Pioneer Tier List Update June 14, 2022

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

Editor’s Note: Readers will notice several large shifts when comparing this week to last week’s tier list. This is a result of last week’s tier list being more so a reflection of our projected meta positions following the bannings of Winota and Expressive Iteration. While a larger shift can happen in a one or two decks on any given week, we don’t foresee this many decks moving two+ tiers in the same week unless there is another massive meta game shakeup.

Click here for the tier list

S Tier

Mono-Green Karn (Up from A-Tier) – Mono-Green Karn has established itself as the deck to beat going forward. While it only managed to snag one of this weekend’s main prizes up for grabs, it snagged the one that mattered most: Sunday’s Showcase Challenge. In a field of over 300 players, Mono-Green stood above all else – not only winning the event, but placing two copies in an otherwise diverse Top 8 with three more copies in the Top 16. Karn also managed to land three copies in the Saturday challenge’s Top 8, losing out in the finals to Atarka Ramp. With Karn clearly outpacing all other decks in our meta metrics, there’s no wonder why multiple of our competitive guides are switching to what is seemingly Pioneer’s newest boogeyman. Can the format readjust now that it knows who is public enemy #1? Only time will tell.

A Tier

Rakdos Midrange (Down from S-Tier) – Rakdos boasted the second-highest playrate across this weekend’s events, being a deck with a fair or better matchup against any of the decks below it and having at least a chance against Mono-Green. It moves down to A-Tier strictly due to the large gap in playrate data between it and Mono-Green.

UW Control (Down from S-Tier) – As with any new meta, control decks need some time to adjust and figure   out how to best attack their environment. And the results from this weekend clearly reflect UW control going through a bit of an identity crisis from where it was before last week’s BNR updates. Harry13, of course, found great success in Sunday’s showcase, playing a more streamlined take of UW Control than what we’re used to seeing, and decided to forgo the inclusion of Yorion. Meanwhile, the NRG 5k featured a pair of Esper control decklists sharing the spotlight in the Top 8. Over the coming weeks, be sure to keep an eye out for which becomes the more dominant build in the new Pioneer landscape we now find ourselves in.

B Tier

Izzet Phoenix (Stable) – Phoenix showed some resilience this week, and seemed to be taking the loss of Expressive Iteration in stride by reverting back to former archetype mainstays like Izzet Charm. Like with other decks, there seems to be a few competing builds at the moment that come down to how many Ledger Shredders players want to include in their decks versus cards like Thing in the Ice or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.

Mono-U Spirits (Stable) – While not having the data to push it up a tier, Blue Spirits is well-positioned in the post-ban meta, having a fair or better matchup against most decks in S-C tier.

C Tier

Mono-Red Burn (Down from A-Tier) – Post-format shakeups are typically a good time to play Burn, which is why we placed it in A Tier last week in our more subjective post-ban tier list. The fact that it did not perform well means the bans did not create an open meta like shakeup bans typically do; instead, we ended up with a meta dominated by decks that have favorable matchups against Mono-Red. 

Lotus Field (Down from A-Tier) – Did all the Lotus players forget to set their alarms this weekend? Because for the most part the deck was nowhere to be seen. There is no doubt that Lotus Field has the tools to find large amounts of success in the format, but without a lot of recent innovation in the archetype it’s become a known quantity and players have found a myriad of options to tackle the matchup. It also doesn’t help that it also might be caught in the crossfire of some of the sideboard hate being used to target Mono-Green Karn.

Boros Feather (Down from B-Tier) – Heroic was another fast deck we expected could attack an open meta that may or may not have reduced its instant-speed removal count. While things didn’t shake out that way, the deck still put up at least one result in each of the weekend events, keeping it firmly in C Tier.

Niv-to-Light (Stable) –Niv remains a solid midrange option to go over the top of the various slower decks in the format. However, unlike in the past, you no longer have the inevitability of dominating the late game with a deck like Mono Green rapidly racing your early game and going over the top with the combo. Slaughter Games did seem to help this past weekend in the NRG at keeping Karn from taking over in this matchup. 

Izzet Prowess (Stable) – Without Expressive Iteration, Prowess performed similarly to how we expected and hangs on to its C Tier standing this week.

D Tier

Rakdos Sacrifice (Down from B-Tier) – With Winota gone, we expected Rakdos Sacrifice’s winrate to improve. While this might be the case, it did not see enough play in the weekend events to justify keeping it in B Tier.

Esper Greasefang (Down from C-Tier) – Putting Esper Greasefang in C Tier on last week’s tier list was somewhat a hedge for the possibility that Karn, The Great Creator wasn’t going to take over the format in the way we expected. Of course, that did not turn out to be the case, which pushes everyone’s second-favorite rat down to D Tier.

5-Color Humans (Up from Off-Meta) – As many have postulated, the removal of Winota from the format looks like it may have opened up a slot for other creature-centric strategies to make a return – namely, Elves and Humans.

Atarka Ramp (Tier List Debut) – A new deck to the tier list, it came out swinging and won the Saturday Challenge. The deck is trying to ramp to powerful spells like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. The deck is a little fragile, as it does not mulligan well at all. It needs a good density of ramp, lands and a payoff or two. Despite beating it in the challenge, it seems to be a step behind Mono-Green Karn as the premier ramp deck. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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