Some of you will remember the amazing Too Much Information articles series the legendary Hatfield brothers used to run on SCG many years ago. In the spirit of this complete analysis of tournaments, including all the matches played, we have now analyzed the first big tournament of the post-Miracles era: the 437 player MKM Series Frankfurt in May.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people involved in this project. First of all Bob Huang for the original idea and establishing the contact to Jesse Hatfield. Jesse had developed the algorithm to analyze all these matches and crunched the numbers afterwards, which I owe him a very big thanks for, too! I’m also very thankful for the MKM coverage team to provide me with all the decklists as well as Sebastian Reinfeldt of their judge team who reached out to their scorekeeper to send me every round’s matchups after the event. You really wouldn’t read this article if it hadn’t been for all of those guys!
Let’s start off by talking a look at the raw numbers, ordered by metagame share. Note that Show and Tell and BUG Delver have been subcategorized into different versions of the deck:
|Deck||# in Field||% of Field||Wins||Losses||Draws||Win%|
|Death & Taxes||28||6.76%||79||115||5||41%|
|Show and Tell||28||6.76%||120||102||1||54%|
| —-Omni Sneak
|—-Sneak and Show||9||2.17%||35||37||1||49%|
|Eldrazi & Taxes||3||0.72%||11||13||0||46%|
|4c Vial Smasher||1||0.24%||1||7||0||13%|
|BG Land Destruction||1||0.24%||0||3||0||0%|
|Jund Pox Depths||1||0.24%||6||4||0||60%|
|Ubgw Mentor Delver||1||0.24%||5||5||0||50%|
Gotta give it to that guy running Stasis to a 1-7-1 finish. Even if he apparently opted not to play the last round, that’s some very real stamina! Other highlights includ the deck-turned-meme Nourishing Lich, the Philipp Schönegger classic Griselblade, as well as a lonesome BG Land Destruction player. Legacy can be wild at times. I’m loving it!
Overall Win Percentage
Note that in order to avoid the “Win% with/without Draws” model, the Hatfield’s model counts draws as a full game but only half a win for both players.
We see the somewhat new kid on the block, Bant Deathblade, leading the field by quite a huge margin, indicating that the last couple of great singular finishes the deck has seen was maybe not just due to its pilots doing really well, but maybe the deck itself commanding a significant advantage over the field. Another surprisingly high win% comes from Merfolk, a deck with a long history in the format, which we haven’t really seen much of during the last couple of years — welcome back, fishies (even though you barely made the cut with 5 players)! Czech Pile also seems to have finally left the “Flavor of the Month” stage it had been in for some time, establishing itself as a highly competitive deck in the current metagame.
On the losers side no other decks sticks out more than Death & Taxes at a disappointing 41% win rate, supported by the second-largest sample size of all decks in the event. I’ve had the gut feeling that the deck wasn’t very well positioned for quite a while (even though it took quite a while for Marius Hausmann to convince me of that) and the numbers seem to indicate exactly that. As such it comes at no surprise that we’ve recently seen D&T allstars like Thomas Enevoldsen and Marc “Bahra” König experiment with different builds of the deck. While we’ve seen a couple of “D&T Stompy” lists out of Thomas, Marc has been spearheading a innovative Mardu version of the deck. I’m excited to see where the archetype is headed, but for now, the traditional Mono White version seems to be at a severe disadvantage.
Let’s now take a closer look at some of these decks with regards to choices the player base is currently undecided on. For BUG Delver, player’s are currently split between playing either 4 Hymn to Tourach or 4 Stifle, with both versions doing well on Magic Online thus far. For Show and Tell-based decks on the other hand, not every one of them is currently on board with the plan of supplementing their Sneak Attacks with Omnisciences, creating a split between the traditional Sneak Show lists and the newer Omni-Sneak lists. How did those different versions do?
I’d argue that even though the Stifle-version of BUG Delver has been more successful than the Hymn-version, the limited sample size makes this one still somewhat too close to call a definite advantage. Still, if you’re currently running the Hymns it might very well be worth to also look into a Stifle-build of BUG Delver and see how that works for you. (The “other” BUG Delver versions are playing neither of those two cards). For Show and Tell, the bigger sample size seems to confirm the superiority of the Omniscience-based versions over the more traditional builds with just Sneak Attack supplementing the Show and Tell itself.
In the following we’re going to look at all the different matchups some of the most played decks of the tournaments have had and how they turned out for them. Presented in order of metagame share; note that if there’s a matchup missing, the deck didn’t actually face that matchup all tournament long.
