Pioneer Tier List Update May 24, 2022

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


Below is the weekly breakdown of our tier list placement decisions. This breakdown is not meant to be an extensive list of every deck in the tier list, and instead only features those decks placed S through B-tier and any decks that changed tiers compared to the previous week.

S Tier

Izzet Prowess (Up from A Tier) – Last week, we noted that it was likely that Prowess would end up in S Tier. We see it here this week thanks to not only a strong showing in the MTGO events (with the second-most challenge top 16s), but great success in our first real paper event in some time thanks to the weekend’s NRG team event where it placed three copies as well. Prowess continues to plant its talons as a cornerstone of the Pioneer format, and prove it’s not another flash in the pan fan favorite.

Winota (Stable) – The queen showed weakness this week as Winota placed fewer copies in our metric points than both Prowess and Phoenix across MTGO events. With the addition of the NRG results, though, Winota was at parity with Prowess. With a new claimant to the crown joining S-Tier, we’ll see how much longer her reign can last.

A Tier

Mono-Red (Stable) – Mono Red remains a strong deck through its ability to apply early pressure backed up by powerful Planeswalkers. While we are seeing the rise of Ledger Shredder starting to split the Soul-Scar players between red and Prowess, until the 1/3 bird fully takes over that slot, mono red will maintain a check on the format’s larger decks like Mono Green Karn and Lotus Field

Izzet Phoenix (Up from B Tier) – The Izzet battle for dominance continues this week. Both decks placed six copies across the MTGO events we include in our number crunching, with Phoenix having the most challenge top 16s across the board, but three additional copies of Prowess vs zero of Phoenix caused the deck to ground out at A-Tier.

B Tier

UW Control (Up from C Tier) – When the format starts to play more to the board through creatures and less through Planeswalkers, UW control picks up some percentages. While still quite fast in its best draws, decks like UR Prowess and the more traditional UR Phoneix are still a step slower than decks like Mono Red and don’t go as over the top as Mono Green Karn. This one step slower and bigger aggro deck is perfect for UW to leverage some of its answers and still maintain control of the game. If decks like Mono Green Karn continue down the tiers, expect UW to have better and better weekends. 

Mono-Green Karn (Down from A Tier) – Mono Green Karn remains a top tier deck, but the pressure applied from Mono Red, Winona, and now the Izzet Prowess decks can all get under this deck while removing your early mana creatures or countering your payoff spells. Mono Green Karn continues to do well against Midrange decks, but the increased speed of the format thanks to Ledger Shredder is taking its toll on Karn. 

C Tier

Izzet Control (Up from D Tier) – We are seeing Control sneakily come back with the rise of Izzet decks thanks to Ledger Shredder. While it might seem counterintuitive that a deck with Soul-Scar Mage and Monastery Swifyspear being top tier bolsters control, those decks rely on their creatures living and these control decks that can kill off your board and then present a Narset to lock down your card draw are tough matchups for Ledger Shredder decks. Not to mention Narset makes Shredder very awkward if you want to play multiple spells in a turn. 

Lotus Field (Stable) – Lotus Field put up a great weekend with a challenge win and a pair of top 16s. Thanks to Mono Green Karn starting to find some hate, we are seeing Control start to rise back up through the meta, which is great for Lotus Field. Unfortunately, the rise of another aggro Prowess deck to top tier does make it tough for Lotus Field to move above C tier in the long run. 

Mono-Blue Spirits (Down from B Tier) – Mono Blue Spirits is a powerful deck that has an inherent weakness to red removal, since it trades at cost with all your creatures. Now add in Ledger Shredder to the mix and it becomes very difficult to crack the top tables. While you still have some great matchups near the top of the metagame, the rise of Shredder decks does push spirits down a tier as a whole. 

Rakdos Midrange (Down from B Tier) – Rakdos Midrange is in an odd spot where you have some strong matchups near the top of the meta, but you also have some tough matchups and depending on which half of the matchup spread you hit, your results will look quite different. Rakdos is no longer in a position to be reasonable in an open field, especially with the rise of control lurking. While Rakdos is strong into Red and other aggro decks, the addition of Treasure Cruise to aggro does make it harder to grind out. 

Boros Feather (Down from B Tier) – While we saw a nice spike in Feather thanks to Illuminator Virtuoso, the weakness the deck has when facing red removal has proved difficult to manage thanks to Ledger Shredder decks and Mono Red remaining popular near the top tables. Even though you can grow your creatures rapidly out of range, if the opponent holds open removal, you can quickly find yourself creatureless and behind on board. 


The following decks have been moved into Off-Meta this week:

Wx Angels (Down from D Tier)

Mardu Greasefang (Down from C Tier)

Esper Greasefang (Down from D Tier)

UWx Spirits (Down from D Tier)

These movements come as a result of their dwindling amount of placements among our various data thresholds. We believe these decks still have a potential place in the meta at large, but are lacking a certain competitive edge to keep them tiered for 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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