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Hope Eternal—The Road to DC: Mid-Atlantic Metagame Analysis

We are now exactly one month away from the only east coast Legacy Grand Prix (and sadly, next year, we will only have one North American GP; send angry letters to WotC! [/rant]), which for myself and many of our readers will be the pinnacle Magic event of the year. With that said, I thought it might be useful to make use of my column space for this week to help prepare for this event. Now, you’re probably looking at the title and saying, “But Tim, how can we possibly analyze a metagame as diverse as Legacy? It’s so wide open that trying to prepare for a metagame seems futile!” Well I’m glad you asked, because something I’ve heard echoed time and again is that while Legacy is an incredibly diverse format, metagames tend to have a regional bias. That is, a theory exists that certain regional pockets might have a lot of control decks, while another region might be very combo-heavy, and then some regions might have a bias towards blue-based fair decks. I’ve never thoroughly investigated this theory, but with a huge event on the horizon, now seems as good a time as any to see if we can use it to gleam any useful information.

I decided to aggregate the results of all SCG Legacy Opens within a four-hour driving radius of DC between now and December of last year. I was originally going to only use the year-to-date data, but there was an Open in Baltimore, last December, which was close enough to my cutoff and adds a relevant data-point. I didn’t use any earlier Open results, because the next one back would be the DC Open in August of 2012, which would give us too much faulty data; the DC Open took place before Return to Ravnica infiltrated the format with the now-ubiquitous staples, Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman, both of which significantly changed the landscape of the format. The only thing to be wary of with my analysis is that they will skew against decks that became popular late into the one-year period we are looking at, such as the UR/Grixis lists that run Young Pyromancer.

Looking at the results within this one-year period, I took the top 16 decks from each event and applied Frank Karsten’s “winner’s circle” metagame analysis that is frequently used by Patrick Chapin in his SCG Premium articles (and I’m giving it away for free; I’m doing a pretty poor job of living up to my “Evil Tim” nickname). The way this works is as follows: we will assign each archetype two points for finishing 9th-16th, three points for 5th-8th, four points for 3rd-4th, five points for 2nd, and six points for 1st, then average out the data from the eight events to arrive at what the expected metagame should look like. First, we’ll examine the results for each specific archetype, and then we’ll see if we can combine any of them (e.g. Sneak and Show + Omniclash = Show and Tell Combo, ANT + TES = Storm, etc.).

Here are the events that we are using for our data:

  • SCG Baltimore – 2012-12-02
  • SCG Edison – 2013-02-10
  • SCG Washington – 2013-03-17
  • SCG Baltimore – 2013-06-02
  • SCG Philadelphia – 2013-06-23
  • SCG Somerset – 2013-07-28
  • SCG Baltimore – 2013-08-25
  • SCG Philadelphia – 2013-09-08

Notably absent is the SCG Somerset Invitational, due to the dual-format nature of the event, and the fact that the top-8 battled it out in Standard fashion.

Below are our initial results (top ten are bolded). I am going to refer to the metagame percentage yielded through this methodology as the K-Score, since it was created by Frank Karsten.

Rank Archetype K-Score
1 Sneak and Show 9.574
2 RUG Delver 7.447
2 Esper Stoneblade 7.447
4 Esper Deathblade 7.181
5 Shardless BUG 6.915
6 TES 6.383
7 UWR Delver 6.117
8 Reanimator 4.787
9 ANT 4.255
10 Mono-Blue Omni-Tell 3.989
11 Death and Taxes 3.723
12 BUG Delver 3.457
13 Dark Maverick 3.191
13 UWr Miracles 3.191
15 LED Dredge 2.394
16 Elves 2.128
16 Goblins 2.128
18 Punishing Jund 1.862
19 Mono-Red Painter 1.596
19 Waterfalls 1.596
21 MUD 1.064
21 BUG Control 1.064
23 Manaless Dredge 0.798
23 WBR Deathblade 0.798
23 12-post 0.798
23 BUG Midrange 0.798
27 bURG Delver 0.532
27 Lands 0.532
27 Merfolk 0.532
27 Affinity 0.532
27 Maverick 0.532
27 UB Tezzeret 0.532
27 Belcher 0.532
27 UR Delver 0.532
27 Jund 0.532
27 Scapeshift 0.532

