Monday, February 18, 2019

February 17 Pauper Challenge Winner's Metagame


What's that?

A title change?

After the brewhaha surrounding last week's discussion, I've decided to take another look at how I present these data. To call what I do a complete metagame breakdown is disingenuous. Instead I break down the winner's metagame in an effort to help people approach Pauper. 

Why do I do this? Because if someone is just looking to get into Pauper they aren't going to worry about facing the incredibly sweet Call to the Netherworld deck that finished at 3-4 in 32nd place. Rather they want to know what's doing well so they can either brew something to beat the top decks or join in the fun.

Let's talk about how this approach works using the February 17 Challenge Results for context.

Usually I set up Win+ to be based on the record of the 32nd place list. This time around both 31 and 31 had more losses than wins (Hexproof and Rakdos Madness), so instead it was set against 30th place - the lowest record with three losses. Every deck that had two losses got a Win+ score of 1, 1 loss had a Win+ of 2.

Win+ is supposed to measure the relative strength of a finish in a given event. Over time more popular decks are going to have a higher Win+ score simply by virtue of being heavily represented. This isn't a flaw since the entire goal of the measure is to look at a finish in the context of an event and eventually, a season.

Using Sunday as an example, Dimir Delver did very well. It had five total Top 32 appearances and averaged better than a 5-2 finish. Looking at the actual results, it had three 6-1 records and two 4-3 records in the Top 32. For this one tournament, Dimir Delver averaged a Top 16 finish. The same can be said for Boros Monarch and Flicker Tron.

So then why do I look at seasonal statistics? There is a tendency to look at a singular tournament as evidence that there's been a course correction in the Pauper metagame. One only needs to look to February 3 where Burn had three Top 8s and took the win to see a discussion about how healthy everything looked. Since then Burn has continued to do well but has not had the same success. This follows a trend that has been repeated often in the history of the Pauper metagame.

Seasonal stats help to take a discrete card pool - that is one defined by the most current Pauper legal release - and try to understand what decks consistently performed better than others over the course of a season.

The cutoff for this week's postings is three appearances (but I did make an exception for the two decks that have a Top 8 without the volume minimum). There have been five events thus far this season for 40 total Top 8 slots. Dimir Delver has 27.5% of all Top 8s while Boros Monarch variants have 25%. 
Looking at Dimir Delver in isolation, it has 26 total Top 32 appearances and averages a 0.85 Win+ across those finishes. The closer the average is to 1 the more likely the deck will be to Top 16. Only Burn (0.87) and Flicker Tron (0.86) are in the same realm as Dimir Delver and Boros Monarch [Metalcraft] (0.79).
All of this is to say that Dimir Delver is a good deck and one of the best decks for the given season. But how much better is it than everything else? This is where the expected Top 8 comes in. Dimir Delver has 11 Top 8s but given how often a Win+ 1 deck makes Top 8 (approximately 2.5 times per tournament), it should have close to 7 Top 8s. What does this delta then tell us?
It let's us know that Dimir Delver has a high number of Win+ 2 finishes or better. The higher the delta, the more X-1 finishes (or better) a deck has in a season. Now the chart above is still a snapshot in time - Week 5 to be exact - and I don't expect Orzhov Monarch to continue to occupy such a high slot with so few Top 32 appearances. 

In part, that's why I present a full chart in each of these summaries. It would be easy for me to say that as of this week Orzhov Monarch is the second best deck on the metric of T8 Delta, but that means nothing without also considering it has five total finishes. So with that in mind I want to know - what do these charts tell you?

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!

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