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Pro Tour Born of the Gods: Modern Meta Analysis

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Hello, fellow speculators!

It’s the week of Grand Prix Richmond, destined to be the most-attended Constructed tournament ever, and the format is Modern. Registration is already shattering previous records for every past event except Grand Prix Las Vegas, the Modern Masters Limited GP. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that Modern is getting more hype than ever in recent months.

And the hype translate into higher prices. Scalding Tarn and Misty Rainforest hitting $70 on the Star City Games buylist is just the beginning. We can reasonably expect Modern staples to all climb as we draw closer to the Modern PTQ season. Players will need cards, and the demand will keep the prices inflated until the PTQ season is over.

So as players are gearing up their pet decks, their rogue brews, and decks built to the metagame for Grand Prix Richmond, where’s the best place to look for figuring out the new Modern metagame? What better way than to look back to the pro tour that happened just a week ago!

I was really stoked when Wizards of the Coast decided to post the top decklists for the Modern portion of the pro tour at the link here. It’s not something that’s happened for ages for MTGO daily event results, due to WotC fearing that players will use the data to solve the meta.

But now that we do have the data, let’s have some fun with it.

Meta Analysis

Top 50 Most-Played Creatures:

Rank (PT) Rank (MTGO) Deviation Card Name # Dominance

1

1

0

SnapcasterMage

94

21.17%

2

3

1

Tarmogoyf

88

19.82%

3

2

-1

Spellskite

82

18.47%

4

4

0

KitchenFinks

76

17.12%

5

6

1

NobleHierarch

69

15.54%

6

7

1

ScavengingOoze

61

13.74%

7

5

-2

BirdsofParadise

58

13.06%

8

45

37

FulminatorMage

53

11.94%

9

16

7

WildNacatl

52

11.71%

10

8

-2

DeceiverExarch

50

11.26%

11

15

4

VendilionClique

45

10.14%

12

22

10

VoiceofResurgence

42

9.46%

13

9

-4

RestorationAngel

40

9.01%

14

36

22

GoblinGuide

37

8.33%

15

50

35

GladecoverScout

36

8.11%

16

50

34

SlipperyBogle

36

8.11%

17

17

0

Pestermite

35

7.88%

18

27

9

SimianSpiritGuide

32

7.21%

19

50

31

GeistofSaintTraft

31

6.98%

20

19

-1

KirdApe

30

6.76%

21

37

16

DarkConfidant

28

6.31%

22

21

-1

Ghor-ClanRampager

28

6.31%

23

50

27

MonstrousCarabid

28

6.31%

24

50

26

StreetWraith

28

6.31%

25

50

25

WallofRoots

28

6.31%

26

50

24

DeadshotMinotaur

27

6.08%

27

50

23

Shriekmaw

27

6.08%

28

40

12

GoblinElectromancer

26

5.86%

29

50

21

IngotChewer

26

5.86%

30

35

5

MurderousRedcap

23

5.18%

31

25

-6

AvenMindcensor

22

4.95%

32

30

-2

ExperimentOne

22

4.95%

33

50

17

Thrun,theLastTroll

21

4.73%

34

13

-21

ArcboundRavager

20

4.50%

35

44

9

Kiki-Jiki,MirrorBreaker

20

4.50%

36

10

-26

Ornithopter

20

4.50%

37

11

-26

SignalPest

20

4.50%

38

12

-26

VaultSkirge

20

4.50%

39

20

-19

EtchedChampion

19

4.28%

40

50

10

KorSpiritdancer

19

4.28%

41

26

-15

LoamLion

19

4.28%

42

14

-28

SteelOverseer

18

4.05%

43

32

-11

QasaliPridemage

17

3.83%

44

50

6

FaerieMacabre

16

3.60%

45

49

4

Linvala,KeeperofSilence

16

3.60%

46

41

-5

PrimevalTitan

16

3.60%

47

24

-23

Sakura-TribeElder

16

3.60%

48

42

-6

GrimLavamancer

15

3.38%

49

29

-20

Memnite

15

3.38%

50

50

0

PaleRecluse

15

3.38%

Above you can see the top 50 most-played creatures among Modern pro tour decks that earned six wins or better. I compared these stats with the equivalent chart for MTGO events, which can be found on MTGGoldfish.com. The deviation calculates the difference between the rank for MTGGoldfish and the Pro Tour, calculated as the MTGGoldfish ranking number subtracted by the pro tour ranking number. To me, the higher the number, the better it is, because while the number for the pro tour is a static number, the same number on MTGGoldfish is a moving average, meaning that the MTGGoldfish data hasn’t had the time to fully adjust to the new meta.

