ptnag11

Pro Tour Nagoya Metagame Breakdown

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The letter B!lock Constructed has historically been a portent of things to come in Standard.

The format typically doesn't get a whole lot of love in most circles, since the full block is only available for a few short months before a shiny new block with fancy new toys comes into town. The card pool is smaller than Standard, which leads to solved formats. Generally a block can be fully explored in Constructed pretty quickly. Adding in another block or two plus a main set, obviously, changes that math.

But, for one glorious weekend, Block Constructed gets to shine. And that shine, which this past weekend shone its shiniest in Nagoya, is likely to be the foundation for Standard in the future. Kind of makes sense to dig into the data and see what really happened, right?

With a Top 8 played using 40-card decks, we don't have a nominal champion deck. Some might argue that Sharfman's White Weenie deck is the champion deck, since he played it in the Swiss and he won the tournament. While that logic has some merit, it's not really what we're looking for. Instead, let's mine a little deeper into the results and see if a dominant deck appears.

Elephant hunter extraordinaire Nate Price did yeoman's work cobbling together a summary of what all 364 players were running, which you can read here. I've posted the meaty table below for convenience:

Archetype Count Percentage
Tempered Steel 76 20.88%
Big Red 62 17.03%
Tezzeret Control 47 12.91%
Red-Green Con-Troll 35 9.62%
Infect 28 7.69%
White-Blue Control 16 4.40%
Black-Red Removal 14 3.85%
Blue-Black Control 14 3.85%
White Weenie 13 3.57%
Birthing Pod 13 3.57%
Esper Control 11 3.02%
Grand Architect 10 2.75%
Big White 7 1.92%
Bant Control 5 1.37%
Black-Green Control 4 1.10%
Green-White Aggro 3 0.82%
Grixis Control 3 0.82%
Kuldotha Red 1 0.27%
Red-White Aggro 1 0.27%
Green-Blue Control 1 0.27%
Total 364 100.00%

Tempered Steel surprised nobody by being the most played deck. The surprise, in fact, was that only 21% of the field had the enchantment. Usually the second most popular deck is somewhere around 10% less common than the most popular deck. There are extreme examples where that balloons to 15% or shrinks to 5%. This is the smallest gap I've seen in the 3 years I've been doing this series. That Tempered Steel was expected to be dominant likely led to an increase in Big Red, perceived prior to the tournament as able to tame the Steel's temper. We'll get to the question of whether it actually did, but first let's look at how each deck did overall. I'm only showing the Constructed portion of the tournament, of course, and I've also excluded mirror matches.

Deck Win Rate Total Matches
White Weenie 61.70% 94
Green-Blue Control 60.00% 10
Tempered Steel 56.67% 427
Black-Red Removal 52.69% 93
Tezzeret Control 51.52% 264
Bant Control 51.28% 39
Big Red 50.69% 361
Kuldotha Red 50.00% 6
Grixis Control 50.00% 20
Big White 48.94% 47
White-Blue Control 48.18% 110
Birthing Pod 47.44% 78
Infect 46.30% 162
Esper Control 44.78% 67
Red-Green Con-Troll 44.62% 195
Grand Architect 42.03% 69
Green-White Aggro 40.00% 15
Blue-Black Control 33.77% 77
Black-Green Control 30.00% 20
Red-White Aggro 0.00% 4

Well, well, well. We have a surprise deck sitting atop the standings. White Weenie decks (as distinct from mono-white Tempered Steel decks) came in some different variations, including adding blue for Shape Anew. The majority (10 of 13), however, went with Equipment, and a lot of it. The Equipment versions did even better than 62%, as you can see below below:

White Weenie Subtype Win Rate Total Matches
Blue 50.00% 14
Equipment 65.33% 75
Shape Anew 40.00% 5

Here's how all of White Weenie did against the field:

