Pioneer Tier List Update July 26, 2022

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

Click here for the tier list

S Tier

Azorius Control (Up from A Tier) – With the meta game at large feeling rather settled, it was only a matter of time until the control players started to find their optimal builds. Placing three copies across all levels of the Saturday Challenge’s Top 8 and a Top 4 finish in the Sunday Showcase, Azorius Control was certainly out to play. Pilots seem to still be split on Yorion vs non-Yorion builds, so keep an eye out for that in decklists in the coming weeks. This placement is also split among our competitive guides, so weigh in and let us know how you feel about the current state of Azorius Control.

Izzet Phoenix (Up from A Tier) – Phoenix finally makes its move up. It continues to be a strong deck choice for any occasion. The deck is consistent, resilient and powerful, which combined with it’s explosive combo-esque finish of temporal trespass and galvanic iteration, has proven perhaps too difficult to reliably best while also addressing the rest of the metagame at large. 

A Tier

Rakdos Sacrifice (Up from B Tier) – Rakdos Sacrifice jumps up due to the S tier being filled. The is a strong consideration for any tournament. It can out grind most decks and has an incredibly favourable Rakdos midrange matchup. The deck has tuned slightly to address some of the top decks in the field, and remains a solid choice for both budget conscious and spike focused players alike. 

Rakdos Midrange (Stable) – After coming close to breaking into S Tier last week, Rakdos Midrange finally breaks its lockstep with Phoenix and Azorius Control after a weak showing in the weekend’s Challenges, Showcase, and Preliminaries. The deck’s versatility always makes itself known, though, and we will likely see it tech against the Azorius Control meta as we have seen it do successfully before. 

B Tier

Mono White Humans (Up from D Tier) – Pioneer’s newest budget darling continues up the ladder following its debut on last week’s tier list. Brave the Elements continues to prove itself as a lynch pin card against a swathe of matchups allowing the deck to always find a way to sneak in those last points of damage, while also surviving the wrath of angry gods. With the rise in price of Mono-Blue Spirits, this deck makes for a good near hyper budget buy-in for the format during the current RCQ season.

Mono-Blue Spirits (Stable) – Mono Blue Spirits put up a strong result this week in the Saturday Challenge, but struggled to put up similar results in the Showcase. The deck is powerful, especially against decks that have spells with mana value 4 or greater, but struggles against the cheap interaction of Rakdos Midrange, Izzet Phoenix, and Mono Red. Perhaps the deck whose duty it was to prey on mono green has started to fumble with the recession of its main target. 

Mono Green Karn (Stable) – Karn resurfaced after a tough few weeks and continues to show up towards the top tables once again. With strong matchups into Rakdos Midrange and Azorius Control, and without as strong a target on its back, Mono Green continues to show up in a reasonable quantity. We feel that this deck may turn into one of those that thrives when it’s forgotten about, moving forward. 

Humans (Stable) – Though Mono-White Humans was the premier Humans build in this weekend’s events, Bant, 5C and Pyre builds are still represented well enough to remain in B Tier this week. With the rise of Azorius as the flavor of the week, we might expect an uptick in these decks as well. 

C Tier

Abzan Greasefang (Up from D Tier)- Abzan Greasefang came in 2nd place in the Pioneer Showcase. Since then, it seems like every content creator has picked up the deck; Ruckman can certainly tell you that the deck is the real deal. Quickly becoming a contender for best Greasefang build, this list seems here to stay. 

Boros Heroic (Down from B Tier) – Boros Heroic is down this week after it’s lackluster showings. The deck is powerful but can be beat if you are prepared for it. It’s surge upward was largely driven by the dominance of mono-green, but the deck is just generally quick to close out a game, which puts it in the rank of “never a bad choice, but maybe not the best one”.

Lotus Field (Down from B Tier) – Lotus field continues to struggle with the aggro decks of the format and as Rakdos Midrange lowers its curve to have a more aggressive creature-base, even that becomes a tougher matchup. If the new 60 card version of Azorius control proves a more difficult matchup as well, Lotus field appears to be set adrift with few good matchup at the top tables. It does traditionally have good matchups into the blue decks though, so we’ll see where it heads in the coming weeks.

D Tier

Izzet Prowess (Down from C Tier) – Prowess is on the major downswing as Phoenix solidifies itself as the dominant blue red deck. While the prowess deck does have the advantage of lesser graveyard reliance, that isn’t proving to be enough to make the difference at the moment. Perhaps if after the challenger decks release Phoenix becomes much more widely targeted, prowess will take back the reigns to some degree as a legitimate option. For now though, it remains a deck exclusive to fans of young pyromancer. 

Bant Spirits (Down from C Tier) – The competitive advantage of bant Spirits, Collected Company and it’s ability to generate a mana advantage, is proving to be less reliable in today’s meta game than it once was as other more powerful or explosive decks have entered the scene. Between being needlessly higher budget for anyone wanting to pick up the ghosts and the general half a turn downshift in speed from the mono blue variant, bant Spirits seems to be on a bit of a downward spiral toward unavailability.

Izzet Creativity (Down from C Tier) – Creativity isn’t putting up the regular numbers that fans of the strategy might hope for as the deck continues to slide. Perhaps the mix of a combo and a control deck that isn’t quite nearly as good as a dedicated version of either just isn’t well positioned against the likes of Phoenix, rakdos, and Azorius. Time will tell if this deck will see a resurgence sometime down the line. 

Dimir Control (Up from Off Meta) – Dimir control’s resurgence is likely due to the rise in popularity of Azorius Control. When control is good, the control deck with a favorable control mirror matchup tends to perform well, and that’s the case with Dimir. The challenger deck should help to boost these numbers as well in the coming months, but Dimir stands up as a legitimate option with fair to good matchups across a large swath of todays metagame. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Darren "ServoToken"


    ServoToken has been playing competitive magic since 2011, spending a majority of that time living in the shoes of a player on a strict budget. After investing a lot of time learning how to make the best of a bad situation, his goals today are to spread those lessons to the often-ignored population of Magic players who can’t afford to drop a car payment on a new deck every couple of months. His mantra is that “You don’t need to play mono-red to do well on a budget”. These days, you can typically find him deep in the archives of Scryfall searching for new cards to brew around or making tweaks to the Pioneer Budget deck spreadsheet on his unending mission to bring his favorite format to the people on the cheap.

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