With the Pro Tour imminent, many qualified players and modern enthusiasts are pouring over any relevant data as it becomes available in an attempt to analyze and predict the metagame. It’s exciting to watch a format shape and react to itself. We have a fair sample size of tournament results to go over, some fringe lists to get excited about, and some reflections before Pro Tour Fate Reforged defines the gauntlet of top decks this weekend.

Craig Wescoe wrote an excellent article on TCGPlayer last week that broke down the new modern format and the predicted metagame. A very worthwhile read for anyone looking for a detailed overview of Modern, with a bevy of exemplary decklists for each major archetype. The goal of my data is to present the present snapshot of what has actually shown up to the top tables at every recorded tournament, both in paper and on Magic Online, since the format adjusted to recent bannings.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily hold relevance to the metagame at the Pro Tour. But what it does give us is a view of what is being tested, and the percentages these shells hold within the current sample size. Some factors, such as the MTGO metagame being a unique ecosystem, are important to consider when applying this data to  your gauntlet of top tier decks.

To start, let’s break down groups by strategy. I like Wescoe’s dividing factors of ‘linear aggro’ ‘combo’ and ‘midrange’ instead of my previous breakdown, so i’ll be using these delineations going forward. The percentage beside each archetype represents the slice of the format sample size, which as of this Tuesday is 179 lists.


Burn – 11.17% 

Affinity – 7.26 % 

Hatebears – 3.9% 

Zoo – 3.35% 

Merfolk – 3.35% 

Auras – 2.79% 

Dredgevine – 2.2% 

Infect – 1.1% 

Delver – 0.55% 


Interestingly, this grouping is dominated by a deck well represented on Magic Online, but many i’ve spoken to about the overarching metagame, as well as my own viewpoint, see burn decks as a popular MTGO deck while being far less so in paper. That being said, Shahar Shenhar took a Cruise Burn deck to Worlds this year, and it certainly puts up a fight against two of the formats more popular decks: Splinter Twin and Abzan Midrange. So it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if burn showed up in DC this weekend.

There were a few lists that caught my attention…


Planeswalker (3)
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

Creature (23)
Arcbound Ravager
Etched Champion
Signal Pest
Vault Skirge

Spells (6)

Artifact (12)
Cranial Plating
Mox Opal
Springleaf Drum

Land (16)
Darksteel Citadel
Blinkmoth Nexus
City of Brass
Inkmoth Nexus
Sideboard (15)
Back to Nature
Relic of Progenitus
Ancient Grudge
Blood Moon
Spell Pierce

A slower, denser build of Affinity with the ability to make your Mox Opals 5/5’s? Sign me up! I love the power this deck has in the late game. Tezzeret is resilient to all the artifact hate people bring in from the sideboard, and can ensoul everything on your board. Animate Nexus, activate Tezzeret, swing in for 5 poison?


Creatures (33)
Aven Mindcensor
Baneslayer Angel
Birds of Paradise
Leonin Arbiter
Loxodon Smiter
Noble Hierarch
Qasali Pridemage
Scavenging Ooze
Voice of Resurgence
Wilf-Leaf Liege
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thrun, the Last Troll

Spells (4)
Path to Exile
Lands (23)
Ghost Quarter
Horizon Canopy
Razorverge Thicket
Stirring Wildwood
Tectonic Edge
Temple Garden

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Mirran Crusader
Stony Silence
Fracturing Gust
Gaddock Teeg
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Creeping Corrosion

This build of Hatebears finished second at the most recent Starcity Games modern tournament in Indianapolis. Note the lack of Aether Vial. This list is pure dudes, and capitalizes on board-centric disruption and a constant stream of efficient threats. It seems tailor made to beat Abzan with 4 Smiter, 2 Wilf-Leaf Liege, and a million land disruption elements. This style of deck is a great metagame call, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these builds came out of the woodwork over the next few weeks if the metagame stays the way it is.

