December 9th Pauper Challenge Breakdown

We had to wait a few days for the December 9th Challenge results to be made available. Once they were, it was the second time in the past three weeks that Tron was underrepresented. The week when Tron was present was for the Playoff. So what’s the story?

Tron made a total of four appearances on Sunday, making one Top 8 appearance and finishing just outside the elimination rounds in 9th. The format was relatively hostile to Tron with an abundance of Burn decks. It is not that Burn is a bad matchup for Tron, but rather given enough players hurling Lightning Bolt, it shrinks the collective number of turns for Tron to find their key interactive pieces in the matchup. It’s the Dredge principle – if enough people pack hate, the deck could falter. Looking into the player gathered data of the event, that wasn’t the case. There were 5 total Tron decks in the Challenge and three of theme had a 4-2 record.

Delver won the event on Saturday. In a total of three Top 32 appearances this season, Delver has two Top 8s and a win. The deck has new life thanks to Mystic Sanctuary. The ability to achieve a soft lock with Sanctuary and Deprive, or to loop the land with Tragic Lesson, is a potent tool in the aggro-control decks repertoire. This build is less aggressive than the versions that were popular earlier in the season – gone are the copies of Mutagenic Growth – and so are the copies of Accumulated Knowledge. It seems that Tragic Lesson and Mystic Sanctuary are just that good together. Still, a copy or two of Think Twice couldn’t hurt.

So what is the state of things? Tron is on decline for the moment but it is still the best deck this season by a pretty decent clip. Comparing its Top 32 volume to its percentage of Wins above X-2, Tron is outperforming its weight to the tune of just over 5%.

You’ll notice Delver is absent from this chart. It has failed to make the 2% volume threshold of the season; the cut off is 4 appearances, which Teachings just hits. That 5% mark is important because when asked previously I have stated that the 5% delta between Volume and Weighted Volume is where I would expect the best decks to fall. And considering there are several other decks with a positive delta, this is a good sign.

So then why did some jackass go and write this article?

Simply put, I wrote that article and submitted it in the wake of the Playoff, where a quarter of the Top 16 decks were Tron. It was coming on the heels of several weeks of Tron being a dominant force and one I perceived to be stifling the format’s health. Here is a chart from one month ago.

That’s quite a difference. So if the chart above is correct, Tron could be a problem. If the chart the includes the December 9th Challenge is correct, Tron is likely safe. And that is where Wizards of the Coast matters. They have the matchup data and can look to see if Tron has an unhealthy win rate.

Do I believe the December 9th data is influenced by Tron pilots taking a break? Yes. Do I believe the metagame has adjusted to Tron and is finding ways to fight the deck? Yes. But all of this does not matter because on December 16th we’re going to have a better answer as to what type of format Wizards wants for Pauper.

Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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