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By: jamuraa, Michael Janssen
Jan 16 2008 8:54am
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Well, v3 is coming to MTGO soon enough, and everyone is gearing up for the switch. This is probably a good thing - there will be less crashes. There were a lot this week it seemed, crashing every other day, and of course always when I am playing. I also tend to idle on the server a bit, so I get booted off and get confused. However, version 3 is supposed to fix all that. With any luck, we'll have more people playing all types of Premier Events, and special happy goodies as well. I know I'm looking forward to it - are you?

Last week we talked about swiss math, and this week is somewhat a continuation of that discussion. What I wanted you to take away from last week was an idea of when it is safe to draw the rest of your rounds into the top eight of a Premier Event. The basic rule is that if you are undefeated and there are 2 rounds left, you can draw into the top eight unless the PE is really large. The opposite is also unfortunately true. Unless the Premier Event is really small, don't expect to get in on anything worse than a one-loss record. This is why you see a lot of players dropping from the tournament after 2 rounds, and even more as they pick up their second loss. Personally I don't like to drop, as I am exicited to play in the tournament and get more experience in the competitive environment of the event.

Well, this week we are going to talk about the most elusive of all of the deciders for ranking in the Premier Event: the tiebreakers. Tiebreakers are what decides the ranking of players if they are matched exactly on score. This will happen if there are a number of players who are sitting at one loss. Tiebreakers are important because if there are more than four people who have one loss in the last round of the tournament, some will make it in and some won't. At this point, everyone needs to examine their tiebreakers, along with how many people are left in the one-loss bracket. If both of the players have good tiebreakers, they can often draw into the top eight anyway instead of playing. In fact, sometimes playing can cause them to be dropped out of the top eight if they did play.

I am only going to talk about two of the three tiebreakers in depth. The third one isn't used very often, because usually the first two will determine the ranking uniquely. Let's use the example below for the calculations. You are about to start the sixth round of a six round torunament and your record is four wins and one loss. For simplicity's sake, all of your previous round oppoents have dropped out - their match win percentages will not change.

Round Opponent Opponent's Record Opp. Match Win %
1 (lost 1-2) Adam 3-2 3 / 5 = 0.6
2 (won 2-0) Betty 1-2 1 / 3 = 0.3333
3 (won 2-1) Charlie 2-2 (1 bye) 1 / 3 = 0.3333
4 (won 2-0) Diego 3-2 3 / 5 = 0.6
5 (won 2-0) Ernie 3-2 (1 bye) 2 / 4 = 0.5
6 (unplayed) Fred 4-1 before 4 / 5 = 0.8

The first tiebreaker is the match win percentage of your opponents. In other words, the amount of matches won by your opponents divided by the amount of total matches that your opponent's played. Usually if you are in the running, you have pretty good tiebreakers just because you have been playing people with the same record as you because of how swiss pairings work. In the matches above, there have been 5 opponents. The match win percentage of your opponents is the average of their match win percentages, ignoring byes. The match win percentages of the opponent's above are shown. The average of these percentages is (0.6 + 0.3333 + 0.3333 + 0.6 + 0.5) / 5 = 2.3666 / 5 = 0.47333. This would be your first tiebreaker. Note how this changes if you win this round - your sixth round opponent would lose, putting him at 4-2 and 0.6666 match win. Then your tiebreaker will be (0.6 + 0.3333 + 0.3333 + 0.6 + 0.5 + 0.6666) / 6 = 3.0333 / 6 = 0.50555. If you draw the round, your opponent goes to 4-1-1 and the same match win percentage. However, if you lose, your tiebreakers actually go up more, because your opponent has a 5/6 match win. Ostensibly, this first tiebreaker measures how good the opponents and decks you have been playing against are - if they are winning a lot, they must be good. The person with the higher opponent's match win percentage supposedly had a "harder path" up to the level they are at.

