Pro Tour–Kyoto Metagame Breakdown

Posted in News on March 9, 2009

By Paul Jordan

In the final days of February and crossing over into March, 381 players put two formats on display in our first glimpse of a split-format Pro Tour that did not end with a new world champion. Conflux was making its Pro Tour debut in Limited and Constructed, even getting some Top 8 love. The finals featured two players who will be making strong Hall of Fame cases before their careers are done and two decks that are simply overflowing with card advantage. Red-White Reveillark, or Boat Brew, went into the tournament as the default deck to beat, and translated that hype into two Sunday showings. But a man in his ninth Sunday appearance deflated the hype after the two Brews clashed in the Semifinals.


Red-White Reveillark was expected to be The Deck by the pundits, and the participants agreed. Over a quarter of the field showed up with a nautical beer, easily netting the title of most played. The overall field was not the most diverse, but featured enough variety to keep people honest.

Deck% of the field
Red-White Reveillark25.72%
Other17.32%
Five-Color Control14.44%
Blue-Black Faeries13.12%
Blightning Aggro9.45%
Mono-White Kithkin6.82%
Black-White Tokens4.99%
Red-White Kithkin3.15%
Esper 'Lark2.89%
Swans2.10%


The "Other" category features 32 decks that were played by less than 2% of the field, combining to Voltron into the second biggest group. Our championship deck was the second most popular deck of the event. Faeries, the deck that seemingly will not go away in any format, captured the hearts of 13% of the field.

None of this has been surprising so far. This next graphic, however, might be.

DeckMedian FinishWin %Total Matches
Red-White Kithkin10161.73%81
Swans117.542.55%47
Mono-White Kithkin169.554.36%149
Red-White Reveillark173.553.61%429
Black-White Tokens18048.60%107
Blue-Black Faeries203.550.00%242
Blightning Aggro20543.82%178
Five-Color Control21350.81%248
Other22945.61%353
Esper 'Lark23246.77%62

The best performing deck, based both on win percent and median finish, was Red-White Kithkin. That deck's top finish was a blowout loss in the Semifinals. So why weren't there more red-white decks in the Top 8? There are a couple of reasons.

First, and most obviously, there were only twelve people with the deck. Managing to get more than one person out of twelve into the Top 8 of a 381 person tournament is a bit of an unlikelihood, so that's 1 strike against the folk playing red-white. But I took a look at how each of the Red-White Kithkin players performed anyway. While they were moving along very well in Standard, when the deck's pilots lost 20 cards they didn't fare as well. Red-White Kithkin players won as much as they lost, going an even 50%. In fact, the most wins any of the Red-White Kithkin players had in Limited was four. Based on the eight rounds of Swiss Standard, three of the White-Red Kithkin decks were almost on pace to play on Sunday. The Limited portion of the event dropped the Red-White Kithkin players' success by 5.5%. People might be talking a lot more about Kithkin had this been a single-format event. Below is how those little guys handled the field.

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Swans100.00%1
Blightning Aggro83.33%6
Esper 'Lark75.00%4
Red-White Reveillark69.23%26
other62.50%16
Black-White Tokens60.00%5
Five-Color Control55.56%9
Blue-Black Faeries36.36%11
Mono-White Kithkin33.33%3
Grand Total61.73%81

As you can see, success was spread pretty evenly across the field. Of course, with only eight rounds of action we are left with less data that we would like. But we can see the outline of a very solid deck.

But Red-White Kithkin were not successful in bringing home the trophy. That honor went to the deck with a mana base that would make Extended players jealous, Five-Color Control.

Five-Color Control managed to win barely more than half of its matches. And they were nowhere near as good in Limited:

FormatWinsLossesDrawsWin %
Draft8098044.94%
Standard126122350.81%

So was the Cruelest deck at the tournament only average against everyone, or was there a mixed bag?

