The Core 2020 season of Pauper Challenges ended with Jeskai on top. While it had the second most Challenge wins (3 to Stompy's 4), it took down 34 out of a possible 96 Top 8 slots. It occupied a quarter of all reported Top 32s and took down a third of all wins of X-2 decks or better.
Put another way, for an average event you could expect somewhere between 5 and 6 Jeskai decks between the Top 16 and Top 8. The next best performer were Burning-Tree Emissary beatdown decks (Stompy and Red Deck Wins). You could expect two between the Top 16 and Top 8.
How would Throne of Eldraine season stack up against this? The first Challenge provided more of the same. Two Jeskai decks made the Top 8 and one won the whole dang thing. There were 11 Jeskai decks in the Top 32. The next two most popular decks - Stompy and Flicker Tron - barely held a candle to Jeskai's numbers. Flicker Tron and Stompy each had one deck with a record of 5-2 or better (and both had a deck finish in the Top 32 at 3-4). These big three accounted for 19 decks in the Top 32 and for more than half of the allocated Win+.
Win+ is a metric used on this blog. It measures a deck's success in a given tournament against the lowest finishing positive/neutral record. For a seven round event, a 4-3 record yields a Win+ of 1; 5-2 a Win+ 1, and so on.
There are some important pieces of information to be gleaned from this tournament. First, both Mono Black Control decks in the Top 8 found home for copies of Witch's Cottage. Neither ran Pestilence and the finalist ran two copies of Crypt Rats main (with two more in the board). Between the two, there were three copies of Thorn of the Black Rose (one main).
These decks are built for a different sort of grind - one of the Jeskai variety. Jeskai has been the best at dragging out games for quite some time, allowing their incremental value engine to take over. They also have a flexible sideboard that can often deal with traditional trump cards (like Pestilence). The two MBC decks in the Top 8 came prepared to fight aggressive strategies with 13 removal spells that cost one mana or less between the two main decks. They also overload on removal in an attempt to contain Jeskai.
If this trend continues it would follow for Jeskai to take a longer game approach. Mystic Sanctuary only appeared in two decks this week. In the versions of Jeskai that have Pulse of Murasa, adding Mystic Sanctuary could help to create a loop with Kor Skyfisher that provides yet another path to inevitability.
2019 is going to be a banner year for Pauper. I want to continue to be at the forefront of the metagame. If you like the work I do, please consider becoming a Patron. Thank you!