White Weenie Win Rate Total Matches
Bant Control 100.00% 1
Green-Blue Control 100.00% 1
Red-White Aggro 100.00% 1
Big White 100.00% 2
Birthing Pod 100.00% 2
Grand Architect 85.71% 7
Big Red 77.78% 18
Tempered Steel 72.73% 11
Esper Control 66.67% 3
Infect 60.00% 5
White-Blue Control 57.14% 7
Red-Green Con-Troll 50.00% 10
Grixis Control 50.00% 2
Tezzeret Control 36.84% 19
Blue-Black Control 25.00% 4
Black-Red Removal 0.00% 1
Grand Total 61.70% 94

Winning over 70% of your matches against the two most popular decks is a good recipe for success. Of course, 18 and 11 matches, respectively, aren't a whole lot to go on, but they sure look like a good start. Losing 63% of your matches against deck #3 (Tezzeret) is the only thing keeping White Weenie from being the presumptive best deck. I imagine that if the format were to be played more going forward it would fluctuate between people playing a lot of White Weenie and people switching to Tezzeret to beat it, allowing people to move back in on Tempered Steel and Big Red, bringing us right back to a lot of White Weenie. Almost Rock-Paper-Scissors–like, just with two Rocks. Let's test the theory—how did Tezzeret do against Big Red and Tempered Steel? If I'm right, not well.

Tezzeret Control Win Rate Total Matches
Kuldotha Red 100.00% 1
Grixis Control 100.00% 4
Blue-Black Control 92.31% 13
Black-Green Control 75.00% 4
Grand Architect 71.43% 7
Red-Green Con-Troll 65.22% 23
White Weenie 63.16% 19
Esper Control 60.00% 5
Birthing Pod 57.14% 7
Big White 55.56% 9
Green-White Aggro 50.00% 2
White-Blue Control 46.67% 15
Tempered Steel 44.44% 63
Big Red 43.14% 51
Infect 38.89% 18
Black-Red Removal 38.46% 13
Bant Control 28.57% 7
Green-Blue Control 0.00% 3
Grand Total 51.52% 264

As expected. This is a scenario where beating White Weenie (and deck #4, Con-Troll), in addition to any miscellaneous decks people can come up, with gave the deck a winning record. So far the theory is holding up. Rock (Tempered Steel / Big Red) loses to Paper (White Weenie) loses to Scissors (Tezzeret), which loses to Rock. So how do the two Rock decks compare?

Tempered Steel Win Rate Total Matches
Red-White Aggro 100.00% 1
Esper Control 80.95% 21
White-Blue Control 73.91% 23
Infect 71.43% 49
Blue-Black Control 66.67% 12
Bant Control 66.67% 12
Kuldotha Red 66.67% 3
Grand Architect 64.71% 17
Birthing Pod 61.54% 13
Red-Green Con-Troll 60.47% 43
Tezzeret Control 55.56% 63
Green-White Aggro 50.00% 2
Big Red 49.09% 110
Black-Red Removal 37.04% 27
Grixis Control 33.33% 3
Big White 33.33% 15
White Weenie 27.27% 11
Green-Blue Control 0.00% 2
Grand Total 56.67% 427

Big Red Win Rate Total Matches
Red-White Aggro 100.00% 1
Blue-Black Control 80.00% 5
Birthing Pod 76.92% 13
Green-White Aggro 75.00% 4
Bant Control 62.50% 8
Tezzeret Control 56.86% 51
Infect 55.88% 34
Black-Red Removal 52.17% 23
Tempered Steel 50.91% 110
Green-Blue Control 50.00% 2
Black-Green Control 50.00% 2
White-Blue Control 47.62% 21
Grand Architect 46.67% 15
Red-Green Con-Troll 40.54% 37
Big White 40.00% 5
Esper Control 36.36% 11
White Weenie 22.22% 18
Grixis Control 0.00% 1
Grand Total 50.69% 361

They don't perform the same, that's for sure. Tezzeret, White Weenie, and Bant Control are really the only ones with similar records. Every other match has either a large delta between Tempered Steel and Big Red or simply doesn't have enough matches. And, of course, they're about even against each other. Below is a summary of the two next to each other to make a comparison easier.

