Pioneer Tier List Update August 23, 2022

An explanation of this week's Pioneer tier list movements and placements.

Click here for the tier list!

S Tier

Green Devotion (Up from A Tier) – Green Devotion had eight top finishes this past weekend on MTGO. Thanks to a massive new innovation in Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset, the deck is even faster and more explosive, now capable of combo-killing from previously impossible positions. In our opinion, this deck is the one to beat heading into this week of MTGO, RCQs or whatever you are up to.

A Tier

Azorius Control (Down from S Tier) – Azorius Control moves back down to A Tier after a reasonable weekend, but the continued rise in popularity of Green Devotion makes it difficult for this deck to remain on top. While still the best Control deck in the format by miles, beware of Llanowar Elves coming to mess up your gameplan. Find a detailed deck tech and sideboard guide here.

Rakdos Midrange (Stable) – Rakdos holds onto its A Tier position this week, and tied with Green Devotion in top 16 results between the weekend Challenges and Preliminary. The deck maintains a good matchup against all of the S, A and B Tier decks – Green Devotion excepting. Still, it is not an unwinnable matchup, as DarthJacen details in his recent deck guide on PlayingPioneer.

Izzet Phoenix (Stable) – Izzet Phoenix remains a consistent and powerful deck, attacking the various creature decks of the format. Since overloading on counterspells like Disdainful Stroke, Aether Gust, and Mystical Dispute post-board alongside Thing in the Ice and Ledger Shredder, Phoenix can play a tempo game post-board against over-the-top decks like Green Devotion. 

B Tier

Abzan Greasefang (Down from D Tier) – Abzan Greasefang had the best weekend overall of any archetype. Putting up nine finishes (six Top 16s and three Prelims) on MTGO; the deck seems to have found its footing. Turn-three Parhelion ll continues to be one of – if not the most – powerful thing to be doing in Pioneer. Green Devotion remains a bad matchup, but now that Abzan Greasefang has found a way to put its combo together more consistently it can get under Green Devotion. It can now also fight through graveyard hate a little better, thanks to Witherbloom Command and Abrupt Decay. Going forward, this deck has a strong chance at catching many players off guard with a quick kill.

Bant Spirits (Up from C Tier) – Bant Spirits is on the rise. Firmly taking the place of Mono-Blue Spirits as the best spirits deck, it has a great matchup against some of the top decks and playing Bant gives it more sideboard options. The deck is being played by some strong players and this needs to be factored in, too. If you are looking for a good Green Devotion matchup, but want more game against the rest of the field, the switch to Bant is a good one.

Boros Heroic (Stable) – Heroic remains a top aggro deck in the format. The deck attacks Green Devotion with ease while struggling to navigate the interaction from Izzet Phoenix and Rakdos Midrange. Skilled pilots can navigate these tougher matchups and continue to put up results each week with the deck. 

Rakdos Sacrifice (Stable) – Rakdos Sacrifice is stable this week, and continues to be a middling deck. Jund seems to be the new and better flavour of sacrifice deck. Without much change in the meta (or to the deck itself), don’t expect it to move up – but possibly down in the coming weeks, as it’s not a strong choice of deck moving forward with Green Devotion reigning supreme. 

Mono White Humans (Stable) – Mono-white remains the strongest humans deck in the format. Leveraging the power of aggressive creatures alongside hatebears and sticky threats, even some of the interactive decks can struggle to keep you off the board. With Brave the Elements serving as a way to punch through creature matchups, it’s clear that Mono-White is the best option for players who enjoy non-spirit tribal decks. 

C Tier

Jund Food (Up from D Tier) – Jund Sac with a jump up this week. It had a strong weekend overall with three top finishes. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King remains a force in Pioneer. The deck takes the same approach as Rakdos Sac but has a strong finisher. This is a deck we believe could rise more and more, and we don’t think we have seen its best version yet. Keep an eye out.

Mono Red Aggro (Stable) – Putting exactly one pilot into the Top 16 of both the weekend Challenges and Preliminary, Mono-Red is in a tough spot right now, having a hard time against Rakdos Midrange and Green Devotion and even being out-aggroed by Boros Heroic and Mono-Blue Spirits.

Mono Blue Spirits (Stable) – While still a powerful aggro tempo deck, Mono-Blue Spirits struggles to survive against the various cheap interactive decks like Rakdos Midrange and Izzet Phoenix. The major draw to Mono-Blue Spirits is that you’re able to carve through slower decks like Green Devotion or Azorius Control. However, cards like Extraction Specialist, Selfless Spirit, Reidane, God of the Worthy and others have led to Bant Spirits overtaking Mono-Blue in the tier list. 

D Tier

Bant Humans (Down from D Tier) – Bant Humans remains a powerful deck that can run over uninteractive decks, but without access to Brave the Elements as a consistent win condition, the deck manages to play out as a less consistent and smooth version of Mono-White. While all the bonus tools of Bant are powerful, they don’t shift the matchup spread enough to warrant the percentages you lose by adding in the additional two colors. 

Niv to Light (Stable) – Niv to Light is a deck well suited to a stable meta game. If you are playing RCQs with a meta you are sure of, this deck can be a good choice. It struggles to be prepared for everything. Barring a massive shakeup from Dominaira United, expect Niv to Light to stay stable in D Tier for the coming future. 

Izzet Control (Stable) – Izzet Control is stable this week. It struggles against Green Devotion and with it moving into S tier, this deck seems like a tough choice. I would recommend moving away from Izzet Control and could see it moving off the list completely in short time. 

Lotus Field (Stable) – Lotus Field remains a powerful deck with plenty of solid matchups in the top tiers. The major issue is fending off the various aggro and tempo decks of the format, especially Spirits and Mono-White Humans. While the deck has improved the Green Devotion matchup, it still hasn’t found a way to make it overall favorable, leading to too many close or potentially poor matchups near the top tables. 

  • KarnageKards

    Competitive Team Lead

    KarnageKardsENT has been playing Magic since Scars of Mirrodin. During the Pandemic, he moved to playing MTGO. Today, you can find him playing Pioneer, Modern and sometimes Standard. A mainstay in the Pioneer Challenges, Karnage can be found at Most Eastern F2F stops in Canada.

  • DarthJacen

    Pioneer Competitive Guide

    Darthjacen has been playing Magic since Dark Ascension and plays Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Limited. With a Grand Prix win in 2015 and an SCG Team Top 4 in 2019, he continues to pursue competitive Magic at every turn.

  • Ruckman


    Having started playing Magic shortly before the release of Return to Ravnica, Ruckman’s Magic lifespan covers the breadth of the Pioneer format. Despite not being a stranger to the Top 8 tables of the old IQ and PTQ systems, most of his competitive experience comes from the other side of the event space, where he served more than five years as a level-two judge, only hanging up the black shirt for good at the beginning of 2022. Currently, you can find him making Pioneer content for Crew3 on your favorite podcasting platform or on Twitch/YouTube.

  • rose-emoji

    Network Administrator/Publisher

    rose-emoji started playing Magic: The Gathering during Battle for Zendikar, then took a break from the game until Throne of Eldraine. Pioneer got him back into Magic full-force, and the launch of Arena on mobile hooked him in forever. Now that his favorite format is working its way onto Arena, he can be found grinding the format to death. Only ever Grixis colors, but sometimes he can have a little Jund as a treat.

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