Grand Prix Denver was rather petite compared to other events of its type. But even the smallest GP still makes for a pretty grand undertaking. For example, players in Denver completed a total of 2,180 matches across 15 rounds of Swiss plus Top 8 playoffs. Where can you get this kind data?
The answer is of course that you can get all of the data—about what was popular and what was successful in Denver—below.
The New Standard Metagame with Core Set 2020
Much like sheep, the release of Core Set 2020 into the wild has changed the biotope of Standard forever, and left many dead fields in its wake. But the more things change, the more some stay the same. At Grand Prix Kansas City back in June, Mono-Red Aggro had been the most represented deck, and guess what led the charge into Day 1 in Denver.
- 58 Mono-Red Aggro (9.5%)
- 51 Esper Hero (8.4%)
- 50 Feather (8.2%)
Granted, we are not in Kansas anymore, where Mono-Red had accounted for 18% of the field. Though this decrease doesn’t have to signify much. A more exclusive event often has fewer players running the number one basic deck du jour, even if exclusivity is solely based on geography.
Now in second place, Esper Hero marginally raised its metagame share. But the big news here concerns Feather. Divine favor led to a sevenfold increase in popularity.
- 40 Vampires (6.6%)
- 38 Mono-Blue Tempo (6.2%)
- 37 Dinosaurs (6.1%)
- 35 Elementals (5.7%)
- 34 Flash (5.6%)
- 31 Simic/Bant Ramp (5.1%)
M20‘s influence didn’t stop there. Vampires virtually didn’t exist before Knight of the Ebon Legion and Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord came along. Dinosaurs only became a deck with Marauding Raptor, Rotting Regisaur, and Shifting Ceratops. Risen Reef and Omnath, Locus of the Roil put Elementals onto the map. Brineborn Cutthroat and Nightpack Ambusher created the Simic Flash archetype.
Mono-Blue Tempo and Ramp picked up some new toys from the set as well, and grew their metagame share as a consequence. Most astonishingly, going through the list from the top didn’t even bring us across what proved the biggest winner of the weekend.
- 30 Scapeshift (4.9%)
Scapeshift had claimed half of the Top 16. The deck didn’t maintain such stranglehold over the Top 64, and now we know why. It didn’t because it literally couldn’t. There simply weren’t enough Scapeshift decks around, and even fewer dead set on winning via Field of the Dead. Only 28 players went into the tournament with four copies of Scapeshift in their main decks. 13 of them ended up in the Top 64, which is about as successful as you can get when you’re less than 5% of the field.
- 28 Nexus of Fate (4.6%)
- 19 Esper Control (3.1%)
- 19 Gruul (3.1%)
- 15 Grixis (2.5%)
- 12 W/U Skies (2.0%)
- 11 Sultai/Four-Color Dreadhorde (1.8%)
- 9 White Weenie (1.5%)
- 8 Izzet Phoenix (1.3%)
- 8 Selesnya (1.3%)
Neither Nexus, Esper Control, Gruul, Grixis, White Weenie, Phoenix, nor Selesnya gained much from M20, and their percentages reflect this. Command the Dreadhorde decks and Gruul in particular have fallen far. They had been the second and third biggest metagame factors, respectively, just eight weeks prior.
- 6 Angels (1.0%)
- 5 Bant Midrange (0.8%)
- 5 Jeskai Superfriends (0.8%)
- 4 Golgari (0.7%)
- 4 Rakdos Aggro (0.7%)
- 4 Reanimator (0.7%)
- 4 U/B Control (0.7%)
Even the fringe decks contained some M20 spice. Six players ran Bishop of Wings, and four players bonded with Drakuseth, Maw of Flames. Mostly, though, the lesser-played decks were holdovers from June, and there were less of them for a reason. An exception proved Jeskai Superfriends. One of this archetype’s five players broke through into the Top 8 and two others finished inside the Top 64.
The Win Rates
Jeskai Superfriends and Scapeshift enjoyed by far the highest win rate of all archetypes. Scapeshift’s overall record bore by far the highest statistical significance too. Jeskai barely completed 52 matches, so its win percentage comes seasoned with a much larger grain of salt. Nonetheless, going 33-19 or better in coin flips only happens at 3.5% odds.
- Jeskai Superfriends won 63.5% of 52 matches
- Scapeshift won 63.2% of 299 matches
- Vampires won 55.9% of 320 matches
Vampires followed at some distance, but even a literal second-rate win rate still makes for a significant achievement. In fact, it’s more likely to be based on an actual edge than Jeskai Superfriends’s record.
- Feather won 54.0% of 383 matches
Feather’s 207-176 record, on the other hand, dances right on the edge. Such performance is likely not to have been a fluke. However, it’s much less certain than with any of the three top performers.
Although technically next in line, we’re better off not to focus on Golgari’s win percentage. Instead, we should look at its absolute numbers of 15-13. With just four players in the tournament to begin with, you can do the math and realize that all four were out of the tournament again at the end of Round 8.
- Golgari won 53.6% of 28 matches
- Mono-Blue Tempo won 53.4% of 294 matches
- White Weenie won 53.3% of 90 matches
- Dinosaurs won 52.6% of 266 matches
- Nexus of Fate won 52.2% of 205 matches
- Simic/Bant Ramp won 51.2% of 242 matches
- Flash won 50.4% of 230 matches
Other than Golgari, all decks in the section above put up solid, if ultimately inconclusive results. A few things stand out nevertheless. For example, Benalish Marshal and Venerated Loxodon didn’t do too shabby compared to how little airplay they’ve been getting in recent weeks. Of particular note, Mono-Blue Tempo players did significantly better than those who combined their Spectral Sailors with Nightpack Ambusher.
Next up is a batch of decks with insignificant losing records:
- Elementals won 49.4% of 235 matches
- Esper Hero won 49.0% of 382 matches
- W/U Skies won 47.7% of 86 matches
- Esper Control won 46.6% of 118 matches
- Gruul won 46.6% of 116 matches
- Sultai/Four-Color Dreadhorde won 46.4% of 69 matches
Newcomers Omnath, Locus of the Roil and Empyrean Eagle both got off on the wrong foot. But mostly this section features former format staples that didn’t receive any upgrades from M20. Many of them were pushed aside in representation, and then pushed around again when it came to gameplay. For instance, Gruul and Command the Dreadhorde decks had been among the three most popular as well as the three most successful archetypes at Grand Prix Kansas City.
- Mono-Red Aggro won 45.0% of 411 matches
This performance sticks out like a sore thumb that was hit by a hammer and turned red by embarrassment. 185-226 constitutes the single worst record of any of the major decks. Mono-Red hadn’t been doing great before, but some development seems to have tipped the scales. Indeed, a few matches on MTG Arena revealed just how big of a problem even a single Cerulean Drake can pose, essentially without regard for the actual matchup …
Grand Prix Denver had half as many Cerulean Drakes in total as it had players.
- Izzet Phoenix won 41.3% of 46 matches
- Rakdos Aggro won 40.9% of 22 matches
- Grixis won 40.7% of 81 matches
- Reanimator won 40.7% of 27 matches
- Angels won 37.1% of 35 matches
None of these five were able to find or carve a niche for themselves. They weren’t niche decks but fringe decks, and they remained on the fringes of the metagame for a reason. What saved their records from clear conclusiveness was simple lack of sample size.
The following three finally fed the bottom of the barrel. It’s hard to fit enough losses into this few matches for a result to become statistically significant. These three managed.
- Selesnya won 33.3% of 54 matches
- U/B Control won 27.8% of 18 matches
- Bant Midrange won 21.1% of 19 matches