State of the meta – Wave 4 is nearly over

With Wave 5 expected to be released mid september – it is time again to look back and see which lists, pilots and upgrades did well in wave 4. All data here is based Listfortress data from September 3rd 2019.

With Worlds coming up, the focus will be on Extended – with a few notes on Hyperspace where I feel it is relevant. I will be looking only at data from major Extended tournaments, or more specifically the North American and European Continentals, the German and Canadian Nationals and the Paris System Open. Australian System Open data did not make it.

As this is an analysis piece, I will try my best to stick as close as possible to the data and avoid any personal opinion. Whenever I feel that I must inject an opinion not totally founded in data I will make sure to make an #opinion-warning.

I will start by going over a few general trends, and then go through the factions in order of current (average) strength. The faction order is determined using the full dataset from august 2019.

Important note: The lists considered for each faction are not taken directly from the “stock view” of Pink Brain Matter – but are instead derived using a custom query that focuses on the top 25% of the meta – i.e. the fact that less skilled players might not be doing well with the list does not subtract from it’s performance. There are two main reasons for doing this: 1) There is a lack of data for the lower placed lists in a lot of the recent tournaments in Europe – so looking at the full dataset would twist the view too much in the direction of the European meta and 2) I expect many will read this article with intention of preparing for Worlds – and I would expect most of the attendees at Worlds to be in the top 25% of the tournaments in August. For this reason, I will also not be posting exact stats for the strength of each list in the normal percentile format as it makes no sense now. Instead I will rank the extended lists shown from #1 to #21 based on their performance. Don’t overestimate the value of this ranking – #21 is still a very solid squad that is likely to make cut – and then anything can happen 🙂

Before we get into the faction-by-faction analysis though, lets start by looking at some general tendencies.

Note: When listing percentages they refer to either faction representation (how many % of lists in that faction is this and this archetype or has that specific pilot) or average performance (100% meaning it placed first at all events it participated in, 50% being average)


Bid: The bid is slowing increasing – from 2.3 in Wave 2, 2.4 in Wave 3 to 2.5 now in Extended. The bid in Hyperspace has dropped slightly from 2.6 to 2.5.
Bids are still driven mostly by i6 pilots – which is about one in three squads. For i6 you will need a 7 point bid to move last in 9 of 10 games, 11 points to move last in 19 of 20 games and 17 points to to move last in 99 of 100 games.
At i5 the “deep bid” still stops at around 5 points for the cases where there is no i6 in the list.

List size: The number of ships rises from 3.7 in Wave 3 to 3.8 in Wave 4 for Extended. Hyperspace stays at 3.9 average.
Details on the split of squadsizes can be seen below. The number in parenthesis is the Wave 3 number.
We see an increase in 2-ship lists, as well as a significant increase in 5+ ship lists. 4-ship lists are falling, and 3 and 4 ships are now about equal in Extended.

28.1% (5.4%)8.3% (6.4%)
333.4% (32.0%)36.3% (36.6%)
438.9% (41.5%)36.2% (44.0%)
511.9% (11.8%)9.5% (7.5%)
67.6% (7.0%)4.6% (4.0%)
73.7% (1.9%)3.2% (0.9%)
81.2% (0.3%)1.9% (0.6%)

Faction split: The charts below show the representation and performance of the different factions respectively. These charts are for “all” – i.e. cross-format and not limited to the large tournaments.
I apologize for the strange curves in the performance chart – but due to very low sample size, I had to manually cut out september – but the curves trying to average out are unfortunately still affected. This means that there is no actual drop-off for Republic, Empire and Resistance – and no sudden rise for Rebels or Seperatist. Look at the dots – they do not lie 🙂

Popularity of factions over time
Performance of factions over time

Looking at the representation chart we can see that after a solid drop after the point change, rebels seem to be recovering a bit in August. (Last datapoint). First Order and, to a lesser degree, Seperatist, are also on the rise. Empire is the most popular faction, but is falling a bit in August. Republic rose hard in July, but has likewise fallen a bit back down in August. This might to a large degree be due to the faction prizes affecting player incentives in a lot of the big August events. (#opinion-warning)

As for performance, Republic and Empire are within 0.1% at the top (hard to see in the image). Resistance is rising sharply to take #3. Seperatist is, after a strong July as #2, dropping to #4. Scum continues rising for the 3rd month in a row and is now 5th, followed by First Order that drops from #1 in July to #6 in August. At last place, we find Rebels.

