Tier List: May 2019 - Neon - May 3, 2019

 

Hello friends! A new month means a new ECQ, which means a new tier list! The post-homecoming meta has been absolutely bananas, with several big balance changes, as well as a community that has been working hard to keep up with the next big shift. If you are feeling at a loss for what to play this weekend, you are not alone. This tier list provides some insight from top players on what is looking the best going into the ECQ!

Given that the new set is less than a week away, this article is going to be heavily slanted towards talking about the ECQ. While this advice is still relevant for ladder, we all know where the focus is right now.

Where Am I Getting My Numbers?

High level players! I recruit a rotating band of high-performing tournament and ladder competitors to fill in a survey to give their thoughts on different decks. I am deliberately trying to pull information from a range of high-level players to get a well-rounded perspective. If I didn’t ask you, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about your opinion, but I would just like to spread out the work from month-to-month. The players who filled out the survey this month were TheBoxer, IlyaK1986, LightsOutAce, noverb, and chicityshogun!

I should mention that I asked players to ignore differences between Ranked and Tournaments. While I understand that there are some decks that have an edge in one format, this is not generally too important. I asked players to average their rating of the two formats if there was a difference in their mind.  

Players also gave me suggested decklists for each archetype. I will admit that I did not test these myself, but they seem reasonable. These are at least a good starting point to understand typical builds of these decks. I am also dividing the tier list into two separate metrics: “Power” being a metric for how good a deck is, and “Popularity” being a metric for how often a deck is played.

Power

The “power level tier list” is a summary of what top-level players think you should be playing. I specifically asked them to ignore complexity and fun, but focus entirely on maximizing the chance of winning. Here are the descriptions I gave to the players filling out the survey:

Tier 1: Heavyweight. Decks you would suggest to a skilled player who only cared about winning.

Tier 2: Contender. Some weaknesses, but has a lot to offer. Maybe a change in the meta will allow it to move up?

Tier 3: Lightweight. This deck has some serious problems, but some people keep playing it for some reason.

Tier 4: Meme. If it is popular, it isn't because the deck is actually good.

Tier 5: Not important. The deck is so bad or so uncommon that it should not be on the tier list.

TIER 1

Hooru Control, Praxis Pledge, Hooru Fliers (Non-Pledge), Jennev

TIER 1.5

Winchest Midrange/Control, Haunted Highway, Stonescar Aggro, Stonescar Grenadins, Reanimator

TIER 2

TJP Control/Ramp, TJP Pledge, Aurelian Rats, Feln Control, Combrei Ramp, Hooru Pledge

TIER 3

Skycrag Aggro, Xenan Midrange, Ixtun Midrange/Control, Rakano Aggro, JPS Midrange/Control, Elysian Maul, FPS Control

COMMENTARY:

The big story can be found in tier 1. It feels as if the meta is defined by 4 main decks, which are all extremely powerful: Praxis, Jennev, Hooru Fliers and Hooru Control. Each of these decks is packed with great cards, and a clear game plan. It is also interesting that these decks feel like they are each in their own universe, operating on extremely different principles than one another. Different people have different opinions about how these various decks match up, but this is heavily informed by specifics of the deck lists, drawing those specific cards, as well as play/draw, making it very difficult to assess how these decks line up. Praxis Pledge doesn’t have much space for obvious reasons, but the other 3 lists have a lot of room for customization. Any one of these decks would be a good choice for the weekend. If you are looking to choose between these decks, pick whichever you are most comfortable with. I feel like the specifics of the meta will end up playing a huge factor in what comes out on top in the ECQ.

After a blockbuster campaign and half a dozen balance changes, Winchest has finally been knocked off the top rung of the tier list, all the way down to… tier 1.5. Tier 1.5 has a number of solid decks this month, and while it seems that these decks are noticeably weaker than tier 1, they are certainly not bad. I will put it this way: while I expect the majority of the top 64 this weekend will be made up of tier 1 decks, I expect most of the tier 1.5 decks will be represented in the top 64 in some number. If you feel like you have a strong Haunted Highway or Reanimator deck, and you know it well, I wouldn’t try and stop you from playing it. That being said, if you are not comfortable with one of these decks, I would stick to the tier 1 decks.