Here are some interesting tidbits:

  1. Due to the success of Living End at the pro tour (and also at the recent ChannelFireball 5K Modern event, where two Living Ends decks reached top 8), Fulminator Mage got a bump from the 45th-most-played card in Modern to the 8th at the pro tour. That’s the biggest jump on the chart. The card is also played in variations of BGx, which also performed well at the pro tour.
  2. Goblin Electromancer in Storm, Goblin Guide in Burn, and Gladecover Scout plus Slippery Bogle in Bogles alll received a bump from being well-positioned in the meta. Geist of Saint-Traft was played in a wide variety of successful decks, including but not limited to UWR, Tribal Zoo, and sideboard for Infect(!).
  3. Shriekmaw saw widespread adoption in BGx, Melira Pod, and Living End. Noteworthy is that Thrun, the Last Troll also placed in the top 50.
  4. Affinity underperformed compared to previous events, likely due to splash damage that Anger of the Gods caused. Sakura-Tribe Elder is the only card related to Scapeshift that made it onto the top 50 chart, and it placed much worse than expected.

Next, moving on to the top 50 most played spells:

Top 50 Most-Played Spells

Rank (PT) Rank (MTGO) Deviation Card Name # Dominance
1 1 0 LightningBolt 217 48.87%
2 2 0 PathtoExile 144 32.43%
3 7 4 LightningHelix 97 21.85%
4 4 0 Thoughtseize 95 21.40%
5 3 -2 SerumVisions 92 20.72%
6 13 7 AngeroftheGods 87 19.59%
7 5 -2 Remand 61 13.74%
8 6 -2 CrypticCommand 56 12.61%
9 8 -1 AncientGrudge 56 12.61%
10 21 11 Grafdigger’sCage 56 12.61%
11 14 3 SplinterTwin 55 12.39%
12 12 0 StonySilence 55 12.39%
13 15 2 BirthingPod 52 11.71%
14 25 11 SleightofHand 52 11.71%
15 23 8 AbruptDecay 49 11.04%
16 20 4 Dismember 49 11.04%
17 10 -7 ManaLeak 49 11.04%
18 27 9 InquisitionofKozilek 39 8.78%
19 26 7 Nature’sClaim 38 8.56%
20 50 30 DaybreakCoronet 36 8.11%
21 50 29 EtherealArmor 36 8.11%
22 50 28 Rancor 36 8.11%
23 11 -12 SpellSnare 36 8.11%
24 50 26 SwanSong 36 8.11%
25 30 5 ChordofCalling 35 7.88%
26 34 8 RestinPeace 35 7.88%
27 50 23 HyenaUmbra 34 7.66%
28 50 22 SpiderUmbra 34 7.66%
29 32 3 LeylineofSanctity 33 7.43%
30 40 10 LilianaoftheVeil 32 7.21%
31 50 19 ViolentOutburst 32 7.21%
32 24 -8 BloodMoon 31 6.98%
33 29 -4 GitaxianProbe 31 6.98%
34 9 -25 RelicofProgenitus 30 6.76%
35 50 15 Batterskull 29 6.53%
36 47 11 Dispel 29 6.53%
37 16 -21 Electrolyze 29 6.53%
38 50 12 DemonicDread 28 6.31%
39 50 11 Manamorphose 28 6.31%
40 50 10 PyreticRitual 28 6.31%
41 50 9 PyromancerAscension 28 6.31%
42 50 8 Negate 27 6.08%
43 50 7 BorosCharm 26 5.86%
44 36 -8 EngineeredExplosives 26 5.86%
45 50 5 DesperateRitual 25 5.63%
46 46 0 LingeringSouls 25 5.63%
47 50 3 Shatterstorm 25 5.63%
48 50 2 BeastWithin 24 5.41%
49 22 -27 Combust 24 5.41%
50 19 -31 MoxOpal 24 5.41%
  1. The biggest winners here are the spells belonging to Bogles, including but not limited to Daybreak Coronet, Ethereal Armor, and Rancor.
  2. A few surprising cards: Grafdigger’s Cage is now one of the top 10 most-played cards in Modern and 22nd on the Legacy list. Sleight of Hand saw a surprising amount of play due to Storm, Ad Nauseam, and variations of Splinter Twin and UR Delver. Theros cards Swan Song and Anger of the Gods also made appearances here.
  3. Affinity seem to have underformed once again, with Mox Opal taking a nose dive in its ranking. The number of Electrolyze also took a beating due to its weakness against Zoo.
  4. Batterskull makes its first Modern appearance here. I would expect it to be more prevalent in the future, as lifelink on a 4/4 vigilant body is very relevant in Modern, even if it can’t be cheated out like in Legacy.

