Pro Tour–San Juan Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Feature on June 7, 2010

By Paul Jordan

Another Pro Tour is in the books, this time seeing one of the game's current and arguably all-time stars claiming his first crown. While Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's 40-card deck was the last one standing, it was 60-card decks that did the heavy lifting in propelling him and others to the Sunday draft table. We're going to take a look at some of the decks in the Zendikar Block Constructed format and how they all fared.

Before we go any further, we need to first examine which decks were in people's suitcases. Rashad Miller has dug through all the deck lists and showed us the day 1 and day 2 metagames already. I'm using his deck characterizations in my analysis, so many thanks go out to him for making this possible. For convenience's sake, I'll simply remind you that White-Blue Control was the most played deck, followed by Devastating Red, Monument Green, Green Eldrazi, and Red-White "Koros." We'll go through each of these decks and how the field responded to them. An interesting sidenote on the metagame: only 13% of U.S. players played White-Blue, compared to 37% of Japanese players. I don't know what to make of that, but it sure is interesting.

In this analysis, I'll be excluding mirror matches and will (obviously) only be including the Constructed rounds. While reading this, please remember that there are a number of factors that go into each match that is played. I'm not trying to show you which deck you should play for your next tournament or say what the best deck in the format is. I'm trying to describe what happened at the Pro Tour and what the best decks there were at that tournament. Metagames change. If you have a question about the name of a deck I'm using, check out Frank Kasten's delve into the metagame here or if you want to check out a certain deck list I reference you can take a peek at the top deck lists here.

Archetype Win % Matches
Blue-Black Control64.29%45
Green-White Tokens60.00%5
Blue-Red-Green60.00%10
Monument Green57.55%284
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm56.14%117
Green-Blue-Black Landfall56.00%25
Green-White-Blue Control51.89%107
Blue-Red-Green Landfall51.11%45
White-Blue Control50.53%480
Koros50.31%166
Valakut50.00%10
Mono-Red50.00%14
White Weenie50.00%10
Red-Green Land Destruction50.00%10
Green-Blue Control50.00%14
Devastating Red49.22%327
Green-White Ramp47.12%108
Vampires46.03%129
Green Eldrazi44.62%189
Summoning Trap42.86%127
White-Blue-Black Control40.00%10
Black-Green Landfall40.00%5
White Eldrazi35.29%17
Blue-Red Control32.35%34
Mono-White Control25.00%4
Allies20.00%5

Blue-Black Control is referring to the type of deck Jody Keith used with Vampire Hexmage, Abyssal Persecutor, Gatekeeper of Malakir, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, a deck flowing with card advantage. With only 45 matches it is difficult to reach any conclusions. That won't stop us from trying, though.

Blue-Black ControlWin %Matches
Blue-Red Control100.00%1
Blue-Red-Green Landfall100.00%1
Green-White-Blue Control100.00%1
Green-White Ramp100.00%2
Summoning Trap100.00%2
Koros75.00%4
Devastating Red71.43%9
White-Blue Control61.54%14
Green Eldrazi60.00%5
Monument Green33.33%3
Vampires0.00%2
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm0.00%1
Grand Total64.29%45

The numbers certainly are impressive—especially the small sample against White-Blue Control and Devastating Red. With those two decks being the most played, assuming these numbers can be replicated over larger samples it is easy to see why people picked up their Creeping Tar Pits. Again, with only 45 matches there really is not much to see.

Monument Green, however, has something to show us.

Monument Green Win % Matches
Green-White Tokens100.00%1
Red-Green Land Destruction100.00%2
Green-Blue Control100.00%1
Blue-Red Control83.33%6
Summoning Trap77.78%9
White-Blue-Black Control66.67%3
Mono-Red66.67%3
Valakut66.67%3
White Eldrazi66.67%3
Blue-Black Control66.67%3
Blue-Red-Green Landfall66.67%6
White-Blue Control65.82%81
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm63.64%12
Green-White Ramp61.54%14
Green-White-Blue Control60.00%15
Green Eldrazi57.14%21
Vampires55.00%20
White Weenie50.00%2
Green-Blue-Black Landfall50.00%4
Devastating Red41.30%46
Koros37.50%26
Mono-White Control0.00%1
Blue-Red-Green0.00%2
Grand Total57.55%284

A 57% win percentage against the field is a very strong number, especially when a third of the matches are against the most popular deck and those are at 65%. The only concern I would start to mention here is against hyper-aggressive red decks—both Koros and Devastating Red. I imagine that red burn spells clearing all the smaller mana critters off of the battlefield makes things more difficult for those with Forests.

What these numbers do not show, though, is that there were different flavors of the deck which had very different results.

Monument Green Subtypes Win % Matches
Jace72.00%25
Beastmaster66.33%100
Blue-Red-Green53.85%41
Standard48.28%118
Grand Total57.55%284

The alleged "normal" build of Monument Green actually underperformed compared to the field by a small margin. It was the other three varieties that propped up the deck's overall good showing. Decks that dipped into blue for Jace, the Mind Sculptor did the best overall, though that was only three players and was highlighted by Ben Hayes's 10-0. The other two players went a combined 8-7 with the deck.

The true story of the PT, at least with regards to Block Constructed, is Beastmaster Ascension. With thirteen people running the deck (including two Hall of Famers) there were enough matches to draw some concrete conclusions on the deck's viability, and it did not disappoint.