The second tiebreaker is easier to work out - it is your game win percentage. This is the total number of games you won over the total number of games you have played. In the above example, you have played 12 total games, and won 9 of them. This makes your game win percentage 9 / 12, or 0.75. I believe that the reasoning behind using this as the second tiebreaker is that if you both had an equally hard time getting to where you are, then the person who won "faster", that is in more 2-0 matches, is a better player.

Luckily, MTGO does all of these calculations for us automatically, so most of us don't really need to know how these work.  However, if you find yourself in a pinch, all of this and more is laid out in the Tournament Organizer's Handbook from the DCI which you can download. The key point to remember is that drawing when you are very high in the tiebreakers when you only have one loss is sometimes safe - when you are near the top of the rankings going in, and there aren't a lot of players who are playing it out.

Statistics for Standard PEs: 1/8/2008 to 1/15/2008

This week there were fifteen standard Premier Events (PEs) scheduled on Magic Online. One event got wiped by a server crash on Saturday night. Another event got finished early the next day, but we still have meta. This gives us 2 second-place winners in that PE. This leaves us with fourteen PEs worth of top 8, giving us 112 spots. We continue with humdrum events this week, everything paying out 2x and no special bonuses for joining or top eighting the PE. Standard Premier Events and got an average turnout of 38 players, 10 players less per event than last week. I think that this fluctuation is normal however. Nine of the fourteen events this week had a split at the final table.

Winner - Split - Second - Semifinals - Quarterfinals

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
Elves! 21% (+5%)
Doran Rock 10% (+4%)
Big Mana 9% (+0%)
Rock 8% (+1%)
Mana Ramp 5% (+4%)
Pickles Blink 5% (-2%)
Merfolk 3% (+1%)
Reanimator 3% (+3%)
Traumatized 3% (+0%)
Goblins 3% (-1%)
Guile 3% (+2%)
Primal Mannequin 2% (new)
Faeries 2% (-1%)
Mannequin 2% (-5%)
Knoll Storm 1% (-3%)
Red Deck Wins 1% (+1%)
  Blink 1% (+0%)
Boom Justice <1% (new)
Snow Control <1% (+0%)
Strawberry Crisis <1% (+<1%)
  Other 5% (-2%)
  Inactivity   none!

Elves! continues to dominate this week, gaining even more popularity than it had before and taking almost a fifth of the top eight spots. Doran Rock gained back some of the lost spots from last week, still going strong. Green and black are apparently the colors for the new year. Green-white Mana Ramp is also gaining popularity, probably because of it's good matchups against other aggro. Big Mana continues to hold at it's position, while Pickles loses some spots. cwllc continues to bash away at the top 8 with his Traumatized deck. An interesting development was the spotting of the Primal Mannequin deck, which is a evolution of the normal blue-black mannequin deck to include Primal Command for tutoring creatures as well as some nice green creatures like Cloudthresher.

The big gainer this week is a tie between Elves and Doran Rock - they don't really need to be gaining, but they are anyway. The big loser this week is Mannequin, which lost a lot of it's spots, possibly because of a switch to the Primal Mannequin.

This week's "other" category, we have six decks. We had a red-green Elves deck with Radha, Heir to Keld, as well as a Big Mana deck with black splashed for none other than Shriekmaw. We also saw a blue-white pickles deck which used Platinum Angel as a win (or rather, non-loss) condition. Rounding up the oddballs was a Big Mana deck which used Fiery Justice but wasn't the outlier, and a Lightning Angel deck.

Mode of the Week: Merfolk

11 Island
4 Plains
4 Wanderwine Hub
4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Merrow Reejerey
2 Mirror Entity
3 Sygg, River Guide
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Tideshaper Mystic
Other Spells
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Cryptic Command
4 Rune Snag
4 Oblivion Ring
Merrow Reejerey

This week we are going farther and farther down the ladder. I could have done the Doran Rock deck but we have a couple other articles which cover the deck here in both Standard and Extended already, so I skipped it. This deck isn't taking a ton of spots, but it is the most successful deck that we haven't covered yet. Merfolk is another of the linear decks which kindof spring out at you from the inclusion of tribes as a focus in Lorwyn. The big bonus of the merfolk tribe is that they have Lord of Atlantis, which gives them a full eight lords.