Grixis Delver – 8.21% of the meta – 51% winrate
For a while it felt to me as if Grixis Delver was the new 50%-against everything deck in Legacy, but looking at these numbers the matchups actually do look a bit more lopsided. Only gaping hole in the deck’s defense is the lacking Elves matchup. In my experience, Elves is quite significantly favored against Grixis Delver unless they have dedicated hate for the little green men; however, right now it seems the best they can present is only semi-dedicated stuff like Grafdigger’s Cage, with only few Fire Covenants to be seen. Something else that’s interesting to notice is Grixis Delver’s seemingly atrocious Bant Deathblade matchup. Whether that’s due to inexperience in the matchup or an actual big disadvantage, I don’t dare to say. However, it’s not as if Bant Deathblade plays very different from other decks so it might very well be heavily favored against one (if not the) premier deck of the format. Sounds like all the more reason to include a couple more -1/-1 effects in Grixis Delver in the future.
Death & Taxes – 6.76% of the meta – 41% winrate
Oh Death & Taxes, you really let yourself go. I have no doubts that great players can still perform reasonably well with you, but just looking at the raw numbers, you look worse than you have ever been. While Elves and Burn have always been difficult matchups for you, those new versions of Food Chain are now also taking their toll on you. On top of that your Show and Tell matchup now looks barely favorable anymore. At this point, the unbiased reader is left wondering why they should even pick up Death & Texas anymore. I sincerely hope the deck will eventually be back as it’s one of the most fun and difficult to play in the format.
Show and Tell – 6.76% of the meta – 54% winrate
I honestly expected even better numbers from Show & Tell-based decks, but those we do see at least look decent. It definitely does help to be slightly favored/on par with Grixis Delver, which in my book is the current deck-to-beat #1. Also notice that just like Grixis Delver and Death & Taxes, Show & Tell seems to currently sport a horrible Bant Deathblade matchup.
Elves – 6.52% of the meta – 52% winrate
Elves doesn’t really have super insane numbers but overall still looks decent. Not necessarily because it had great matchups all across the board, but because it looks to be positioned quite well against some of the most played decks of the format, with only Show and Tell really standing out as a bad (the actual worst!) matchup in the field. The unfavorable numbers against BUG Delver might surprise some players as Elves has traditionally enjoyed a great matchup against them, but it’s also been my impression that BUG Delver has caught up a ton with Elves recently. In my experience, one of the main reasons of that shift in % is the difference in tempo between Abrupt Decay and Fatal Push.
ANT – 5.07% of the meta – 52% winrate
Storm, you were supposed to annihilate post-Miracles Legacy, not lose the majority of your matchups to Quirion Ranger and friends. I’m not sure why the matchup against Elves looks this horrible, but a sample size of 17 makes this look like more than just a fluke. In my experience the matchup used to be much closer to 50/50 but it’s true that with Miracles gone, Elves can once again dedicate much more hate towards combo. While the same is true for Storm with regards to other matchups, those two contenders maybe didn’t metagame against each to the same degree. On the plus side, we finally found a deck that has put up very strong numbers against Bant Deathblade. Something that stands out to me are the just 50% against Burn; does anyone know what went wrong there?
BR Reanimator – 3.62% of the meta – 43% winrate
Once considered the boogeyman of at least Magic Online, the hype around BR Reanimator seems to have settled for now. It still enjoys good matchups vs Show and Tell-based decks and, well, Burn, but the rest of the numbers don’t look exactly like a place you’d want to be in; especially considering that the leverage of your play skill will likely scale underproportionally compared to other well-experienced players. As such, BR Reanimator still maintains a certain appeal for the “I usually don’t play Legacy” crowd. It’s not exactly a great deck but you could certainly do much worse *cough*Burn*cough*.
BUG Delver – 3.62% of the meta – 56% winrate
These numbers make it look like BUG Delver was the deck without any bad matchups. It seems to be well-positioned against all of the most played decks of the format (Grixis Delver, D&T, Show and Tell, Elves & Storm), which is a quality our community still underrates in general. If you are looking for a great Legacy deck that will give you game against pretty much everything (and you feel like you’re better than BR Reanimator..), definitely go for BUG Delver.
Burn – 3.62% of the meta – 43% winrate
“Lads, it’s Burn” is probably what Sir Alex Ferguson would say before he’d sent you into a match against this deck. Burn’s position in the meta seems to be absolutely horrible despite the great matchup it enjoys against one of the most played decks of the format. Only recommended for die-hard arsonists and/or masochists.
