A Look at Modern

Chris Cornejo Modern

Last Saturday, Mox Boarding House Seattle held a Modern 1Kinda. (Why “Kinda”? If enough players showed up, the event would pay out a total of $1,000 store credit in prizes, but since we can’t guarantee attendance, we can’t just straight up call it a 1K, so…1Kinda). Modern has been on the rise, and its popularity doesn’t seem to be waning given the 74-player turnout for the event. Which means, once again, we have another decent-sized data set to mine for information!

Take a look at all that data here. (NOTE: The tournament ended after the quarterfinals, as the Top 4 agreed to a prize split – so if some of the data looks a little funny or incomplete, that’s why).

Once again, I’ll throw out the caveat that this is, at best, a snapshot of the metagame as it existed on one day – don’t base all of your assumptions about the entire format on these results. But having a baseline idea of what a metagame looks like is useful, if only so you can see how it adjusts over time as decks shift to counter each other. Modern has been relatively stable for a while now – the last bans to hit the format were back in January, with Golgari Grave-Troll and Gitaxian Probe getting the axe. The Grave-Troll ban was clearly intended to keep the Dredge deck in check, while banning Probe hit a range of more aggressive decks (notably Jund Death’s Shadow at the time), to keep them from being able to determine when to take their “big turn” with certainty. Dredge has persevered despite losing Grave-Troll, still making plenty of appearances at tournaments, although not at the near-ubiquitous levels it was at in its prime. Losing Probe hit Infect the hardest, while the Death’s Shadow decks barely missed a step, switching from Jund to Grixis as the most popular variant.

Of the 74 players in attendance this past Saturday, twelve brought Grixis Shadow (just over 16% of the field). Eldrazi Tron was the next most popular with eight pilots, then Jund with seven, Abzan CoCo with six, and Burn with five. Those five decks made up just over half the field. The only thing missing that one might expect out of a current greatest-hits of the Modern metagame is Affinity, coming in just below the top half of most-represented decks with three players in attendance. Two players each came with W/U Control, Lantern Control, Abzan Delirium, and Jund Shadow, leaving 22 one-ofs – two of which (Jeskai Control and Scapeshift) ended up making Top 8.

Most of this is in line with what one could expect out of the larger Modern metagame, with one notable exception: U/R Storm only had a single pilot in this tournament, and that deck is currently one of the most popular combo decks in the format. Looking at percentages of metagame breakdowns around the internet, a 74-player tournament could reasonably expect four copies of the deck to be floating around.

Which of these decks performed best? We’re only looking at decks with multiple pilots, so while Scapeshift and Jeskai Control both placed in the Top 8, there’s not a lot we can infer from a single player’s performance.

Of the decks with multiple pilots, Burn had the highest match win percentage, at just over 58%. Interestingly, the more popular variant of the deck, Naya Burn, had a slightly lower win percentage, 54%. The Mono-Red Burn list that made it to Top 4 featured three copies of Bomat Courier, which helped the deck refill its hand once it started to run out of gas. Bomat Courier has popped up in Modern decks online every now and then, but almost always in Affinity as opposed to Red Deck Wins. It remains to be seen whether this piece of tech will catch on, but it’s a good use of an oddball card to shore up a known weakness.

Eldrazi Tron, Jund, and Abzan CoCo all had respectable showings as well, with match win percentages in the 54-55% range. Notably, Eldrazi Tron and Abzan CoCo did well against Grixis Shadow decks, while Jund performed well against Eldrazi Tron and Burn. Being able to do well against the other established decks of the format is key to success in any given tournament, and everyone seemed to be gunning for either Grixis Shadow or, in Jund’s case, against the decks that prey on it. Looking at Grixis Shadow’s performance, it might need a bit of tuning, as it had…not great results overall (just under 47% MWP), and especially not against some of the more prevalent decks that showed up (it had a 40% MWP against Abzan CoCo, and 33% against Burn and Eldrazi Tron). Grixis Shadow had a great match-up against Jund, but the deck may have to do some pivoting if it expects to keep up with such a big target on its back.

And that’s where Modern sits heading into Grand Prix Vegas. The format definitely has its Tier 1 decks, but there’s plenty of room in the metagame – any given deck that shows up properly tuned for the room seems to have at least a fighting chance of making a dent in the standings.

Once again, thanks to Shawn Yu for the number crunching. As always, you can purchase any cards, including those that made up the decklists of our Top 8, at Card Kingdom:

8) Shawn Tabrizi’s Abzan CoCo
7) Samuel Hriljac’s Jeskai Control
6) Curtis Giese’s Naya Zoo
5) Brad Rutherford’s Abzan CoCo
4) Matt Anders’s Scapeshift
3) Garrett DeBruin’s Burn
2) Wesley Higbee’s Jund
1) Tyler Gardner’s Grixis Shadow