August 20-21 Pauper Weekend Recap

Today’s entry is going to lean heavily on this post, so please read that first. After eight weeks of Double Masters 2022 season, I want to take a look at three of the top decks but to do that we need to establish some parameters.

First, let’s talk about the fact that I only examine the Top 32 decklists. When I started this project that was the only data readily available where I could verify the composition of each deck. These breakdowns are not meant to be a comprehensive look at every matchup but rather an exploration of what is doing well on a week to week basis. Using the Top 32 as a cutoff while far from ideal gives me a concrete data set that is accessible through Wizards’ own website.

The measure upon which a lot of these conclusions are drawn is Win+. This measure looks at decks and assigns them one point for each win at X-2 or above. So in a six round Challenge a 4-2 record has a Win+ of 1, a 5-1 record a Win+ of two; for a seven found Challenge a 5-2 record has a Win+ of 1 and so on. This is because an X-3 record, more often than not, is the breakeven point. Sometimes an X-4 record sneaks into the Top 32 (more often than not these days), but when looking at the relative strength of a deck in a given field, I’m looking at wins above the break even point.

Win+ gives another pool of volume data – that is the entire collection of Win+ points available in a Top 32 pool. This provides a chance to examine how much of the winner’s share an archetype is occupying. Win+ can also be compared to a deck’s presence in the metagame to give an ratio that, the closer it is to 1, the closer a deck is to consistently placing in the Top 16 as a Win+ score of 1 often (but not always) equates to a Top 16 finish.

With all of that out of the way let’s take a look at Double Masters 2022 season broken down into chunks: July 2-July 24 and July 30-August 21:

Today I want to talk about Grixis Affinity, Red Blitz, and Izzet Faeries.

Red Blitz – the Monastery Swiftspear powered Temur Battle Rage deck burst on to the scene and has an immediate impact. In the first four weeks it had 9 Top 8s in 42 total appearances, including a win. Despite reshaping the metagame in many ways it was merely a good deck and not a great one – it did not outperform it’s volume by that much (actual volume: 16.41%; winner’s share: 16.84%) and had a Win+:Volume ratio of .76. Despite taking a back seat in the next four weeks it arguable did better on these metrics – eight Top 8s in 33 appearances with an actual/winner’s split of 11.46%/12.32%. The Win+:Volume ratio this time as .79. Over the eight weeks of the season so far Red Blitz has 75 total Top 32 appearances, 17 Top 8s, a W+:V ratio of .77 and an actual/winner’s split of 13.79%/14.57%.

Red Blitz has been a consistently good, but not great deck, over the course of the season.

This sets the stage to talk about Grixis Affinity. The deck was overshadowed by Blitz in the first four weeks with only 20 Top 32 finishes, including 5 Top 8s and a win. The W+/V ratio during this time was .75 and the actual/winner’s split was 7.81%/7.89%. In other words, for the first four weeks of the season Affinity was merely another good deck if you look just at the results.

The second four weeks tell a different story. Affinity has 17 Top 8s with 4 wins in a whopping 62 Top 32 appearances. The W+/V ratio improved to .79 (the same as Blitz over the same time span) with an actual/winner’s split of 21.53%/23.22%. Over the entire season Affinity clocks in with 82 Top 32 appearances, 22 Top 8s with 5 wins, a W+/V ratio of .78 and an actual/winner’s split of 15.07%/16.08%.

Grixis Affinity has had a stellar month and that has more than made up for a slow start.

When looking at the Winner’s Metagame it is vital to understand that these two decks are shaping it. Despite falling off as of late Red Blitz is an absolute house of a deck and Grixis Affinity has transitioned to being the preeminent control deck in the format. These two have made up a little more than a quarter of the Top 32 metagame this season, over 30% of the weighted metagame, and almost 29% of all Top 8s, with Affinity winning 5 of 17 challenge level events.

So why do I also want to talk about Izzet Faeries?

In the first four weeks of the season, Izzet Faeries had a respectable 21 Top 32 appearances with 7 Top 8s and a win. It’s W+/V ratio was .9. In the second four weeks of the season the deck had another 20 Top 32 appearances, 8 Top 8s and a win but it had a W+/V ratio of 1.1 – meaning it averaged better than Top 16 appearance. Overall Izzet Faeries has 41 Top 32 appearances with 15 Top 8s, 2 wins, and a W+/V ratio of 1. It has been the most consistent deck all season.

Now this analysis does not correct for raw volume – Affinity has twice the Top 32 appearances as Izzet. It also does not take into account what happens outside the Top 32. Taken together this information helps to paint a picture of the different poles of the current Pauper metagame.

Red Blitz is very much the clock of the format – it establishes the timeline by which other decks must establish a defense or succumb to pressure.

Affinity is the control deck, built with effective card draw, resilience, and interaction, it will win the game if it goes long.

Izzet Faeries is the one of the viable midrange options right now and trends towards control but does a fine job of clearing the board to end the game.

It’s not included in the wider breakdown the but the latest build of Boros Bully using Lunarch Veteran and Basilisk Gate is the best “midrange” aggressive deck by a decent margin as it can both go tall with Gate or wide with Battle Screech and Rally the Peasants.

So where does that leave Pauper? Red is everywhere but Galina’s Knight is not a large enough threat to end the game. Affinity presents a real riddle for the long game as failure to exile its threats means they are just going to come back. Regardless we are only a few short weeks away from Dominaria United which could inject some new tools into the format.

For now, I am going to leave you with the full chart metagame breakdown for Double Masters 2022 season so far.

I want to take a moment to thank all my Patrons – both old and new. I am going to do my level best to keep providing you with the kind of content that brought you here in the first place. If you are interested in supporting my work, rewards for my Patreon start at just $1 and every little bit helps.

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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