Opponent Tempered Steel Win Rate Tempered Steel Matches Big Red Win Rate Big Red Matches Delta
Bant Control 67% 12 63% 8 4%
Big Red 49% 110 N/A N/A N/A
Big White 33% 15 40% 5 7%
Birthing Pod 62% 13 77% 13 15%
Black-Red Removal 37% 27 52% 23 15%
Esper Control 81% 21 36% 11 45%
Black-Green Control N/A 0 50% 2 N/A
Grand Architect 65% 17 47% 15 18%
Grixis Control 33% 3 0% 1 33%
Green-White Aggro 50% 2 75% 4 25%
Infect 71% 49 56% 34 16%
Kuldotha Red 67% 3 N/A 0 N/A
Red-Green Con-Troll 60% 43 41% 37 20%
Red-White Aggro 100% 1 100% 1 0%
Tempered Steel N/A N/A 51% 110 N/A
Tezzeret Control 56% 63 57% 51 1%
Blue-Black Control 67% 12 80% 5 13%
Green-Blue Control 0% 2 50% 2 50%
White-Blue Control 74% 23 48% 21 26%
White Weenie 27% 11 22% 18 5%
Grand Total 56.67% 427 50.69% 361 6%

So while they effectively play the role of Rock together, you need a different type of Paper to beat each one if you aren't using White Weenie. In the cases of Con-Troll and Esper Control, one Rock's Paper is another Rock's Scissors.

We've talked about Red-Green Con-Troll a couple of times. Just under 10% of the field came equipped with Mountains and Forests, and overall they were not a successful group. Only 44.6% of their matches were worth 3 points.

Red-Green Con-Troll Win Rate Total Matches
Green-Blue Control 100.00% 1
Green-White Aggro 100.00% 1
Black-Red Removal 100.00% 4
Big Red 59.46% 37
Blue-Black Control 50.00% 16
White Weenie 50.00% 10
Black-Green Control 50.00% 4
White-Blue Control 46.67% 15
Grand Architect 40.00% 5
Tempered Steel 39.53% 43
Infect 35.71% 14
Tezzeret Control 34.78% 23
Big White 33.33% 3
Birthing Pod 30.00% 10
Esper Control 25.00% 4
Bant Control 0.00% 2
Grixis Control 0.00% 3
Grand Total 44.62% 195

The red-green deck looks like it was trying to game the metagame, anticipating Tempered Steel haters to show up in big numbers with Big Red, forcing Tempered Steel out of the tournament altogether. The plan did not go as expected, it seems. Red-Green players executed on beating Big Red, but Tempered Steel and Tezzeret were both sub-40% matches for them.

If you recall, there was a Green-Blue Control deck that had the second-best win rate. That number is the result of Norway's Sveinung Bjørnerud going 6-4. Since it was only one player, there's not a whole lot to analyze, but I'll at least share which decks he beat:

Green-Blue Control Wins Losses
Big Red 1 1
Infect 0 1
Red-Green Con-Troll 0 1
Tempered Steel 2 0
Tezzeret Control 3 0
White Weenie 0 1
Grand Total 6 4

In addition to the successes and failures of specific decks, I always like to look at how different countries performed. Since we were granted two formats, I decided to look at the Constructed / Limited splits. The U.S., for instance, won 49.3% of its Limited matches and 48.7% of Constructed, for a pretty balanced attack. Other countries with format parity (or close to) include Japan (52.2% vs. 49.1%) and Italy (50.7% vs. 47.4%). Some others, however, had some pretty large gaps, and none moreso than Spain, featuring a 30.9% win rate in Constructed and 60.7% in Limited. They featured five Tezzeret players, two Tempered Steel, and one each of Big Red, Birthing Pod, and Grand Architect for a combined 17-38 record. It took them just over half as many matches in Limited to get the same number of wins (17-11 record).

Slovokia was almost the opposite, posting an impressive 71.8% record in Constructed but faltering in Limited with only 47.8%. Canada was the opposite again, winning 45.5% of its Constructed matches but 64.9% of its Limited matches.

I don't know if any of these country-specific stats hold any meaning, but it sure is interesting to me. I should point out that Slovakia, despite its wide gap between Constructed and Limited results, came out with the highest win rate for a country at 62.9%. The Slovakians also had the best Constructed record, while Canada had the best Limited record among countries with at least ten Limited matches.

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