With the Legacy Showcase coming this weekend, understanding the metagame is critical. This is the start of a quarterly tier list article series.
Everyone builds a tier list differently. I have chosen to build mine based on MTGO Challenge results (As collected by Joe Dyer and the Legacy Data Collection Discord). A data driven approach helps inform the feelings that I have based on my experiences playing decks and playing against decks in multiple settings. For this tier list, I am looking at all of the data since the banning of [[Expressive Iteration]] and [[White Plume Adventurer]] The best way to use a tier list is to help choose what deck to play or how to tune a deck to beat a metagame. The decks I will be ranking are the most played in the forma,t and I will not be ranking every Legacy deck ever played — there just is not enough space for all of the decks. Ranking decks within tiers is too close to splitting hairs. Within a tier, decks will simply be alphabetized.
A deck that will consistently place one or more copies in a challenge top 8. Normally these decks reach the threshold to be “bannable”. They have strong win rates and play rates and players will always consider warping their sideboard, main deck, or even archetype selection based on these decks. An S-tier deck has almost no very bad matchups and few bad matchups among commonly played decks in the format. If you are not playing one of these decks, you are either wrong or have a very good reason to not play the deck.
Decks that consistently has a copy in the top 8 of a challenge. It probably will not top 8 every challenge either, but should be in most. An A-tier deck is a strong force in a metagame, but not overwhelming. These decks have weaknesses, though bad matchups tend to have lower play rates. Choosing one of these decks for a tournament is almost certainly a good place to be.
Strategies that will not make most challenge top 8s either due to low power level or lower play rate. A B-tier deck making a top 8 would not be shocking, but you would expect zero copies in most top 8s. These decks maintain an exceptional win rate against some higher tier decks, but lower against other decks. To choose to play a B-tier deck in a tournament is to put yourself at a disadvantage and be willing to play a specific metagame read.
Often specialist decks that will rarely make top 8s and only then in the hands of archetype masters. Generally, good players of these decks grind them often and eventually get enough wins to top 8, but seeing any of these decks in the top 8 is a surprise. The play rate of a C-tier deck is generally in the one to two players per event space. While they have some good matchups, there are likely format pressures keeping them from being higher tier or the strategy might be inherently weak.
Archetypes that are just underpowered or rarely played. It is sometimes surprising to see these decks registered in any amount in a challenge.
The Tier List
8-Cast seems to be the best deck in the format at moment with a winrate of 57.5% in challenges. There a plenty of answers to it, but there does not seem to be a target on the deck yet. I would expect more artifact removal or [[Null Rod]] effects to start showing up in sideboards to help combat the deck. The rest of the A-tier is a strong selection of decks, each with their own strengths. Cephalid Breakfest and Jeskai Control benefit from a strong UW Core with card advantage engines such as [[Faerie Mastermind]] and [[Staff of the Storyteller]] building on synergies already present in those decks. I suspect that Reanimator will fall off overtime, but the best place to start a new format is with a powerful aggressive strategy and Reanimator is just that. [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]] also caused a spike of players wanting to try out a new hotness and while it seems like some number of that card makes the list, it is not the major upgrade some expected it to be.
Delver is just overplayed overplayed as an archetype post banning. It does not have the win rate (48%) to justify being the second most played deck after Reanimator. The banning of [[Expressive Iteration]] seems to have knocked Delver down to a point where it is not even contending for the best deck in the format. Given its play rate, however, I would still expect to play against it one to two times in a tournament with stakes. Players who are Delver specialists likely still win more than the average player, but the inherent power of the deck is not there anymore. The rest of B-tier is filled with decks that I would consider “meta”. These fill up the room with their players and are gradually making improvements. The most surprising of these is Doomsday. I predicted Doomsday to be an A-tier deck post ban. It does seem like some of the player base swapped to Cephalid Breakfest, probably for a myriad of reasons. I still think that Doomsday is one of the best decks in a room with a good pilot, but the play rate does not justify an A-tier rating.
Despite having a winrate of 53%, Elves makes the B-tier on not quite having the play rate of an A-tier deck. The strength of the deck is quite high, especially in key match ups like 8 Cast. The “lands” package in the deck with [[Elvish Reclaimer]] gives flexibility to adapt to metagame. Elves should probably see more play as the format evolves.
The EPIC Storm unfortunately falls into the C-tier. We do not have the player base to pretend otherwise. Including [[Boseiju, Who Endures]] in the sideboard has started to help fix the 8-Cast matchup, however. With Delver being not as powerful and still having a high play rate, the metagame exists for TES to be very good. Every since Reanimator players cut [[Chancellor of the Annex]], that matchup has gotten much better. [[Veil of Summer]] buys so much time and actually makes that matchup positive. I would be happy to register TES in any event at the moment.
Rating my Rating
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