Hyperspace is somewhat different here, so I am going to include a chart specifically for performance in hyperspace:

Faction performance in Hyperspace over time

For Hyperspace, we still have Republic on top – but it is Seperatists that takes #2, followed by Scum, Empire, Resistance, First Order – and finally Rebels. While the chart might seems to show that the factions are closer than in extended, the spread is in fact slightly larger. (Zoom-level in the picture is different). Interestingly we see Seperatists and First Order on top in July here as well – showing that the “all data” charts above are likely mostly a result of Hyperspace Trials in July.

Lets move on with the faction breakdown. The primary focus will be on Extended, with a few notes on Hyperspace where it is relevant. I will try to do this by lists – but not considering upgrades on these lists unless very relevant.

Republic on top

After ending Wave 3 in 3rd place, the Republic has risen sharply in both popularity and performance.

The strongest determinant for the success of a Republic list is the Aethersprites – led by Obi-Wan (66.3%) – preferably with 7B (68.5%) – over even better also with R2 Astromech and Sense (78.0%). The CLT, R2-A6, Sense build is also strong (73.3%)
Second in the line is Anakin (65.9%) – again with 7B (71.3%). Anakin also frequently has R2 Astromech. The two less common, but very effective upgrades on Anakin are R2-A6 (87.0%) and Sense (82.8%). There is a lot of combinations, which you can explore here.
Plo Koon (71.4%) is also an effective choice. Adding 7B and/or R2 Astromech also improves his performance – and he is also decently effective with CLT.
Mace Windu also sees some play – but is generally ineffective (50.9%). He seems to be slightly more effective with CLT than with 7B, and a good carrier for R4-P17 as well as Heightened perception.

As for the ARC-170, Sinker (60.3%) performs well, as does the generic 104th Battalion Pilot (59.4%). Wolffe (49.2%) and Jag (49.0%) also sees some play, but are not performing well.

Two other ships deserves mentioning – Ric Olie (62.1%) performs well – especially naked (75.6%) – but Daredevil and Crack Shot both also improves performance. The other ship to mention is the Gold Squadron Trooper that scores a solid 60.1%

Best performing Republic lists:

  • Obi-Wan, Ric + 2 104th Bat. Pilot (#4 overall)
  • Anakin, Obi-Wan & Gold Squadron Trooper (#5 overall)
  • Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ric Olie (#6 overall)
  • Sinker Swarm (Sinker + 4 Gold Sqd. Troopers + X – where X is typically either Wolfee or Ric Olie. The Wolfee version seems to perform slightly better) (#16 overall)
  • Anakin, Obi-Wan & 2 Gold Squadron Trooper (#12 overall)

Empire takes second place

Empire stays in second place. Apart from the Quad Phantoms list that dominated Wave 3 imperial play, a lot of the lists are recognizable.

Darth Vader (65.2%) is the most popular pilot – and is in 39% of all Imperial lists. Soontir Fel (60.6%) and Whisper (61.7%) are also well represented. RAC (53.0%), Jendon (78.6%) and Duchess (55.9%) are also popular choices. You can see the details on these on the Pilots page.

Best performing Imperial lists:

  • Jendon + Grand Inqusitor + 2 x Inquisitor (#1 overall)
  • Imperial Aces: Vader & Whisper + either Soontir Fel or Duchess. (#2 overall)
  • Hatchetman: Jendon + Vynder + Vader (#3 overall)
  • RAC / Whisper (#10 overall)
  • Hyperspace mention: TIE Swarm

Resistance is best-of-the-rest at #3

Resistance has had quite a bumpy ride in the standings – swinging between middle-of-the-pack and top scores.

The most popular Resistance pilot is Finn (70.5%) – most frequently loaded with Heroic, Perceptive Copilot and Pattern Analyzer. Putting C-3PO (and Heroic) on Finn is less popular, but seems to boost his performance further.

The RZ-2 A-wings continue to work well – with Tallie (73.6%) being the most popular and Zari (81.9%) being the most effective.

For the T-70’s, Jess Pava (65,5%), Bastian (77,8%) and Poe (56,4%) are the most frequent choices.

Best performing Resistance lists:

  • 5 RZ-2 A-wings – Tallie, Greer, Zari, 2 Blue Sqd. (#13 overall)
  • Finn, Jess, Bastian, “Snap” (#15 overall)
  • Jess + 3 Red Sqd. Vets (#21 overall)

Seps is 4th – Roger Roger?

Separatists have struggled for adoption by the player base, as well as good tournament results – but it seems like they are getting both now. As noted earlier, the Australian System Open results were not in Listfortress at the time of the writing – but we do know it was won by Dooku and a swarm of Vultures.

