14, Feb, 24

Overpowered MTG Mechanic Creates Absurd Metagame Disparity

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Article at a Glance

This past weekend, two massive Regional Championship events gave us a clear snapshot of what the Modern metagame would look like in a highly competitive environment. Notably, these events took place soon after the release of Murders at Karlov Manor, giving us a chance to see the new cards in full effect. Cards like Leyline of the Guildpact and the Surveil Lands made a heavy splash quite quickly, showing off the power of the new set.

The big story of this weekend, though, was the sheer dominance of Cascade strategies. Violent Outburst shells have been heavily represented for quite some time in the format. However, since the banning of Fury in Modern back in December, they have only risen in popularity. The data from the Regional Championships is truly staggering, so let’s take a closer look at how these Cascade archetypes separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

An Immense Presence

Crashing Footfalls

Right off the bat, the overwhelming presence of Cascade decks at these events is alarming in and of itself. At both Regional Championships, Temur Rhinos was the most played deck. The deck has been a strong choice for a while, so this isn’t too surprising. However, the margin of difference between Temur Rhinos and the second-most played deck at both Regional Championships (Golgari Yawgmoth in both cases) is rather extreme.

Golgari Yawgmoth represented just under 10% of the field in Canada and just under 12% of the field in the U.S. Temur Rhinos, by contrast, was the deck of choice for nearly 20% of players at both Regional Championships. This number is massive for a Modern event and, historically speaking, has signaled upcoming bans in many instances.

For example, this is nearly identical to the percentage of players that played Rakdos Scam at Pro Tour Lord of the Rings when Fury was still legal. One of the most infamous decks of all time, Modern Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, represented between 21% and 22% of the field of Mythic Championship IV before ultimately getting banned.

Additionally, Temur Rhinos made up an astounding 50% of the top 8 at the Regional Championship in Canada. By itself, Temur Rhinos’ massive presence is concerning. However, this doesn’t even factor in players who registered Domain Rhinos with Leyline of the Guildpact or Living End for the events. Over 25% of players at both events registered Shardless Agent and Violent Outburst with the intention of Cascading into something powerful, which doesn’t exactly signify a healthy format.

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An Absurd Win Rate

Leyline of the Guildpact

The only small saving grace with regards to Temur Rhinos is that its overall win rate wasn’t outrageously high. It had a win percentage of under 53% in Canada, and a win percentage below 49% in the U.S. Obviously, given the massive sample of players who registered the deck, it’s unlikely the deck would have a win rate far beyond 50%. Still, when compared to Hogaak’s performance at Mythic Championship IV, this seems a bit tame.

That being said, this was not the case for Domain Rhinos or Living End. In the case of Living End, which saw a total of 95 players playing the deck across both Regional Championships, boasted a win rate of over 55% at both events. This is rather incredible with such a large sample size.

Domain Rhinos takes things even further. Featuring 15 players in the U.S. and 6 players in Canada, Domain Rhinos put up an insane win rate of over 63% in the U.S. and over 67% in Canada. This makes Domain Rhinos the best performing deck at both tournaments among decks with at least 5 players registering them.

While 5 players total between both Regional Championships played Temur Rhinos, 2 more players played Living End and 2 played Domain Rhinos. This means that, between the 16 players across the top 8 of both tournaments, 9 of them played a Cascade variant. Temur Rhinos ultimately won the U.S. Regional Championship, while Living End won the Regional Championship in Canada. If this doesn’t showcase the pure dominance of Cascade strategies in Modern, I don’t know what does.

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Additional Metagame Highlights

Urza's Tower

While it’s important to reiterate the massive level of success that Cascade decks had last weekend, especially Living End and Domain Rhinos, it’s also worth pointing out the deck that had mediocre showings overall. Two particular Modern mainstays, Boros Burn and mono-green Tron, had rather pitiful performances across the board.

Burn was registered by 43 players in both events combined. In the U.S. Burn had just under a 45% win rate. In Canada, it had an abysmal 31% win rate, with only 1 player of 13 making day 2. Similarly, mono-green Tron was registered by 50 players and had a win rate below 45% at both events.

Meanwhile, Domain Zoo, another popular archetype featuring Leyline of the Guildpact, had roughly a 53% and 57% at the Regional Championships in the U.S. and Canada, respectively. This further showcases how strong Leyline of the Guildpact is right out of the gate.

Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see if any of the commonly shared cards amongst Cascade decks end up getting banned in the near future. It feels like Violent Outburst has been on thin ice for some time, and it’s possible that these tournaments were enough to push it over the top. Either way, for the time being, if you plan on playing Modern, having a gameplan for these strategies is essential. If you’re not well prepared, you’re in for a lot of trouble.

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