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Black-White Tokens75.00%8
Esper 'Lark71.43%7
Mono-White Kithkin63.64%22
Blightning Aggro62.50%32
other50.00%54
Blue-Black Faeries45.16%31
Red-White Reveillark44.87%78
Red-White Kithkin44.44%9
Swans14.29%7
Grand Total50.81%248

Turns out, Red-White Reveillark is the biggest problem. Faeries are an issue too, but otherwise things don't look so bad. Of course, those two account for nearly two out of every five decks present, so there is some significant reason for angst.

Below are the remaining decks, with the favorable matchups on the left and the unfavorable ones on the right.


For the complete list of matchup percentages, click here.

There are two numbers in here that jump out at me. First, Blightning Aggro is a true Faerie slayer. Winning two thirds of the time over a good sample size, there is not much more you could ask for. This is not really news any more, as Blightning Aggro was developed when Faeries were the dominant deck. And unfortunately for those who favor the deck, the Fae are moving backwards in the world, removing one of the primary scissors to their rock.

The second number that really popped to me was how well Red-White Reveillark handles "Other" decks. One of the hallmarks of a dominant deck is its ability to handle decks that exist largely outside of the metagame. If there is a case to be made for the Brew, this is a good piece of the argument.

As is often the case, the best deck in a tournament did not win. This time, Five-Color Control had the last laugh and Red-White Kithkin players had to go home with the moral victory of having chosen the right deck.

Blightning Aggro

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Swans100.00%1
Blue-Black Faeries66.67%33
Mono-White Kithkin53.85%13
Other45.16%31
Black-White Tokens42.86%14
Five-Color Control37.50%32
Esper 'Lark33.33%6
Red-White Reveillark30.95%42
Red-White Kithkin16.67%6
Grand Total43.82%178

Red-White Reveillark

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Swans83.33%18
Blightning Aggro69.05%42
Other57.28%103
Esper 'Lark56.25%16
Five-Color Control55.13%78
Black-White Tokens53.85%26
Blue-Black Faeries49.23%65
Mono-White Kithkin38.18%55
Red-White Kithkin30.77%26
Grand Total53.61%429

Black-White Tokens

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Esper 'Lark60.00%5
other58.82%17
Blightning Aggro57.14%14
Blue-Black Faeries50.00%22
Swans50.00%2
Red-White Reveillark46.15%26
Red-White Kithkin40.00%5
Mono-White Kithkin37.50%8
Five-Color Control25.00%8
Grand Total48.60%107

Esper 'Lark

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Blightning Aggro66.67%6
Other64.29%14
Mono-White Kithkin50.00%4
Red-White Reveillark43.75%16
Blue-Black Faeries40.00%5
Black-White Tokens40.00%5
Five-Color Control28.57%7
Red-White Kithkin25.00%4
Swans0.00%1
Grand Total46.77%62

Mono-White Kithkin

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Red-White Kithkin66.67%3
Blue-Black Faeries65.00%20
Black-White Tokens62.50%8
Red-White Reveillark61.82%55
Swans50.00%4
Esper 'Lark50.00%4
Blightning Aggro46.15%13
Other45.00%20
Five-Color Control36.36%22
Grand Total54.36%149

Swans

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Esper 'Lark100.00%1
Five-Color Control85.71%7
other66.67%3
Blue-Black Faeries50.00%10
Black-White Tokens50.00%2
Mono-White Kithkin50.00%4
Red-White Reveillark16.67%18
Blightning Aggro0.00%1
Red-White Kithkin0.00%1
Grand Total42.55%47

Blue-Black Faeries

Opposing DeckWin %Total Matches
Red-White Kithkin63.64%11
Other60.00%45
Esper 'Lark60.00%5
Five-Color Control54.84%31
Red-White Reveillark50.77%65
Swans50.00%10
Black-White Tokens50.00%22
Mono-White Kithkin35.00%20
Blightning Aggro33.33%33
Grand Total50.00%242

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