Tier List Companion – June 22nd, 2023

DarthJacen breaks down movements and changes in 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:

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

Metagame Breakdown

Moved Up

Izzet Phoenix

5-Color Enigmatic

Moved Down


Abzan Greasefang

Izzet Drakes

Atarka Red

Dimir Control

Dimir Rogues


Green Devotion remains atop the tier list this week with another twenty qualifying finishes, including six from challenges and another six from the Regional Championship in Edmonton. Despite the rise of Spirits in recent weeks, Green is finding success against many of the rest of the top decks including Rakdos Sacrifice, Rakdos Midrange, and Lotus Field Combo. This is one of the first times in months where we didn’t have several tougher matchups for Green sitting at the top tables. However, the deck does need to watch out for the rising Izzet Phoenix, which was once the primary deck holding Green back from reaching S-tier.

Speaking of Izzet Phoenix, the bird has risen once again from the ashes, moving up the tier list. With nine qualifying finishes including six from the challenges, the deck has picked up a lot of steam lately. Currently, we’re combining the Demilich version made popular at the Regional Championships previously, with the more traditional Phoenix builds. While we don’t know which build will become stock for the foreseeable future, both versions have found success, especially so with Rakdos Midrange starting to lower in representation at the top tables. While the deck still struggles against Lotus Field Combo, without Rakdos Midrange as prolific it opens up the opportunity for Phoenix to beat up on Green Devotion and once again begin ascending towards the upper tiers.

Along with Phoenix, 5-Color Enigmatic Incarnation returns to C-Tier. After a standout performance in Dallas, the deck disappeared a bit rather than picking up more finishes. This week continues the somewhat lack-luster quantity of qualifying finishes with only three, but the deck remains a very strong option for those willing to put in the work. We’ve seen several times in the past this deck will show up for high-value events such as Regional Championships or Super Qualifiers given it is well positioned within the current metagame, but it tends to lack week-to-week results. It reminds me of Lotus Field Combo early on where the deck would show up, dominate, then drop off the map as newer players picked it up and didn’t immediately mimic the results of top pilots. Especially with Rakdos Sacrifice, Rakdos Midrange, and Azorius Control seeing widespread play, I’d certainly consider Enigmatic highly for any upcoming event. Just look to dodge Spirits!

On the other side of the coin, we have a few decks that dropped back down in the tier list. Starting with Creativity, we’ve seen three different builds show up thus far. Recently, the Atraxa version has nearly disappeared, including zero finishes this past week. The Torrential Gearhulk version seemed like the best version after winning a MOCS event and wracking up countless finishes, but for the past two weeks the Worldspine Wurm versions have had more total results. With three of the deck’s four qualifying finishes this week, the Wurm seems to be finding more success, but overall, the deck is struggling. Creativity did best in metagames solidified around Rakdos Midrange and Green Devotion along with various aggro decks that failed to answer the deck’s countless red removal. We’ve seen Spirits become the aggro deck of choice along with Mono White Humans and Boros Convoke, which can all maneuver around the traditional one-for-one red removal spells of Creativity. In addition, these decks can all mitigate Creativity’s ability to combo kill quickly with counterspells, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Anointed Peacekeeper and more. While the deck remains very strong in a vacuum, the current metagame hasn’t proven very hospitable for Creativity of any build.

Next moving down this week is Abzan Greasefang. Long gone are the days of Greasefang being one of the top decks in the format putting up massive weekly results. This past weekend, the deck only managed six qualifying finishes and four of those came from preliminary events. We’ve seen the rat pilot struggling to deal with Karn the Great Creator, Rakdos Sacrifice’s ability to have Fatal Push revolted, Graveyard hate from decks like Azorius Control, and fast starts from aggro decks that can hinder your ability to set-up your kills. While the deck remains powerful, much like Creativity, the metagame has become hostile towards this deck. With the increase in Phoenix as well, expect more graveyard hate, not less in the coming weeks. We usually see that when Phoenix starts to peak, Greasefang takes unintended hits and starts to drop down the tier list due to the overlap in sideboard cards that target Phoenix and Greasefang.

Last up in the decks dropping a tier this week is Izzet Drakes. While the deck had a strong showing in Dallas and in various Magic Online Challenges, it has started to fall off in favor of the more traditional Izzet Phoenix. While we have seen two to three variations of Izzet decks at the top of the format before, long-term there tends to always be one version sitting at the top, much like with the Rakdos decks. While Drakes was a smart adaptation for the past Regional Championships, it only put up six qualifying finishes this past week and all of those were in the preliminary events. When looking at the stronger finishes in the harder events, it was clear that Phoenix is on the rise and Crackling Drake is headed back to sideboards.

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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