This past weekend the best players in the world gathered in Honolulu to compete in one of the best tournaments of the year. The Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir was the first professional approach to this new Standard format and several new strategies emerged. So what is the best deck? This is the question that everybody wants to answer.
In order to answer this question we reviewed the top standard decks published by Wizards (A-N, O-Z) and additional data provided by reddit users (thank you very much /r/spikes :) ). Then we got each of the rounds of Constructed Tournament (4-8, 12-16 and Top 8 playoff) and identified all matches between players whose decks were known. In this way we recorded all clashes between different archetypes during the tournament, obtaining results of each match played. This data is shown in the following matchup tables.
The information provided by these tables is easy to read. Each row represents the number (or percentage) of victories. Each column represents the number (or percentage) of losses. Empty cells indicate that no matches between the archetypes in question were recorded. Note that mirror matches are not taken into account.
Table 1. Overall match win percentage
In Table 1 we have the wins and losses of every matchup recorded. You can see which matchups are the most replayed and how are the big numbers against the field. For example Abzan Midrange has 33 victories and 32 defeats, making a great score of 52% of win rate.
Table 2. Match win percentage by matchup
Let’s put this in context, Which matchup is bad for me if I pick one deck and play it like a pro player in the Pro Tour? Colours will help us with this answer; if the row of the deck I choose is entirely red then I will have a bad tournament for sure.
The following is the matchup flow chart generated from the Tables above. Each flow represents the amount of victories the archetype on the left side has over the archetype on the right. The bar accompanying each archetype represents its number of instances. In this way we can see the popularity of each archetype, as well as what their best and worst matchups.
We all know that matches are decided by a lot of variables. In the spirit of making a more deep analysis of the information, let’s see what happens with every game and then apply the same rules and data manipulation.
Table 3. Overall game win percentage
Table 4. Game win percentage by matchup
Doing the analysis in this way we get a decent characterization of each matchup. While these numbers should not be taken as canonical values they seem a very good approximation. We are talking of matches among the best players in the world in the most demanding level tournament. The main issue is the lack of data. We would be able to improve dramatically the quality of this analysis if we knew which deck played the rest of the players. If you have that info, please share it here!:
A more extensive numerical analysis is possible; taking win percentage (matches and games) of each archetype against all other decks we can define an expected value for match (and game) win percentage over a certain metagame. Table 5 shows the results using the numbers of the Pro Tour KTK day 2 metagame breakdown.
Table 5. Expected Match and Game Win Percentage (based on PTKTK Day2 Metagame)
So the decision of which one is the best deck depends on the metagame you are going to face. Nothing new here but we will be glad if this analysis helps you to choose wisely a deck for this new format.
EDIT: reddit user HippityLongEars has done some game theory on our data to see how the metagame should shake out if these matchup win percentages are accurate. Check his work here.
Last Update: October 17, 2014 (data: 81 players, 139 matches, 348 games)