Tier List Companion – May 10, 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

New to the List


Moved Down

Abzan Greasefang



We had another large data week with plenty of Preliminary events along with the normal challenges. We saw the same handful of top decks in Rakdos Midrange and Green Devotion, which had 24 and 19 qualified finishes, respectively. With the next-highest deck with only 13 finishes, it continues to show that the format has a pair of top decks.

After Rakdos and Devotion, we see Creativity starting to pick up once again. The Pro Tour-winning deck had to make some adjustments after Leyline Binding and other ways to interact with Worldspine Wurm started making more appearances in the metagame. We’ve seen three different versions of Creativity: the Pro Tour-style combo deck, a version that uses Atraxa as a powerful value endgame, and the current best version, which uses Torrential Gearhulk for repeated value. While the best version will depend on the metagame, this past weekend, we saw ten copies of the Gearhulk version to only three of the combo version. After winning a challenge last weekend, Creativity using Gearhulk is poised to continue climbing the tier list once again.

Azorius Control struggled for a week or two as we projected due to the changing metagame after March of Machines. Now, we’ve started seeing the metagame start to solidify and as expected, control is finding better footing. With 12 qualifying finishes – along with four for Dimir Control – don’t sleep on control heading into your RCQs this weekend.

With Creativity seeing more success, we’re seeing some of the creature decks that were already struggling against Rakdos continuing to struggle – especially when we look at the upstart Rogues deck and Spirits, both of which struggled more this past week. With only two finishes for Rogues and two for Azorius Spirits, creature decks are trending back down towards the bottom of the table. Unless we see a big shift at the top of the metagame, expect the top decks to stay somewhat static until Aftermath shakes things up again.

If we are looking at creature decks that can fight through removal, one doesn’t need to look far, as Auras made its way back onto the tier list this week. A deck built around making a singular hexproof threat and maxing its stats out with enchantments goes a long way at beating the various removal-heavy decks that don’t have sweepers. While the deck can really struggle into Azorius Control, you’re much more likely to run into a Fatal Push or red removal spell than a wrath right now. Auras managed four qualifying finishes this week, but we are still waiting to see the deck make an impact on the challenges as all four finishes were in the preliminary events.

Next up, we have the other deck that slid a bit this week in Abzan Greasefang. While the deck didn’t lose any tools, other decks got much more from MoM than Greasefang. The deck continues to operate well in a vacuum, but as we see Creativity do better, we run into the issue of more Rending Volleys. In addition, Leyline Binding and other instant-speed ways to interact with Parhelion II are on the uptick, leaving the deck few ways to combo safely. If Greasefang can’t combo, it becomes a mediocre midrange deck that can beat other fair decks, but not many control decks or over-the-top decks.

Lastly, keep an eye out on the Selesnya Midrange creature decks. Several pilots took the deck to reasonable finishes this weekend including a Top 8 finish in the challenge. We’ve seen this style of deck show up before – thanks to Collected Company and Kayla’s Reconstruction – and these versions are no different. Any deck with good value creatures and powerful ways to two-for-one opponents gives the deck a chance into the various removal and midrange decks of the format. While the deck may disappear in a week or two – at least for now, I’ve got an eye on it.  

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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