Do you still remember your first ever Legacy match? I do. It was November 2007 and I was playing Enchantress. Ok, playing is already pushing it. In fact I didn’t get to actually play as I was late for the tournament following what would become my weekly 3+ hour train ride to the event. When I finally arrived, I was retroactively paired against the guy who had had the Bye in the first round, so I could still participate. Not exactly the kind of start into Legacy I was hoping for, but my own personal train wreck was far from over. After the second round the judge called me over and told me I had been awarded a Game Loss for a decklist error. Since there was still some time left in the round I kept discussing things with him because I just didn’t want to accept his decision. After all, my list was missing only 20 cards. Needless to say, my first couple years of Legacy were pretty rough.
How about all those other tournaments? Since I’m closing in on my 9-year anniversary of sanctioned Legacy, I figured it would be great to be able to look back onto my very own personal legacy. Fortunately the Planeswalker Points website provides you with plenty of data about every match & opponent you have every played in every tournament to date. I just grabbed all of that and ordered it into an Excel spreadsheet; here’s a glimpse of what that sheet looks like. The only thing missing is the deck I piloted but it wasn’t too hard to piece that information back together. It helped that I not only remember pretty much every deck I ever played, but can also recall well when and why I put one down or picked up a different set of cards; for everything else, there’s the my personal tcdecks.net archive. After that it’s just some basic Excel magic that allows you to analyze the data every-which-way. Note that for win% calculations we divide the number of wins by the sum of wins+losses and ignore unintential draws, byes or IDs. For the rolling win percentage used later-on in this article we’re using increments of 50 matches, displayed in a smoothed out trend line. Let me also send a big thanks to resident data genius Jan van der Vegt for his technical and analytical support along the way! Dank u!
1,403 Matches Later — My Legacy By the Numbers
Alright, let’s first get some general statistics in here:
Holy shit, over one thoursand matches? At a conservative estimate of 60 minutes per round (including extra turns/time + waiting for pairings) that’s over 43 days of non-stop Magic. To put tings into perspective, binge-watching all 236 episodes of Friends clocks in at a mere 3.5 days! Compared to my average working week of 40h, that’s over half a year’s workload just spent playing Legacy!
Regarding my best/worst streaks, those 22 wins are dating back to my Bazaar of Moxen run in Paris 2013 and were part of a crazy 31-1-2 streak in October/November that year. My longest losing streak happened supprisingly recently in the summer of 2015 over the course of Ovinogeddon and Prague Eternal. This “run” included a glorious 0-4 with OmniTell at the Legacy trial in the Czech capital inclduing a loss to Pestermite Stompy which kept tapping down my Emrakul, the Aeons Torn for three turns only to finish me off with an actual Masticore. I wish I could just forget about that tournament 😛
The next thing I want to look at is my overall performance throughout the years. How many matches did I play and how well did I do in them? Let’s take a look:
In 2012 we notice an interesting anomaly: despite an overall trend towards growth, I played quite a bit less Magic that year. Up until I saw that statistic I wasn’t even aware, but it makes sense to me once I look back at that year. Not only did I finish my master thesis, I also moved back to Munich and tore my ACL. That year was pretty busy and it’s cool to see how it retroactively shows in my tournament attendance.
When looking at the win percentage, the first thing that blew my mind is how relatively well I was doing in the early years, peaking at the almost 80% in 2009, despite still feeling like a newbie. you don’t even need to even look much closer though to see that the sample size is rather tiny compared to the rest, which would mean that variance could be an important factor. It probably was, but another aspect to consider is that up until GP Madrid in February 2010 I had only been playing local tournaments that had a significantly lower level of competition. From time to time you’d still go up against player who would later become well-known names in the EU Eternal scene, but that was balanced out by the much easier rounds earlier on. To be clear: we’re talking about people accidentally blowing up their own Phyrexian Dreadnoughts with Engineered Explosives to kill a Nimble Mongoose.
Rolling Win Percentage
We’ll now take a closer look at what Legacy-specific events correlated with changes in my win percentage, starting with the ban of Survival of the Fittest in late 2010, up to my most recent switch to Chaos Elves. Unlikey in the previous statistics, which just looked at yearly win percentages, the following chart is using rolling win percentages. That means that for any point in time we’re looking at it as the center of a 50 match period to calculate the current win percentage. With that data we construct a smoothed out trend line starting in 2010 when I started attending international tournaments. It doesn’t make much sense looking at the earlier years because of the significantly lower number of matches and increased volatility:
Holy correlation, Batman! I remember being devastated when Survival of the Fittest was banned but apparently my win percentage received a relatively large boost afterwards. Which is funny because I actually did play Survival back then and felt that I was doing ok. Apparently the Merfolk and NO RUG I switched into, especially after the release of Mental Misstep, did much better for me and I was flying on an ever-rising win percentage…until I had WotC pull the rug from under me once again right before GP Amsterdam when they banned Misstep. (Not that I wasn’t unhappy about seeing it go though.)