Lastly, here are the top 50 most-played lands:

Top 50 Most-Played Lands

Rank (PT) Rank (MTGO) Deviation Card Name # Dominance

1

2

1

MistyRainforest

207

46.62%

2

3

1

ScaldingTarn

197

44.37%

3

1

-2

Island

183

41.22%

4

7

3

VerdantCatacombs

177

39.86%

5

8

3

AridMesa

133

29.95%

6

5

-1

SteamVents

97

21.85%

7

6

-1

Forest

91

20.50%

8

4

-4

Mountain

82

18.47%

9

15

6

RazorvergeThicket

71

15.99%

10

12

2

TempleGarden

71

15.99%

11

11

0

StompingGround

63

14.19%

12

30

18

BlackcleaveCliffs

60

13.51%

13

22

9

OvergrownTomb

52

11.71%

14

27

13

SacredFoundry

50

11.26%

15

23

8

MarshFlats

49

11.04%

16

14

-2

CelestialColonnade

47

10.59%

17

13

-4

SulfurFalls

47

10.59%

18

28

10

HorizonCanopy

43

9.68%

19

16

-3

Swamp

43

9.68%

20

10

-10

TectonicEdge

42

9.46%

21

9

-12

Plains

37

8.33%

22

31

9

BloodCrypt

35

7.88%

23

21

-2

HallowedFountain

35

7.88%

24

20

-4

GavonyTownship

33

7.43%

25

42

17

GroveoftheBurnwillows

29

6.53%

26

17

-9

InkmothNexus

28

6.31%

27

18

-9

DarksteelCitadel

23

5.18%

28

36

8

GodlessShrine

23

5.18%

29

41

12

ShivanReef

22

4.95%

30

19

-11

BlinkmothNexus

20

4.50%

31

26

-5

Mutavault

20

4.50%

32

24

-8

Glimmervoid

18

4.05%

33

50

17

RagingRavine

18

4.05%

34

50

16

DryadArbor

17

3.83%

35

29

-6

BreedingPool

16

3.60%

36

35

-1

Valakut,theMoltenPinnacle

14

3.15%

37

25

-12

GhostQuarter

13

2.93%

38

45

7

TreetopVillage

13

2.93%

39

44

5

WoodlandCemetery

13

2.93%

40

50

10

TwilightMire

12

2.70%

41

33

-8

Urza’sMine

12

2.70%

42

32

-10

Urza’sPowerPlant

12

2.70%

43

34

-9

Urza’sTower

12

2.70%

44

50

6

CopperlineGorge

11

2.48%

45

38

-7

DarkslickShores

10

2.25%

46

50

4

CityofBrass

8

1.80%

47

37

-10

CreepingTarPit

8

1.80%

48

39

-9

GemstoneMine

8

1.80%

49

49

0

RiverofTears

8

1.80%

50

43

-7

SecludedGlen

8

1.80%

  1. Living End takes the spotlight here with Dryad Arbor, Blackcleave Cliffs, and Blood Crypt. The surprising card here is Raging Ravine, which dropped out of the meta on MTGO but made an appearance here because of Courser of Kruphix Jund.
  2. Island is played more than twice as much as the next basic land, Forest. Unsurprisingly, Arid Mesa makes a jump here, but it is still far behind Verdant Catacombs.
  3. Razorverge Thicket is ahead of Blackcleave Cliffs now that Jund is less good, but if there’s anything that the Pro Tour tells us, it’s that Jund and BGx will still be top-level contenders.

The Decks

Let’s take a look at how the cards being played translated into the winning decks.

