Too Much Information – Cincinnati Legacy Open

The data from SCG Open: Cincinnati is in, and the Legacy metagame proves to still be in flux as a result of New Phyrexia and Mental Misstep. What’s up and what’s down? What should you expect at SCG Open: Pittsburgh?

The Open Series is ramping back up, and we’ve got results for you from the Legacy Open in Cincinnati. Since Cincinnati, the Seattle Open has come and gone, but we’re confident that this data is still highly relevant for anyone preparing for Pittsburgh and other upcoming tournaments.

As always, you can download the spreadsheet to get all of the raw data.

Cincinnati Legacy Open Breakdown

cincinnati legacy breakdown

When we last looked at Legacy, following the Baltimore Open, Merfolk, Zoo, and, U/W Stoneblade were vying for the position of most popular deck. In Cincinnati, they were again the top three, but Merfolk was back to being the clear leader, making up a rather typical 12.72% of the field. Merfolk’s win percentage is anything but typical: the lowest it’s been since the release of New Phyrexia. Its EV, on the other hand, is above 50%, suggesting that its lack of success may be partially attributed to variance.

U/W Stoneblade was actually more popular than it has been in any Open so far, at 8.77% of the field. As a whole, the deck put up mediocre results, winning only one more match than it lost, but the breakdown of subarchetypes is interesting. Last time, 18 out of 25 U/W Stoneblade played Ancestral Vision, and only three played Standstill. This time, the numbers were much closer, with Standstill actually being a bit more common than Vision, which lets us compare the performances of the two draw engines. In Cincinnati, the U/W Stoneblade decks with Vision did much better than the rest, winning 60.83% of their matches. This isn’t quite enough data to be confident that Vision is a better draw engine, but it will be interesting to see if this is repeated in future tournaments.

Zoo was unusually popular in Baltimore, only one player shy of catching Merfolk. This time, it seems to have gone down somewhat, though 6.14% is still higher than normal. For the second tournament in a row, it posts a nearly even win percentage and an only slightly positive EV.

Further down the list, we see B/W Stoneblade with its largest showing ever. However, it failed to win even 50% of its matches this time. B/W has been steadily growing in popularity since GP Providence, and it’s performed well on a few occasions, but it hasn’t been able to produce those good results consistently.

NO RUG stands out as the most impressive deck in the chart, greatly outperforming the four more popular decks. NO RUG won 61.69% of its matches in Cincinnati, which is the best record it’s had so far. But that number isn’t far from the deck’s usual win percentages — it’s worst win percentage so far is an incredible 56.18%. With results this strong, and this consistent, it’s a little surprising that NO RUG is still less than 5% of the field.

There are some interesting results among the less well-represented decks. Esper Stoneblade was more popular than it’s ever been before, and Reanimator was more popular than it’s been since January. Both performed reasonably well. Last time, we highlighted Dredge as one of the most successful decks in Baltimore (alongside NO RUG). This time, Dredge performed terribly, and was less popular than it’s been all year. Mono Blue Control, Metalworker, NO Bant, and RUG Visions all performed well, but with few enough pilots that we should be skeptical of the high win percentages.

Hive Mind followed up a mediocre showing in Baltimore with a mediocre showing in Cincinnati. Of course, the deck then went on to put three people in the Top 8 and one more in the Top 16 of the Seattle Open the following weekend. It will be very interesting to see how many people played Hive Mind in Seattle, and how successful they were. Note that, despite its lackluster performance in Baltimore and Cincinnati, the evidence still points to Hive Mind being a very good deck — it’s aggregate win percentage is 57.97% (with a record of 117-84-6).

Merfolk — 12.72% of field, won 46.86% of matches

Example: Brian Braun-Duin, 9th Place


After making up less than ten percent of the field in Baltimore, and nearly losing its spot as the format’s most popular deck as a result, Merfolk rallied to a much more familiar level of popularity in Cincinnati. This recovery could prove to be isolated, though; Merfolk’s win percentage was terrible.

Looking at this chart, it’s easy to explain the deck’s performance. In Baltimore, Merfolk managed to post a respectable win percentage, despite having mediocre matchups against the other popular decks, but the results from Cincinnati are just too lopsided. Zoo, B/W Stoneblade, and NO RUG all dominated the little blue men, and the fact that Merfolk did the same thing to U/W Stoneblade (which is surprising, given past data) simply wasn’t enough to make up for it.

Even though these results are probably too extreme to be perfectly representative, the historic matchup data doesn’t paint a much better picture. All four of the other popular decks appear to be favored against Merfolk to some degree.

U/W Stoneblade — 8.77% of field, won 50.42% of matches

Example: N/A

U/W Stoneblade

Again, the U/W Stoneblade category includes every U/W control deck that has Stoneforge Mystic. In Baltimore, there were six U/W decks without Stoneforge Mystic, which caused some concern for some attentive readers (after all, the Landstill deck that John Winters played to second place in that tournament was very similar to a U/W Stoneblade deck, but wasn’t classified as one). In Cincinnati, though, there was only one U/W control deck that couldn’t be included in the Stoneblade category. At this point, we can comfortably say that U/W Stoneblade of some form is the baseline U/W control deck in Legacy.