What followed was a 18 month long journey of restlessness, full of quick ‘n dirty flings with more decks that I can remember, during which I was never able to fully commit to any of them — basically the Magic equivalent of college. My big “revelation” came at the Bazaar of Moxen Annecy in 2013, when Christopher Willhelm just crushed my Shardless BUG with his Elves like no tomorrow. Even though I had seen others do well with it before, that event was the first time I actually experienced how ludicrously overpowered Elves was in the hands of a good player. After getting my ass handed to me by Christopher during the Friday trials I spent all night pondering wondering how to put up a fight against Elves — only to arrive at the only possible conclusion: if you can’t beat them, join them! When I got home I quickly ordered the entire deck from MagicCardMarket and started hitting tournaments with it. Karma was apparently on my side as WotC announced their latest modification to the “Legend Rule” just one week later which prompted Gaea’s Cradle‘s value to skyrocket!
The next ~8 month were (not only statistically speaking) my most successful period I have ever had in Magic with a win at the Bazaar of Moxen Paris, a Top4 split at German Magic in Frankfurt as well as three consecutive wins at the large Legacy side events at GP Paris, Barcelona and Vienna. If you look at the chart above you can clearly tell by the huge rise in win percentage, which would have been even more pronounced had I not smoothed out the trend line for better visibility. Checking my data my best period was centered around Day1 of BoM Paris that year with a winrate of 86% over 50 matches. It felt like Elves was absolutely unstoppable and everyone was heavily underprepared for it. Except for it wasn’t. Ever since the summer of 2012, a dark shadow had been looming over
Mordor Legacy and it was eventually going to reveal itself…
One Top to rule them all, One Top to find them,
One Top to take them all and under the library bind them
In the Land of Legacy where the Miracles lie.
Shiva, the Destroyer Miracles being the strongest deck of the format had been one of the worst-kept secrets ever since its introduction in 2012 but it took until early 2014 for it to really live up to its true potential. Once it started becoming one of the most popular decks, Elves has had an increasingly rougher time which lead to the first half of 2014 being a constant struggle with trying to find the latest flavor of the month to combat Miracle’s dominance. But little did we know that Miracles had just been the tip of the iceberg of what was about to hit us: the moment Khans of Tarkir was released my win percentage plummeted harder than the average North Best Korean missile after launch. While it first seemed like Treasure Cruise was the ultimate offender it was later revealed that Dig Through Time had been the evil mastermind pulling the strings in the background all along. Even though I managed to stick with Elves for all of the TC era, confidence eventually left me and I tried my hands at Miracles, 4c Loam and OmniTell..only to eventually arrive back at Elves for GP Lille. I didn’t do well in the Grand Prix itself but was still able to win a last man trial and score a Top4 finish in the 200+ player side event. In the end it was nothing more than just a short glimpse of hope: DTT had arrived and it was dominating Legacy. If there’s anything positive to take from this era it’s the birth of Niklas Kronberger’s 4c Loam that ended up sending two copies to the Top8 of the GP and quickly became a mainstay even in the post-DTT era we live in now.
In speaking of post-DTT: WotC had made me the best brithday present ever when they decided to ban Dig Throug Time on 2nd October 2015. The ban was already overdue as they had previously let one opportunity go by without any action when an estimated 90%+ of the community was heavily expecting it. When they didn’t immediately ban it, I for the first time ever considered leaving Magic altogether, selling my cards and picking up a new hobby. I sold my MTGO collection and downgraded my Elves deck to non-foil, started playing much more video games again and developed an interest in First Person View drone racing.
(If you haven’t seen what people are doing with drones these days, check out some videos like this one here. The idea of viewing your drown through “its own eyes” while flying around at high speedes and altitudes just gives me an insane amount of goosebumps. Even though I’m back to competitive Magic, FPV Drone Racing is something I really want to get into deeper some day.)
