Tier List Companion March 15th, 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:

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

Rakdos Sacrifice


Move Down

Izzet Creativity

Gruul Vehicles

Selesnya Angels

Izzet Phoenix

Stayed the Same

Rakdos Midrange

Abzan Greasefang

Lotus Field Combo

Green Devotion

Omnath to Light

Mono-White Humans

5C Enigmatic Fires

Azorius Control

Mono Black Midrange

Mono Red Aggro

Dimir Control

Fell Off the List


New to the List


Competitive Team Movements



Rakdos Sacrifice had a stellar weekend. We saw a MOCS Showcase Challenge win and top 8 for the deck along with five other challenge finishes. The deck’s good matchup against Rakdos Midrange and ability to easily defeat creature decks while applying reasonable pressure against control decks left sacrifice in position to do well. The long-time issues for this deck have been green devotion and uninteractive combo decks like Lotus Field combo, but the metagame has become diverse enough that sacrifice is more likely to find a playable or good matchup than a bad one. This is a deck on the rise and it’ll be interesting to see if it can continue rising as it gets a target on its back.

Spirits moves up to C-Tier after a few weekends of solid results. Azorius Spirits managed four qualifying finishes, but I’d suspect that spirits will move down if sacrifice continues up. The strategy’s main benefit is attacking control decks and uninteractive combo decks that are all-in on one or two spells. While we were trending in that direction, seeing Rakdos Sacrifice starting to move up indicates that anti-creature decks may be getting better positioned to punish the decks attacking the previous combo metagame.

Izzet Creativity fell from A-Tier back down to B-Tier this week. We saw this deck dominate after the Pro Tour win, but this week we saw the metagame adjust as the deck only managed two preliminary finishes. As players adjust to the deck, we see why it was a strong Pro Tour deck, but wasn’t on the radar leading into the Pro Tour. Decks that can get under your combo or interact with Creativity can make the game difficult and with Spirits picking up play, that can make life difficult along with Green Devotion seeing less play – removing a strong matchup from the top tables.

Gruul Vehicles continues to slide down the tier list even with the addition of Migloz. The deck is a turn too slow to keep up with the combo-centric decks and can’t fight against most of the top decks in the format. While it has some explosive hands, it doesn’t do well into enough of the current metagame and continues to shrink away with fewer finishes each weekend.

Selesnya Angels falls into a similar category as Gruul Vehicles where it does well under specific metagame circumstances, but as we shift from those circumstances, the deck starts to fall off. Control and Combo decks seeing lots of play make the deck very vulnerable and while we do see some creature decks coming back, decks like Rakdos Sacrifice are keeping them in check while also beating up on Angels. There’s not a lot of room for these lifegain threats to takeover the game as they did before when decks like Izzet Phoenix, Rakdos Midrange, Green Devotion, and Vehicles were top decks.

As mentioned above, Izzet Phoenix continues its slide. Since Rakdos Midrange became the deck to beat and Sheoldred solidified herself as a top tier card, we haven’t seen this deck perform very well. If you want to play Izzet Phoenix, there’s a good chance you would see better results playing Rakdos Midrange instead and that’s been how players have adjusted overall. Especially with the Rakdos matching being bad for Phoenix, there’s not a ton of reasons to bring your Phoenixes back from the graveyard at the moment.

Of note – we saw an Atraxa Neoform deck come in second in the Showcase Challenge, so keep an eye out for this deck in the future or watch as it goes up in flames! Only time will tell. Along with Atraxa Neoform, we also saw Dimir Lutri make top 8 of the Showcase Challenge – another bit of spice.

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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