Wizards of the Coast revealed today that they are happy with the current Pioneer metagame and that they hope to avoid banning any cards in the format until after Players Tour Finals Houston at the end of April.

“Generally, we’re happy with how the Pioneer metagame has been playing out over the past several weeks,” Wizards said. The format saw two new combo decks, Dimir Inverter and Lotus Breach, break out at Players Tour Series 1 at the beginning of February. Despite the community’s concerns about the strength of these new combo decks, Wizards said that “Magic Online data indicates that the matchups between the most popular decks are in a healthy place, with each having both won and lost matchups against the others.”

Pioneer’s boogeymen

To support its position, Wizards reported that Dimir Inverter has a 49% (non-mirror match) win rate on Magic Online in the last two weeks since the Players Tours—and that its win rate has been trending down—as well as unfavorable matchups against five of the other ten most-popular decks. Lotus Breach, on the other hand, has an even lower win percentage than Dimir Inverter (though Wizards declined to give a number) and poor matchups against “most” of the other top decks, especially in sideboarded games as many decks have access to Damping Sphere or similar answers.

Pioneer’s third major combo deck, Heliod Ballista, has avoided much controversy in part because of its lower representation at February’s Players Tours. Despite having a similar instant-win combo to that of Dimir Inverter and Lotus Breach, Wizards says that the deck isn’t “showing up at play rates we consider problematic. In addition, many decks that include the combo do so alongside another primary game plan, which means more diversity of gameplay and fewer games ending with the combo finish.”

Heliod and Walking Ballista form an infinite combo

“In general,” Wizards continued, “we’re okay with combo having a presence in the Pioneer metagame, but it is certainly possible to have combos that are too strong or too prevalent. Combo decks can be unhealthy in large doses, especially when they are difficult to interact with, win quickly, or win too often.” They believe that the Magic Online data shows that none of the three combo decks have pushed over that line yet.

“We’ll continue to monitor the popularity and win rate of combo decks in Pioneer and are willing to make changes in the future if necessary,” Wizards said. However, “our hope is not to make any changes until after the Players Tour Finals: Houston in late April.”

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