This particular build has a bit more control than the normal aggro, but still wins by basically turning the fish sideways. The main plan is of course to cast a lot of merfolk creatures. The interesting part of this deck is that you don't really care that much about the opposing creatures - with more lords and a ton of creatures that are in play, you can turn any of their lands into an Island with Tideshaper Mystic and then islandwalk past all of their guys, racing them and usually winning. Extra gas comes in the form of a set of Ancestral Vision, which is easily the best draw spell in standard today. Sideboard stars in this deck are (Merfolk Thaurmaturgist) against Doran which flips to a 5/0 and dies immediately, as well as being good against Big Mana, taking out the Wall of Roots accelerators. While this deck hasn't been really popular lately, I think it has quite a bit of promise, as it just ignores the blockers that the current mid-range Rock and Doran rock bring to the mix.

Outlier of the week: Boom Justice

Boom Justice DrewStar
4 Karplusan Forest
3 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Horizon Canopy
3 Plains
4 Forest
4 Mountain
3 Wall of Roots
2 Tarmogoyf
4 Siege-Gang Commander
Other Spells
3 Fiery Justice
4 Oblivion Ring
2 Wrath of God
4 Coalition Relic
2 Molten Disaster
2 Boom // Bust
3 Condemn
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
3 Harmonize

3 Pyroclasm
3 Riftsweeper
1 Pithing Needle
3 Eyes of the Wisent
2 Squall Line
2 Boom // Bust

Fiery Justice

This week's Outlier is a true outlier - it only made a single top eight, placing in the semifinals before losing. I chose it because it piqued my interest, as I noticed every land on the field get put into the graveyard at the same time. Yes, this deck abuses the land-sweeper of (Bust). Because of this, it runs twenty-five lands in order to recover, as well as Coalition Relic. The Relics stay around nicely after the Bust, allowing up to eight mana on a turn, powering out the finishers of Tarmogoyf and Siege-Gang Commander as well as Molten Disaster. The deck also abuses Fiery Justice as a board sweeper, along with the other creature-sweepers Wrath of God and Molten Disaster itself.

I got a chance to have a short interview with DrewStar, the creator of this deck while he was between rounds of an event later in the week. His main motivation for making the deck was a like of Boom // Bust, wanting to break the card, and a general like for how Fiery Justice looked on paper. One key change that he made recently was to add the Horizon Canopys to get a bit of extra card draw right before the Bust. DrewStar unfortunately found out that the deck is a bad matchup against Big Mana, probably because of it's amazing acceleration - he went on to the semifinals later that week with Big Mana himself. The deck has particularly good matchups against Faeries and goes about 50/50 against Elves, especially after sideboarding with Pyroclasm. The green-white Mana Ramp deck is also a good matchup, as the Bust hurts them a lot.

We got lucky and ended up with a couple of decks which are both kindof outliers this week, which is I suppose forgivable because we had two somewhat popular decks last week. Elves is getting kindof boring to watch, especially the mirror matches. What do you think is the deck that can oust Elves from the top spot? I'll probably be playing in a couple PEs this week looking for the answer. You can look for me on MTGO as jamuraa in the PEs, either watching or playing. Until then, good luck in the PEs!


This is great by MrGando (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 01/16/2008 - 09:36
MrGando (Unregistered)'s picture

Great material , you should keep doing that metagame stats every week or so, it's really great you did it , and we ppl need something like that :)



Great job! by Cyrrix_chipset (not verified) at Wed, 01/16/2008 - 10:55
Cyrrix_chipset's picture

Agree with the above poster.  Great job!  Makes me wish I knew about this site long long ago with all the great information I am reading here.  not sure when started, but I am greatfull you did.