Sunday, January 12th was a big day in the world of Magic Online Pauper. The final Challenge of the Throne of Eldraine season took place almost concurrently with the Pauper Champs, the latter of which qualified the winner for the Magic Online Championship Series and a shot at the Players Tour. While Flicker Tron did not win either of these events, it took down 9 of the 16 Top 8 slots. Out of the remaining 7 decks, 3 were Mystic Sanctuary decks. The winning decks, however, were something completely different.
You cannot count Bogles out. The archetype has a number of big wins to its credit, including two Mythic Championship Qualifier wins. Kirblinxy put Essence Harvest in the Fling/Soul’s Fire slot. This makes a ton of sense considering that Prismatic Strands is a heavily played card in the metagame but it also happens to get around Dispel and Hydroblast. They also skimped on Rancor and Cartouche of Solidarity, predicting a decline in Edict style removal and decks that could block. It is fitting that rather than stepping over Tron, Kirblinxy had to beat three different decks – Flicker Tron, Mono Green Land Destruction, and Bant Familiars. For their effort they now have a shot at the MOCS.
Mikamimtg beat three Flicker Tron decks in their Top 8. Slivers got a shot in the singular talon-tipped arm from Modern Horizons. Bladeback Sliver gives the hive mind a way to win around Moment’s Peace and Stonehorn Dignitary. Running red means Hunter Sliver is a reasonable inclusion, picking off blockers with impunity. It also helps that Slivers can easily amass an army that can dwarf Myr Enforcers without running fragile lands. Slivers does have to dip into a third color to work but Gemhide Sliver helps to mitigate that in the long run while doing a poor impression of Priest of Titiania.
The metagame is absolutely diverse. At the same time, the top tier is a completely different animal. Flicker Tron decks were a full quarter of the Challenge Top 32, with nearly 43% of the Win+ score. The archetype also dominated the Champs Top 8.
Theros Beyond Death is right around the corner. At the onset of the season it is clear that Flicker Tron is public enemy number one. While it may have lagged some, it started and ended Throne of Eldraine season as the best deck in the Challenge metgame.
Win+ measures a deck against an X-3 record. A Win+ score of 1 usually equates to a Top 8. Out of all these decks – those that had 2% of the total metagame volume, only Flicker Tron had a Win+ average greater than 1. It took down 29% of all Top 8 slots and won a full third of the Challenges.
The deck also warped the metagame around it. The next 4 most popular archetypes all had access to red, meaning they could run Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast. The ability to counter Flicker Tron’s key spells or kill key creatures, all in one card, makes running red not only a must, but means that outside of Burn it isn’t out of line to dedicate almost half your sideboard for a single matchup. While the Blasts may help against Delver style decks, they hardly need the level of overloading that Tron requires. If you’re running red against Tron and don’t have a blast in your opener game two, are you even in the game?