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By: gwyned, gwyned
Feb 29 2016 1:00pm
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I. Introduction

Last week, the Standard Pauper Double League finally came to an end. This event was a Standard Pauper Player Run Event where players were assigned a pairing each week in a Swiss style tournament for five weeks before the event cut to a Top 8 Double Elimination playoff. Once this first phase of the event was over, all players who didn't make Top 8 in Phase One became eligible for a second five week Swiss round phase, which once again culminated in a Top 8 Double Elimination playoff. Finally, the winners of Phase One and Phase Two competed in the Grand Championship of the Double League, which consisted of a best-of-5 match that decided who would walk away with the remaining eight Battle for Zendikar booster packs from the total prize package of over $175 in value, some of which were donated directly from Wizards of the Coast.

Altogether, the event drew more than 60 players over the course of almost three and a half months. 16 players walked away with prizes, with the winner of the Grand Championship being awarded 16 tickets and 12 booster packs. Just to earn a spot in the Grand Championship, both players had to survive 5 rounds of Swiss with one loss or less, plus 3 rounds of Double Elimination, and then win out in the Finals of that phase. As I discussed here, ZombieNeko won Phase One with his Jund Allies deck, having finished 8-2 overall (with one loss in Round 3 of Swiss and one loss in the Finals of the Double Elimination playoff). He was paired against joekewwl, who as I discussed last week won Phase Two with his Pink Pain deck, having finished 8-1 overall (with one loss in Round 1 of Swiss and zero losses in the Double Elimination playoff). If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out both those articles linked above for more great information on these two players and their results.

So before we get to their best-of-5 match, let's take a quick look at each player's decklist. Prior to playing out their match, both players were allowed to make whatever changes they wanted to their list (or even play a different list entirely!). Neither of them received any information on what changes, if any, the other player made. As it turned out, both players made some small but important tweaks to their decks. Since I covered both decklists in the articles I linked above, I'm assuming you're already familiar with the basics of how they work and thus will only examine these changes, none of which fundamentally altered what their decks were trying to do.

II. Decklist Tweaks
A. ZombieNeko's Decklist


ZombieNeko kept the core of his deck largely unchanged. He did bring in 2 copies of Gurmag Angler, moving the Valakut Invokers that had occupied that slot to the Sideboard. He also swapped out some of his removal, bringing in Reave Soul over Touch of the Void and Complete Disregard over Stonefury. Boiling Earth was also brought in out of the Sideboard, giving the decklist three specific spells to help deal with tokens. Additionally, he increased to three copies of Duress in the Sideboard, removed Flatten and Fetid Imp completely, and included two copies of Deadbridge Shaman as a way to deal with an opponent hanging on to removal spells or combat tricks. Overall, these changes gave the deck a bit more inevitability, increased its ability to fight back against combat tricks, and gave it a bit more targeted removal.

B. joekewwl's Decklist:


Joekewwl's changes were a bit more dramatic. He cut Sandsteppe Outcast from his deck entirely, replacing them with 3 copies of Akroan Sergeant. He also swapped out a single Misthoof Kirin for the fourth copy of Sandcrafter Mage, and brought in 2 copies of Territorial Roc as well. Furthermore, he cut back on the total number of combat tricks to make room for more removal. Pacifism from the Sideboard joined Fiery Impulse at 4 copies each, while Kill Shot and Celestial Flare switched places, the latter moving to the Sideboard. Also, he dropped Ainok Bond-Kin to only 2 copies, which seems strange given the amount of synergy that card has with the rest of the deck. Additionally, Enlightened Ascetic, Smite the Monstrous, and Suppression Bonds all came in as new additions to the Sideboard, giving the deck some hate against Enchantments and even more diversity in its removal suite. Gone were Boiling Earth and Twin Bolt, presumably since joekewwl did not believe he would have to worry about tokens. Overall, these changes streamlined the maindeck, giving it one more creature and several more removal spells, while reducing the number of combat tricks.

III. Keys to Victory

So with those changes to their respective decklists, what did these players hope to see happen in this match? Let's briefly look at the four keys to victory that would determine which player would become the Grand Champion of the Double League.

1. Would Pink Pain get off to a quick and overwhelming start? joekewwl's game plan revolved around dropping creatures as quickly as possible, then swinging in each turn while using removal to keep defending creatures off the board. To ensure a quick victory, he wanted to play a creature on both turns 2 and 3, then back those up with removal and additional creatures as needed, sprinkling in a few select combat tricks at key moments.

2. Would Jund Allies grind out a win with card advantage? ZombieNeko's deck was definitely the "bigger" of the two, and all things being equal, would become increasingly likely to win the longer each game went. Read the Bones gave the deck an unmatched ability to draw deep and filter through its cards, while both Elvish Visionary and Seek the Wilds would help the deck see even more cards.

3. Who would be left standing after all the removal was played? Both players were depending on their removal to carry out their gameplan. Removal in one form or another made up almost a third of both players' decks. Whichever player could fight through all the removal and keep some creatures on the virtual battlefield would have the best chance of winning the game.

4. Who would best leverage their flyers? While both decks consisted of ground creatures, each included a strong flyer that would be an important asset in winning the game. For Jund Allies, this was Kalastria Nightwatch, which made up for its reliance on gaining Life by being a very potent 4/5 Flyer when it really mattered. For Pink Pain, this was Misthoof Kirin, which could easily become a 3/2 or greater with Flying and Vigilance, allowing it to attack each turn and also stay back on defense, augmented by combat tricks when necessary.

So as you watch the match, keep these four keys to victory in mind.

IV. The Match

Once again, the players graciously scheduled their match at a time that I would able to match, and allowed me to record the results for this article.

In the end, ZombieNeko was able to triumph, narrowly winning over joekewwl 3-2. In his defense, joekewwl definitely had some significant mana issues that he had to fight through, but such is the nature of randomness. Congrats to ZombieNeko for claiming the Grand Championship trophy of the Standard Pauper Double League and laying claim to the 8 boosters of Battle for Zendikar!

V. Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this last look at the Standard Pauper Double League. In closing, let me remind you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at PureMTGO.com over on YouTube.com. Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. You can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Finally, I am the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, which is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 7:00pm GMT in the #MPDC channel.

Got content that you would like to see me cover? Drop me a line at gwyned at gmail dot com and let me know! See you next time.