Full Modern Matchup Matrix From Dallas and What it Means for the Mythic Championship

Mythic Championship IV is this weekend and will feature a Modern format brand new once again. The format changed quite a bit after the release of War of the Spark, then it changed quite a bit more with Modern Horizons, and finally some of the latest changes were dialed back through the banning of Bridge from Below.

The most recent Modern Grand Prix took place before the Bridge ban, so in some respects its results don’t reflect the current state of affairs. However, in some respects they probably do. For example, the hugely popular Izzet Phoenix posted a significant losing record. The massively scaled up attendance of Infect ended in a large-scale retreat, and traditional Tron failed to carry on tradition: Back in April, Tron had won a GP and had been the most-played deck at Mythic Championship II. Two months later in Dallas, the deck didn’t put a single player into the Top 128.

Meanwhile, the true breakout strategy of the event was Eldrazi Tron. It proved more successful even than the mighty Bridgevine. In fact, all kinds of decks with four Karn, the Great Creator and four Chalice of the Void did well, including Prison both of the mono-red and the Whir of Invention variety. Similarly to how Eldrazi Tron supplanted the more colorful Tron, the best Arclight Phoenix build of the weekend was mono-red rather than Izzet.

It is possible to attribute some of these peculiarities to the presence of an overpowered Bridgevine deck. But it is unlikely that Bridgevine caused all of them. Without a doubt, many of these developments will endure.

What Beat What in Modern?

It also makes sense to turn to Dallas for data, because a Grand Prix with 1,240 players and 15 rounds plus playoffs generates so much more data than any other kind of tournament. To be precise, I looked at all 23,906 completed matches to find out about every deck’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Below I am listing the p-value for each of the various matchup records. This measures how likely it would be for a deck without an actual edge to achieve the observed record or something more extreme. A lower p-value thus suggests a more significant edge in a matchup. As usual, I am excluding wholly insignificant results, although this time I am including results teetering on the brink of significance at up to p=0.07.

The most played decks completed the most matches and yielded the most reliable data. Though the number one deck was all about Bridge from Below, so let’s skip that. Bridge is so June 2019. Instead, let’s start with the second most popular deck.

Izzet Phoenix …

  • won 100% of 4 matches versus Goblins (p=0.063)
  • lost 65.6% of 32 matches versus W/U Control (p=0.055)
  • lost 72.2% of 18 matches versus Colorless Eldrazi (p=0.048)
  • lost 66.7% of 33 matches versus Red Prowess (p=0.04)
  • lost 73.7% of 19 matches versus Tron (p=0.032)
  • lost 67.5% of 40 matches versus Burn (p=0.019)

I’m not kidding here. Neither are the results mucking about. Izzet Phoenix really had its most significant winning record against Goblins. The deck also went 16-9 versus Devoted Vizier, but 16-9 is way less significant (p=0.115) than any of the above.

The above also doesn’t support the theory that Izzet Phoenix suffered, directly or indirectly, from the presence of Bridgevine. Its record versus Bridgevine itself was negative but insignificant. Neither do I believe that Izzet Phoenix took a lot of splash damage from graveyard hate intended for Hogaak in many of these matchups. For example, did White-Blue Control players even bring in Rest in Peace, or did they leave things at Surgical Extraction plus Snapcaster Mage?

No, the above suggests that Izzet Phoenix had difficulty dealing with War veterans Narset, Parter of Veils and Karn, the Great Creator. That’s what changed about White-Blue and Eldrazi Tron, respectively. At most, Izzet players suffered because the extra slots they themselves devoted to graveyard hate took away from artifact removal and other tools. Things might get better with the addition of Fry and the subtraction of Bridge from Below. But Karn and Narset aren’t going anywhere.

White-Blue Control …

  • won 87.5% of 16 matches versus Rock (p=0.002)
  • won 65.6% of 32 matches versus Izzet Phoenix (p=0.055)
  • won 100% of 4 matches versus Black Devotion (p=0.063)
  • won 68.2% of 22 matches versus Tron (p=0.067)
  • lost 71.9% of 57 matches versus Bridgevine (p<0.001)
  • These results paint something of a reverse image. White-Blue Control performed badly only against one deck. This performance was extremely bad, though, so the Bridgevine matchup of the future may not look rosy for White-Blue either. Bridgevine also eclipsed all other graveyard decks in Dallas, whereas now White-Blue might as well go back to losing to Dredge. Of course, seeing a key card from their worst matchup getting banned is great news for control players in general.

Another thing to note is that White-Blue’s list of clear matchups is neither long, nor does it feature many major archetypes, nor were a lot of the listed matchups that clear. White-Blue truly is more of an all-arounder. For example, it won about 52% of matches against decks not listed above.

Infect …

  • won 100% of 8 matches versus Elves (p=0.004)
  • won 81.3% of 16 matches versus Tron (p=0.011)
  • won 100% of 6 matches versus Slivers (p=0.016)
  • won 100% of 4 matches versus Neobrand (p=0.063)
  • lost 72.7% of 22 matches versus Rock (p=0.026)
  • lost 93.7% of 16 matches versus Jund (p<0.001)

Infect really does not like to play against strategies that interact a lot with the battlefield, but that’s hardly news. Instead, the news are all about what’s missing from this list. Here we have a supposed meta deck that was more popular at this event than ever before, but failed to generate a significant winning record against any of the major archetypes. Among the seven most important matchups, Infect delivered its strongest performance in the mirror.

