Tier List Companion April 5th, 2023

DarthJacen breaks down the movements and reasoning behind yesterday's Pioneer tier list.


Each week, we here at Playing Pioneer take a deep dive into the Magic Online results for Pioneer. We take what data we do have and break down which decks sit where in the overall metagame of Pioneer. These tier lists include a rolling average to ensure decks’ movement isn’t too volatile on the tier list after one good week. Here’s the Tier List from this week that we’ll be working with.

The Data

Each week, we look at top Magic Online Tournaments including the weekly challenges, any Regional Championship Qualifiers, or Magic Online Championship Series events, along with the Pioneer Prelim events. For the Challenges, we are looking at all decks that earned the same number of points as the player in 16th in each event and for the Preliminary events we are looking at all 4-0 and 3-1 decks.

If there are any high-profile paper events, we will also include those. Some examples of events we would count are SCG Con events, NRG Events, Regional Championships, Pro Tours, etc.

Here were this week’s events:

·         MTGO Pioneer Challenge

·         MTGO Pioneer Challenge

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

·         MTGO Pioneer Preliminary

Now that we’ve looked at the data, let’s take a look what changes occurred in this week’s tier list!

Metagame Breakdown

Moved Up

Lotus Field Combo

Move Down

Izzet Phoenix

Stayed the Same

Abzan Greasefang

Rakdos Midrange

Rakdos Sacrifice

Azorius Control

Green Devotion

Neoform Atraxa

Gruul Vehicles

Izzet Creativity


Omnath to Light

Atarka Red

Mono White Humans

Selesnya Angels

5-Color Enigmatic

Dimir Control

Mono Red Aggro

New to the List

Niv to Light


Mono Black Waste Not

Esper Legends


Izzet Phoenix won a challenge this weekend in the hands of one of the MTGO Phoenix specialist grinders. This was a hallmark of the Sunday challenge as first and second place featured C and D-tier archetypes winning in the hands of archetype specialists. The deck continues to underperform on the whole, but seeing specialists win the challenge is always a good sign and often leads to players picking the deck back up again. While the matchup spread for this deck remains unfavorable at the top tables, it can always rebound if more creature-centric strategies reemerge.

Niv to Light has started picking up in numbers, splitting off from the seemingly more popular Omnath to Light. Both decks are using similar tools to control the board before taking over with their namesake of choice. Niv does an Atraxa impression and allows the deck to refuel and continue winning deeper into the game. Both of these decks have been doing well the past few weeks and I’m excited to see if Niv or Omnath will take over as we get closer to MOM.

Elves have had a resurgence. If you haven’t read XboxGreg’s latest deck guide, take a read! The latest innovation of more Chord of Calling targets and fourteen one-drops has helped the deck find much more success, especially against combo decks. I’ve been running into this deck more often online and even in matchups like Greasefang that used to be somewhat free are now much more challenging.

Mono Black Waste Not finding success this weekend was a surprise. Along with a few other odd-ball decks, we saw this deck put up a pair of top 16s along with an additional qualifying finish in a Preliminary. We’ve seen Mono-Black and Rakdos Waste Not before, but in the current metagame where we have a lot of powerful midrange, control, and combo decks, Waste Not gets tons of value and can keep opponents’ hand empty long enough to take over on the board. This week it’s time to see if the deck can stay around or is a one-player flash in the pan.

Esper Legends won a challenge this weekend along with another qualifying finish in a preliminary event this weekend. We’ve started seeing this Standard deck ported over to Pioneer and now it is immediately finding success. This should be a call to players, especially those that enjoy the Standard version, to give this deck a try. Raffine is an incredible threat and you get to leverage tons of powerful threats along with using Mox Amber to ramp ahead of your opposition. While the deck doesn’t seem as powerful relative to its position in Standard, we are only scratching the surface of this deck’s potential.  

Azorius Control put up the best results of the weekend with eleven qualifying finishes. Of the four qualifying finishes from challenges, two come from top 8s. We’ve seen the metagame start to spread out a bit as decks moved to punish the various linear combo decks that were running rampant. While Azorius doesn’t beat most of those combo decks consistently, it does a great job of beating the decks people play to attack that metagame. We are in the middle of a Metagame shift and when the overall decks that are playable expand, it can give Azorius running room to be the over-the-top deck of choice.

Neoform Atraxa remains in C-Tier with another strong weekend. In fact, it had nine qualifying finishes this week, which was fourth best. The only issue was the deck getting eight of those nine finishes in preliminary events, making me worried if we will continue to see the deck in bigger events. For now, the deck looks very real and like something players will need to adjust to, especially as players begin picking the deck up in paper. This is a deck that can win an event or get pushed out any given weekend, but for now, it remains a factor in the metagame and something players need to respect.

Wrapping Up

There you have it, our weekly breakdown of all the top contenders and frequent fliers of Pioneer. While these tiers can change somewhat frequently, be sure to also check out our monthly overview of how decks performed on a month-to-month basis found here.

Best of luck at your upcoming events and be sure to stay safe out there!

  • 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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