Food Chain – 3.62% of the meta – 54% winrate
From BR Reanimator, to Food Chain, to Czech Pile, this deck is just one of the many flavors of the month that eventually found their way into actual Legacy. Food Chain’s numbers are looking good, even though the Grixis Delver numbers are somewhat worrisome. Nevermind the abysmal combo-matchup as they are pretty hard to fix in the first place. Marius Hausmann’s latest lists has moved a couple Thoughtseizes to the maindeck because of that, allowing for even more dedicated hate cards for those matchups in the sideboard — a trend I’ve seen amongst many Food Chain players recently, which could lead to the deck making up some ground there. Overall a very solid deck which I would definitely recommend as long as you’re not playing it on Magic Online.
Infect – 3.38% of the meta – 55% winrate
I’ve been secretly in love with Infect for years now. In a way it’s Elves’s cousin as strategically, many of our matchups are played in similar ways. Judging by the results we have seen in Frankfurt, Infect seems to have maybe the swingiest matchups, destroying most combo decks pretty hard, but having problems with Delver and pretty much all of the midrange decks. Once again, especially the lackluster matchup against Grixis Delver would worry me a lot if I was to bring this deck to a tournament.
4c Loam – 3.14% of the meta – 52% winrate
4c Loam has some weird numbers. As a midrange deck with Mox Diamond, Chalice of the Void and Punishing Fire it is generally favored against Delver and should also be able to go “over-the-top” of most other midrange decks. Yet it looks like it’s numbers against Death & Taxes as well as Bant Deathblade aren’t really looking good, which isn’t really a place you want to be in with a deck like this. In general, as much as I really like the deck, I don’t think it is positioned as well as it used to be. On the upside great matchups vs both Grixis Delver and Elves are a strong argument one can’t ignore.
Bant Deathblade – 2.66% of the meta – 64% winrate
First of all, for those wondering what Bant Deathblade actually looks like, here’s Christopher Wilhelm’s Top8 list from the event. Note that a second Ethersworn Canonist is missing as the 15th sideboard card on their website.
For me, Bant Deathblade has been the deck of the tournament. I honestly can’t really tell you why the deck has been doing so well recently, but even during the Miracles era Belgium’s Tom de Decker had told me about some insanely strong Bant lists who’s only weakness was an abysmal Miracles matchup; their team eventually gave up on the deck because of that, but things are looking like it is now making a huge comeback/debut (depending on where you live, I guess). If you feel like a lost soul in Legacy, wandering the metagame without purpose and are looking for a new home, I strongly recommend signing up for Bant Deathblade right now. Even though I expect the deck’s numbers to dwindle a bit in the near future (-1/-1 effects, anyone?) UGW is one of the most flexible color combinations in Legacy and able to easily adapt to shifts in the metagame.
Czech Pile – 1.45% of the meta – 56% winrate
What can you say about a deck that concluded it wanted exactly 1 Lightning Bolt? The Czech Pile is so deserving of its name, it really feels like you’re a professional train wreck driver — and very successful at that! At its core the deck is basically a UB(g) deck, splashing red for some utility and sideboard cards. It’s great in the way that it gives you a ton of game in most matchups due to its versatility and the many sideboard options it offers. Elves seems to be quite the weak spot for it right now, but it’s not like that wasn’t something the deck could make up for if it wanted. It does take a certain kind of player to play Night’s Whisper in Legacy but ever since Tomas Mar eventually dropped the Delver of Secrets from the deck and fully committed to the midrange plan, the deck seems better positioned than ever. I really like it but I’d still only recommend it to you if you’re looking for something “interesting” to play; one of the hardest parts of the deck is managing your manabase, so come prepared to play the right Fetchland on the first turn or you’re gonna be in for tons of frustration.
Even though this is just one snapshot of the format, it’s still a great indicator of the status quo at Frankfurt, the largest tournament since entering the post-Miracles era. (Or is it post-Miracles? Just yesterday at the MTGO Legacy Challenge literal Miracles was the most played deck!). Don’t make the mistake of reading too much into this data — but also don’t blindly disregard it if it doesn’t match up with your anecdotical evidence. The three most important and conclusive lesson we can learn from this are:
- Bant Deathblade has made a big splash in Legacy
- Death & Taxes looks to be in big trouble
- Combo is being kept well in-check, with Show and Tell variants being the premier combo deck of the format right now
If you would like to look at the entire data set yourself, you can find it here on Google Docs. There might be some more interesting things to analyze if you like toying around with data.
PS: The title of this article is an homage to one of my favourite poker books, Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen.
PPS: By popular demand, here’s Dragon Stompy’s matchups: