Supreme Verdict Art by Sam Burley

Pioneer Metagame Snapshot: Top Decks for the Week of May 13, 2022

The best decks in Magic: The Gathering's Pioneer format for the week of May 13, 2022, and our recommendations.

With the full release of Streets of New Capenna hitting last week, we’re now starting to see what influences the new set will have on the Pioneer metagame. With cards like Ledger Shredder, Strangle, the new Triomes, and more starting to help bolster decks, we’re already seeing some new decks cracking the top 8 of the MTGO Pioneer Challenges.

While Streets of New Capenna still has a long time to fully settle, much like Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty it seems like this Standard set will leave a lasting mark on the format. So, let’s dive into our data set and see what has changed now that the new set is fully available on the major card rental services.


What Counts for our Data?

Let’s look at the types of events we are using for our winner’s metagame analysis:

This week had a Magic Online Championship Showcase Challenge, which replaced the Sunday Pioneer Challenge, but since it replaced it rather than adding to the total number of events, we still have a smaller data set this week with around 50 total results.


Top Decks in Pioneer

These decks put up the best qualifying results this weekend and are your frontrunners when considering decks to bring for next week’s various events.

Naya Winota

Winota, Joiner of Forces Art by Magali Villeneuve
Winota, Joiner of Forces Art by Magali Villeneuve
Winota
56.2% global win rate
10.47% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs Mono Red Aggro
77.1% win rate
35 tracked matches
vs other
76.9% win rate
26 tracked matches
vs lotus field
69.2% win rate
13 tracked matches
worst against
vs izzet control
30.8% win rate
39 tracked matches
vs mono blue spirits
16.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs Jund Sacrifice
14.3% win rate
7 tracked matches
Naya Winota
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
6 mythic
42 rare
4 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (3)
Lands (23)
1
Mana Confluence
$42.99
4
Temple Garden
$67.96
3
Stomping Ground
$47.97
1
Sacred Foundry
$21.99
60 Cards
$532.34
15 Cards
$39.93

With eight qualifying finishes, Winota tops the metagame once again this week. While not winning either of the larger events this weekend, Winota came in second place in both. With five total top 8s or top 16s this weekend, Naya Winota was able to take down the other top decks of the meta, especially targeting Mono Red Aggro and Mono Green Karn.

Against Mono Red, you clog up the board through your early creatures and the amount of cards Red has that can answer Winota, Joiner of Forces or Esika's Chariot are stretched too thin, leading to Winota taking over the game. Versus Mono Green Karn, you are both racing to your win-condition, but Mono Green has no form of interaction, whereas Winota has Brutal Cathar, Elite Spellbinder, and can just cast a turn three Winota, Joiner of Forces and end the game. Even the best sideboard cards from your Karn board such as Grafdigger's Cage limits their own ability to accelerate with Storm the Festival.

While the deck has some predators in the format, many of those decks struggle against some of the other top decks in the metagame. This creates an effect where decks that are good against Winota run into other decks, lose, and then Winota cleans up those decks in the later rounds of the events.

Izzet Phoenix

Arclight Phoenix Art by Slawomir Maniak
Arclight Phoenix Art by Slawomir Maniak
izzet phoenix
54.4% global win rate
8.28% metagame share
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best against
vs rakdos midrange
70.0% win rate
10 tracked matches
vs lotus field
60.0% win rate
10 tracked matches
vs mono blue spirits
60.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
worst against
vs azorius control
48.5% win rate
33 tracked matches
vs Mono Red Aggro
40.9% win rate
22 tracked matches
vs Greasefang
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
Izzet Phoenix
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
6 mythic
25 rare
4 uncommon
24 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (8)
4
Ledger Shredder
$79.96
4
Arclight Phoenix
$51.96
Instants (19)
4
Opt
$1.00
4
Lightning Axe
$1.00
2
Spell Pierce
$0.50
2
Fiery Impulse
$1.18
4
Consider
$11.96
Sorceries (13)
2
Strangle
$0.50
1
Treasure Cruise
$0.25
Lands (20)
3
Island
$0.75
3
Spirebluff Canal
$68.97
4
Steam Vents
$91.96
60 Cards
$505.72
15 Cards
$109.13

Izzet Phoenix was starting to really struggle the past few weeks, but with the printing of Ledger Shredder in Streets of New Capenna, Phoenix has quickly rebounded to a top spot in the metagame with six qualifying finishes. As a natural predator of Winota and gaining extra tools with Strangle and Ledger Shredder, Izzet Phoenix seems primed to return to the top of the meta, especially if decks like Azorius Control are kept at bay thanks to Mono Red Aggro and Mono Green Karn.

