Zendikar Rising: By the Numbers
Hello this is Bryan "Veveil" Hohns, here writing my first article for Untapped.gg! Untapped.gg is an awesome resource for any aspiring Magic Arena grinder, and this is a statement I'd honestly make without any personal affiliation with the site. Having access to raw ladder data for Standard/Draft/Historic provides invaluable aid for solid metagaming, and the app itself is a helpful tool that passively improves the amount of information available to you while grinding the ladder.
I previously wrote about Zendikar Rising Limited on my personal blog and am pleased to be able to expand on my earlier insights here. In this article, I will be using the data I have on hand to analyze the Zendikar Rising Premium Draft metagame. My data set for this article is all Gold+ games of ZNR Premium Draft that have been tracked by the Untapped.gg Companion as of October 8th.
|Maul of the Skyclaves||#11|
|Inscription of Insight||#15|
|Jace, Mirror Mage||#16|
|Ashaya, Soul of the Wild||#17|
|Master of Winds||#19|
|Inscription of Ruin||#20|
Listed above are the top 20 cards that players were least likely to pass in Premium Drafts. Seeing Felidar Retreat at #1 should come as no surprise to anyone who has played against the card, which can be almost unbeatable given a few activations. In a general sense, this list is full of easy P1P1s that any player would be happy to start their draft with. If you handed me these 20 cards and told me to rank them myself, I'd perhaps produce a slightly different order (I rate Maul of the Skyclaves higher than most of the top 10, for instance). Regardless, not a single one of these cards is anything but great!
The graphic and mini-table above shows the most successful and most popular Draft archetypes. BR Party has the highest win rate of any archetype, while BW Clerics is the most popular. On the other hand, GB Counters has the lowest win rate of any 2c archetype, and GW Landfall is the least popular color pairing. Clerics has the best combination of popularity/win rate (1st and 2nd), while GW Landfall has arguably the worst (1st and 2nd to last).
Why might this be the case? BR Party is an archetype that largely just depends on commons to be good, with Grotag-Bug Catcher and Malakir High-Priest carrying the best BR decks despite their common rarity. BW Clerics similarly has another bread and butter common pairing in Kor Celebrant + Marauding Blight-Priest, which together give the deck solid incremental advantage in races. The weakest performing archetype, GB Counters, seem to suffer from a lack of strong common payoffs/identity. Without Iridescent Hornbeetle, Skyclave Shadowcat, and other uncommon payoffs, GB has very underwhelming payoffs at common. The data also proposes that green may be the weakest standalone color in the set; Gx color pairings are ranked 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th in winrate, and all but GU are among the least commonly drafted pairings.
However, the numbers above are hardly dramatic enough to suggest that you should never draft GB or GW. Rather, think of these statistics as a compass to guide your early picks/archetype positioning. If you are base Green or White in P1, for example, tabling a Murasa Rootgrazer should be enough for you to slide into GW. But the table does suggest that you should be leaning more towards the best four performing archetypes (BR Party, BW Clerics, RW Warriors, and UB Rogues) if possible. Given that all of the 2c archetypes have a bit above 50% winrate, the sub 50% winrate is coming from small, unlisted archetypes (3 color decks, Mono White, Mono Green, any non Omnath 4c, etc). As such it seems that finding and sticking with a supported 2 color pair is important, and that splashing is often not worth the trouble.
Speaking of splashing, there's just enough data on WURG decks to show them performing poorly overall. While I can't say for certain that all of these decks had Omnath in them, there is very little other reason to be WURG in this format. The takeaway from this statistic is that, if you are prioritizing win rate over fun factor, you may want to pass on Omnath in draft. If you do find yourself drafting it, remember that you'll need to be base GU, GW, or GR, and that you must draft Reclaim the Wastes, Roiling Regrowth, and Vastwood Surge as highly/frequently as you can. You will also likely find your deck to be clunky/mana heavy, which will reduce the average power level of your non-Omnath draws. Consider playing cards like Adventure Awaits as well to make sure you find your Omnath on time!
The solid win rates from Mono-Red and Mono-Blue decks seem like more of a curiosity than anything else, as there isn't a very large sample of data for either archetype. I still decided to list both though, as their over 50% win rates are not shared by Mono White or Mono G (both sub 47% win rate). This could suggest that either red/blue are deeper than green/white, or that red and blue are capable of fielding independent archetypes without the help of any other color. Mono U could likely support a rare mill deck (Ruin Crab, Maddening Cacophony, Field Research, Glacial Grasp, blockers like Skyclave Squid to fill the curve, etc), though most Mono-Blue inclined decks will likely just end up UB. Mono Red aggro seems fringe playable if you can get enough Akoum Hellhounds (GR sometimes plays it, nobody else should want them), some additional beaters, a handful of Roil Eruptions, and a few Inordinate Rage for good measure. I imagine most base red aggro decks will end up GR or RW by the end of the draft though!
This article should still provide a nice resource for drafters, as the above data shows what is working best in the format by this point. I plan to revisit this kind of article in a month or two to see if the metagame trends have changed at all. In addition to this, I also will be diving deeper into individual color pairings in future articles, which will focus on specific build/card choices for each archetype. Stay tuned for more content coming soon!
If you have any questions about this article or ZNR Draft in general, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I would recommend reading my previous article as well, which has quite a bit of additional information on this format.
Also a Constructed player? Don't forget to check out the best decks on ladder in the post-Omnath meta and download the Untapped.gg Companion if you haven't already.