Day 1 to Day 2 Field

Archetype Day One %Field Day Two %Field %Change
Affinity

22

6.18%

12

5.24%

-15.20%

Amulet

5

1.40%

4

1.75%

24.37%

Blue Moon

8

2.25%

7

3.06%

36.03%

Bogle

24

6.74%

18

7.86%

16.59%

Burn

15

4.21%

6

2.62%

-37.82%

Faerie

6

1.69%

3

1.31%

-22.27%

Infect

7

1.97%

6

2.62%

33.25%

Jund

27

7.58%

10

4.37%

-42.42%

Kiki Pod

10

2.81%

7

3.06%

8.82%

Living End

14

3.93%

12

5.24%

33.25%

Melira Pod

33

9.27%

21

9.17%

-1.07%

Merfolk

8

2.25%

7

3.06%

36.03%

Scapeshift

14

3.93%

13

5.68%

44.35%

Storm

12

3.37%

9

3.93%

16.59%

Tron

8

2.25%

5

2.18%

-2.84%

Twin

45

12.64%

23

10.04%

-20.54%

UW Control

5

1.40%

3

1.31%

-6.72%

UWR

29

8.15%

19

8.30%

1.85%

Zoo

64

17.98%

44

19.21%

6.88%

Other

30

8.43%

22

9.61%

14.00%

Total

356

100.00%

229

100.00%

0.00%

From day one to day two, the decks that did well against the field are Blue Moon, Living End, Merfolk, and Scapeshift. Let’s dig further.

 Day 2 to 18+ Field

Archetype 18+ Points % Field %Change
Affinity

5

4.50%

-5.78%

Amulet

1

0.90%

-43.47%

Blue Moon

2

1.80%

-35.39%

Bogle

9

8.11%

13.06%

Burn

4

3.60%

50.75%

Faerie

2

1.80%

50.75%

Infect

2

1.80%

-24.62%

Jund

5

4.50%

13.06%

Kiki Pod

1

0.90%

-67.70%

Living End

7

6.31%

31.91%

Melira Pod

12

10.81%

29.21%

Merfolk

3

2.70%

-3.09%

Scapeshift

4

3.60%

-30.42%

Storm

7

6.31%

75.88%

Tron

2

1.80%

-9.55%

Twin

15

13.51%

47.47%

UW Control

1

0.90%

-24.62%

UWR

8

7.21%

-4.79%

Zoo

12

10.81%

-38.33%

Other

9

8.11%

-7.49%

Total

111

100.00%

0.00%

By the time we see the 18+-point decks, those with six or more wins in the Modern portion, the field dramatically shifts. Storm, Burn, Faeries, and Twin pull ahead as the clear winners.

 Day 2 to 20+ Field

Archetype 20+ Points % Field %Change
Affinity

4

6.56%

37.16%

Amulet

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Blue Moon

2

3.28%

17.56%

Bogle

5

8.20%

14.30%

Burn

2

3.28%

37.16%

Faerie

1

1.64%

37.16%

Infect

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Jund

2

3.28%

-17.70%

Kiki Pod

1

1.64%

-41.22%

Living End

2

3.28%

-31.42%

Melira Pod

3

4.92%

-41.22%

Merfolk

1

1.64%

-41.22%

Scapeshift

1

1.64%

-68.35%

Storm

4

6.56%

82.88%

Tron

1

1.64%

-17.70%

Twin

10

16.39%

78.90%

UW Control

1

1.64%

37.16%

UWR

7

11.48%

51.60%

Zoo

8

13.11%

-25.19%

Other

6

9.84%

12.22%

Total

61

100.00%

0.00%

Going beyond that, Storm and Twin remain solid. It’s not until you get near top of the field that UWR begin to gain dominance over the field.

 Day 2 to 22+ Field

Archetype 22+ Points % Field %Change
Affinity

1

2.86%

-40.24%

Amulet

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Blue Moon

1

2.86%

2.45%

Bogle

3

8.57%

19.52%

Burn

2

5.71%

139.05%

Faerie

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Infect

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Jund

1

2.86%

-28.29%

Kiki Pod

1

2.86%

2.45%

Living End

1

2.86%

-40.24%

Melira Pod

3

8.57%

2.45%

Merfolk

1

2.86%

2.45%

Scapeshift

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Storm

3

8.57%

139.05%

Tron

0

0.00%

-100.00%

Twin

6

17.14%

87.08%

UW Control

0

0.00%

-100.00%

UWR

2

5.71%

-24.51%

Zoo

4

11.43%

-34.81%

Other

6

17.14%

95.58%

Total

35

100.00%

0.00%

Last but not least, at the 22+ point mark, Storm and Twin have both absolutely outperformed the field. Burn also makes an appearance here, as expected in a field without Deathrite Shaman for incidental life gain.