It may have been the second-most popular deck in Cincinnati, but the event still didn’t give us much information regarding Stoneblade’s matchups against the other top decks. The results against Merfolk are surprising, but even those are on a scale small enough that they don’t carry much weight.

Instead, we can examine past data to see a deck with relatively even matchups against Merfolk and B/W Stoneblade, and a slightly positive Zoo matchup offset by a slightly unfavorable NO RUG matchup. U/W Stoneblade is a solid choice in the current environment, but not a spectacular one, which is evidenced by its unexciting win percentage.

Zoo — 6.14% of field, won 50.56% of matches

Example: Andrew Boody, 8th Place


Zoo’s popularity spike in Baltimore, which brought in within spitting distance of Merfolk, may have been a temporary, or regional phenomenon. It fell several percentage points shy of that mark in Cincinnati, although being more than six percent of the field is still unusual for Zoo. This may help explain Merfolk’s waning success rate.

Indeed, Merfolk is the one positive note for Zoo’s performance in this event. Wild Nacatl crushed Lord of Atlantis even better than usual, but struggled against the other decks. Even considering the overall numbers, this field doesn’t look particularly good for Zoo, although the increasingly relevant B/W Stoneblade matchup is likely to be much better than Cincinnati’s results would indicate.

B/W Stoneblade — 5.26% of field, won 48.82% of matches

Example: N/A

B/W Stoneblade

B/W Stoneblade has been slowly becoming a consistent factor in the metagame. It’s possible that the players who were playing Junk earlier this year have switched over to the more mana-stable deck, or that it simply appeals to those who want to play with Dark Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic without a blue shell.

Whatever the reason for its popularity, the deck didn’t have a successful weekend in Cincinnati, although its results against the other important decks weren’t terrible. For one thing, B/W Stoneblade boasts a great Merfolk matchup, and actually fried nearly as many fish, proportionately, as Zoo did. The U/W Stoneblade and NO RUG matchups look very close, both in Cincinnati and overall, and the matchup against Zoo is really the only sore spot (even if it worked out fine in Cincinnati).

Like Merfolk, B/W Stoneblade would probably be better poised in the metagame right now if it weren’t for the revitalized popularity of Zoo. As it is, Deadguy Ale’s newest incarnation is a much less attractive choice.

NO RUG — 4.82% of field, won 61.69% of matches

Example: Alex Bertoncini, 4th Place


NO RUG was by far the most successful of any of the reasonably popular decks in Cincinnati, and that’s not surprising, considering its history. What is somewhat surprising, or at least noteworthy, is that we can’t credit that success to any particularly lopsided matchup among the top decks. In fact, we can’t really be sure about any of the matchups. Last time, we reported that NO RUG was slightly behind against Merfolk in historical matches. This time, thanks to a 7-1 record on the day, NO RUG is ahead in that matchup, but the gap is small enough that it may go the other way after the next tournament. The other matchups are even closer, all within two matches of being even.

However, it’s clear from its consistently high win percentages that NO RUG is an extremely good deck, quite possibly the best deck in Legacy right now. It looks like the deck has a lot of close matchups, especially among the other popular decks, but that most of those close matchups are slightly in NO RUG’s favor. More data, of course, may show some of these matchups not to be so close after all — and if people pick up the deck to the extent that they probably should, given these results, we’ll be getting a lot more data.

Last weekend brought us the Seattle Open, and, while we don’t have the full breakdown yet, we do have the Top 16 from that event. The most surprising result is, of course, Hive Mind putting four players into that Top 16. It’s hard to interpret this without knowing how popular the deck was, but we know that it hasn’t been extremely popular in previous events, so it’s likely that we’ll soon be reporting another good win percentage for Hive Mind. We’ve been wary of recommending the deck so far, since it hasn’t seen a lot of play yet and it’s had a couple of mediocre showings, but in light of its historical win percentage and its success in Seattle, it’s certainly a defensible choice in Pittsburgh.

The only other deck to put more than one person in Seattle’s Top 16 was NO RUG, which is not surprising at all. It’s been one of the best-performing decks in every tournament since its debut, and it’s popular enough to give serious weight to those results. As NO RUG continues to succeed, it’s becoming increasingly harder to justify playing anything else.

The fact that Merfolk didn’t put anyone in the Top 16 of Seattle is unusual, but it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from that. For example, neither U/W Stoneblade nor B/W Stoneblade made Top 16 in Cincinnati, but both turned out to be among the most popular decks. Merfolk and Zoo, the other top decks, made only one appearance each. Even though Merfolk didn’t make Top 16 in Seattle, it was still probably the most popular deck.

In general, it’s tempting to read too much into a Top 16, but we won’t really understand the Seattle metagame until we look at the full breakdown.

We’ll see you again soon, with that breakdown and accompanying analysis. Until then, good luck in Pittsburgh!

Alix Hatfield
Jesse Hatfield