If you’d like to look at this data in a different way, I created a weighting system that takes the date of results into account. I decided to set up my model to give 100% weight to the most recent event (9/8/2013) and a 10% weight to the farthest back event (12/2/2012) with a linear rate of decay. For those that care about this sort of thing, the formula I ended up using to determine the weight of each top-16 showing was:

=100-(9/8/2013 – date of event)*0.321427

The weight was then multiplied by the K-Score to give a T-Score (because it’s MY methodology). Below are the results, sorted by T-Score, with the K-Score and K-Score rank included for comparison. I have also included a column to show the T-Score/K-Score to show which archetypes are “trending up.” What exactly do I mean by this? If the time-sensitive T-Score is higher than the K-Score, then the archetype has been more popular recently, while if the K-Score is lower, the archetype’s popularity (and/or its ability to put up a high finish) has waned a bit. In short, if T/K is > 1, the archetype is trending up, while if T/K < 1, the archetype is trending down. If you see any flaws in this methodology, please bring them up in the comments, as I am not claiming to be an expert on this sort of thing and am winging it a bit with some of the metrics I am creating. If you have suggestions on a better model to use, I can be convinced to try running it your way and including those results, as well.

Rank Archetype T-Score K-Score K-Rank T/K
1 Sneak and Show 8.421 9.574 1 0.88
2 RUG Delver 8.344 7.447 2 1.12
3 Esper Deathblade 8.078 7.181 4 1.12
4 Shardless BUG 7.721 6.915 5 1.12
5 TES 6.603 6.383 6 1.03
6 Reanimator 6.426 4.787 8 1.34
7 UWR Delver 6.199 6.117 7 1.01
8 Death and Taxes 5.115 3.723 11 1.37
9 Mono-Blue Omni-Tell 4.941 3.989 10 1.24
10 ANT 4.832 4.255 9 1.14
11 Dark Maverick 3.658 3.191 13 1.15
12 Esper Stoneblade 3.538 7.447 2 0.48
13 Elves 2.750 2.128 16 1.29
14 Goblins 2.640 2.128 16 1.24
15 Punishing Jund 2.594 1.862 18 1.39
16 UWr Miracles 2.422 3.191 13 0.76
17 Mono-Red Painter 2.365 1.596 19 1.48
18 BUG Delver 2.093 3.457 12 0.61
19 Waterfalls 1.486 1.596 19 0.93
20 Manaless Dredge 1.237 0.798 23 1.55
20 WBR Deathblade 1.237 0.798 23 1.55
22 bURG Delver 0.825 0.532 27 1.55
22 Lands 0.825 0.532 27 1.55
22 Merfolk 0.825 0.532 27 1.55
25 Affinity 0.788 0.532 27 1.48
26 MUD 0.734 1.064 21 0.69
27 LED Dredge 0.691 2.394 15 0.29
28 Maverick 0.569 0.532 27 1.07
28 UB Tezzeret 0.569 0.532 27 1.07
30 12-post 0.413 0.798 23 0.52
31 Belcher 0.276 0.532 27 0.52
31 UR Delver 0.276 0.532 27 0.52
33 BUG Control 0.185 1.064 21 0.17
34 BUG Midrange 0.139 0.798 23 0.17
35 Jund 0.092 0.532 27 0.17
35 Scapeshift 0.092 0.532 27 0.17

Now, let’s try collapsing some of these very similar archetypes into one line. We will combine the following:

  • Shardless BUG + BUG Control + BUG Midrange = BUG
  • Maverick + Dark Maverick = Maverick
  • Jund + Punishing Jund = Jund
  • LED Dredge + Manaless Dredge = Dredge
  • RUG Delver + UR Delver + bURG Delver + UWR Delver + BUG Delver = Delver Tempo
  • Esper Deathblade + Esper Stoneblade = Esper Blade
  • Mono-Blue Omni-Tell + Sneak and Show = Show and Tell Combo
  • TES + ANT = Storm Combo
  • Merfolk + Goblins + Death and Taxes = Aether Vial Resouce Denial
  • Everything else was left as-is

Results are in the two tables below, sorted by K-Score T-Score, respectively.