While the divide between tier 1 and tier 1.5 seems firm, the divisions between everything else looks somewhat flimsy. TJP Control can struggle against Praxis, though the new Chalice list may change that. TPS Rats is certainly very powerful at its best, though its worst draws are… not very powerful. While ramp is poor on interactions, its best draws are nuts. I personally feel like playing these tier 2 decks would feel like throwing the dice, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if we got a few break-out performances from this mix.

Popularity

To do well on the ladder you need to both play a good deck, but also prepare against what other people are playing! If you want to metagame against the field, it is good to know what decks are the most common.

Tier 1: Very popular. Expect to see this deck in almost every ladder session, and every tournament.

Tier 2: Somewhat popular. Be prepared for the deck, but don't warp your deck around it.

Tier 3: Fringe. Some players are using the deck, but it is certainly not common. Be familiar with it. 

Tier 4: Off-meta. Maybe you have seen it once or twice, but it is not worth considering.

Tier 5: Not important. The deck is so bad or so uncommon that it should not be on the tier list. 

TIER 1

Praxis Pledge, Jennev, Hooru Control, Stonescar Aggro

TIER 1.5

Winchest, Hooru Fliers, Aurelian Rats, TJP Control/Ramp, Reanimator

TIER 2

Skycrag Aggro, Feln Midrange/Control, Haunted Highway, Xenan Midrange, Rakano Aggro, Ixtun Midrange/Control, Elysian Maul

TIER 3

JPS Midrange/Control, Combrei Ramp, TJP Pledge, FPS Control/Peak, Hooru Pledge, Stonescar Grenadins

COMMENTARY:

One of the weirdest things about this meta has been how everyone seems to be seeing different shit. One day there is a bunch of Hooru Fliers, the next day they are replaced by Reanimator for some reason, and then I tell someone “Wow, there is a lot of Reanimator on ladder” and then they say “What are you talking about, there is nothing but Stonescar Aggro?” and then I say “What are you talking about? I haven’t seen any Stonescar Aggro!” It is crazy. I anticipate that the meta in the ECQ will be less crazy, as people settle on “safe” decks for a high-profile event, but it is difficult to predict what that means exactly. If I had to guess, I would say Praxis is going to be one of the most popular decks in the event, as it is fairly easy to pilot, and has absolutely backbreaking nut draws (and has been hyped pretty hard by certain members of the community). Outside of that, I am expecting a good deal of Hooru Control, Hooru Fliers, and Jennev, but I have no idea what mix. We will just have to see I guess!

Underrated Decks

This measures decks that are rated as significantly more powerful than they were popular, meaning that they may be underplayed at the moment. This might highlight some hole in the metagame. This time there are 2 decks that were all graded as significantly underrated, so let’s take a look at those.

STONESCAR GRENADINS

As I said last time: this seems to consistently be one of the strongest decks that players don’t want to play. That isn’t quite right honestly, as I tried to play it recently, and was not impressed. I know some people who have reported success with this deck recently, but I am really not buying it. Grenadins isn’t great in my mind, but it isn’t hard to get a grade of “underrated” if the popularity is near 0.

TJP Pledge

I’m honestly surprised more people haven’t tried to make this deck work. It gets to play Glasshopper and Palace in the same deck! Sure, it is incredibly inconsistent, but that hasn’t stopped people before! The deck is fine, but seems to be seeing very little play.

Overrated Decks

While some decks are more powerful than they are popular, the reverse can also be true. Which decks are seeing more play than they should? 

Stonescar AGGRO

There is only one deck that has been graded as overrated, and that is Stonescar aggro! This makes a lot of sense, as some people are still playing Oni Ronin and Pyro Knights into a world of Glasshoppers and Stingers, and that is a mistake. My personal build avoids the 1-drops, and while that avoids some of the problems of the deck, Stonescar may still struggle to hang with the big boys.

Wrap-Up

Homecoming has been brief but dramatic! Who knows what the new set will bring? I am anxiously awaiting to see what comes out on top this weekend. I keep on feeling like there is some missing piece that will bust open the whole meta, but I am not finding it. We will just have to see!!

Thanks for checking this out! Before we wrap up I want to remind you about our sponsor Inked Gaming who bring you all sorts of rad gaming supplies. Check them out and use the code “ASPACE12” to save 12% of your orders!

I’m sure a lot of you have opinions on the tier list, and I want to hear them! Share your thoughts on the A+Space Discord, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or on Youtube! You can also support A+Space on Patreon! Thanks again for stopping by!