Yesterday we looked into Modern’s possible future but we want to refocus on the present. Today marks a new month and exactly two months since we started the site with the Modern 2018 Snapshot. With January and February in the books we are pulling the data to prepare you for the coming weeks. We will comb over the expansive data set to establish the leading archetypes as well as the best performing mainboard and sideboard cards in the Modern format.
All data has been pulled from mtgtop8.com. The data set contains 820 decklists from January and February 2019 tournament results. Archetypes that comprised more than 3% of the data set have been identified above. Individual cards have been ranked by dominance rating. This is calculated by multiplying the percent of decks they appear in by the average number of copies that appear in said decks. For frame of reference, a card that appears in 25% of decks as a two of will have a 0.5 dominance rating. For a hypothetical, 100-player tourney this means that there would be 0.5 copies of said card per player in the room.
As is typical in Modern the “Other” category is huge. This time nearly one out of every three successful players were piloting “rogue decks”. Each of these decks make up less than 3% of the metagame but decks in that category, such as Hollow One and Ad Nauseam, can put up results at the highest levels. The takeaway from this is that you cannot prepare specifically for everything. Focus on your own gameplan or play interaction that is very versatile. The top three decks for the period are pretty easy to predict for anyone that tracks tournament results. Phoenix decks reign over the format and show no signs of giving up that crown. Burn has risen to the second spot thanks to Skewer the Critics and a great Phoenix matchup. Dredge continues to be a potent force on the wings of Creeping Chill. It is somewhat interesting that Phoenix operates as a sort of hybrid of Burn and Dredge that can shrug off the hate cards that shut them down. Just below these we see the old standbys that do not receive enough respect. The control and midrange decks, whether they splash or not, continue to succeed in the format despite many players claiming that they are bad. Tron has seen a resurgence with the ban of KCI but has not had a breakout performance in some time. Beyond that are the consistently performing aggressive decks that have carved out niches for themselves. Amulet Titan is the final archetype and secretly one of the best decks in the format if you can play it properly; I cannot.
Top 10 Mainboard Cards
There are no big surprises here. Phoenix is the best performing deck and as a result, more than half of the top ten cards appear in their lists. Lightning Bolt continues to be far and away the most played spell in the format; the average tournament contains more Lightning Bolts than players. I am surprised that Faithless Looting has even come close to it. While I would not call for a ban currently, I do understand the rumblings in the community about it. White and Green were the worst performing colors but, barring bans, I would be surprised to ever see a Top 10 without Path to Exile and Ancient Stirrings. If you can cast Path you should be playing it and Stirrings is the most powerful cantrip in the format. But it is clear that this period was all about the Red and Blue cards as well as the Blue-Red deck; Izzet Phoenix.
Top 10 Sideboard Cards
As always, Modern sideboards play artifact hate and graveyard hate in spades. For this period, graveyard hate cards have pulled ahead into the Top 5 while the artifact hate rounds out the list. This surprised me at first. The archetype graph makes it clear that graveyard decks are outpacing artifact decks currently. So you would think that players are not running enough graveyard hate. Then I recalled that our dataset contains successful decklists. The players who did well for this period were the ones running more graveyard hate because they accurately predicted the metagame. Surgical Extraction has climbed up the rankings, and in price, quite a bit for the period. It can be played in any deck, is on gameplan for Phoenix, and is great against Phoenix. Definitely a card we should all take another look at going into the new month.
We hope that this gives you a more accurate idea of the format’s general direction so that you can take down your next event. Our discussion group has requested that these snapshots happen monthly so you can expect these to kick off each month for the foreseeable future. If you would like to join the content team to contribute, please contact us here. We will be back on Monday to go over the results of Grand Prix Los Angeles. Until then my friends.