While Phoenix also struggles against Mono Green Karn due to their access to cards like Damping Sphere and God Pharaoh’s Statue as early as turn four or five, the presence of Winota has helped to keep Karn in check right now.

Mono Red Aggro

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell Art by Greg Rutkowski
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell Art by Greg Rutkowski
Mono Red Aggro
50% global win rate
9.08% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs lotus field
87.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs other
80.0% win rate
10 tracked matches
vs izzet control
70.0% win rate
10 tracked matches
worst against
vs Mono Green Ramp
47.6% win rate
21 tracked matches
vs Winota
22.9% win rate
35 tracked matches
vs Rakdos Sacrifice
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
Mono Red Aggro
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
4 mythic
23 rare
16 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Instants (4)
4
Play with Fire
$9.16
Sorceries (8)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
13
Mountain
$3.25
4
Ramunap Ruins
$2.36
60 Cards
$340.32
Sideboard
2
Redcap Melee
$0.50
3
Lava Coil
$1.77
3
Roiling Vortex
$3.87
15 Cards
$55.67

Mono Red Aggro continues to sit at the top tables of Pioneer with five qualifying finishes. Like most weeks though, three of those finishes come from the Magic Online Preliminaries, but this week the two challenge finishes were both top 8 finishes. I think that we will see this deck starting to struggle into Winota and Izzet Phoenix, especially with the printing of Ledger Shredder as an additional defensive two-drop creature and Winota’s ability to clog the board and win instantly with Winota, Joiner of Forces.

If Mono Green Karn and Mono Blue Spirits continue to slide in metagame share, I suspect Mono Red will start to dwindle as well as other top decks have stronger matchups into Pioneer’s premier linear aggro deck.

Mono Green Karn

Karn, the Great Creator Art by Wisnu Tan
Karn, the Great Creator Art by Wisnu Tan
Mono Green Ramp
45.5% global win rate
7.53% metagame share
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best against
vs niv to light
66.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs mono blue spirits
62.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs Bant Spirits
61.5% win rate
13 tracked matches
worst against
vs izzet phoenix
40.0% win rate
35 tracked matches
vs Winota
31.1% win rate
45 tracked matches
vs lotus field
28.6% win rate
7 tracked matches
Mono Green Karn
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
5 mythic
27 rare
7 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (19)
4
Llanowar Elves
$1.00
4
Elvish Mystic
$3.96
2
Sylvan Caryatid
$16.98
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (8)
4
Oath of Nissa
$25.96
Lands (21)
13
Forest
$3.25
60 Cards
$443.82
15 Cards
$73.03

Mono Green Karn had a rough weekend. After putting up astonishing numbers the past three weekends, this time around it seemed like people finally put a big enough target on this deck to contain it to only four qualifying finishes. With only one top 8 and one top 16, this is the weakest showing for the deck since the infinite combo was discovered.

While the rise in Winota certainly makes sense as to why this deck struggled as Winota can kill you before you get off the ground, given Green’s lack of creature interaction. We also saw a smattering of decks like Mono Red, Mono Blue Spirits, and Azorius Control finishing in the top 8, all of which can reasonably attack Mono Green Karn.

Mono Red manages to attack through early pressure and killing off Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves making it so we’re not fast enough, Mono Blue can hit us with early aggression and their counterspells can hit key spells in the midgame, and Azorius Control through countering key spells and using Farewell to manage the graveyard and board, even from traditionally harder to answer threats like Old-Growth Troll. Having multiple popular decks have reasonable plans for you is not where a deck would want to be.

Furthermore, the issue with these decks historically is that once the format adjusts, they don’t have any maneuverability to fight against the changing meta. Unlike decks like Izzet Phoenix that can swap out several sets of cards depending on what the meta looks like, Mono Green Karn simply tries to bulldoze through the metagame and sometimes the metagame acts as tissue paper, and this week, it acted much more like a brick wall.