At the very top levels, Affinity underperformed, as did Living End, partially due to the decks’ inconsistencies. I would expect future Affinity builds to be more of the burn variant played by Mary Jacobson at the Channel FireBall 5K.

Interestingly enough, at the top of the field, the section “Other” actually performed very well. The decks under the section that achieved 22+ points are: two Ad Nauseam, two BG Obliterator, one Gifts, and one Jund. BGx variants definitely have a say in the new meta, and if combo becomes more of a factor going forward, which seems likely given the strength of Splinter Twin and Storm, then BGx will establish a strong foothold in the new meta to keep all the combo and shenanigans in check. Faeries will likely fill a similar role, given that it’s strong against combo and control yet weak to aggro.

Ad Nauseam is a rogue deck that is largely not acknowledged on paper, but it’s definitely near or at tier one based on results on MTGO, where it has secured as many daily event spots as the likes of Jund and Scapeshift. The deck can go off at instant speed with Pact of Negation backup, which a good number of decks just can’t interact with.

Speculation Corner

What’s the point of all the data if it doesn’t point us toward anything?

Grafdigger’s Cage look to be a strong pickup despite being a sideboard-only card. You can pick it up for less than $2, and it’s already over $3 on MTGO. It’s in the top 10 most-played spells in Modern, which is absolutely insane for a sideboard card. The current spread is only 22%.

I would speculate on the Ad Nauseam deck. Ad Nauseam is heavily targeted already and foil copies are mostly out of stock, so I wouldn’t touch those. Lotus Bloom and Angel’s Grace have both had reprints, but Phyrexian Unlife is largely untouched. If someone were to speculate on the deck, I would start there.

As powerful as Storm is in the format, I wouldn’t speculate on it at the moment. Everyone points to it as the most powerful deck, ignoring the fact that the successful pilots of Storm, Jon Finkel, Kai Budde, Ari Lax, Tom Martell, and Andrew Shrout, among others, are some of the best at the game and playing the deck. It’s also a deck that’s easy to hate out with sideboard cards like Rest in Peace or mainboard cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. The results are reflected at the Channel Fireball Modern 5K: despite the strong showings, Storm did not top eight at the event.

Fulminator Mage is likely to see a reprint in FTV: Annihilation, but until then, the prices will continue to trend upward. It’s one of the top 10 most-played creatures in Modern, and its strength is backed by Jund, BGx, and Living End, all of which are decks that are still top dogs. I wouldn’t recommend buying into the card, but trading for it seems like a solid option.

Vendilion Clique and Liliana of the Veil seem underpriced right now. They both have low spreads, 23% and 26% respectively, and the opportunity to go up. Everyone wants to trade for them on Deckbox, but no one wants to trade them away. A buyout for Vendilion Clique seem imminent. TCGplayer now has only 59 vendor listings despite the card having three different printings.

Thrun, the Last Troll, is also an option now that Zoo will be less of a factor going forward. Equip any sword to it and go to town! It’s a mythic from a small set, and it’s been at $16 before. The spread is only 18%. It’s rare to ever find spreads that low.

Do you see anything in all the data that I missed? What are your picks from the Pro Tour? Share your specs!

See below for the download links to the excel sheets.

PT Valencia (2014) – Most Played

PT Valencia (2014) – Standings

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Enmou Gao

Enmou Gao

@fyawm     -     Email     -     Articles
Tim Enmou Gao is a writer for Brainstorm Brewery and resides in Los Angeles. A Modern-phile at heart, he is currently piloting a RUG Delver. You can reach Tim on Twitter or /u/fyawm on Reddit.
Enmou Gao

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About the author

Enmou Gao

@fyawm     -     Email     -     Articles
Tim Enmou Gao is a writer for Brainstorm Brewery and resides in Los Angeles. A Modern-phile at heart, he is currently piloting a RUG Delver. You can reach Tim on Twitter or /u/fyawm on Reddit.

2 pings

  1. Legacy vs. Modern » Brainstorm Brewery

    […] still like all three of my calls from my last article: Grafdigger’s Cage, Thrun, the Last Troll, and Phyrexian Unlife. Grafdigger’s Cage and Thrun, […]

  2. What’s in Your Spec Folder? » Brainstorm Brewery

    […] liked Grafdigger’s Cage a lot after going through my analysis here. The card saw lots of play at Pro Tour Valencia, and it’s one of the top 25 most played cards in […]

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