Grand Prix Copenhagen 2000 - Day 1 statistics

Posted in Feature

By Wizards of the Coast

To get a feel for the Masques/Nemesis/Prophecy sealed deck format, I obtained all 380 deck lists from day 1 to run a small statistical analysis. As is always the case, the data took a day to enter and just a few minutes to analyze. With luck, it will take more than ten seconds to absorb completely. So much work, so much time, all to arrive at a few easily digestible conclusions.

Crunching the data yielded an interesting gap in color representation among the decks. Green and blue were played noticeably less than white, red, and black. By noticeably I mean that it's more of a gap than can be easily explained by a few data entry errors.

Player consensus tends to agree, as the few players I asked about this conclusion lamented that the power level of blue was low overall. Aside from a few really powerful commons like Waterfront Bouncer and Stinging Barrier, blue lacks the removal and punch of the other colors. (This ignores the rares and uncommons, which run very strong in blue.) Not surprisingly, the most-played colors were the removal triad, with white's weaker removal getting a boost from the rebel engine.


I'm not sure what to conclude from this data overall, however. Grand Prix Copenhagen was run a bit differently from most limited events, much to the dissatisfaction of the players. Head Judge Thomas Bisballe (L4, Denmark) announced before deck construction that players would receive only three lands of their choice instead of the usual five. Twelve lands in their starter plus three extra lands only equals fifteen, in a format where nearly every deck universally ran seventeen to nineteen (eighteen was the most common number). Due to this change, all but a handful of players were forced to play three colors. What effect this may have had on color dominance I can only guess, but I conjecture it meant that blue and green were played a bit more than they would have been otherwise.

(Incidentally, the reason behind the change from five lands to three was Bisballe's discretion. Bisballe explained that he believes there is more skill involved in building a sealed deck with three lands available instead of five.)

As far as the power level of the various colors, I decided to average the finishing places of all competitors who played each color. The results, as you can see below, were anything but conclusive. It seems that getting a solid base of red cards isn't any more or less powerful than getting a solid base of blue cards. White wound up a very slight winner overall.


Color Played Average Finishing Place
Green 190
Blue 192
Red 195
White 189
Black 196

For the byes, the following fun facts should be no real surprise:


  • 7 of 27 (26%) players who had 3 byes did not make day 2.
  • 27 of 46 (59%) players who had 2 byes did not make day 2.
  • 64 of 80 (80%) players who had 1 bye did not make day 2.
  • 221 of 230 (96%) players who had no byes did not make day 2.

Of the field of competitors on day 2:


  • 9 (14%) have zero byes
  • 16 (25%) have one bye
  • 19 (30%) have two byes
  • 20 (31%) have three byes

To me, this says two things about the bye system. First, it says that Wizards has achieved its goal. Rankings mean something, and they mean something big. Second, it tells me that they are perhaps a bit more powerful than they should be. When a player who went 5-2 misses day 2 to a player who only went 2-2, it feels unfair. But this always happens, because byes give players the highest tiebreakers automatically. They rise automatically to the top of their point level at the expense of players who are arguably their equivalents, having played and won all of their points without freebies. Alice Coggins once proposed to reset the tiebreakers after round three of Grand Prix events. I think this could be a fair compromise, allowing the Pros to have the undeniable advantage of free wins without penalizing the players who fight hard and play hard all day.

Since I've now run out of relevant numbers to cruch, I offer you in parting the following completely unsurprising and slightly humorous statistic:

  • 3 players (.7%) of 383 were female.
  • 380 players (99.3%) of 383 were male.


- Cathy Nicoloff

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