Rank Decay Behavior Update: June 2019 to March 2021

Information MTGA 
By: variancekills - 24 May 2021

Way back in June of 2019, I started tracking rank decay and developing a system that can allow me to identify a sequence of “safe” ranks, such that in succeeding months, if I find that I have reached a safe rank (e.g., #66 8 days before the end of the season back in 2019), I can stop playing the ladder with some assurance that I will stay within the top 1200. My system has worked well after gathering enough data in 2019, and I used the same data in 2020. However, by April of 2020, I noticed that decay had sped up, indicating that more people are trying to get to the top 1200 in 2020 than there were in 2019. This is a good sign that the game is experiencing significant growth, but at the same time it meant that I needed to track more data for use in succeeding seasons. This is exactly what I did, and by the following months, I was comfortably back to identifying safe ranks with new data. The following figure shows data gathered from August (used data from 2 players), and November.

As shown here, rank decay six days or closer to the end of the season was still stable. That is, you can choose to park rank at any point on the line and you would be safe for top 1200. I was able to use this data to park ranks whenever I needed to in the succeeding seasons (there were some months when I did not need to bother with ranks since I made Day 2 of the qualifiers during the previous month).

Many players have also used my system for sitting rank and were also having success in doing so. However, in January of 2021, one of those players who had relied on the data to stay safe six days before the end of the season found that decay sped up and he was no longer safe looking at data 24 hours before the end of the season. He still made top 1200 after playing more games upon realization that his rank was not safe, but this did give me motivation to gather more data again. However, this would not happen until March of 2021, since I made Day 2 in January and so did not need to rank up for February.

So, when I did start tracking data in March here is what I got.

As you can see from the figure, the red line (March 2021) begins approximately collinearly with the blue line (November 2020). I did start tracking at exactly the same rank as I knew was safe for November (#209 five days before the end of the season for which the end of season rank in November 2020 was #997). However, it started to depart from the line at 4 days before the end of the season, reaching a point at 24 hours before season’s end where I was certain that my rank was no longer safe (#854, 19 hours before end). As such, I played for a bit and luckily got to #313 which was safe with a final rank of #519. Again, I made Day 2 in that qualifier which meant I did not have data for April. However, this seems to indicate that rank decay has again sped up, which may be an indicator of even more growth of competitive players who are vying for one of the 1200 qualifier slots.

Thus, as of now, I am no longer using the data that I had from November and older as basis for rank decay. In fact, it may be prudent to reduce my observational window from 6 days before season’s end to somewhere closer to 3 days. As of this moment, I am still confident that #400 or better is safe 24 hours before season’s end. Hopefully, I will be able to gather more data during this last week of the season to serve as basis for succeeding months.

About variancekills:

Hi, I'm Mark. I've won exactly one World Magic Cup Qualifier, one Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier, one Arena Open ($2k) and one CFB Pro Showdown (April, 2021), and I am looking to win more. I've played in almost every Mythic Championship Qualifier Weekend and made Day 2 four times (so far). Follow my FB page or subscribe to my Twitch channel for no frills, competitive Magic. You won't see my face, but I won't hide my gameplay and deckchoice flaws. I play both MTGA and MTGO and stream most of the time when I do. I will lose often, and I will make mistakes, but I try my best to let you know when I do (and I think I will still win a lot more times than I lose).

The challenge for me every season is to find the best decks and make the most use out of them before they're no longer the best decks, or they get banned. I play a ton of limited when a set is just released in order to complete most of the rares for the set within a short timeframe. With the availability of Premier Drafts and the Metagame Challenge, I've spent as little as 2000 gold completing a set's rares. I'm currently sitting on over 800k gold and over 70k gems but have spent a grand total of $105 in the game.

I produce occassional video articles about the game that cover things that interest me, such as how to know when your rank is safe for a month's MCQW slot, how much you need to spend to get to Day 2 of an Arena Open, or how MDFCs affect Arena's Bo1 shuffler. I also mythbust a ton of crap about the game that you've no doubt heard or read about somewhere.

Finally, I'm a dad and husband first, a statistician, teacher, and researcher second (I know those are 3 things but bear with me), a Magic player third, and a content creator only because I am a Magic player. 

So yeah, let's play some Magic and may the shuffler be with us all.

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/deathbyvariance


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