Looking at CIS pilots, the Vultures are clearly the backbone of almost every Sep list. The i1 Trade Federation Drone (60.9%) is the most popular – but the i3 Separatist Drone (67%) performs slightly better. The auto-including of Energy Shell Charges seems to have tapered off – and statistically drones without them are more likely to win. Discord Missiles, while rarely used, strongly correlate with success – as does naked drones.

The Hyena bombers are quite commonly used, especially the Techno Union Bomber (59.1%) and the Baktoid Prototype (48.8%) – but their performance is underwhelming.

Captain Sear (66.5%) in the Belbullab performs strongly and is in more than a third of the lists, while the infiltrators are much less common (one in six CIS list has an infiltrator) – though the performances of both Maul (64.3%) and Dooku (72.7%) are strong.

A key element of any CIS list is the choice of Tactical Relay. Previously Kraken was almost an auto-include – but it performs only average now (52.4%). TA-175 (63,9%) on the other hand seems to be winning games.

As for lists the volume of CIS play is still limited, and in the top echelons we only really see the Sear Swarm (#18 overall) with Cpt. Sear along with either 7 Vultures or 5 Vultures and a Hyena.

Scum takes fifth place

Scum has been quite low ever since the first point adjustment back in january – hitting rock bottom back in May – but have since climbed – and while they have been #5 for a while – they have really closed the performance gap.

The popular scum pilots are very aligned with the lists shown below – we have Seevor (61.2%) as the most played, followed by Torkil Mux (59.6%), Cartel Marauder (54.1%), Ketsu (65.4%), Old Teroch (65.8%) and Kavil (52.1%).

Scum lists:

  • 4-Lom, Koshka, Latts Razzi & The Nastah Pup (#9 overall – only two lists in the data – but it made Top 4 at German Nationals)
  • Torkil Mux, Cpt. Seevor and 3 Cartel Marauders (#14 overall)
  • Ketsu, Old Teroch, Kavil (#19 overall)
  • Special Hyperspace mention: Quad Fangs (Commonly Fenn Rau + 3 Zealous Recruits)

First order is #6

From being the best during the Hyperspace Trials in July, First Order have fallen hard in August. They have since been picking up in popularity, though it is still low.

The most played FO pilot is Quickdraw (51.9%) who is still in 2 of every 3 First Order lists. Kylo Ren (56.6%), Tavson (58.0%) and Scorch (56.5%) are also very common in FO lists. Looking at performance the Epsilon Sqd. Cadet (76.0%) performs well (low representation), as does Blackout (65.4%) and the Omega Sqd Expert (57.4%). Digging into the Tie/SF specifically, the popularity of the Special Forces Gunner is dropping – especially on the generics, where it’s abscence actually improves performance significantly. The Omega Sqd. Expert drops to 37.5% if you add it.

First order lists:

  • Kylo, Scorch, 2 x Zeta Sqd Survivors (#11 overall)
  • Kylo, Quickdraw, Tavson (#20 overall)

Rebels end up at the bottom

After a very strong Wave 3, the July points update hit the rebels hard. As you can see in the list below, there are still very strong rebel lists out there – but the average performance have dropped significantly.

Starting with the Pilots, Wedge (49.3%) is still the most popular – though instead of being in half the rebel lists, he is now only in one in three. Braylen (48.9%) is also very popular. When it comes to performance, though, Heff Tobber (69.3%), Benthic Two Tubes (63.0%) and the generic Blue Sqd. Scout (63.4%) are becoming strong. Other noteworthy pilot are Corran Horn (58.4%), Arvel Crynyd (55%) and Garven Dreis in the T-65 (63.6%)

Rebel lists:

  • Cassian, Braylen, Ten, Arvel (#7 overall)
  • Han / Wedge (#8 overall)
  • 4U – Heff, Benthic, 2 Blue Sqd Scout (#17 overall)

Final Words

I hope you have found all this useful. If you have (civil) comments, questions or suggestions please put them below. I am particular interested in hearing whether this more “top list focused” approach is better or worse than the previous articles where I focused more on “the field” rather than “the top”.
If you want to see pilot stats for the pilots I have not linked directly to, you can find them here for Hyperspace and here for Extended.

2 Replies to “State of the meta – Wave 4 is nearly over”

  1. Loved the breakdown, appreciated that you mentioned when something placed high but had a notably small sample set to still be edge-case. I wonder how much the points themselves hurt rebels, compared to group-think abandoning a “nerf” to work with shinier Republic toys, rather than reinvent the wheel again with a strong Rebel meta.

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