Pioneer Tier List Update May 17, 2022

An explanation of the movements and placements in this week’s Pioneer tier list.


S Tier:

Winota (stable): Winota continues her stranglehold at the top of the mountain. However this could quickly turn into a tenuous hold on the format, as this week saw a large rise in hyper aggressive strategies like Boros Heroic and Izzet Prowess. These decks feature a quick clock and pack removal that can deal with Winota like Reckless Rage, a true recipe for success in the matchup.

A Tier

Izzet Prowess (Up from C-Tier): This deck debuted well right out of the gate last week, but in an effort to minimize volatility we launched it in C Tier last week (much to Karnage’s chagrin). This week, with seven top 8s or top 16s – the most of any deck – Izzet Prowess is clearly the real deal and could even move up to S-tier if it continues to show such results next week. The power of Ledger Shredder has unlocked this style of deck and further opened up the options for players who enjoy Expressive Iteration and Treasure Cruise

Mono-Red (stable): Our very own IslandGoSame managed to finish 2nd in the Pioneer challenge with Mono Red this weekend. The deck continues to put up a top 8 and top 16 each week, but the main place Red seems to do well is in the Preliminary events on Magic Online. A big reason Red remains in A tier this week is that it continues to fight other up-an-coming decks like Boros Heroic and helps to contain decks like Azorius Control and Mono Green Karn.

Mono-Green Karn (stable): The drop off in Karn’s popularity seems to be stabilizing with five copies between our considered Preliminary and Challenge finishes. The deck maintains its A ranking from last week thanks to a top 4 and top 8 finish in this week’s Challenges. 

B Tier

Boros Heroic (Up from off-meta): Heroic showed up last week in a few prelims thanks to an underrated uncommon from Streets of New Capenna in Illuminator Virtuoso. This double striking threat gives Boros Heroic a combo-like kill against decks without removal, getting double the value from being targeted thanks to Connive. Similar to Light-Paws did for Orzhov Auras, this two-drop has launched Heroic back into the metagame, seemingly overnight with three top 8s or top 16s this weekend. Though, the deck does struggle with Mono Red, which does potentially serve to keep it in check in future weeks.

Izzet Phoenix (Down from A-Tier): This deck continues to struggle in the face of Mono-Green Devotion and other more aggressive Izzet decks. It is hard to stay in A Tier when you aren’t even the best deck in your colors and Izzet Phoenix put up a very weak showing this weekend as players flocked to Ledger Shredder, but in Prowess rather than Phoenix. If Phoenix numbers continue to drop thanks to Prowess, it won’t be long until this monolith of Pioneer drops down even further.

Rakdos Midrange (Down from A-Tier): Rakdos continues to struggle in the face of Mono Green Karn and with the rise of less-fragile aggro decks in Izzet Prowess and Boros Heroic that can adequately protect their threats, it becomes harder for Rakdos Midrange to prey on the aggro decks of the meta. With only two top 8s or top 16s this weekend, the deck is losing a little luster. Although, the one top 8 was a win in Sunday’s challenge, showing the deck can easily reclaim its place with a little help from the rest of the meta. 

Mono-Blue Spirits (Stable): Mono-Blue Spirits also maintains a stable ranking this week thanks to a pair of top 8s in Sunday’s Challenge. It is important to note that these were also the only two placements the deck saw over the last week, but as long as HEROtsukai keeps putting up numbers expect to keep seeing it on our tier list.


Mardu Greasefang (Up from D-Tier): Mardu Greasefang was the top performing Greasefang deck this week with a challenge win and a top 16 this weekend. Much like Mono Blue Spirits before it, we are seeing one copy of this deck spike and the rest of the Greasefang decks are lacking top quality finishes. Until the meta shifts to a place where more Greasefang pilots can find success outside of a singular outlier finish, it will be tough for the Rat boss to climb above C tier. 

Lotus Field (Up from D-Tier): Lotus Field re-emerged from the dead this weekend after a long cold streak with a pair of top 16s. While that isn’t enough to reach the upper part of the tier list, it does show that the shifting meta might become a little less hostile towards this combo deck in the future. Lotus still struggles against Mono Red, Winota, and Mono Green Karn, so don’t expect Lotus to rise much higher than C tier until those decks fall from the meta a bit.

UW Control (Down from B-Tier): Azorius Control has really fallen thanks to the rise of Mono Green Karn and the decks aiming to attack Karn that also hit Control as an additional benefit. Decks like Mono Red Aggro, Izzet Prowess and Mono Blue Spirits all get under Azorius, while Karn decks go over the top. It will be tough for Control to rebound while the meta is attacking it on both ends of the tempo spectrum. Until something major changes, we suspect we have moved out of the control metagame that was dominating Pioneer just a month or so ago.


Izzet Control (Down from B-Tier): Chalk up another victim of the hyper aggressive push in this weekend’s Challenges. After last week’s slight bounce back, Izzet Control dropped off hard this week. It’s also pretty hard to contend when you’re the only Izzet deck not benefiting from the Ledger Shredder Renaissance.

Esper Greasefang (Down from C-Tier): Esper Greasefang simply didn’t show up this week. With only one result in a preliminary, it seems like the Greasefang community moved to Mardu for this weekend. Overall though, Greasefang decks are struggling to put up comparable results to most of the top decks in the format, in part due to the presence of Karn the Great Creator and decks that can easily kill off Greasefang, Okiba Boss.

Wx Angels (Down from C-Tier): Angels’ downward trend continues as top finishing copies come few and far between. As the hyper aggressive decks try to push out Karn and Winota, there’s a chance for these decks to stage a bit of a comeback with their ability to gain massive amounts of life in a single turn cycle. If they can survive long enough that is.

Rakdos Anvil (Down from C-Tier): The meta continues to move more hostile against Anvil as the hyper aggressive decks came out to battle Karn and Winota this weekend. It’s hard to set up for a grindy game plan when the match only lasts four turns. Until the format slows back down again, expect Anvil to continue its current downward trajectory.

Niv to Light (Down from C-Tier): Two Preliminary placements make for a solid showing, but the lack of major Challenge results bring the deck down to D-tier this week.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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