Frank Karsten’s Data-Driven Pioneer Power Rankings – 6/28/22

Pioneer, the format for the first round of Regional Championships and the first Pro Tour, was recently shaken up by the ban of Winota, Joiner of Forces and Expressive Iteration. It revitalized the format, and today I’m presenting the first Pioneer Power Rankings.

My ranking is based on all top Magic Online deck lists from Pioneer Preliminary, Pioneer Challenge and Pioneer Showcase Challenge events held since the banning of Winota and Expressive Iteration on June 7 up to June 28. These Magic Online deck list pages only provide final standings and deck lists of players with positive records. They don’t provide round-by-round results nor the deck lists of players with negative records, which means that I can’t determine win rates of archetypes or pure metagame shares. Instead, with the data available, I calculated a metric that weighs popularity and performance.

My metric assigns points to each deck equal to its number of match wins in the tournament minus its number of match losses in that tournament. Swiss rounds are handled in the same way as Top 8 rounds. For example, a deck that went 4-1 in a Pioneer Preliminary was assigned three points, and a deck that went 7-1 in the Swiss in a Pioneer challenge followed by a loss in the quarterfinals was assigned five points. Afterwards, I assigned each deck to an archetype, added up all the points for every archetype and computed the relative percentages. The resulting record-weighed metagame share yields an elegant way to obtain a “winner’s metagame.” Finally, I determined aggregate deck lists for every archetype via a custom-made neural network that favors the most commonly played cards in the right quantities for each archetype, while cleverly putting more weights on the card choices in top-performing lists and while keeping an eye on optimal land counts and companions.



Header - C-Tier

My first Pioneer Power Rankings is comprised of 15 archetypes in total, split between (a relatively arbitrary) S-tier, A-tier and B-tier. 15 archetypes is already a lot, but Pioneer is quite diverse, and it hurts to leave a bunch of them off. So if I would be using a C-tier, then I would be comprised of the following archetypes, each with a record-weighed winner’s metagame share between 0.5 percent and 1.0 percent:

In the list above, each archetype name hyperlinks to a representative, well-performing MTGO deck list. These hyperlinked deck lists can act as an inspiring treasure trove for the brewers among you.


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2 thoughts on “Frank Karsten’s Data-Driven Pioneer Power Rankings – 6/28/22”

  1. “Notably absent from these Pioneer Power Rankings are Greasefang, Mono-Green Stompy and Fight Rigging decks. All of them have found a sizeable foothold in Explorer, but they saw little to no play in Pioneer over the past few weeks. The main explanation for this difference is the dominance of Mono-Green Devotion. Karn, the Great Creator simply shuts down the crew ability on Parhelion II, so Greasefang is very poorly positioned.”

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