Tier List Companion March 22th, 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

Gruul Vehicles

Move Down


Mono-White Humans

5C Enigmatic Fires

Stayed the Same

Rakdos Midrange

Izzet Creativity

Abzan Greasefang

Lotus Field Combo

Green Devotion

Omnath to Light

Rakdos Sacrifice

Selesnya Angels

Izzet Phoenix

Azorius Control

Mono-Red Aggro

Dimir Control

Fell Off the List

Mono-Black Midrange

New to the List

Neoform Atraxa

Atarka Red

Competitive Team Movements



Neoform Atraxa took the format by storm after finishing second in the MOCS Showcase. This week, it makes its debut on the tier list with five qualifying finishes. The only issue is that all five of those finishes were in the preliminary events. With the MOCS Last Chance Qualifiers alongside the normal events for the weekend, this will be make or break to see if this deck is real or a flash in the pan.

Atarka Red has started coming back with a vengeance with another challenge top 8 this weekend. While the deck still struggles against decks that can interact early, it has the speed and consistency to beat up uninteractive decks and control decks. While the deck still struggles against the various Rakdos decks and larger creature decks like humans that can fight on pace and with bigger average creature size.

Spirits finally moved out of D-Tier after a few weeks slowly climbing up in terms of quantity of results. Immediately, the deck showed the same struggles that have plagued the archetype for months. Even when including Mono-Blue Spirits, Bant Spirits, and Azorius Spirits together, the decks only put up two qualifying finishes. While Bant had the best finish with a challenge top 8 finish, these decks need to find a more consistent path to results.

With a glut of removal heavy and anti-creature decks like Rakdos Midrange, Rakdos Sacrifice, and Azorius Control with Lay Down Arms along with plenty copies of Rending Volley in sideboard, the deck is struggling. Despite those struggles, it does still have good matchups into the various combo decks of the format along with uninteractive decks like Abzan Greasefang and Green Devotion. Even so, we aren’t seeing the fruits of those good matchups consistently enough.

Mono-White Humans returns to D-Tier after once again struggling to put up finishes this weekend. With one qualifying finish in a preliminary event, the top tables are prepared for Humans. While Humans can deal with decks like Izzet Creativity and Lotus Field Combo, the deck isn’t getting it done against Rakdos Sacrifice and Abzan Greasefang – two of the top decks outside of Rakdos Midrange this past weekend. While the deck has plenty of ability to challenge the top tables, like with Spirits, we aren’t seeing it happen consistently and other aggro decks like Atarka Red, Mono Red Aggro, and Gruul Vehicles appear more reliable lately.

5C Enigmatic Fires started seeing lots of success when we saw the dual between Green Devotion and Rakdos leading the top tables. Now that aggro is back on the menu and even decks like Azorius Control aren’t being beaten down by combo as hard, Enigmatic Fires has lost ground. With another poor showing this weekend that included only a single qualifying finish in a preliminary event, we are seeing the deck get adequately punished for playing a slower engine-based strategy. While this deck is still good when looking at raw power-level, I’d advise players looking to get their five-color fix to look at Omnath to Light instead!

Gruul Vehicles has me somewhat stumped if I’m being honest. It has been having bad weekends fairly consistently before popping back up with a strong set of finishes. While this weekend wasn’t quite the performance we saw last time this deck started climbing, it still put up a solid three qualifying finishes including winning a Challenge and putting up another top 8 in that same challenge. With access to powerful vehicles, sideboard cards like Rending Volley, and outsizing other aggro decks like Atarka Red, Mono-Red, or Humans, the deck certainly has upsides.

While it did take down a challenge, I question if we will see the deck continue to trend upwards or if it will return to obscurity next weekend with another zero or one qualifying finish as it has done in the past after a successful weekend.

Abzan Greasefang put up the highest number of qualifying finishes this past weekend and seemed to be a high represented deck in the first set of MOCS Last Chance Qualifiers that will count for next week. The deck has continued to impress since some small, but impactful changes were made to the deck at the Pro Tour. This newer build has plenty of resiliency while adding in even more ways to help fuel the fair gameplan against graveyard hate or heavy removal.

With a strong matchup into Rakdos, most uninteractive decks, and Azorius Control, it’s no surprise the deck put up fourteen qualifying finishes this weekend. However, only two of those finishes came from challenges. Those finishes were first and second place though. While not consistently dominant enough to land in A-Tier with Rakdos, Greasefang has slowly been making a case for being the best option in Pioneer right now for attacking the winner’s metagame.

Rakdos Sacrifice put up another strong weekend after dominating last weekend. The only thing holding it back is that the week before last, it did next to nothing. And the weekend before that and before that. We have seen the deck get smothered by top decks and the other decks above it in the metagame are generally difficult matchups – especially combo decks like Lotus Field, Izzet Creativity, and Green Devotion.

Conversely, we’re starting to see a trend towards creature decks to attack these combo decks and that’s where Sacrifice shines by leveraging the Cat Oven combo and Mayhem Devil to wreck creature decks. As the metagame continues to shift, this is a deck to watch carefully as it has been an A-Tier deck before and in creature heavy metagames, it can dominate.

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.

Liked it? Take a second to support PlayingMTG on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *