Color me surprised.
On the heels of last weekend some speculated that Mono Black Control would be on the rise. Some others – myself included – felt that this would not be the case. Despite containing some powerful cards it just seems like Mono Black Control is never a perfectly positioned deck.
A win and five Top 8s later, it appears that I may have been mistaken.
I think it’s important to talk a little bit about regional differences in the Pauper metagame. One critique I have seen of my metagame analysis is that it is heavily biased in favor of events Americans can more easily attend and it is biased towards events held on Magic Online. I don’t dispute this in the slightest.
I tend to look at the Top 32 lists provided by Wizards of the Coast because it provides a cohesive data set. Not only do we see the Top 32 decks, we also see their match records. That last piece provides information on what decks can succeed in a Swiss style tournament when examined over a long enough time frame.
None of this is to say the results from major tournaments in Brazil or Italy do not matter because they most certainly do. The problem with examining them beyond lists provided is that it can be challenging to find match record information. Often times paper lists rely on individual naming conventions and I can attest that sometimes people get creative. Yes, Stompy might have a red card and a black card, but that doesn’t make it Jund Aggro.
Getting back to the main point, for years the Brazilian player base has been touting Mono Black Control as a powerful option. The Italian player base has repeatedly criticized the Sunday Challenge results for being too focused on one segment of the Pauper playing population. The addition of a Saturday Challenge has opened up the Magic Online events to more time zones which can influence what decks show up.
There is another element at play here. Recently MTGGoldfish changed their metagame tracker to default to a seven day window. This has placed a greater emphasis on Player Run Events where Mono Black Control is popular. Combined with a good showing last weekend and we have an Information Cascade. Because Mono Black Control put up a result people will pick it up and for a short period of time its results might be inflated regardless of the actual strength of the deck.
None of this means Mono Black Control is bad. Rather it is a deck that can capitalize when other decks stumble. Most Pauper decks these days are built to operate on maximum consistency and suffer from persistent disruption. Mono Black Control can disrupt opposing draws with discard and Chittering Rats and can take advantage of missteps by chaining together copies of Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Because of this MBC will never truly die, but there are going to be days when it is better than others.
In the above charts, an asterisk indicates a Top 8 finish and the carat indicates a Challenge win. Win+ measures wins above an X-3 record and volume is the number of appearances in the Top 32.
Here is a breakdown of the first four weeks of Ikoria season,. This chart only takes into account decks that have comprised at least 2% of the winner’s metagame (5 appearances). Decks with a Top 8 appearance that do not make the cut: Izzet Blitz (2), Atog Shift, Bogles, Cycling Songs, Dimir Ponza
If you want to look at what the best decks are, you start at Flicker Tron – I don’t think there can be any question about it at this point. After that I have Affinity. Despite not being as popular as Boros Bully, Affinity has the second most wins this season and has the ability to attack a game from multiple angles. While I have Boros Bully as 3rd in my power rankings, I think that deck is overrated despite its popularity.
What decks do you think are currently underrated? Which ones are poised to make a run in the next four weeks? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. And if you enjoy this content, please consider becoming a Patron.