We are definitely in a proactive, aggressive metagame, and the large presence of aggressive decks certainly speaks to the current state of Modern.


Abzan Midrange – 14.5%

Jeskai Midrange- 5.02% 

Tribal Zoo – 2.23% 

Jund Midrange- 2.23% 

Mono-U Tron – 2.23% 

Mono-Green Nykthos- 1.67% 

Big Boros – 1.1% 

Assault Loam – 0.55% 

4 Color Gifts – 0.55%

Faeries – 0.55%

Naya Ghostway – 0.55%

Martyr of Sands – 0.55%

Bant Conscription – 0.55%

Cruel Ultimatum – 0.55%

Enduring Ideal – 0.55%

Blue Moon – 0.55%

8 Rack – 0.55%

BW Tokens – 0.55%


 No surprise here, as everyone knows Abzan is the top midrange deck right now. The interesting thing about Abzan, when viewing the lists as a whole, is the high variance in builds. There is no right way to build the deck, but you have to predict the metagame and build Abzan around it. It’s a powerful deck with a lot of viable choices, and i’m very interested to see what styles of Abzan show up to the Pro Tour. The main points of contention is whether or not to use Dark Confidant. I would err on the side of using Bob Maher myself, as its the single card in Abzan decks that grants an incredible advantage if left unchecked.

Jeskai has a decent presence, and several builds have shown up, from Snapcaster Mage / Keranos, God of Storms control with Sphinx’s Revelation, to Geist of Saint Traft midrange lists. The old Bolt / Path / Helix team is back and I definitely expect the Shaun MacClarens of the world to show up sporting an updated list this weekend.

Some midrange hotness…


Creatures (21)
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Hero of Bladehold
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Restoration Angel
Simian Spirit Guide
Wall of Omens

Artifact (3)
Chalice of the Void

Enchantment (4)
Blood Moon

Spells (8)
Lightning Helix
Lands (24)
Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats
Rugged Prairie
Sacred Foundry
Temple of Triumph

Sideboard (15)
Rest in Peace
Wear // Tear
Leyline of Sanctity
Stony Silence

I posted a list like this one a few weeks ago, as it got me excited pre-bannings. Turns out someone else still thinks its worth playing, and worth keeping in Chalice of the Void. Blood Moon comes and goes in Modern, and this deck stomps its feet while saying Moon is still a relevant card. And the truth is, sometimes you do get people with a Moon. But most of the time a competent pilot can play around it. This is probably the top list I want to try in the current meta, but don’t quite have the balls to sleeve it up.


Splinter Twin – 10%

G/R Tron – 4.47%

Bloom Titan – 3.9%

Scapeshift – 3.35%

Storm – 2.23%

Titan Breach – 1.67%

Ad Nauseum/Unlife – 1.1%

Living End – 0.55%

Goryo’s Vengeance – 0.55%

Melira Combo – 0.55%


Not much to say here. Similarly to the midrange grouping, Splinter Twin is the obvious combo deck of choice right now. It’s always been a top tier strategy, and it’s performing well even in the giant face of Abrupt Decay is due to the raw power level and speed this deck is capable of. Twin sideboards well and can still just win on turn four sometimes. Free wins aint nothing to sneeze at. The threat of Splinter Twin is sometimes more powerful than casting it, and anyone who has lost in 5 minutes to this deck knows how bad that feels. It happens to me more often than I care to think about. But hey, that’s Magic!

Other notables are the downshift in Scapeshift. It’s tied right now with Amulet / Bloom and G/R Tron, more or less. It’s not surprising though. This is a proactive metagame, where many aggressive creature decks and disruptive midrange decks are dominating. Remand and Cryptic Command, while still present, are a lot less effective in the meta. At least for now.

A few more days until we get to see what the Pros think of all this. I for one could not be more excited to watch Modern all weekend. Tune in next week when we go over the results from the Pro Tour! Until then, may all your Tarmogoyfs be large!

Derek Gallen lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY.

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