Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cardhoarder's Pauper Challenge

Tonight Cardhoarder is starting its Pauper Challenge. Sixteen different streamers will battle in two separate groups of 8 in Round Robin style. After these rounds, the top two from each group will advance to a Top 4 single elimination playoff. This is the first streamed Pauper competition of note so I thought I would take some time to break down the different pools and potential matchups. Decks, players, and schedule can be found here.

Group A

Robert Stan, UB Control: I have this as the seventh best deck in the pool. Dimir Control tends to be Teachings based and while this deck has traded that package for more answers it seems poorly positioned against its field. I have a hard time seeing Echoing Decay doing work and while Soul Manipulation is a great card, having four on top of four Exclude is overkill especially against quicker decks. With no other Gurmag Angler decks, Doom Blade is well positioned in this pool.

Max Longitude, Stompy: I rank Max as the fourth best deck in the group. The two Izzet Blitz decks could prove problematic but at the same time he could get the jump on Murasa Tron and UB Control. Stompy has an edge over Freed Combo thanks to maindeck Vines of the Vastwood and its ability to win with Groundswell. Jeskai is a toss up.

Jeff Hoogland, Murasa Tron: I may be biased but I have Hoogland’s deck as number one in this field (and possibly the competition). Murasa Tron has a decent matchup with all the decks in the pool with Blitz and Stompy being on the tougher end. Hoogland has moved to include copies of Chainer’s Edict which goes a long way in keeping Nivix Cyclops and friends in check.

Paul Pires and Tim Sussino, Izzet Blitz: I have these as the second and third best decks in Group A. I give Paul and edge due to the extra Pyroblast in his sideboard (but I like Tim’s mana a bit more). These decks are fast enough to win before Freed, Dimir, and Tron can come online and have consistently given the removal light Stompy deck fits. Jeskai is again, a toss up, but if Blitz can survive the first few turns with a threat it can often punch through.

Romario Neto. Jeskai Midrange: So it is no secret I dislike Jeskai and I have it as the fifth best deck in this group. I just do not see a ton of good matchups in this pool - it has no MBC to try and out-value and only one random creature deck to try and beat with removal. Maybe it swaps places with Freed Combo but even then I can see that match coming down to who draws the better openers two out of three games.

Ben Petrino, WB Rebels: Sorry Ben, you have my pick for the eighth best deck. Rebels are at their best against a field that is slow and grindy where it can stick a threat. While Jeskai is slow, it has removal for your threats. Murasa Tron may be grindy but it has a better end game. I have a hard time seeing a scenario where this deck makes it to the elimination rounds. The saving grace is four copies of Circle of Protection: Red against Blitz, but with Flaring Pain it may simply be too slow.

Jay Capone, Freed Combo: Freed is one of those decks that is great when it’s unexpected, but given the field it has to fight through I am less than hopeful. Jay cut a lot of redundancy from the deck (like Wind Zendikon) and is not running Valakut Invoker, tutorable by Drift of Phantasms, as an elegant win condition. Freed is fragile and with zero copies of Moment’s Peace may simply not have enough time against the aggressive strategies.

Group B

Dave Sea, Dimir Delver: A fairly stock list I have Dave’s deck as the fourth best in this group. This pool is soft to a resolved threat and Gurmag Angler with countermagic backup is a strong game plan. The deck may struggle with Mono-Black Control, Elves, and Teachings but at the same time could easily ignore these problems. I have it ahead of Elves thanks the presence of two MBC decks with maindeck board wipes, but think Dave will struggle against Elves.

Kevin Gomez, Elves: Speaking of Elves, Kevin’s deck is missing its natural prey in Delver. Elves normally struggles against MBC and I don’t expect this trend to stop in the Challenge. Teachings may be problematic with it’s copies of Evincar’s Justice but Elves can produce a lot of power quickly. I do wish he had a way to “go big” in the sideboard but I can’t really complain with the deck presented.

MTGBlogger and Andrew Parnell, Mono-Black Control: I have these as the first and second best decks in the group (the lists are identical) and the group is rather vulnerable to a deck that can just attempt card advantage every turn. A paucity of blue decks means that the disruption from MBC may be good enough in those matchups and chaining together copies of Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a great way to win. Three Anglers is greedy, but I doubt it will hurt these two much.

EDIT: I inadvertently left this entry out
Kevin Poncelet, Acid Trip: I am not a fan of Acid Trip in abstract. To me it is a slow plodding deck that really takes until turn four to start doing anything. However it is uniquely well positioned in this field. While Dave and Ian have the tools to stop Kevin from getting his ball rolling, I'd only classify Kevin Gomez's Elves as being able to produce too many threats to handle. The MBC matchups look like coinflips with only two copies of Reality Acid.

Scott Gerhardt, Rebel Tron: The sixth best deck in Group B, Scott’s deck has the same problems as Ben’s except it is in a field with three decks with maindeck board wipes. I’m not sure this deck will be able to get the jump on opponents if it only has five untapped white sources for turn one. I see a lot of awkward draws for Scott in this tournament.

Pay the Toll, GB Sac: If you know me you know how much I love Carrion Feeder. My feelings for the card make what I am about to say that much harder: I have this as the worst deck in Group B. With only four sacrifice outlets this deck incredibly soft to Edict effects, of which there are many in this pool. Nine untapped lands is far too few for a deck with so many one drops and I worry that this deck will get run over before it can even generate its first bit of value.

Ian, UB Teachings: I do not love how Teachings decks are built these days. Ian does not skimp on finishers and that is one reason I have this list as the third best in Group B (behind the two MBC builds). Instead of relying on Accumulated Knowledge for card advantage Ian has Mulldrifter and Deep Analysis so he can actually draw cards. His copies of Doom Blade are worse than Robert’s but Wretched Banquet could be great against Dave. Kevin may prove problematic but I think that comes down to the die roll. The fact that Ian has tons of card draw main makes his matchups against MBC easier but I am concerned with the lack of creature specific counters to leverage against Gray Merchant.

There you have it, my take on the 16 decks in Cardhoarder’s Pauper Challenge. My only question is - where’s the Delver? It’s not as if that deck would dominate the field, but did no one want to play Spellstutter Sprite? Really?

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