Standard Data Fresh from Red Bull Untapped
- Tobi Henke
When it comes to generating meaningful data, nothing compares to an actual big tournament. With about 1,300 players, Red Bull Untapped's recent International Qualifier definitely qualified. Straight from the source, here's information on the metagame and several key performance indicators!
Red Bull have given the community some of the biggest opportunities to play big tournaments from home this year — not to mention the energy boost to succeed at them — and also some of the largest data sets to analyze. Last weekend, I was part of the coverage team for the second International Qualifier of Red Bull Untapped 2020. It was my job to mine the data, create various charts, and talk a little about them. In case you didn't catch my segments on the live stream, I have turned my notes into this article. Below you can find most of what I mentioned during the broadcast — and some additional points that we didn't get to.
The Popularity Contest
The metagame at the start of the weekend of course only shows what archetypes were the most popular. It broke down as follows:
Bant Ramp was the most played deck and — no coincidence — also gained the most from M21. Cards like Scavenging Ooze, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and Teferi, Master of Time proved useful in some regard. Most notably, Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse slotted perfectly into the strategy, adding some earlier board presence, relevant either as defense or as a way to pressure opposing planeswalkers. Best of all, one didn't even need to change much about the deck to reap the rewards. Teferis, Growth Spiral, Uro, and Hydroid Krasis all trigger Jolrael already.
Temur Reclamation remains a major force and well-positioned in the format. There are some more proactive builds now featuring Jolrael and Nissa, Who Shakes the World in the main deck. Also, Elder Gargaroth is a valuable sideboard option against aggro decks.
Monogreen has become the aggro deck of choice, finally surpassing red, and by a comfortable margin too. Questing Beast is as awesome as ever, often attacking unblockable, blocking unmatched, and knocking down planeswalkers without cutting into your clock. The two most important additions from M21 are: Scavenging Ooze, a powerful 2-drop that has already proven itself in Modern and can answer Cauldron Familiar or Uro; and Primal Might, powerful interaction that isn't dead against creatureless opponents and turns into a Fireball on a trampler.
If you're wondering why two decks each at 2.4% show up with bars of different lengths here: the graphic is more accurate; it's really 2.44% and 2.37%.
Most of these decks have been part of the metagame for a while, but Boros Aggro is new. You may have heard the deck name "Pawblade" — think Alpine Houndmaster, some doggos, Winota, and Embercleave. Cycling, which had been a huge factor not too long ago, only made it onto the list way further down, despite interesting experiments with Fiend Artisan and, again, Jolrael. Facing Oozes probably didn't help.
The Actual Contest
After eight rounds, the Top 64 players advanced to the second day of competition. This is where we get to see what was successful and what wasn't.
Temur Reclamation was the second most popular archetype at the start of the tournament, at roughly half this metagame share. Then it turned into by far the most represented deck on Day 2. 25% doesn't even include all Reclamation decks. If you look down to the bottom of the line-up here, you see Four-Color Reclamation, which is essentially the same deck except for a little splash of white for Teferi, Time Raveler and some sideboard cards. Teferi is of course very good in the battle against other Reclamation players, as it renders the deck's namesake card unable to generate extra mana for an end-step Explosion.
Meanwhile, Rakdos Sacrifice may just be the biggest surprise of the weekend. The deck was less than 8% of the original field, only the fifth most popular. By Sunday, it's moved to second place. That's quite something, and the deck didn't even gain that much from the latest release, at least at first glance … Almost all of the top performers ran two to three copies of Village Rites. Having an additional cheap sacrifice effect that doesn't require setup and can't be destroyed like Priest of Forgotten Gods or even Witch's Oven, allowed all of them to run the full number of Claim the Firstborn. A minor change with a big impact, it appears.
