Tier List Companion – May 17, 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 (Add in our deck links)

Moved Up

Rakdos Midrange

Lotus Field Combo

Omnath to Light

Rakdos Sacrifice


Niv to Light


Rakdos Midrange moves back into S-Tier once again. While for the past few months, Rakdos has sat at the top of Pioneer most weeks, this weekend the deck put up a staggering thirty-two qualifying finishes. That’s 23% of the winner’s metagame that we track and twelve more finishes than second place, which itself is nine finishes above third place. While it lost the finals of the Pioneer challenge this weekend, it made up half of the top eight.

The deck consistently attacks the format through Thoughtseize, clean removal, and efficient threats like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Bloodtithe Harvester. Add in the flexibility to pivot into a more aggressive or controlling deck to attack the opponent’s strategy and you have a deck that stands above the rest of the format. Unlike many top decks in the past, Rakdos has plenty of difficult matchups in decks like Niv to Light, Omnath to Light, Lotus Field Combo, and Abzan Greasefang. However, these decks get attacked by other decks in the metagame, keeping their representation low enough that Rakdos can easily win an event without having to fight too many tough matchups in the top tables.

Creativity continues putting up strong results in the Prelims with eleven qualifying finishes. We’ve seen three different win conditions out of the Creativity decks, but it appears that the Torrential Gearhulk version is trending towards being the stock-standard version. With eight finishes of the eleven using the six-mana artifact over Worldspine Wurm or Atraxa.

Lotus Field Combo moves back up this weekend after nine qualifying finishes. As the aggro decks in the format are pushed down by Rakdos Midrange, Creativity, and Bring to Light decks doing well right now, it means that Lotus Field can easily go over the top of the midrange and control decks of the format. If we see more midrange and control making their way up the tier list, then Lotus Field will rise alongside them as we’ve seen before.

The pair of Bring to Light decks in Niv to Light and Omnath to Light continue to do well into Rakdos Midrange and the aggro decks of the format. With Niv winning the challenge in the hands of Bring to Light champion Claudioh, it’s worth seeing if Niv-Mizzet Supreme can help bolster the deck even further. Niv had two qualifying finishes and Omnath to Light had an additional four, giving this combination of decks a strong showing of six qualifying finishes. Especially with Rakdos Midrange being the top deck of the format, these value pile decks are great options to win the mid to late game.

Angels has started showing up again with five qualifying finishes. The deck is a great way to attack Rakdos Midrange while still doing well into the aggro decks of the format. While Control is a little absent in the wake of March of Machines and Aftermath, the deck has a window to pop back up in the metagame alongside the other green-white midrange value deck. Both decks leverage Collected Company and Kayla’s Reconstruction to help outvalue Rakdos Midrange and other one-for-one decks.

Rakdos Sacrifice had a solid weekend with four qualifying finishes and with Aftermath giving the deck a new tool in Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin, the deck was poised to perform. With a strong matchup into Rakdos Midrange, there’s plenty of reasons to be interested in this deck moving forward, especially if we see some more creature decks start to show up in the metagame. If we see more decks like Niv to Light, Omnath to Light, and Green Devotion seeing lots of representation, then the deck may continue to struggle as it has in the past.

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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