Top Outliers in Pioneer

These decks managed to show results outside of their expected levels based on the previous weeks. This includes both winners of the larger events this weekend along with a new deck that debuted thanks to a powerful card from Streets of New Capenna and finished with a top 8 in its first weekend.

Niv to Light

Niv-Mizzet Reborn Art by Raymond Swanland
Niv-Mizzet Reborn Art by Raymond Swanland
niv to light
44% global win rate
1.98% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs Winota
60.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
worst against
vs Mono Green Ramp
33.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
Niv to Light
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
9 mythic
46 rare
2 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (1)
Instants (9)
2
Abrupt Decay
$5.98
2
Growth Spiral
$1.18
2
Vanishing Verse
$6.98
Sorceries (10)
2
Dreadbore
$8.98
4
Bring to Light
$3.96
Lands (28)
1
Forest
$0.25
1
Plains
$0.25
2
Rootbound Crag
$12.98
2
Sunpetal Grove
$12.98
2
Drowned Catacomb
$18.98
1
Sulfur Falls
$5.99
1
Mana Confluence
$42.99
1
Steam Vents
$22.99
1
Raugrin Triome
$19.99
1
Watery Grave
$19.99
1
Savai Triome
$19.99
1
Indatha Triome
$14.99
2
Overgrown Tomb
$35.98
1
Blood Crypt
$27.99
61 Cards
$536.99
15 Cards
$73.21

Claudioh remains untouched as the best Niv to Light player on Magic Online. With two Qualifying finishes, winning the Saturday Challenge and a top 8 in the Showcase Challenge, Claudioh took Niv to Light and forced our eyes onto the deck once again. While I think this is a case of a strong deck leveraging the downtick of Lotus Field, with both qualifying results coming from a single player, I am always hesitant to ascribe too much quality to the deck itself and more so focus on the success of the player.

I do think Niv to Light has a good chance of showing more results moving forward thanks to its ability to dispatch midrange decks that are continuing to appear alongside Winota in the current metagame through Bring to Light and the card advantage engine Niv-Mizzet Reborn.

Mono Blue Spirits

Rattlechains Art by Lius Lasahido
Rattlechains Art by Lius Lasahido
mono blue spirits
43.2% global win rate
2.72% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs Winota
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs izzet phoenix
40.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs Mono Green Ramp
37.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs izzet control
22.2% win rate
9 tracked matches
Mono Blue Spirits
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
3 mythic
24 rare
12 uncommon
21 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (27)
4
Spectral Sailor
$1.40
4
Rattlechains
$1.40
4
Supreme Phantom
$3.16
4
Shacklegeist
$1.40
3
Brazen Borrower
$47.97
Instants (7)
3
Lofty Denial
$0.75
Enchantments (4)
Lands (22)
4
Faceless Haven
$3.16
60 Cards
$120.14
Sideboard
3
Dive Down
$0.87
3
Aether Gust
$1.77
4
Mystical Dispute
$15.96
15 Cards
$35.99

Usually this is where I would point out that HEROtsukai did it again, but this time a new challenger appeared in aggro player extraordinaire Fink64, taking Mono Blue Spirits to a 1st place finish in the Showcase Challenge. Fink put out a free deck guide to Mono Blue Spirits on his twitter here.

Mono Blue Spirits has been seeing success fighting the midrange and control decks of the format alongside Mono Green Karn through early aggression backed by counterspells locking out the opponent and forcing their hand at inopportune times, but the single qualifying finish is worrying. We continue to see decks like Winota, Mono Red Aggro, and Rakdos Midrange hang around the top tables, all poor matchups for this tempo-based deck as they can interact cheaply, kill off the early threats, and put Spirits on the back foot where Mono Blue specifically has trouble rebounding. We’ll have to see what decks remain popular as the success of this deck can live or die by the direction of the metagame.