Beastmaster GreenWin %Matches
White-Blue-Black Control100.00%2
Blue-Red-Green Landfall100.00%3
White Weenie100.00%1
Red-Green Land Destruction100.00%1
Blue-Red Control100.00%1
Summoning Trap100.00%2
Blue-Black Control100.00%2
Green-Blue-Black Landfall100.00%1
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm75.00%4
Green-White Ramp71.43%7
Devastating Red69.23%13
White Eldrazi66.67%3
Green Eldrazi66.67%6
White-Blue Control65.52%30
Vampires62.50%8
Green-White-Blue Control60.00%5
Mono-Red50.00%2
Koros16.67%7
Blue-Red-Green0.00%2
Grand Total66.33%100

There are a whole lot of small samples in there, with the White-Blue Control match being the only with even close to enough matches to call it, so we can't point to any particular matches to explain why Beastmaster did so well. What we can say, though, is that against the overall metagame at the Pro Tour, Beastmaster was exceptional.

Devastating RedWin %Matches
Blue-Red Control100.00%2
Green-Blue-Black Landfall100.00%1
White Eldrazi100.00%2
Mono-White Control100.00%1
Blue-Red-Green100.00%2
Green Eldrazi73.68%38
Summoning Trap68.42%19
Valakut66.67%3
Green-Blue Control66.67%6
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm66.67%16
Vampires63.16%19
Monument Green58.70%46
White-Blue-Black Control50.00%2
Red-Green Land Destruction50.00%2
Green-White Ramp50.00%21
Koros45.83%25
Blue-Red-Green Landfall33.33%9
Blue-Black Control28.57%9
White-Blue Control27.59%88
Green-White-Blue Control14.29%14
White Weenie0.00%2
Grand Total49.22%327

Devastating Red decks, the de facto beatdown deck of the format, were just worse than being a coin flip. Its ability to handle small green creatures was on display with a 58% against Monument decks and its speed was too much for Eldrazi decks. White-Blue Control, however, was a distinctly different story. This is one of the worst matchups I've seen over that many matches. A 72% loss rate is complete domination. If White-Blue is going to continue to be popular, Devastating Red does not stand much of a chance in this format without some adaptation.

Eldrazi Green Win % Matches
Mono-White Control100.00%1
White Weenie100.00%2
Green-White-Blue Control60.00%6
White-Blue Control55.32%49
Summoning Trap54.55%11
Koros53.85%13
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm50.00%12
Vampires50.00%10
Blue-Red Control50.00%2
Green-Blue-Black Landfall50.00%2
Monument Green42.86%21
Blue-Black Control40.00%5
White Eldrazi33.33%3
Blue-Red-Green Landfall33.33%6
Devastating Red26.32%38
Green-White Ramp25.00%4
Red-Green Land Destruction0.00%1
Allies0.00%1
Green-Blue Control0.00%2
Grand Total44.62%189

If White-Blue Control is going to stay popular, though, Eldrazi decks could be the answer (of course, that would tip the balance back to Devastating Red being good .... Ahhh, the beauty of a metagame). Outside of the White-Blue matchup, there wasn't much to get excited about for Eldrazi Green, though. As fun as it is to summon gigantic fatties (OK, I know we don't summon things anymore and haven't for years, pardon my archaic parlance), this does not look to be the right format for that. At least not now.

Opposing Archetype Win % Matches
White Eldrazi100.00%1
Black-Green Landfall100.00%2
White Weenie100.00%1
Green-White Tokens100.00%1
Green-Blue Control100.00%1
Devastating Red72.41%88
Koros66.67%45
Summoning Trap54.29%36
Vampires52.78%38
Blue-Red Control50.00%6
Red-Green Land Destruction50.00%2
Green-White Ramp46.15%28
Green Eldrazi44.68%49
Green-Blue-Black Landfall44.44%9
Green-White-Blue Control41.94%31
Mono-Red40.00%5
Blue-Black Control38.46%14
Blue-Red-Green Landfall37.50%8
Monument Green34.18%81
White-Blue-Black Control33.33%3
Blue-Red-Green33.33%3
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm26.92%26
Valakut0.00%2
Grand Total50.53%480

You may have noticed that we had not yet looked at White-Blue Control, the most popular deck at the tournament. Well, that error has been corrected. We have already talked about a lot of these, but I'll just touch on some of the lesser-known quantities. White-Blue did pretty well against Koros, Summoning Trap, and Vampires, some of the tier 2 decks in the format. In fact, with so many people playing White-Blue it would be difficult for the deck to really outperform 50% by a large amount, so we should not discount the showing. With a little bit of help against green decks (Monument and Eldrazi varieties) this could be a dominant deck.

Now that we've gone through the Constructed results I decided to take a look at how each country did in both the Limited and Constructed formats.

CountryConstructedDraftDifferenceMatches
BEL50.00%39.13%-10.87%131
BRA52.94%52.17%-0.77%75
CAN43.84%58.97%15.14%114
CZE49.15%63.89%14.74%96
DEU51.18%39.47%-11.71%206
ENG53.23%40.63%-12.60%94
ESP39.33%40.48%1.15%131
FRA53.38%51.76%-1.61%239
ITA56.82%52.00%-4.82%210
JPN53.97%51.11%-2.86%380
NLD54.32%67.35%13.03%134
SWE57.75%46.15%-11.59%113
USA49.36%51.53%2.17%1446

I looked only at countries with at least 75 Matches. Even in doing that there are some wild swings due to sample size. USA had the most matches and showed a propensity for draft, while Japan had the second most matches and the opposite splits. Germany had over 200 matches and an almost 12% split, showing a huge gap when it came to drafting. I don't know that any of this means anything—I just always get some level of satisfaction in looking at how each country does.

If you want to dig further into any of the matchups, check out this spreadsheet (36 KB download) that details everything.

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