Pioneer Tier List Update August 9, 2022
An explanation of this week's Pioneer tier list movements and placements.
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Azorius Control (Up from A Tier) – Azorius Control took advantage of its opportunity as the meta began to shift to once again secure the top placement for the week. With a challenge win and multiple top 8s, the deck continues to solidify its place as the premier control deck of the format, and with several other decks vying for placement among the lower ranks, Azorius was able to sneak by and come out as the king of the hill. Whether that will remain is yet to be seen, but the deck’s sheer force of will over the format is undeniable.
Boros Heroic (Up from B Tier) – As the Nykthos Devotion deck rises back up in popularity, so too does its main predator. The Boros Heroic deck remains the ideal choice for top notch aggressive decks in the format through this week. The main driving factor is its excellent Devotion matchup, however it also benefits from its requirement that decks bring a plan specifically for it, which makes it a difficult deck to best when you’re randomly paired against it without having expected it. This may push its popularity down a bit in the coming weeks, but for the moment it will remain the premier aggro deck.
Rakdos Midrange (Down from S Tier) – This weekend saw a resurgence in Devotion, which really stuck it to the Rakdos players this week following last week’s dominating performance. While Midrange has more game in the Devotion matchup than its Sacrifice cousin, it’s still highly unfavorable and has led to a less than stellar performance. However, the deck does remain strong against a lot of the field (especially Azorius Control players lacking Dream Trawler), so if you’re a player looking to devote themselves to a powerful and consistent strategy and have the luxury of not playing in an area that’s densely populated with Devotion, this will remain one of the premier midrange decks of the format for quite some time.
Green Devotion (Stable) – This week saw a big comeback week for the various Devotion builds. Hot off of the addition of Nicol Bolas, Dragon God, the deck is now exploring the addition of Ugin’s Nexus and Vraska Golgari queen as an additional two part combo. This new plan of attack allows the deck to halt Phoenix’s Temporal Trespass plays, while also giving themselves that one additional turn they might need to lock up a win. Combining these new inclusions with a great matchup against last week’s top deck and it’s easy to see why Devotion was out in force.
Izzet Phoenix (Stable) – Phoenix hasn’t particularly made any notable splashes recently. It remains one of the playerbase-at-large’s favorite ways to play the game, and can be teched against any metagame to some degree. We don’t expect the deck to decline for quite some time as it remains such a popular strategy regardless of its finishes in a given week. As the RCQ season continues, this is one of those decks that should always be on every player’s radar.
Bant Spirits (Up from C Tier) – As the general mana cost of the format begins to tick upward a bit, Bant spirits gains some points as the version most suited to combat that style of play. After winning a challenge this weekend, it has gained enough ground to secure its place as the de facto Spirits variant for the moment. The deck’s access to Collected Company and Spell Queller are excellent for combatting several of the top decks that are looking to cast on average one spell per turn.
Rakdos Sacrifice (Down from A Tier) – As the Devotion strategy regains a foothold in the format, the various Rakdos lists are going to struggle as their worst matchup becomes more common. Sacrifice has a worse matchup overall against Devotion, which puts it in a slightly less favored position in the format at large at the moment. Sacrifice benefits the most as a dedicated “Rakdos killer”, gaining ground when Midrange is the top deck of the format. When the Rakdos Killer loses to the other Rakdos Killer, it’s going to suffer a drop in rank. The strategy is still solid though, having excellent matchups against most of the aggressive decks in the format and many of the cheaper-to-buy-in strategies available as the Pioneer format continues to grow in popularity. A drop in ranking here is by no means an indicator that this is no longer a deck to expect during RCQ Season.
Abzan Greasefang (Stable) – Abzan is currently solidifying itself as the Greasefang flavor of choice, with its ability to race two of the top decks in the format exceptionally well. It also has the best Devotion matchup of the three main flavors, as it is the only of those that can assemble the combo before the Karn comes down. Abzan also plays acceptably into Azorius Control, with its Chariot backup plan putting in good work against the litany of removal options available. As the lists get tuned more and more each week, we expect Abzan Greasefang to secure itself toward the top of the format as the ideal off-the-wall candidate.
Mono White Humans (Stable) – The most consistent of all Human-flavored decks, Mono White is seeing a surge in play as the “best budget deck in the format”. Brave the Elements continues to put the squeeze on most of the top decks, as generally their answers to the strategy are contained within one color. While the deck flounders a bit against some of the more grindy decks in the format, it has highly favorable matchups against a majority of the decks that are looking to do their own thing. Its ability to put its head down and race makes Humans an excellent option going into an unknown metagame.
Bant Humans (Archetype Swap) – The scales of Pyre vs Company seem to have swept the other way this week. While not as low to the ground as its Mono White counterpart, the raw power of some of the extra included cards can’t be ignored. Gaining access to Reflector Mage can press the deck’s advantage against creature mirrors and creature focused combo such as Greasefang, and Werewolf Packleader stands out as one of the best two-drops available to the strategy. Humans on the whole has also gained a lot of points with the addition of Extraction Specialist, and leaning into that card has enabled the archetype to stick it out in the longer game.
Jund Food (Stable) – Jund Food, while similar in concept to the Rakdos Sacrifice deck, seems to be much more viable to cope with the likes of Green Devotion than other base RB decks. Between Korvold as a top end finisher and Fable providing an excellent plan B, the deck has a better game plan against disruption at large. While we don’t expect the Jund Food deck to outperform Rakdos Sacrifice in the coming weeks, we can expect it to rise a bit in popularity as a deck that’s both easier to get into financially and more diverse in its threat suite.
Mono Red Aggro (Stable) – Mono Red will likely continue to be a viable option for both players entering the format in a competitive sense and players who enjoy having options in their aggressive decks. While it doesn’t boast excellent matchups against any of the top decks at the moment, sheer numbers are sometimes enough to push a deck through and keep it steady in terms of favorability. The deck is quick off the draw and capable of stealing wins on a consistent basis, which is generally enough to get by in any format.
Mono Blue Spirits (Stable) – Between the general price increase keeping some players out of the strategy and the format’s general preparedness for the deck with cards like Rending Volley and Skylasher, Mono Blue Spirits is beginning a downward trend in terms of popularity. The deck is still quite strong and reliable, boasting an excellent matchup against the likes of Devotion and Phoenix, but as people see more and more of it they tend to come more and more prepared as well. We don’t expect the spirits decks to drop off any time soon, but a flavor shift is very likely to occur several more times in the coming weeks and months.
Lotus Field (Down from C Tier) – While Lotus Field is a powerful deck, two of its worst matchups are Devotion and Rakdos Midrange. When those decks flourish, Lotus fails to perform. As Azorius gains a spot at the top of the leaderboard though, Lotus may soon rise as well, as that matchup is generally fair to good from the Lotus side. The deck’s real folly though is that when people are prepared for it, the deck cannot perform. Devotion’s spiking is doubly bad for the deck, as Karn can fetch answers to the combo in game 1, and it means that people are generally playing more copies of Damping Sphere to combat it. We expect Lotus to remain a fine choice as a deck to own, but aren’t heavily recommending it as we dive deeper into the RCQ season.
Moved to Deck Archives
The following decks have had little major meta impact in recent weeks, as such they have been moved to our Off-Meta Deck archive:
Niv to Light
Players should still be aware of these decks as they prepare for this month’s Manatrader’s Series or upcoming RCQ, but they currently fail to meet our competitive metrics for tiering.