Humans …

  • won 100% of 8 matches versus Spirits (p=0.004)
  • won 64.7% of 68 matches versus Bridgevine (p=0.01)
  • won 72.4% of 29 matches versus Burn (p=0.012)
  • won 100% of 5 matches versus Storm (p=0.031)

The fifth most popular deck in the field had no significant losing record against anything. Its 6-13 record versus Eldrazi was the most relevant on the negative side, but the chance to go 6-13 or worse in literal coin tosses is higher than 8% (p=0.084).

Red Prowess …

won 100% of 8 matches versus Spirits (p=0.004)

won 66.7% of 33 matches versus Izzet Phoenix (p=0.04)

lost 69.2% of 26 matches versus Colorless Eldrazi (p=0.038)

Red Prowess enjoyed the fewest lopsided matchups of any archetype so far. The deck also went 21-12 against both Burn and Infect, and at first glance it seems safe to assume that Gut Shot and Lava Dart beat Glistener Elf and Blighted Agent. On the other hand, 21-12 does not constitute enough forensic evidence for a verdict. In fact, Infect winning as much as 36% of matches probably makes for reasonable doubt on its own.

Burn …

  • won 67.5% of 40 matches against Izzet Phoenix (p=0.019)
  • won 80% of 10 matches versus Spirits (p=0.055)
  • won 85.7% of 7 matches versus Esper Shadow (p=0.063)
  • won 100% of 4 matches versus Storm (p=0.063)
  • lost 72.4% of 29 matches versus Humans (p=0.012)

This shows a curious similarity to White-Blue Control’s list of matchups. The majority of either deck’s listed matchups weren’t all that clear. Indeed, a stricter approach to statistical significance would exclude them. Much like White-Blue, Burn appears able to beat anything, although the means and process obviously differ.

Tron …

  • won 73.7% of 19 matches versus Izzet Phoenix (p=0.032)
  • lost 68.2% of 22 matches versus W/U Control (p=0.067)
  • lost 100% of 4 matches versus Eldrazi & Taxes (p=0.063)
  • lost 67.6% of 34 matches versus Bridgevine (p=0.029)
  • lost 81.3% of 16 matches versus Infect (p=0.011)

Once upon a glorious time, Tron used to prey on control decks. Then came Field of Ruin, but the fight remained fair. The turning point came around the time of Mythic Championship II when white-blue mages first defied the rules of color identity and finished what Field of Ruin began via maindeck Surgical Extraction. Now, on top of everything, White-Blue has gained the ability to tap out with Force back-up.

Devoted Vizier …

  • won 100% of 6 matches versus Spirits (p=0.016)
  • won 100% of 5 matches versus Hardened Scales (p=0.031)
  • won 85.7% of 7 matches versus Colorless Eldrazi (p=0.063)
  • won 100% of 4 matches versus Elves (p=0.063)
  • lost 80% of 10 matches versus Jund (p=0.055)

Vizier went close enough to even against the seven most played archetypes for them not to make the list. But its combined record versus the major players Izzet Phoenix and White-Blue was a paltry 20-34, which is significantly bad.

Jund …

  • won 93.7% of 16 matches versus Infect (p<0.001)
  • won 80% of 10 matches versus Devoted Vizier (p=0.055)

Across time, in various formats and incarnations, Jund has been famous as the deck with few lopsided matchups. It proved true once again.

Colorless Eldrazi …

  • won 100% of 6 matches versus Rock (p=0.016)
  • won 69.2% of 26 matches versus Red Prowess (p=0.038)
  • won 72.2% of 18 matches versus Izzet Phoenix (p=0.048)
  • won 85.7% of 7 matches versus Mardu Pyromancer (p=0.063)
  • lost 85.7% of 7 matches versus Devoted Vizier (p=0.063)
  • lost 87.5% of 8 matches versus Thopter Foundry (p=0.035)

Considering how few people played Eldrazi, it is remarkable that they managed to generate such a long list. It is also remarkable how successful the archetype was overall. Of course, we have known for a while that a deck with extreme matchups is better than one with even matchups.

Other Notable Result(s)

Most of the lesser played decks simply didn’t meet any other deck often enough to yield interesting data. Affinity beat Spirits 4-0, but that’s it.

This is true unless you’re interested in the Bridgevine results not already listed above. Hogaak and friends went 12-0 versus Dredge, 12-1 versus Valakut decks, 7-0 versus Blue-Red Delver, 4-0 versus both Bogles and Ponza, as well as 1-8 versus Whir Prison. Most of these decks underperformed regardless of their weak record against Bridgevine, just as Whir Prison overperformed regardless of its strong record in the matchup. The prime counterexample is Dredge. Its overall win rate in Dallas was 43.2% when counting Bridgevine encounters but 51.6% when discounting them.


GP Dallas Modern

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