Today, we are proud to introduce our Explorer Tier Lists in both best-of-one and best-of-three formats. Our Explorer Tier List will be updated every Thursday morning Eastern US Standard Time and will be accompanied by an article like this one or a video (or both) explaining the placements and movements within the tier list. This contextual video or article will also begin accompanying our Pioneer Tier List starting this Tuesday, so keep a look out for that!
We are early in the format, and the data we have is somewhat limited, but these placements were made with a combination of the playrate and winrate data from the MTG Arena ladder that we do have, combined with some competitive player analysis from the PlayingExplorer team. When a deck placement differs from what the raw data implies, it will be noted here.
BEST OF ONE
In the best-of-one side of Explorer, we see a deck that anyone who has been playing Explorer was likely to expect to see here in S Tier in Naya Winota. Like in Pioneer, Winota is a deck that can play the fair game or have an explosive turn three or four that functionally wins the game on the spot. Winota is by far the top-played deck on the best-of-one, with a sample size of 951 – nearly double the next most-played deck. Despite such a large sample pool, Winota’s winrate is at a whopping 66% in the Bo1 queue.
Also in the S Tier is Mono-Red Aggro, a deck that looks rather different from its Pioneer counterpart, instead playing the more midrange Theros Standard deck with cards like Anax, Hardened in the Forge. Mono-Red’s winrate is exactly as high as Winota, but the sample size is much lower at 509 players.
Rakdos Anvil got a substantial boost from the printing of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, which ended up making it into the hands of Arena players much earlier than it did Pioneer players, as some of the card renting services weren’t offering it on release weekend. Anvil saw a 60% winrate in the Bo1 ladder.
Mardu Greasefang, the version out of the two Greasefang variants with the decidedly stronger “fair” midrange game, showed a winrate of 68% in the Bo1 ladder, but the lower playrate kept it from the top tier. Same goes for Esper Greasefang.
Mono-Blue Tempo is close to being called “spirits”, but might more accurately be called “Ixalan Pirates”. With a 56% winrate and a low playrate, it was enough to make the tier list, but might need some work to stick around.
UW Control actually has the highest winrate of the entire Bo1 tier list at 69%, but the low sample size and playrate made us hesitant to place it higher until it posts more results on the ladder.
Rakdos Midrange is here strictly as an inclusion by our competitive team, as the sample pool was too low for it to make the tier list solely off of the data. When built to counter the meta, Rakdos has a “good” matchup against most decks on the tier list, while not having a blowout matchup against any of them.
Jund Food, largely being an old Standard deck that Arena players were likely able to play on day one of the format, maintained a 55% winrate throughout the first week of Explorer’s existence. It made the tier list in some part due to its favorable matchup against Naya Winota.
Jeskai/4C Agent shares the high 69% winrate of UW Control, but has even smaller of a playrate. The Jeskai version showed more results (possibly because it, too, is an old Standard deck that Arena players might have already owned), but the 4C version had a higher winrate by about three percent.
Izzet Phoenix is missing a lot from its Historic and Pioneer counterparts, but still made a showing in the best of one ladder with a 55% winrate.
BEST OF THREE
Winota tops the tier list again, this time with a more manageable 61% winrate. With access to sideboard cards to protect itself against some of the hate cards people are playing, it plays much more like the Pioneer version than it does on the best-of-one side, playing more of a fair game than going all in on winning on turn three or four.
Rakdos Anvil was the most-played deck on the Bo3 ladder and maintained a 58% winrate. Anvil is much stonger in Bo3, as it is not a deck that can close out games quickly, but can grind most other decks in the format in the ground.
Rakdos Midrange has the same playrate as Naya Winota and is actually beating Winota’s winrate by one percent. The deck is well-positioned against Winota in the best-of-three format, and has game against most other decks in the format – including decks like UW Control that typically have the edge over midrange decks in general.
UW Control is another deck that benefits from going longer into games and having access to a sideboard. In Bo3, UW Control holds a 59% winrate while being the fourth most-played deck in the format.
While not as deterministic as in Bo1, Mardu Greasefang still reigns in Bo3, as it can play a midrange game with cards like Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger while always keeping the opponent on their toes for the Parhelion combo. Greasefang holds the second-highest winrate on the Bo3 ladder, only kept out of S Tier by its low playrate and sample size.
Mono-Red Aggro isn’t just a Bo1 “gotcha” deck in Explorer, boasting a 58% winrate on the Bo3 side, which was enough for it to end up in A Tier this week despite its relatively low sample size.
Jeskai Agent actually had the highest winrate on the entire Bo3 tier list at 69%, but similar to the Bo1 list, also had the lowest playrate on the list. As more data comes in, we expect the winrate to drop a bit here, but a small drop in winrate in return for an increase in playrate would bring this up to A Tier.
Mono-Green Devotion is a deck not many were expecting to see in Explorer, as the format is missing Elvish Mystic and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx – two key cards for the deck’s strategy. Magic players being as innovative as they are, we’ve seen replacements in Nyx Lotus, which is fetchable from the sideboard with Karn, the Great Creator and doesn’t cost mana to activate. Mono-Green Devotion has a C-Tier winrate, but we’ve placed it in B Tier because we think it’s very possible that the “correct” version of the list could emerge this week and move up in play and win rate.
Jund Food barely makes the list again on the Bo3 queue, for the same reason it did on the Bo1 side – it’s able to grind out most decks on the tier list while having a powerful value engine in Trail of Crumbs, while also having a favorable Winota matchup.
Grixis Control makes the list in Bo3 in the form you would expect it to: Nicol Bolas Dragon God, Nicol Bolas, The Ravager and plenty of removal. It held up at a 55% winrate with a fairly low sample size, so we’ll see where it goes from here next week.
The “off-meta” section is where we will keep every deck that has ever been featured on the page, as we always want them to be available to people who want to come find their favorite archetype (or find out how we built UW Ensoul without Ensoul Artifact).
Again, the Explorer tier lists will be updated every Thursday. The Pioneer list on PlayingPioneer.com will continue to be updated every Tuesday. We hope this article has helped explain our tier list placements this week and look out for them every week accompanying both tier lists!