds in the hands of David Caplan.
Look for more on these decks as the weekend progresses, and check out the video coverage for deck techs as they're available.