The Meta Analysis – The Great Big Gladiator Games

Hello and welcome to another Meta Analysis ! This time we will be looking at the Great Big Gladiator Games (GBGG), which had 79 different deck types registered. We will be looking at the performances of decks, archetypes and colors, and, in a follow-up article, some card specific data.

As always with the Meta Analysis, the numbers mentioned here are only a fraction of the matches played in Gladiator, and so this shouldn’t be considered an overview of the format, just of the tournaments discussed. 

All the data is being presented with the mirror matches removed, so the total matches for each deck may not equal the number of matches these decks played in the event. This also means the match win percentage (MW%) will give a truer reflection of a deck’s ability as a result of this. 

The Decks

Okay, let’s dive into the numbers! I’ll start with the largest table of the article, with every single deck in the event represented. The table is sorted by total matches, and we can see that Sultai Midrange and Mono-Green Stompy proved the popular choices for the event, but a whole field of decks followed behind, once again showing the diversity of decks available in Gladiator.

Deck NameTotal MatchesMW%Deck NameTotal MatchesMW%
Sultai Midrange8951.69Mono-Green Stompy6665.15
Mono-Red Aggro3971.79Izzet Control3560.00
Dimir Control3348.48Selesnya Midrange3243.75
Sultai Control3046.67The Rock3050.00
Mono-Green Aggro2864.29Mono-White Death & Taxes2755.56
Azorius Control2661.54Jeskai Control2450.00
Golgari Midrange2360.87Gruul Aggro2352.17
Five-color Combo2133.33Four-color Midrange1963.16
Golgari Aggro1963.16Mono-Red Goblins1968.42
Grixis Control1822.22Sultai Some Brand of Cereal1877.78
Gruul Stompy1758.82Five-color Control1650.00
Four-color Combo1631.25Mono-White Aggro1662.50
Orzhov Angels1643.75Mono-Black Aggro1553.33
Orzhov Vampires1540.00Jund Midrange1442.86
Mardu Pyromancer1435.71Temur Storm1442.86
Boros Aggro1330.77Dimir Tempo1241.67
Five-color Niv-Mizzet1250.00Gruul Midrange1241.67
Orzhov Midrange1250.00Abzan Midrange1154.55
Esper Control1040.00Sultai Combo1050.00
Azorius Midrange825.00Bant Control850.00
Bant Midrange875.00Boros Control862.50
Jeskai Planeswalkers837.50Mardu Aggro837.50
Rakdos Sacrifice862.50Selesnya Tokens850.00
Simic Combo862.50Temur Midrange837.50
Temur Tempo850.00Esper Aggro714.29
Esper Midrange714.29Grixis Midrange742.86
Gruul Elves714.29Naya Feather742.86
Naya Midrange728.57Rakdos Aggro742.86
Dimir Flash650.00Five-color Auras616.67
Golgari Control650.00Grixis Madness633.33
Mardu Sacrifice633.33Orzhov Aggro650.00
Orzhov Death & Taxes650.00Orzhov Zombies633.33
Simic Ramp650.00Simic Tempo650.00
Boros Feather520.00Four-color Some Brand of Cereal540.00
Golgari Elves540.00Mono-Black Rack540.00
Golgari Stompy425.00Grixis Storm425.00
Mardu Midrange425.00Grixis Combo333.33
Mono-Green Elves30.00Gruul Ramp20.00
Jeskai Midrange250.00Mono-Black Midrange20.00
Golgari Combo10.00

Total matches is one metric to sort by, but let’s be honest, it’s far more interesting to sort by match win percentage.  In order to prevent anomalies in the data with low numbers of matches, any deck archetypes with fewer than 15 matches played were ignored. This means at least three players took these decks to the event, so it considers deck strength while starting to minimize pilot influence. 

The top ten decks as sorted by Match Win Percentage are below. 

Deck NameTotal MatchesMW%
Sultai Some Brand of Cereal1877.78
Mono-Red Aggro3971.79
Mono-Red Goblins1968.42
Mono-Green Stompy6665.15
Mono-Green Aggro2864.29
Four-color Midrange1963.16
Golgari Aggro1963.16
Mono-White Aggro1662.50
Azorius Control2661.54
Golgari Midrange2360.87

The top deck of the GBGG was Sultai Some Brand of Cereal; a Combo deck with a heavy Control package that proved a very good choice. The ever reliable Mono-Red Aggro showed up as well, with its cousin Mono-Red Goblins not too far behind. Following them were the twins of Mono-Green Aggro and Mono-Green Stompy. While not the same deck despite sharing about one third of their non-land cards, both clearly showcased the power of turning big green creatures sideways, to an almost identical win-rate. The remainder of the top ten had a mix of Aggro, Midrange and Control, leaving only Combo and Tribal with just one deck in the top ten. This once again indicates the diverse options available in Gladiator, with deck styles to suit anyone. 

Sultai Some Brand of Cereal’s results were almost certainly due to it having solid matchups against both Aggro and Midrange, while both the Mono-Red and Mono-Green decks showed the value of being able to curve out and apply pressure. I expect that the consistency shown by Mono-Red and Mono-Green will continue for some time, as these decks are only going to get both faster and have higher card quality as each new set is released, and it will be up to the rest of the field to adapt each time.

The Archetypes

Let’s move on from the individual decks now, and take a look at how the broad archetypes performed in the GBGG. Each deck was assigned to an overall archetype, with some discussion had amongst some of the Blog writers for the more tricky to sort decks.  Eventually each deck was sorted, and once the data was combined the archetypes performed as follows. 

ArchetypeTotal MatchesMW%
Midrange34248.25
Aggro31956.43
Control21450.00
Combo10046.00
Tribal7143.66
Tempo3246.88
Other2832.14

Aggro proved to be the strongest overall archetype, while Control managed to match its reputation to an exactly 50% win rate. The rogue decks outside of the traditional archetypes performed significantly worse, suggesting that right now the card pool is too small for truly rogue brews. It comes as no shock that Midrange was the most popular archetype, and it managed to put up a respectable win rate, but perhaps some Midrange lists need to be leaned down a bit to both be able to handle the speed of the Aggro decks and apply pressure to the Control and Combo decks. Tribal was the true wildcard of the event, with five different tribes represented, but all outside of Mono-Red Goblins failed to reach a positive win rate. This suggests that a few more support cards for some of the tribes might be required, so as to allow a density of card quality that would allow the tribes to reach the top tables. 

The Colors

The final thing for today’s discussion is how the colors performed, with the decks once again being categorized, this time based on their color, and then the results combined to obtain the following results.  This is more of a fun thing to look at, so don’t consider this a ranking of the colors in Gladiator, as the different color combinations significantly affect how these results turn out.

ColourTotal MatchesMW%
White39044.62
Blue48447.73
Black55846.06
Red41246.60
Green59351.60

The clear shock here is that only green had a positive win rate, with all other colors falling below a 50% match win percentage. One such culprit in these results is the Grixis decks, which overall obtained a 28.9% match win percentage, and Boros, which only managed a 38.5% match win percentage, despite being considered a powerful threat before the start of the event.  This data also shows that green and black were far more popular than the other colors, with white lagging behind at the back of the pack in both popularity and match win percentage. 

Signing Off

Thank you very much for reading the first Meta Analysis on the Great Big Gladiator Games. I will be back later with some spicy card specific data. How many creatures played failed the Lightning Bolt test? How many cards can get hit by Inquisition of Kozilek? What was the most played non-land card of the event? All these answers and more will be revealed next time.

Until then, if you have any questions, or any data you’d like to see, feel free to contact me on the Gladiator Discord (Tyreworm#15017).