Hello, and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, your weekly guide to the top decks and latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. This month, I'll take you on a grand tour of Constructed formats: I'll cover Pioneer today, Modern next week, Vintage and Legacy the week after, and Standard in the final week of August.
In today's article, I'll review the biggest metagame changes in Pioneer over the past month, highlighting hot new decks including Boros Pia. Pioneer is the Constructed format for the ongoing cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs) and it will be the format for the upcoming cycle of Regional Championships, so it's of great importance to players who are aspiring to reach the Pro Tour.
Pioneer Metagame Update
Pioneer is the nonrotating format based on expansion sets and core sets from Return to Ravnica forward, with the most notable cards on the ban list being the allied fetch lands. With over 10,000 cards to choose from, Pioneer features a variety of powerful strategies. In a recent article, I provided an introduction to the format by covering all the top archetypes from Regional Championships in June and July. However, the metagame constantly evolves.
To grasp the latest Pioneer developments, I analyzed over 900 decklists from competitive events over the past month, based on three sources of data. First, I gathered all available Magic Online decklists from scheduled Pioneer events held between July 1 and August 7. Second, I used all MTG Melee decklists with positive net wins from the CCG SuperQualifier 5K Open, Classic Qualifier Bologna, $5K RCQ at SCG CON Cincinnati. Finally, I added the top decklists from smaller tabletop events like the RCQ at Fire & Dice, RCQ at TriCs Circle of Hobbies, RCQ at Gameforce, RCQ at Card Shop Santa Clara, RCQ at Super Hero Games, RCQ at MINT Yokohama, RCQ at Hareruya Tokyo, and RCQ at Hareruya Nagoya. To obtain a metric that combines popularity and performance, I awarded a number of points to each deck equal to its net wins (i.e., its number of match wins minus losses). Each archetype's share of total net wins can be interpreted as its share of the winner's metagame.
|Archetype||Winner's Metagame Share|
|1. Mono-Green Devotion||12.6%|
|2. Rakdos Sacrifice||11.6% ↑↑|
|3. Azorius Spirits||7.9% ↑↑|
|4. Mono-White Humans||7.3%|
|5. Rakdos Midrange||6.1% ↓↓|
|6. Lotus Field Combo||6.1%|
|7. Azorius Control||6.1%|
|8. Boros Pia||5.9% ↑↑|
|9. Izzet Creativity||4.9%|
|10. Abzan Greasefang||4.2%|
|11. Azorius Lotus Field||3.1%|
|12. Gruul Vehicles||2.8%|
|13. Izzet Phoenix||2.4%|
|14. Mono-Red Aggro||1.9%|
|15. Boros Convoke||1.9%|
|16. Izzet Drakes||1.3%|
|17. Dimir Control||1.1%|
|18. Enigmatic Fires||1.1% ↓↓|
|19. Waste Not||1.0%|
|20. Omnath to Light||0.9%|
|22. Atarka Red||0.8%|
|23. Rona Combo||0.8%|
|24. Neoform Atraxa||0.7%|
|25. Jund Transmogrify||0.7%|
|26. Rakdos Transmogrify||0.6%|
|27. Archfiend Alteration||0.5%|
|28. Bant Auras||0.5%|
As indicated by the arrows in the table, the landscape has changed from the metagame right before the June–July Regional Championships and the metagame during that cycle of Regional Championships. After an incredible Regional Championship cycle, Rakdos Sacrifice displaced Rakdos Midrange as the premier home for
I've often said that anything can win in the hands of a capable pilot, and I believe this remains true. It's mostly a matter of finding a deck you enjoy and building familiarity with its play patterns. Stick to your heart, learn your favorite deck inside out, and tune your sideboard for the expected metagame. For example, given the recent uptick in
Seven Sweet Pioneer Decks
Are you looking for a spicy new Pioneer deck to dazzle at your next event? Or do you wonder what kind of niche decks have been performing well lately? Then I have you covered with a selection of seven sweet Pioneer decks for you to check out. These are not at the very top of the metagame, but they represent fun archetypes that have posted multiple solid finishes over the last month.
Boros Pia exploded onto the scene near the end of the Regional Championship cycle. This deck can generate early pressure with
The heart and soul of the deck is
The stock build of the deck, which looks very similar to the typical version from a month ago, can also trigger Pia by casting
With a fast clock and solid removal options, Boros Pia lines up well against Mono-Green Devotion. Moreover, unlike other aggro decks, its card draw allows it to overcome the one-for-one interaction from Rakdos decks. As more and more players are latching on, Boros Pia has surged to 5.9% of the winner's metagame over the last month, and it's the hottest new Pioneer deck that you have to be aware of. When playing against it, kill
As mentioned, Azorius Spirits had excellent win rates during the Regional Championships, and it has risen to a 7.9% share of the winner's metagame over the past month.
On July 30, Key05232 finished 14th in a Pioneer Challenge on Magic Online with
Forcing opponents to discard their best cards before they get to play them is one of the most powerful, merciless abilities that black mages have access to. It only gets better when
To trigger the eponymous enchantment, the deck uses
After Dominaria United introduced
This Boros Goblins deck retains the aggressive Goblin draws but gains the ability to kill out of nowhere with
Transmogrify decks have also been a fringe part of Pioneer metagame for a while, but they had a breakout finish last weekend, as Rakdos Transmogrify won a Magic Online Challenge! In a way, you can view the strategy as an alternative to Izzet Creativity. When
The winning list shown above also features
When you delve away
If you control
The combo was unveiled by Rei Zhang at the U.S. Regional Championship, who wrapped it into a Grixis Midrange shell. The more recent version shown above, piloted to a Challenge Top 8 on Magic Online by Katuo079595, slots it into a Dimir Control build. There are various possible homes for the combo, and I'm excited to see what the best one might turn out to be.
It took nearly two months after the release of March of the Machine: The Aftermath for Boros Pia to catch on, so there may be plenty of undiscovered gems lurking beneath the surface. As the Pioneer RCQ season is drawing to a close and we look forward to the corresponding Regional Championships, the Pioneer format is brimming with potential. However, other Constructed formats will get their place in the spotlight too. The following infographic provides a visual overview of all Regional Championships and their qualifying seasons in the 2023–24 season.
If your dream is to qualify for the Pro Tour in the 2023–24 season, here is a quick overview of the Regional Championship qualification paths.
Cycle 1 (Pioneer): The ongoing Regional Championship Qualifiers run through August 20 in the Pioneer format. Due to format matching, they award invitations to a Regional Championship in the Pioneer format. Details are not available for all these Regional Championships yet, but they include the Legacy European Championship in France starting on September 30, the Champions Cup Final in Japan on November 25–26, and the Dreamhack Magic Showdown in the United States on December 16–17. Top players from these Regional Championships qualify for the Pro Tour that will be held at MagicCon: Chicago in February. More details regarding this event, including the Pro Tour formats, will be announced at a later time. Pro Tour formats are not necessarily the same as the formats of their corresponding Regional Championships.
Cycle 2 (Modern): The next cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers runs from September 9 through December 17 in the Modern format. Due to format matching, they award invitations to a Regional Championship in the Modern format. These Regional Championships will take place between January 19 and March 24 in 2024 and will qualify players for a Pro Tour in the second quarter of 2024. More details concerning its location and formats will be announced at a later time.
Cycle 3 (Standard): The third cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers runs from January 2024 through March 2024 in the Standard format. Due to format matching, they award invitations to a Regional Championship later that year in the Standard format. Pro Tour details will be announced at a later time.
Join me again next week for a look at Modern, where we'll investigate the impact of unbanning