This increase in general carelessnes about Magic surely helped me relax and relieve the general frustration with DTT, but it didn’t change that I wasn’t doing very well. You might think that falling from about 75% to roughly 60% is bad but still “ok-ish” but take note that this is an average decrease for every tournament you play in. Every time you show up to your local 5 round event you’re only doing some 3-2 instead of winning it. Every time you play in an international 9 round event it’s suddenly so much harder to get to Top8 when you’re pretty much set to lose at least one more round than before. And there’s only so much change and adaption can do for you; especially when you’re being oppressed by something that’s as slippery to tackle as an instant speed draw spell.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic when DTT finally got the axe in October 2015. Ever since then I’ve been enjoying Magic and Elves so much more again, as you can clearly tell by looking at my skyrocketing win percentage ever since. So why the switch to Chaos Elves? Well, when I previously said that the only good thing to take from the DTT era was Niklas’ new deck, I was lying. In an effort to fight the incredibly late game of Dig Through Time, Sebastian Bartl and I had tried to move away from the hit-or-miss style of Natural Order and create a more midrangy and grindy version of Elves. Development was put on hold when DTT had to go, but the idea stuck around. In late January Basti shipped me another take on the deck that would become known as “Chaos Elves” and I was immediately hooked. After having great success with it on MTGO I decided to give it a try at MKM Milan the next week, where I ended up winning the entire thing!
Now that we’ve entered the Age of the Eldrazis, nobody really knows where Legacy is headed. I’m actually considering joining their forces for Ovinogeddon this weekend. Not so much because I wouldn’t be happy with Elves right now, but because the Eldrazi deck is quite unique and exciting — and incredibly powerful. Maybe we’ll come back here in a year’s time and put another big orange spot onto my graph and call it “The Great Eldrazi Misunderstanding” or something. Let’s find out!
Decks, Cities and Opponents
You now know how I’ve been doing — but do you also know what, where and against whom I’ve been doing it? Let’s take a look back all those 1,043 matches spread out over the 24 decks and find out!
Yeah, I really do like Elves. At this point I’m almost surprised it still doesn’t add up to over 50% of all Legacy matches I’ve ever participated in. I also gotta admit it hurts to see how much time I wasted on trying to develope a liking for Miracles as it’s one of the only 3 decks I can truely say I never really enjoyed playing (the other two being Grixis Delver & Dredge). In a way looking at this statistic almost feels like reflecting back on past girlfriends: some you wonder why spent so much time with them in the first place (Miracles), some you wish you could have stayed with for much longer (Bant Survival; Maverick) and some your friends still make fun of you for (Enchantress). Overall I’m pretty happy about this spread as I think I have developed a pretty good feeling for what kind of deck I want to be playing in Legacy. Even though you’ll see only a handful of matches on record with some of them, each easily accounts for way over 10x as many matches between Magic Online and paper practice.
Now that we know how much I like tribal and green, let see how well I was actually doing with every deck I’ve had at least 20 recorded matches with. This way we’ll get a much better overview as we remove all the seemingly instanely high/low win% of decks I’ve only played in 1-2 tournaments. (For anyone curious, I’ve apparently won only a single match with ANT ever — but also only played a single tournament with it, so there’s that.)
Turns out I’m even more of a tribal player than I thought I was. I certainly do remember having great success with Merfolk and winning some of my first tournamnets ever with it, but I was totally unaware how well I must have been doing with it. On the other end of the spectrum I’m sad to see my beloved Enchantress trailing the field. After it had rotated out of Extended, it was my desire to keep playing this very deck that sparked my interest in Legacy in the first place. I still remember how I first ventured into MTG Salvation looking for advice, where I found guys like SpatulaOfTheAges and Zach Tartell who then pointed me towards The Source. Bant Survival’s 70% on the other hand probably don’t pay enough tribute to how incredibly good that deck was. Back when I played it in 2009 I still didn’t have too much of an idea of what I was doing and was heavily carried by deck that had the unfair turn3 Ionas AND the strong lategame that Survival decks are known for. To this day I heavily gravitate towards decks with quick and dirty unfair elements built into a shell with lots of staying power in the late game.
I already mentioned that I didn’t go international until early 2010. From then on however I started hitting all the huge European tournaments left and right and even made a trip to the US East Coast. Let’s take a comprehensive look at all the places I have travelled to:
|12||Strasbourg||24||67%||25||New York City, NY||4||50%|
Oh Austria, odi et amo. Even though you are my overall most successful country to play in, you’re at the same time home to my worst city, Linz. I remember that one tournament I played there well: Philipp Schönegger and I had switched decks for that event (Elves & Miracles) just fo fun and I was sitting down against Reanimator int he first round. On the play my opponent reanimates Iona, Shield of Emeria on the very first turn and trimuphantly named green, waiting for me to concede. Instead I just drew my card for the turn, played a Tundra and Swords to Plowshares‘d his color blind angel — upon which he immediately turned around and shouted: “YOU SAID HE WAS PLAYING ELVES!!”
