Tier List Companion March 29th, 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

Abzan Greasefang

Rakdos Sacrifice

UW Control

Atraxa Neoform


Izzet Phoenix

Moved Down

Izzet Creativity

Lotus Field Combo

Omnath to Light

5-Color Enigmatic

Stayed the Same

Rakdos Midrange

Green Devotion

Gruul Vehicles

Atarka Red

Mono White Humans

Selesnya Angels

Dimir Control

Mono Red Aggro

Fell Off the List


New to the List


Competitive Team Movements



Abzan Greasefang finally joins Rakdos Midrange in A-Tier after another strong weekend. With nine qualifying finishes including a challenge win and a Showcase Qualifier win, the deck is an undisputed top deck in Pioneer. Thanks to the early combo ability of this deck along with a solid midrange backup plan against removal heavy decks or decks with heavy graveyard interaction, Abzan has risen to the top of the format. Since the Pro Tour, the deck has been on fire and does a good job punishing many of the other top decks including Rakdos Midrange.

Rakdos Sacrifice continues to rise in the rankings after another solid weekend. With eight qualifying finishes, the deck did especially well in the Showcase Qualifier with three finishes out of that 32-player field. We’ve seen Green Devotion start to slip down in terms of presence and some of the harder combo matchups for Rakdos Sacrifice like Lotus Field aren’t nearly as prevalent as they were heading into the Pro Tour. While we’ve seen this deck continue to struggle in the past, as the metagame shifts and evolves, this version of Sacrifice has found its footing – at least until the next metagame shift, as a solid contender.

UW Control has been bobbing up and down the tier list lately. With the rise of hard combo decks like Lotus Field and semi-combo decks like Abzan Greasefang, we saw the deck start to struggle. Add in a close to slightly losing matchup into both Green and Rakdos Midrange and you’re not primed for success. However, we saw a change in how the deck was constructed for this weekend’s MOCS Showcase Qualifier. In a field of 32 incredibly skilled pilots, UW Yorion put up three top 8 finishes. While the deck struggled to get out of the quarterfinals, it still showed there’s plenty of room for eighty-cards in the format. While I still prefer the sixty-card version we’ve seen doing well, especially since it can be built to handle aggressive decks with Lay Down Arms, the Yorion version does a much better job at attacking midrange and slower combo decks. It’s always good to see strategic diversity within an archetype and knowing when to pivot between sixty or eighty cards proved a very valuable skill this weekend.

Atraxa Neoform looked like a flash in the pan and while it’s too early to classify it with certainty, it did put up a very strong weekend with seven qualifying finishes including two Showcase Qualifier top 8 finishes. While the deck still has difficulty dealing with hard counterspells and graveyard hate, we haven’t seen enough decks pack hate to keep this deck from achieving its goals. While we are starting to see players have to respect this deck more, if it can continue putting up strong finishes in top-tier events, we may have to admit that Neoform is back once again.

Izzet Phoenix had a solid showing this past weekend with four qualifying finishes. While the deck continues to struggle against Lotus Field and Rakdos Midrange, as we see the format start to trend towards slower decks or all-in combo that struggles with interaction, Izzet only gets stronger. As the metagame currently sits, I suspect Phoenix may be underplayed relative to its strength in the metagame. Then again, finding the Spirits players, Devotion players, and other aggro decks rather than the Rakdos, Combo, and Control players is a risky plan in an open field.

Spirits rounds out our positive trending decks for this week with a total of eight qualifying finishes. A big part of what helps this archetype, especially this week, is seeing all three major variants – Mono Blue, Azorius, and Bant Spirits have success. With three qualifying finishes for Bant and Mono Blue along with two for Azorius, it’s clear that the tempo-aggro decks of Spirits are able to handle this early-game centric metagame. While the deck can struggle into some removal heavy decks, right now we’re seeing decks like Abzan Greasefang, Lotus Field, Green Devotion, and Atraxa Neoform performing well, all which hate to see Spirits. Be mindful though, if Rakdos Sacrifice and Rakdos Midrange remain top-tier players as well, Spirits will struggle to break through into the higher echelon of Pioneer.

Izzet Creativity had a great showing at the Pro Tour and still had a strong showing this weekend with six qualifying finishes. However, as expected, we’ve started to see why this deck was a sleeper heading into the Pro Tour. While you have strong game against Green Devotion and Rakdos Midrange, those decks haven’t maintained their overwhelming presence compared to pre-Pro Tour. Instead, we’re seeing a variety of strong decks, some that can handle Creativity’s main combo gameplan and don’t allow enough time to successfully set up countermeasures. The deck remains powerful and well positioned enough to earn top 8s for sure, I just wouldn’t expect to see it dominate like it did at the Pro Tour or in the weeks after as more players get used to playing against the strategy.

Lotus Field Combo has started suffering from the rise of Spirits and Abzan Greasefang. These decks that can apply early pressure and interact through the stack or discard respectively can apply enough early pressure that Lotus Field can’t build up resources to combo fast enough. The deck only posted three qualifying finishes including none from the challenges or Showcase Qualifier. While that isn’t a death knell, it certainly raises major alarm bells just weeks after this looked like a top strategy heading into and at the Pro Tour.

Omnath to Light was one of the inventive breakout decks of the Pro Tour. While we’ve seen the deck continue to show up, such as with this week’s two qualifying finishes, it seems like players aren’t flocking to it as expected. We even saw a few Niv to Light decks taking slots away from this archetype, reinvigorating the question of which five-color Bring to Light deck is the best. I’m confident this deck has more to show in the future, especially as we get more multi-color spoilers like the latest Omnath, but for now, it seems like five-color decks might be in danger.

5-Color Enigmatic is the other five-color deck that has been struggling lately. Even with a strong matchup into arguably the best deck in Pioneer, the deck is still slow enough to get online that even your good matchups can steal games. With only two qualifying finishes, the deck is struggling to put up enough results to stay above D-Tier. I like the power of this deck and its engines, but the deck hasn’t been the same since we started seeing faster combo decks make their way into the format and in a world where there aren’t many midrange decks to bully, Enigmatic continues to struggle.

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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