Results by K-Score:

K-Rank Archetype K-Score T-Score T-Rank T/K
1 Delver Tempo 18.085 17.737 1 0.98
2 Esper Blade 14.628 11.616 3 0.79
3 Show and Tell Combo 13.564 13.362 2 0.99
4 Storm Combo 10.638 11.435 4 1.07
5 BUG 8.777 8.044 6 0.92
6 Aether Vial Resouce Denial 6.383 8.580 5 1.34
7 Reanimator 4.787 6.426 7 1.34
8 Maverick 3.723 4.227 8 1.14
9 UWr Miracles 3.191 2.422 11 0.76
9 Dredge 3.191 1.928 13 0.60
11 Jund 2.394 2.687 10 1.12
12 Elves 2.128 2.750 9 1.29
13 Mono-Red Painter 1.596 2.365 12 1.48
13 Waterfalls 1.596 1.486 14 0.93
15 MUD 1.064 0.734 18 0.69
16 12-post 0.798 0.413 20 0.52
17 WBR Deathblade 0.798 1.237 15 1.55
18 Lands 0.532 0.825 16 1.55
18 Affinity 0.532 0.788 17 1.48
18 UB Tezzeret 0.532 0.569 19 1.07
18 Belcher 0.532 0.276 21 0.52
18 Scapeshift 0.532 0.092 22 0.17

Results by T-Score:

T-Rank Archetype T-Score K-Score K-Rank T/K
1 Delver Tempo 17.737 18.085 1 0.98
2 Show and Tell Combo 13.362 13.564 3 0.99
3 Esper Blade 11.616 14.628 2 0.79
4 Storm Combo 11.435 10.638 4 1.07
5 Aether Vial Resouce Denial 8.580 6.383 6 1.34
6 BUG 8.044 8.777 5 0.92
7 Reanimator 6.426 4.787 7 1.34
8 Maverick 4.227 3.723 8 1.14
9 Elves 2.750 2.128 12 1.29
10 Jund 2.687 2.394 11 1.12
11 UWr Miracles 2.422 3.191 9 0.76
12 Mono-Red Painter 2.365 1.596 13 1.48
13 Dredge 1.928 3.191 9 0.60
14 Waterfalls 1.486 1.596 13 0.93
15 WBR Deathblade 1.237 0.798 17 1.55
16 Lands 0.825 0.532 18 1.55
17 Affinity 0.788 0.532 18 1.48
18 MUD 0.734 1.064 15 0.69
19 UB Tezzeret 0.569 0.532 18 1.07
20 12-post 0.413 0.798 16 0.52
21 Belcher 0.276 0.532 18 0.52
22 Scapeshift 0.092 0.532 18 0.17

What can we gleam from this information? For one thing, expect to see a fair share of combo. If we are defining combo as the super group of Show and Tell, Storm, Reanimator, Painter, Dredge, Belcher, and Scapeshift, then you have a K-Score of 34.84% and a T-Score of 35.88%. Whether we weigh everything equally or put more emphasis on more recent events, over one third of the field is combo. Prepare your sideboards accordingly. We also can tell that Delver Tempo archetypes are very popular. Don’t blindly run yourself into Dazes and Stifles! The two groups with the highest T/K (with at least 5%) are Aether Vial Resource Denial (AVRD) decks and, shockingly, Reanimator. It’s good to see this old archetype still not only maintain a metagame presence in a field full of Deathrite Shamans, but also actually have a greater portion of its success more recently. Even if the representation of each archetype stays close to the above percentages, you must remember that Legacy is a diverse format. Don’t blame me if you get paired against Cephalid Breakfast or Spanish Inquisition in round one and you don’t know what to do. You will probably see at least one archetype that is not on this list if you play through all of day one. Still though, these lists above can be useful when considering your gauntlet for DC.

“Evil” Tim Akpinar is one of Brooklyn’s finest durdlers. If there’s a top-tier control deck in the meta, you can bet he’s spent a minute taking it apart to see what makes it tick. If it wraths and draws cards, “Evil” Tim Akpinar approves. You can find Tim on Twitter/Twitch @efil4zaknupome or on MODO under the username ziggy_stardust. 

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