27, Jul, 23

MTG Card Dominates Pro Tour Numbers, Threatening to Upend the Format!

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Pro Tour Lord of the Rings is set to start tomorrow, and a lot of MTG players had a series of questions to ask coming into this event. Lord of the Rings has completely taken the format by storm, and the two most popular cards in the Pro Tour come from this set. Orcish Bowmasters is what many would consider the best card in the format, and has allowed Rakdos Scam or Evoke to reach the pinnacle of the Modern metagame.

Despite this, there is one problematic card that has shown up in 41% of Pro Tour decks! Many MTG players speculated that The One Ring would get banned out of Modern depending on how it showed up at the Pro Tour.

The One Ring – a 41% Showing (At Least)

Many MTG players speculated that, depending on The One Ring’s showing at Pro Tour Lord of the Rings, the card would be banned in Modern shortly after. Oko, Thief of Crowns, was infamous for its 50% showing at a Pro Tour event, and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis made a mess of the last Modern Pro Tour. Both cards got banned quickly after their events ended.

According to MTG personality Saffron Olive, with the current numbers provided in Magic’s Pro Tour Lord of the Rings metagame breakdown, at least 41% of players are playing The One Ring but, chances are, the actual metagame share is even higher than this.

This is because the 41% metagame share assumes that every player playing The One Ring is playing four of them, which is unlikely to be the case. Don’t get me wrong, The One Ring is definitely a card that can (and probably should) be played in multiples of four, but four mana is quite expensive in the context of the modern format, and having four copies of the The One Ring can clog your hand up a bit.

There is definitely some number of players playing four copies of The One Ring, but it is doubtful that everyone playing The One Ring is doing this. Even if they are, 41% of the metagame is still a number that should be ringing some warning bells.

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The One Ring in the Sideboard?

Some players may notice that 35 copies of Modern’s breakout card are popping up in sideboards instead of main decks. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a Pro Tour wizard to explain this one since The One Ring is a common sideboard inclusion in one archetype that gained a ton of popularity thanks to Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth: Mono Green Tron.

Tron as an archetype is rather timeless, so we won’t spend too much time explaining it. Basically, by using the combination of Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Tower and Urza’s Mine, you can create a three-land combination that taps for seven colorless mana. This allows you to deploy massive threats as early as turn three and overwhelm your opponents.

Karn, the Great Creator is one of the best cards you can use in a Tron strategy. For four mana, you get access to a Planeswalker that can access any colorless card in your sideboard. Outside of that, Karn turns off opposing artifacts. This means a resolved Karn will stop opposing The One Ring cards from working which, when considering the card is at least 41% of the metagame, is a really big deal.

Karn can -2 to grab The One Ring out of the sideboard, so a majority of players sideboarding the card are likely on a strategy that involves Karn. We know that there are 24 Mono Green Tron players at the Pro Tour. That means there are likely 11 copies of The One Ring being sideboarded elsewhere, but some Tron players could be playing multiples of these in the sideboard as well.

We know at least one iteration of The One Ring is in the sideboard of a Four-color Elemental list, and there’s likely other lists that are also implementing the 3/1 split for this card.

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Most Popular Decks

Another startling stat that many MTG players were not expecting was to have four decks make up 50% of the metagame. This may not be a surprising statistic for other formats. Look at the last Standard Pro Tour, for example.

Pro Tour March of the Machine’s top four decks occupied 55.1% of the meta. The four decks included the Rakdos Midrange archetype that ultimately won the Pro Tour and got nuked in bans that occurred afterwards, Grixis Midrange, Esper Legends, and Rakdos Reanimator. Notably, the fifth archetype was Grixis Reanimator, which is very close to the top four decks in contents.

Unlike Standard, because Modern has a gigantic card pool, the format has a lot more viable archetypes as far as the metagame goes. Because of this, seeing four archetypes occupy 50% of the meta shows just how massively Lord of the Rings has warped Modern. Looking at mtggoldfish‘s past 30-day Modern metagame, for example, needs the first six archetypes to hit a 50% metagame share.

Not only this, but some of the decks that have showed up in the top four Modern decks for the Pro Tour do not show up in the top six decks over the last 30 days. The four decks the take up 50% of the Pro Tour are Rakdos Scam, Four-Color Control, Crashing Footfalls and Mono-Green Tron.

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Will The One Ring Get Banned?

Rakdos Scam is, by far, the most popular deck in the metagame and, generally, does not run The One Ring, which definitely throws a wrench in The One Ring’s ban discussion. The card is, regardless, at least 41% of the metagame which is unnatural at best.

The One Ring’s fate is likely to depend on how it performs at the Pro Tour. If Rakdos Scam completely dominates the Pro Tour, Orcish Bowmasters (which is seeing at least a 38% metagame share), or one of the Evoke Elementals, may be on the chopping block before The One Ring is. That said, The One Ring has definitely reached numbers where its ban could be a legitimate discussion, just like what many players thought it would be. For now, the ban of the card is uncertain, but expect to see a lot of it if you’re watching Pro Tour Lord of the Rings this weekend.

Any players invested in the Modern format should be watching the Pro Tour with heavy anticipation. This is the first Modern Pro Tour in quite some time and, as arguably MTG’s most popular competitive format, the results of this event could have a major shakeup on flex slots for the more popular archetypes. Heck, an unexpected deck could even show up and take the event down by surprise.

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