A Look at Legacy

Chris Cornejo Legacy

Last weekend, Mox Boarding House Seattle held a Legacy 1K/Grand Prix Trial for GP Las Vegas (a moment of silence for Grand Prix Trials, please). Seattle has a thriving Legacy scene, with a lot of players deeply invested in the format, as shown by the 72-player turnout. What does this mean for you? We have a good-sized tournament from which to mine some data.

Granted, this is just a single tournament – maybe don’t base all your thoughts on a format off one set of results. But with Legacy being greatly shaken up by the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top, getting a snapshot every now and then of what the format looks like can be useful to see how the metagame adjusts without its premier control deck, Miracles.

With that in mind, here’s the raw data!

First off, what showed up? The most represented deck was Grixis Delver, with seven players piloting the deck. Sneak and Show was second, with five copies, and then with four copies each were Storm (ANT), Sultai Delver, and Burn.

There is not one dedicated control deck in the top five most represented decks, and if we go a little further, the first deck that can reasonably classified as “control” is the Jeskai Rest in Peace deck, with two players bringing it to the tournament. There are decks that certainly have control elements to them, but are commonly seen as midrange (Jeskai Stoneblade, Sultai Midrange), or tempo-control decks looking to close games out quickly (Death and Taxes, the various Delver decks). The format has definitely sped up a bit. As a judge, I am so happy that rounds are mostly ending on time again.

Next, what did well? Looking at the Top 8, there’s a good mix of aggro (two Grixis Delver decks, Burn) combo (Elves, Storm) and tempo-control (Jeskai Stoneblade, Death and Taxes), but it was the slowest deck, Lands, that ended up winning. It helps that Lands does have a combo element that enables the deck to make a 20/20 flying spaghetti monster very quickly, but of the decks in the Top 8, it certainly has the most long-game inevitably baked into its core.

Looking at the whole tournament, the decks with more than one pilot and over a 50% win rate were the following: Grixis Delver, Storm, Burn, Bant Deathblade, Death and Taxes, Lands, Jeskai Stoneblade, Sultai Midrange, Elves, and the Rest in Peace deck. Elves, Lands, and Jeskai Stoneblade all had win rates of over 60%, and all are relatively versatile decks that can pivot their game plan depending on what they’re facing. Burn and Storm both had win rates right around 60%, and both decks have a very sharp focus in how they win, benefitting greatly from a skilled pilot.

Notably, Storm (the Ad Nauseam/Tendrils build, specifically) had a 4-1 record against the Grixis Delver deck. Both decks were regarded as premier decks in the format heading into the weekend, and both proved to be well-represented and strong in this tournament. But Storm’s advantage against the most represented deck at the tournament makes it worth keeping an eye on – Grixis Delver might need to make some adjustments to shore up its matchup against the combo deck. Elves also performed well against Grixis Delver, going undefeated in their three matches. Given its strong showing, Grixis Delver looks to be good against the field, but if these sorts of results persist, it might have a few exploitable holes in its current configuration.

Sneak and Show is having a bit of a resurgence, now that Miracles (and Terminus) had its legs cut out from under it. However, while well-represented, the deck had the definition of a mediocre showing, with a flat 50% win rate. It did flawlessly against Burn, one of its better match-ups, but struggled against decks that still carry control elements, such as Jeskai Stoneblade and Grixis Delver. The deck got a boost from the Sensei’s Divining Top ban, but might need another shift or two in the metagame before it can be called Tier 1.

With Stoneblade decks making a comeback and bringing Batterskull and Umezawa’s Jitte into heavier rotation, Burn players were a little nervous – they actually had a pretty decent Miracles match-up, and there was some talk of the deck taking a hit due to the recent bannings. The deck still looks quite strong, however, having good showings against everything but Sneak and Show and Lands, two decks with which Burn has historically had trouble. Lands may seem a little counterintuitive as a hard Burn match-up, but the deck’s ability to make an indestructible flying 20/20 by turn two or three with a good draw gives it a solid game plan against Burn. Cards like Zuran Orb and Glacial Chasm can also give Burn headaches, as Orb essentially negates what should be one of Burn’s best cards in the match-up, Price of Progress. But with its strong showings against the rest of the field, Burn remains a dark horse to spike any given tournament in the hands of skilled pilot.

And that’s our snapshot of the Legacy metagame about a month into a post-Miracles landscape. We’ll continue to keep an eye on how the format evolves over time, as Legacy is the most volatile it’s been in recent memory.

Special thanks to Shawn Yu for providing the standings and metagame analysis. You can also purchase all our Top 8 decklists from Card Kingdom, including:

8) Kelvin Wallace’s Grixis Delver
7) Miles Wallio’s Elves
6) Josh Monks’ Death and Taxes
5) Michael Wallio’s Grixis Delver
4) Patrick Tierney’s Storm
3) Neil Henly’s Jeskai Deathblade
2) Isaac Espada’s Burn
1) Alex Staver’s Lands

Header design: Justin Treadway
Header art: “Delver of Secrets” by Nils Hamm