SCG Louisville By The Numbers

SCG Louisville was the last stop on the SCG Tour before the Invitational at SCG CON! What did Mox Insights discover after running the numbers? Get your matrix and scatterplot right here!

Welcome back to the Mox Insights tournament report on SCG Louisville! We’re here to break down the Day 2 meta and story of the tournament outside of the final standings and the inside scoop on what decks were performing well, even if they didn’t end up in the top standings at the end of the day.

We want to be more cautious than usual about this tournament, as the Day 2 metagame in Louisville was smaller than usual. But SCG CON is right around the corner. Modern is still feeling the impact of War for the Spark, and Modern Horizons previews so far seem to indicate some potential. Modern is nowhere close to being solved nor will it be any time soon.

Moving Targets

For those of you who have been following our work for some time, we have followed Izzet Phoenix closely. While most of the attention at the time of Izzet Phoenix’s emergence was directed at Krark-Clan Ironworks, Izzet Phoenix quickly became one of the most rapidly adopted and iterated-upon decks in Modern’s history. It’s a common weapon in the hands of the SCG Leaderboard, the choice of most of Team Lotus Box.

This is just a hyper-focused version of the deck, leaning hard into Pyromancer Ascension. Other iterations, such as those by Drake Sasser and Julian John, retain Crackling Drake. Not only does Izzet Phoenix have play to it, it also has customization.

Humans   8-3 2-2 3-0 1-7 4-2 3-1 2-0 1-2 0-1
Izzet Phoenix 3-8   5-1 0-3 3-1 2-0 0-4 0-1 2-1 1-2
Mono-Green Tron 2-2 1-5   0-1 0-1 1-4 0-1 1-2 0-1
Amulet Titan 0-3 3-0 1-0   0-1 1-0 4-1 1-0 0-3 2-0
Dredge 7-1 1-3 1-0 1-0   1-1
Azorius Control 2-4 0-2 4-1 0-1   1-0 1-0
Mono-Red Phoenix 1-3 4-0 1-0 1-4   0-1 0-3
Burn 0-2 1-0 2-1 0-1 0-1 1-0   0-1
Titanshift 2-1 1-2 3-0 1-1 1-0  
Eldrazi Tron 1-0 2-1 1-0 0-2 0-1 3-0  
Izzet Phoenix
Mono-Green Tron
Amulet Titan
Azorius Control
Mono-Red Phoenix
Eldrazi Tron
Weighted Win (%)

The unique thing about this weekend was how the previous perceptions of favored matchups were swung by players effectively targeting their difficult matchups. Phoenix players finally flipped one of their worst matchups in Mono-Green Tron. Traditionally, Mono-Green Tron players went over the top of Phoenix, but this weekend, Phoenix crushed the Mono-Green Tron players. Looking at the Team Lotus Box build, you can see both Alpine Moon and Blood Moon for the matchup. It might also be that the Mono-Green Tron players were struggling to integrate Karn, the Great Creator, making their decks more vulnerable to the Phoenix players. Without a larger sample size, it’s difficult to say, but we can say that only one Mono-Green Tron player wasn’t playing a Karn, the Great Creator and Wish-sideboard package.

The Humans players, on the other hand, steamrolled the Izzet Phoenix players. Humans posted a dominating performance all weekend, though they might not have gotten as much camera time as other decks. You cannot sleep on Humans. If you are going to a major tournament, Humans will be there and will be a player and will ruin your day. Humans’s only significant poor matchup in SCG Louisville was Dredge.

The three top-performing Dredge decks all looked similar to this maindeck: two copies of Darkblast, and each with a Blast Zone. Blast Zone might be a significant powerhouse for Dredge, allowing them to slow the game down and essentially turn into a hard control deck against Humans. Our previous large analysis from Mythic Championship London suggested that Humans fared well against Dredge, but Blast Zone might be changing the composition of that matchup, not to mention the significant potential to redesign Dredge after Modern Horizons. Dredge basically feasted on Humans players to put two copies into the Top 8 of SCG Louisvile.

