Pro Tour Ixalan Day One Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on November 3, 2017

By Marc Calderaro

Data compiled with the help of Corbin Hosler.

What everyone wants to know about Pro Tour Ixalan is just how many energy-based decks have shown up. After routing the competition at the World Championship (which was taken down by William Jensen, who was also piloting an energy deck), combatants wondered how many people would follow the Pro Tour Hall of Famer's lead.

The short answer is "a lot." But there's more to the data than just the headline. Let's take a look at the big archetype breakdown, and explore what the numbers show.

Archetype Total Percentage
Temur Energy 107 23.6%
Ramunap Red 89 19.6%
Four-Color Energy 89 19.6%
Sultai Energy 23 5.1%
Mardu Vehicles 20 4.4%
Black-Red Aggro 20 4.4%
Blue-Black Control 16 3.5%
Esper God-Pharaoh's Gift 12 2.6%
Mono-Black Aggro 10 2.2%
White-Blue Approach 10 2.2%
Abzan Tokens 7 1.5%
Mono-White Vampires 5 1.1%
Esper Tokens 5 1.1%
White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift 7 1.5%
Blue-Black God-Pharaoh's Gift 3 0.7%
Four-Color Tokens 3 0.7%
White-Black Tokens 2 0.4%
Jeskai Approach 2 0.4%
Green-White Aggro 2 0.4%
Green-Blue Pummeler 2 0.4%
Grixis Control 2 0.4%
Bant Approach 2 0.4%
White-Blue Tokens 2 0.4%
White-Blue Cycling 1 0.2%
White-Blue Control 1 0.2%
White-Black Midrange 1 0.2%
Temur Riddleform 1 0.2%
Temur Pummeler 1 0.2%
Sultai Pummeler 1 0.2%
Sultai Control 1 0.2%
Red-White Approach 1 0.2%
Jund Control 1 0.2%
Green-White Cats 1 0.2%
Esper Tezzeret 1 0.2%
Esper Cycling 1 0.2%
Esper Approach 1 0.2%
Black-Green Energy 1 0.2%

So the obvious headline is Energy. Or, more bluntly, "ENERGY!" Outside of Ramunap Red, Energy takes up all the top slots. Though Sultai Energy plays much differently than Temur and Four-Color—looking more akin to Winding Constrictor decks of old—the Attune with Aether, Longtusk Cub, Rogue Refiner slots are a lock in almost 50% of the decks here.

Despite the variation found within Temur Energy and Four-Color Energy, and tons of different ways to build either, keeping some energy dice around isn't a bad bet.

But here's where the wrinkles come into play. In the last five years, there were ten times when a deck archetype represented more than seventeen percent of the metagame, and only twice did the top-played archetype win the trophy (Mardu Vehicles at Pro Tour Aether Revolt and Ramunap Red at Pro Tour Amonkhet). So despite the deck's omnipresence, it's not a safe bet that either Temur or Four-Color Energy will earn the top spot.

Even further, at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, with over 23% of the field on Bant Company, there were eight different archetypes in the Top 8. It was the most diverse Top 8 in recent memory! So, though the percentages look big—and they are—this could be a Pro Tour–specific metagame.

Outside of that big first hit, the rest of Standard is amazingly diverse. There are a few midrange decks, multiple control decks (a traditional control deck, and the Approach of the Second Sun variant with a combo finish), various stripes of aggro (not just Ramunap Red), and the God-Pharaoh's Gift decks, which also vary greatly in play style.

Here's a look at the collapsed archetypes, which gives a better sense of the deck diversity in Ixalan Standard.

Collapsed Archetypes Percentage Total
Energy decks 48.5%
Aggro decks 32.2%
God-Pharaoh's Gift decks 4.8%
Traditional Control decks 4.6%
Tokens decks 4.2%
Approach of the Second Sun decks 3.5%
Other 1.3%
Pummeler decks 0.9%

Note: Mono-White Vampires decks with Oketra's Monument were lumped into "Aggro" rather than "Tokens."

If we combine the Control decks further, they total over eight percent of the metagame. So although there's an overwhelming amount of Energy decks overall here, there are plenty of tuned decks of all stripes that can grab a higher portion of the metagame—and are decks you certainly have to know how to beat at the upcoming Grands Prix. We'll know tomorrow what the conversion rates look like for the decks, to see just how these various decks are performing.

Some of us here think that Black-Red Aggro and similar builds are the X factor. Over 30 people in the room guessed that with the "go-bigger" arms race between the energy decks, there was a gap to slip under the warring factions. Kind of like Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars. He pit the town's gangs against one another while destroying them both from the inside. (And before you call me out—or like Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo. Okay?) Though Ramunap Red has traditionally occupied that slot, since its breakout performances, players have learned how to combat its hateful Desert-laden ways. These newer aggressive decks are more elusive at the moment.

So there is both bad news and good news contained in these charts. The bad news is that a lot of pros have fallen back on Energy as the safest bet at the Pro Tour. The good news is that if you don't want to join the crowd, you've got a lot of ways to go against the grain.

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