The March 15th Pauper Challenge continued to showcase the slow decline of Flicker Tron. The titan of the format has been in a controlled fall for the past few weeks and while it is still a major player in the format it isn’t the behemoth that it was during Throne of Eldraine season.
There is a lot to take away from the Top 32. While two Flicker Tron decks did make the Top 8 they did not dominate the Top 16. And there were seven different archetypes in the Top 8, putting the format’s diversity in the spotlight.
The Top 8 also has some stories to tell. Delver went 7-0, but it was the only Delver deck to place in the Top 16. Burn made it to the Top 8 again, despite underperforming in aggregate. Dimir Delver has emerged as the new top dog, despite not winning a challenge this season. And Heroic won the dang thing.
The biggest thing about this list is the lack of Karametra’s Blessing. Heralded as a staple in the post-Theros Beyond Death world, the card is completely absent from Oscar_Franco’s winning build. Instead we see two copies of Mana Tithe and the addition of multiple Auras. Oscar_Franco also dropped down to 16 lands, leaning entirely on Defiant Strike to see more cards. This build looks less like Heroic and more like Mono-White Bogles considering the low threat count.
Flicker Tron is holding just over one-fifth of all Top 8 slots, but it’s underperforming compared to last season. The Delta of Weighted Volume to Actual was closer to 7% in Throne of Eldraine. Here – it’s less than half that. In fact, the skew for all decks has decreased. The flattened power level bodes well for the long term health of Pauper. At the same time, it puts decks that have a lot of decent matchups (but few great ones) in a position to succeed provided the pilot finds the correct build on the current week.
I want to leave you with two different takes on midrange decks that both performed well on Sunday. First is a Monarch/Reality Acid mash up, the second a Mardu Tortured Existence deck that leans on Kami of False Hope for a Spore Frog lock.