In my metagame breakdown, I gave a full metagame breakdown of the Team Unified Modern choices of all teams. Check it out if you haven't done so yet. In this article, after seeing seven more rounds of Team Unified Modern, I'm running some numbers to determine the best-performing decks and configurations.
Deck Construction Must Account for Overlap
Let me start by recapping the rules. In Team Unified Modern, each team must construct three Modern-legal decks and assign them to players A, B, and C. Then every round, one country is paired against another country, so player A of one country plays a best-of-three match against player A of the other country, and so on, and the country that wins at least two matches wins the round. But there's a restriction: other than basic lands, no two decks on the same team may contain any copies of the same card.
This means that if one player registers a Jund deck with 1 Stomping Ground, their teammate cannot play a Naya Burn deck with any copies of Stomping Ground, not even a single one. Fortunately, Modern is a vast format, so there are over a hundred viable configurations with little to no overlap. As a result, the Modern decklists from this weekend can reasonably carry over to individual events as well.
The Top 16 Breakdown
With hundreds of viable configurations, how can we make sense of the Unified Modern metagame? It is impossible to divide the deck choices of all teams into three disjoint groups, but the majority chose their decks as follows:
- Deck 1—Often an Inkmoth Nexus deck, either Infect or Affinity
- Deck 2—Usually a deck with Stomping Ground or Lightning Bolt (Naya Burn, Dredge, TitanBreach, or Blue-Red Kiln Fiend)
- Deck 3—The most variable slot, but frequently it was Bant Eldrazi or Abzan
You can find the deck configurations chosen by the Top 16 teams listed below. (I've structured the order of configurations to follow the aforementioned fashion wherever possible.) The Top 8 teams are in bold.
|Country||First deck||Second deck||Third deck|
|Belgium||Infect||Naya Burn||Goryo's Vengeance|
|Dominican Republic||Infect||Naya Burn||Bant Eldrazi|
|Italy||Infect||Ad Nauseam||Lantern Control|
|United States||Infect||Grixis Delver||Green-White Tron|
|Panama||Affinity||Blue-Red Kiln Fiend||Bant Eldrazi|
|Australia||Dredge||Blue-Red Kiln Fiend||Bant Eldrazi|
|Finland||Dredge||Blue-Red Kiln Fiend||Lantern Control|
What's the Best Unified Modern Configuration?
Good question. The two most popular configurations, registered by five out of 73 teams each, were Infect/Dredge/Abzan and Infect/Dredge/Lantern Control. Over the course of the tournament, Infect/Dredge/Abzan posted a record of 20-15 (57%), whereas Infect/Dredge/Lantern Control did no better than 12-15 (44%).
This is a very small sample size, but if I had to pick an early winner it would be Infect/Dredge/Abzan. You get three top-tier decks, and there is almost no overlap so long as you can manage the green fetch lands. Greece made the Top 8 with this configuration.
The best overall records in the Modern rounds were scored by Australia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Each of these countries had eight wins and one loss. They each had a different deck configuration, but all of them ran Bant Eldrazi, which could be seen as a good sign for fans of that archetype.
What Were the Best-Performing Decks?
The win percentage of individual players was not recorded—only the team record matters—but after some data crunching, I could determine the overall Modern match win percentage of teams who had a certain deck in their lineup.
|Deck||Team Modern Match Win Percentage|
|Red-Green Valakut||41-44 (48.2%)|
|Lantern Control||31-28 (52.5%)|
|Bant Eldrazi||50-27 (64.9%)|
|Naya Burn||37-25 (59.7%)|
|Ad Nauseam||21-18 (53.8%)|
|Blue-Red Kiln Fiend||23-11 (67.6%)|
To explain the meaning of these numbers, let's look at Blue-Red Kiln Fiend in the bottom row. The score of 23-11 means that teams who had Blue-Red Kiln Fiend in their lineup won 23 of their Modern rounds and lost eleven of them. The data doesn't reveal how many individual matches the player with the Blue-Red Kiln Fiend deck won. It could be zero (with teammates carrying them in 23 matches) or even 34. But if one of their teammates always won and the other always lost, then the best prediction of the individual match win rate of Blue-Red Kiln Fiend was 67.6%—a very impressive number.
Keeping that inherent uncertainty in this data in mind, I can indicate two winners: Bant Eldrazi and Blue-Red Kiln Fiend. Teams with either of these decks in their lineup had the best overall match win rates. Besides that, they are the most popular decks in the Top 8; you can find four Bant Eldrazi decks and three Blue-Red Kiln Fiend there.
The performance of Blue-Red Kiln Fiend in particular is remarkable. Only five teams registered such a deck, but three of them made the Top 8! So this deck is for real. Next time you play Modern, pack some removal spells for Kiln Fiend. Before you know it, a flurry of spells plus a Temur Battle Rage could turn the Elemental Beast into a lethal attacker.