Izzet Prowess

Ledger Shredder Art by Mila Pesic
Ledger Shredder Art by Mila Pesic
Izzet Prowess
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
0 mythic
28 rare
16 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
4
Soul-Scar Mage
$11.16
4
Ledger Shredder
$79.96
4
Sprite Dragon
$5.16
Instants (16)
4
Opt
$1.00
4
Reckless Rage
$1.96
4
Consider
$11.96
4
Play with Fire
$9.16
Sorceries (10)
2
Strangle
$0.50
4
Treasure Cruise
$1.00
Lands (18)
1
Island
$0.25
1
Mountain
$0.25
4
Spirebluff Canal
$91.96
4
Steam Vents
$91.96
60 Cards
$424.32
Sideboard
2
Spell Pierce
$0.50
3
Redcap Melee
$0.75
2
Aether Gust
$1.18
1
Alpine Moon
$9.49
15 Cards
$26.89

This new deck leverages the power of Ledger Shredder, which is a real standout of Streets of New Capenna so far, and mirrors the powerful old Izzet Prowess shell from Modern. While it doesn’t play Stormwing Entity so it can companion Jegantha, the Wellspring, this deck plays 16 one and two-drop creatures that all benefit from playing multiple spells alongside 18 one mana spells, four Expressive Iteration, and four Treasure Cruise.

This pile of burn, removal, and cantrips help power up your creatures and you can play much better sideboard options in the current meta than decks like Mono Red Aggro that only have access to one color. This is a deck that we have seen morph a few different times already in the 5-0 decklists and I think this archetype will continue to exist, much like Izzet Prowess did in Modern until the printing of Modern Horizons II.


Meta Predictions

We are seeing Winota standing head and shoulders above the rest of the metagame in terms of top finishes. While a part of this has to do with the matchups against other top decks, it also has to do with the lack of control decks in the metagame thanks to Mono Green Karn, Mono Red, and previously Lotus Field. Now that these decks are likely to see less success in the metagame, I imagine Azorius, Esper, Bant, and Izzet Control will start to rise in numbers and they all can reasonably attack Winota through counterspells, removal, and wrath effects.

For the past few weeks, the target was firmly on Mono Green Karn. Now we are seeing that target shifting onto Winota and like in the past, that should enable decks like Izzet Phoenix to come back into the meta and hopefully contain Winota. I imagine that we won’t see another dominating weekend out of Winota, though it will surely put up a top 8 or two, as is expected at this point in Pioneer.


What I’d Play

Farewell Art by Seb McKinnon
Farewell Art by Seb McKinnon

I’d play Azorius Control. There are few decks in the format that can contain Winota quite as well as Azorius Control in part due to Supreme Verdict, Farewell, March of Otherworldly Light, The Wandering Emperor, and more. Thanks to the power of Rest in Peace, you also have a reasonable ability to fight other anti-Winota decks, such as Izzet Phoenix or various Greasefang, Okiba Boss decks. We saw Azorius put up two top 8s and a top 16 in Sunday’s Showcase Challenge and I suspect we will continue to see these results start to add up with this week’s challenges.

azorius control
48.5% global win rate
8.60% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs jeskai ascendancy
80.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs izzet control
57.1% win rate
14 tracked matches
vs izzet phoenix
51.5% win rate
33 tracked matches
worst against
vs lotus field
44.4% win rate
9 tracked matches
vs rakdos midrange
41.2% win rate
17 tracked matches
vs Mono Red Aggro
40.0% win rate
15 tracked matches
Azorius Control
by darthjacen
Pioneer
best of 3
8 mythic
48 rare
14 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (11)
Instants (20)
3
Dovin’s Veto
$10.47
3
Fateful Absence
$5.97
4
Absorb
$9.96
3
Memory Deluge
$5.97
Sorceries (5)
3
Supreme Verdict
$38.97
2
Farewell
$13.98
Artifacts (3)
3
Portable Hole
$7.47
Enchantments (7)
4
Omen of the Sea
$1.00
3
Shark Typhoon
$62.97
80 Cards
$755.2
15 Cards
$58.91

That does it for this week’s Pioneer Metagame analysis. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to stay safe!


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Decklists in this Article

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darthjacen

darthjacen has been playing Magic since Dark Ascension and plays Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Limited. With a Grand Prix win in 2015 and an SCG Team Top 4 in 2019, he continues to pursue competitive Magic at every turn. You can follow him on Twitch and YouTube.

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