Zendikar Rising Season – The Second Check In

There were two Challenges this past weekend, bringing the grand total of results in Zendikar Rising season to 9. In order to examine trends I divide long seasons into four week chunks and wouldn’t you know it, we just hit the end of the eight week.

Normally this would give a strong indication of where the format is at large but we are mere weeks away from a massive upheaval. Commander Legends, with a bevy of Monarch cards and two new sweepers, is poised to shake things up. For a short answer as to what is going to happen I’ll say that Tron is going to get better and blue is likely to put in a claim as one of the best colors for Monarch. Because it needed help.

But that’s just speculation. I want to use this time to talk about something more concrete: the past. For those of you unfamiliar with how I track the metagame, here is a quick guide.

When I discussed the first four weeks of the season I talked about the relative strength of Tron and its outsized impact on the format. Here is what the top of the metagame looked like after 4 weeks (taking into account decks that accounted for at least 2% of the Winner’s Metagame).

September 19-October 11

Preview(opens in a new tab)

Keep this chart in mind as we look at the next one, which is the past four weeks of the challenge metagame with the same 2% threshold.

October 17 – November 8

There are some very important things to note. First, more decks out performed their volume this time around – 7 in the second chunk as opposed to 5. That being said, there were only 11 archetypes to clear the threshold in the second half of the season as opposed to 12 in the first four weeks.

Let’s talk about Tron first. The deck maintained around 16% of the metagame volume and even if it did slightly worse in the past four weeks, it’s still significantly better than every other archetype. Nothing about Tron has changed and it still eats a lion’s share of the wins.

Dimir Faeries was less popular in the second month but did marginally better. The decline in popularity may be due to the rise of Dimir Delver as a choice but that’s just speculation. The complete drop off in Izzet variants leads me to believe that the option to run Cast Down and Snuff out is a pretty significant improvement over Skred, which is saying something.

Here are some other quick hits:

  • Jeskai Affinity is the most played bad deck. We’ll see in a moment, but the much maligned Burn is outperforming this archetype.
  • Stompy continues to struggle in a Monarch and Tron metagame.
  • More people should be playing Bogles and Elves – they are slightly underrepresented given their relative strength.
  • Boros Bully and Boros Monarch occupy a largely similar spot in the metagame despite being drastically different decks.

I wish this information would be more helpful in the look ahead. Simply put it is hard to determine what is going to change once Commander Legends and any subsequent bans hit. With that in mind, here is what the entire season looks like:

Tron is kinda gross outside of these numbers. It has 36 Top 8 slots out of a possible 136 (around 26.47%) and has taken down 6 of 17 events. If there is anything to take away from this season it’s that you really need to have a plan for Tron if you’re trying to win a Challenge.

Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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