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Examining the MagicFest LA Pauper MCQ


This weekend the first ever Pauper Mythic Championship Qualifier was held at MagicFest Los Angeles. In case you missed it, it was a wild time. 186 players total ended up showing up to sling some commons, including The Professor, previous paper Pauper event winner Jherjames Bisconde, and popular format streamer Deluxeicoff of Pauperganda fame.

Five rounds total were played and at the table multiple archetypes could be seen. Looking around the tables as I played, I seemed to notice the highest number of decks included Dimir Delver and Burn by a mile. Boros, Tron, and Elves all also made significant showings, with decks such as Slivers, Pestilence, and Mono-Black Control showing up in smaller numbers as well.

Even a few oddball decks came to play as well. One player, for example, brought with him a Jund Threshold deck themed around fueling quick Nimble Mongoose plays and played it without any sleeves or sideboard. Some of the Burn lists featured Black as a secondary color to enable Bump in the Night and Tyrant's Choice plays.

Everything about how the meta looked all largely lined up with what I laid out in my last article about what to expect at the event. We saw the top decks in high numbers, the lower tiers in respectable numbers, and random lists come out of absolutely nowhere. This was especially true at the Top 8.

The decks we saw at the top were the following:

  • Stonehorn Tron
  • Mono-Blue Faeries (aka Oops, All Instants)
  • Tortured Existence
  • Burn
  • Zombies
  • Bogles
  • Dimir Delver
  • Azorius Familiars

Less than half of these decks are considered top performers in the meta. On its face, that seems exciting and fantastic for the format where we've been seeing a large number of major events (mostly online) predominantly based around Delver and Boros. The difference is that with the number of players the event had, there should've been roughly eight rounds of Swiss. Instead, we played only five.

As such, to reach the top you had to have a perfect finish or else be one of the only lucky ones with a 4-1 record to be able to sneak in. This skews the numbers dramatically and may not fully reflect what an actual Top 8 may have looked like were a proper number of rounds played. Given the sheer number of Dimir Delver lists in the room (I faced four myself out of my five rounds) it's likely the deck would have performed better in that kind of tournament.

As is, though, we're left with a tremendously diverse list of decks and pilots which, as it turns out, is fantastic all the same. The games that were played in that Top 8 were equally exciting. Watching coverage of the whole event showed some excellent deck prowess, particularly in the match where Tron played against Tortured Existence. This match led to a lot of constant back and forth action between one another with Tortured Existence coming back and winning its match in excellent fashion.

We followed that up with the stellar matchup of fan favorite Familiars vs. boogieman Dimir Delver. While Dimir put up one heck of a fight and showed just how strong it is as a deck, Familiars was in the expert hands of Joseph Hourani. As such, the combo deck, which revolves around some infinite loop kills, was effectively able to take Delver down. If you don't recognize Joseph's name, you might recognize him from Magic Online, username 420dragon, where he's well known for being arguably the most skilled pilot you could ever hope to find with the deck. He's topped numerous Online Challenges and it's not hard to see why when he navigated the games so well.

No matter how skilled Joseph is or was, however, sometimes it's just hard to beat a really tough matchup. Enter Bogles, piloted by Max Forlini in the final match of the event. Bogles, as I've written about previously, relies on going all in on a single creature that's nigh impossible to deal with on its own thanks to the hexproof mechanic. Many decks pack answers to handle these creatures, such as fogs, edicts, or just good old enchantment hate. Unfortunately, Joseph's deck didn't have too much by way of any of these and as he couldn't bounce or enchant the creatures himself, he succumbed to Max's deck in short order.

And with that, Max won the first Mythic Championship Qualifier for the Pauper format. This capped off a fantastic event, along with coverage showing he format off to a max 10,000 viewers. This hopefully introduced a new format to many and will spur them to try it out.

The day after the MCQ, we also had one of the most diverse Challenge Top 8s in a long time. This included the following decks:

  • Inside Out Combo
  • Boros Monarch
  • Stompy
  • Boros Bully
  • Bogles
  • Dimir Delver
  • Orzhov Pestilence
  • Azorius Angelic Renewal Midrange

This, alongside a diverse, if somewhat skewed, Top 8 at the MCQ hopefully bodes well as a sign of format health. While I'm not personally convinced things are fine as they currently are and feel the games the format currently provides are less fun as a whole, it's hard to see this as anything but good. Two events, each with eight completely different decks.

Hopefully this trend continues in the weeks to come. Monday is the next Banned and Restricted update, so if anything goes, that would be the time to expect it. But should nothing change, Pauper will still march on. There's plenty to be excited about with sets like War of the Spark and Modern Horizons in the near future. Now with the first ever Pauper MCQ in the books, the sky seems to be the limit for the format of commons.

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