New York City is the only other place that didn’t give me a positive win percentage which is funny because my only two losses there came at the hands of my Team Euroswag mates Tomáš Vlček and Marc “Bahra” König. Having just arrived at our apartment in Manhattan the Monday after GP New Jersey, the first thing that came to our mind was to hit up the LGS hosting a Legacy tournament that night. We had a great time with the locals at the Twnty Sided Store in Brooklyn and Marc ended up winning the entire thing with UR Stasis. Great times!
Amsterda is another interesting case as it appears to be my overall third worst city to ever play Magic in, yet I Day2’ed that GP and finished 88th out of 1,500+ players. The reason my win percentage is still remarkably low is due to not counting the three Byes I had had there as well as an absolutely horrible showing in the Friday last chance trials I played for practice. Those trials went so bad for me, I decided to deviate from my deck selection the last night before the GP. If you want to read more about that tournament which will always hold a special place in my gamer heart, check out my extensive tournament report of it.
Another thing I’ve always wanted to know more about was my head-to-head against everyone I’ve played at least five sanctioned Legacy matches against. This might be more intesting to me than to you since chances are only some of you might know a lot of these players, but it’s some intriguing data nonetheless. I decided to list the decks the player most frequently fielded against me to give you some kind of idea of each player:
||Most played deck(s) vs me|
|2||Klingler, Felix||5||100%||Shardless BUG|
|8||Guer, Julian||7||71%||Sneak Show|
|9||Lorenz, Maximilian||7||71%||BUG Delver|
|11||Prinz-Zwick, Markus||6||67%||Hex Depths|
|12||Thiel, Michael||12||64%||Explorer Survival|
|13||Hauer, Florian||5||60%||Miracles, BUG Delver|
|14||Hausmann, Marius||25||50%||Dreadstill, Death & Taxes|
|16||Peschel, Jakob||5||50%||Elves, Nic Fit|
|17||Stange, Florian||15||46%||Goblins, Burn|
|18||Vogt, Marc||9||44%||Landstill, Miracles|
|19||Sanktjohanser, Christian||15||43%||ANT, Miracles, Painter|
|20||Karlinski, Anton||13||38%||Aggro Loam, Miracles|
|21||Klinger, Bernhard||6||33%||Solidarity, Dreadstill|
|22||Weidemeier, Can||6||33%||Aggro Loam|
|23||Weishaupt, Felix||7||14%||Weird Shit|
Lots of Germans there, no big surprise. Out of curiosity I also ran a seperate search for foreign players, which was topped by the French Lands player Julien Medici at 3-1.
For those players at the top of that list it’s definitely a combination of favorable matchups, some inexperience and a ton of luck that contributed to my great record. Against Josef Hubensteiner I remember one particular game where my Elves mulliganed to 3 and kept without a land against his ANT and still managed to take the game. That’s some once-in-a-blue-moon kind of stuff.
On the opposite end of the spectrum it’s Felix Weishaupt who should stand out to you the most. He’s a local Munich player whom I only recently managed to beat for the very first time. He usually plays some weird Esper/Junk blade brews including format allstars Dimir Cutpurse and Executioner’s Capsule; sometimes he just adds two random Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to his sideboard to blow out Show and Tell-based decks or Painter. Sometimes he splashes blue for Trinket Mage to find Sensei’s Divining Top. When it comes to deckbuilding he’s the ultimate maverick and there’s only one thing you can be sure about: he hates Elves with a passion. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t shy away from rocking two copies of Perish in a green deck as long as it beats Elves. Rumor even has it that he writes his decklists with the blood of fallen Llanowar Elves (Editor’s note: Felix was unfortunately not available for a comment.) If Legacy was a video game and Elves our player character, Felix would be the secret final boss that you fight after beating the regular end boss on the hardest difficulty. He’s the Akuma of Legacy.
That’s all for today. I’ve had a great time putting together and analyzing this data even though it ended up taking me way longer than I initially planned when the idea came up a couple of weeks after the DTT ban. I plan on continuing these statistics and updating the graphs every once in a while. But for now my mind is set on Ovinogeddon this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
PS: If you have recommendations of places to visit in South/Western Norway, hit me up!