Monogreen Aggro was the third most popular deck on Day 1 and it still was third in number on Day 2. It improved its metagame share by four percentage points. Bant Ramp fell from first to fourth in the ranking — but not because of a disastrous performance. Its metagame share merely dropped by one-and-a-half points. It's just that the other decks — Reclamation, Rakdos, and Monogreen in particular — outperformed it. As usual, what is true for Bant Ramp is true for Sultai Ramp. This one also experienced a marginal decrease in representation. Monoblack Aggro went from being the eighth most popular deck on Day 1 to sixth most represented on Day 2. So it too surpassed Monored, two copies of which are grouped with the "Others" alongside singletons of Temur Adventures, Simic Ramp, Simic Flash, Azorius Control, and Jund Sacrifice.
For this graphic it's important to know that about 5% of Day 1 players made it to Day 2. They converted, so to speak, a Day 1 start into a Day 2 finish. 5% — that's the average, the baseline against which one can measure the performance of specific archetypes. As you can see, Rakdos Sacrifice did double that, and Temur Reclamation almost did the same. This is quite impressive.
Then we have a bunch of decks that stayed somewhat close to the average — still interesting but no major headlines here. Much more interesting is that Flash, Monored Aggro, and Azorius Control underperformed at almost the same rate as Temur Reclamation and Rakdos overperformed. Finally, Jund Sacrifice posted a conversion rate so bad that it kinda demanded not be named here. Only one of more than 60 players made it to the second day.
Meaningful conversion rates require a reasonably large sample. So for this chart, I only looked at archetypes with at least eighteen entries into Day 1. If we extended the scope beyond that, we'd also see that three out of ten players who ran Four-Color Reclamation made the cut: a conversion rate of 30% — quite literally off the charts, albeit not just in a good way. it's not included above because the comparatively low sample size does not yield conclusive data.
And of course I didn't include any decks with a conversion rate of zero percent. Most of them also didn't meet the sample size criterion, but one other deck did. Gruul Aggro had more than 30 players in the running, of whom none reached the second day. This might be the biggest disappointment yet.
Then there's the rate at which decks actually won their matches. For the most popular decks — even for Gruul! — the aggregates all fell within the range of 47 to 57 percent. That so many of the most popular decks had a win rate above 50% means that many of the less popular decks underperformed quite significantly. They were unpopular for a reason.
Notably, Temur Reclamation would have topped this chart even if it included minor archetypes. Usually, smaller samples have an easier time generating outliers. But except for things like one player who submitted a homebrew and then dropped at 2-1 with a win rate of 66.7%, Reclamation's 56.6% was in fact as good as it got.
Most curiously, Jund Sacrifice, which posted such a horrible conversion rate, actually enjoyed a decently positive win rate. But combined, this just tells us that Jund gravitates toward middling results whereas Rakdos, for example, tends to get more extreme results. If we want to predict future tournament success — which always, almost by definition requires extreme results — then conversion rate may be a better measure than win rate.
Three rounds of single elimination on Sunday left us with a Top 8 overrun by Reclamation. Still, details are important, for example that both finalists ran 29 lands, no Opt, and four Mystical Dispute main. Here are the Top 8 lists in full:
|Temur Reclamation by Yoshihiko Ikawa, Champion|
|Temur Reclamation by Javier Dominguez, Finalist|
|Bant Ramp by Mani Davoudi, Semifinalist|
|Simic Ramp by Andrés Orosa Fernández, Semifinalist|
|Temur Reclamation by Victor Cardarellil, Quarterfinalist|
|Monogreen Aggro by Hamilton Santos, Quarterfinalist|
|4-Color Reclamation by Christian Calcano, Quarterfinalist|
|Rakdos Sacrifice by Eric Ausseil, Quarterfinalist|
Tobi Continued …
Red Bull Untapped's next qualifier event takes place this coming weekend, and you can still sign up. Participation is completely free and you can win big prizes. In fact, you can even win prizes when you just tune in to the live broadcast on Twitch. I'll be on the other side, crunching numbers.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.