Of Tron Lands and Karns

We were pretty hyped on the potential of Karn, the Great Creator going into SCG Louisville. Karn, the Great Creator was seeing play in the obvious shells of Mono-Green Tron and Eldrazi Tron and being experimented with in Amulet Titan builds. Big mana strategies in general seemed to be interested in the Wish-sideboard that Karn, the Great Creator offered.

But Mono-Green Tron was one of the worst performing archetypes in SCG Louisville. And let’s be honest: this performance, while abysmal, isn’t that far off the norm. In Mythic Championship London, in SCG Cleveland, in SCG Philadelphia, Mono-Green Tron has never broken a 50% win rate. Whether it was an obvious choice, as it was in Mythic Championship London, or whether it’s simply poorly positioned, it’s difficult to say, but the point is that Mono-Green Tron is not hanging with the rest of the format. It used to confidently have edges in the Izzet Phoenix and Humans matchups; those edges are mostly gone.

We can hypothesize reasons why. Perhaps the Karn, the Great Creator package is too slow in Mono-Green Tron, but is better in Eldrazi Tron where the Eldrazi Tron player can develop a battlefield behind which they can leverage Karn, the Great Creator. Perhaps Mono-Green diluted its maindeck too much to handle Humans’s aggression. Maybe it was hard-targeted by Humans and Izzet Phoenix players. Either way, you should know that if you’re picking up Mono-Green Tron, you’re at a strategic disadvantage versus the field. Tron decriers, no need to call for an Urza’s Tower ban. The deck is floundering.

Amulet Titan was one of the other less obvious decks to integrate the Karn, the Great Creator and artifact Wish-sideboard package. Ironically for those decks, the same problem that confronted Mono-Green Tron existed for Amulet Titan players: Karn, the Great Creator didn’t add points to the Humans matchup. It might have been a potent tool to find Tormod’s Crypt for Amulet Titan players to answer Phoenix, both Izzet and Mono-Red iterations, where Amulet Titan performed best. The top finishing Amulet Titan player actually eschewed the Karn package. Matthew Dilks’s preferred tech from War for the Spark? Arboreal Grazer. Don’t sleep on the sloth.

But our hypothesis on Karn, the Great Creator, based on SCG Louisville, is that it needs that pressure behind it. More iterations on Eldrazi Tron, please.

The Invitational Weapon of Choice

As per usual, we plotted out the win rate versus the popularity of the most popular decks from Day 2 of SCG Louisville. We come to four different recommendations for those interested in making the most of their invitational.

First off, playing Burn in June 2019 is a tremendously bold and brave choice but not one that we would recommend. You might perform better than Mono-Green Tron, so you have that going for you.

Humans and Izzet Phoenix are the highest-performing decks that also occupy large portions of the metagame. Neither of these would be a poor choice for someone interested in making it to the Top 8 of the Invitational at SCG CON. They not only offer strong performances versus the metagame as a whole, they also offer customizability within their gameplans in tech choices: Crackling Drakes versus four Pyromancer Ascension plans, Militia Bugler versus Deputy of Detention. Both are known quantities and still resilient to targeting. These are the top two decks you can choose, in our opinion.

The more things change, though, the more they stay the same: these two decks are part of a rock-paper-scissors shuffle at the top of the high-performance decks, along with Dredge. Dredge beats Humans, Humans beats Phoenix, Phoenix beats Dredge. Dredge never gets the popularity of play we would expect from its performance within a metagame. Oliver Tomajko’s performance at SCG Louisville shouldn’t just be an aberration: Dredge has been a consistent, solid performer ever since Creeping Chill was printed.

While Eldrazi Tron and TitanShift did perform well (TitanShift with its requisite single copy in the Top 8), they were extremely small sample sizes. We think that Azorius Control deserves a little more attention. It has a lot of potential for iterations as players explore Narset, Parter of Veils and Teferi, Time Raveler, along with the new additions to Azorius Control from Modern Horizons. We would encourage you that even Azorius Control posted a positive win-rate versus Mono-Green Tron, but after this weekend, that seems more par for the course than a breakthrough in Azorius deck design.

Coming Up

Next week, in preparation for SCG CON, we’ll bring you a breakdown of the meta as it moved from SCG Richmond to SCG Syracuse and talk more about what are the well-positioned decks for the Invitational.