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By: gwyned, gwyned
Feb 22 2016 1:00pm
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I. Introduction

For the past three months, I have been running a special "league-style" Player Run Event called the Standard Pauper Double League. As the name implies, this is an event in the Standard Pauper format where players are assigned a pairing each week in a Swiss style tournament for five weeks before cutting to a Top 8 Double Elimination round. However, once that first phase is complete, all players who didn't make Top 8 in Phase One are automatically eligible for a second five week Swiss round phase, which once again will culminate in a Top 8 Double Elimination round (hence the moniker "double"). Thanks to donations from our great community and even directly from Wizards of the Coast, the total prize package for this event was over $175 in value - not too shabby for a free event!

This event has finally come to an end, with both the final match in the Double Elimination round of Phase Two and the Grand Championship between the winners of Phase One and Phase Two having wrapped up this past week. Today, I want to feature the final match of Phase Two between joekewwl's "Pink Pain" deck and afreeAk's Izzet Prowess. Coming into this match, joekewwl had finished first in the so-called "Winner's Bracket," meaning that he had not lost a single match, while afreeAk had finished first in the "Loser's Bracket," meaning that he had already suffered one loss (you can view the complete bracket here, but it does spoil the final results). According to Double Elimination rules, joekewwl only needed to win a single match, whereas afreeAk had the difficult task of winning two matches back-to-back in order to be crowned the champion of Phase Two. But before we get to the match , let's take a look at both players' respective decklists.

II. The Decklists and Strategy
A. joekewwl's Pink Pain


This deck is slightly different than the classic White Weenie archetype in that it relies upon not only playing efficient creatures, but also utilizes an unusually high number of removal and combat tricks to propel it to victory. Sandcrafter Mage, Sandsteppe Outcast, and Topan Freeblade are already efficient beaters, but their ability to gain +1 / +1 counters gives them particularly strong synergy with Ainok Bond-Kin, which is definitely an all-star in this deck. Next, Arashin Cleric might seem an unusual choice, but it's well suited as not only a viable way to hold back 2 Power creatures, but also as a means of preserving your life total against rapid aggression. Finally, while Misthoof Kirin has not seen much play prior to this in the format, it more than earns a spot in this decklist thanks to the combination of Vigilance and Flying.

One of the paths to victory for this deck is to focus on removing your opponent's threats, which it does through a combination of excellent White and Red removal and combat tricks. Fiery Impulse and Gideon's Reproach excel in this role, giving you a cheap and effective means of dealing with a variety of creatures. Celestial Flare gives you a nice option against larger foes, potentially augmented by Kill Shot out of the Sideboard. As far as combat tricks are concerned, this utilizes not only the popular Feat of Resistance and Tandem Tactics, but the rarely played Enshrouding Mist as well, which for one mana prevents all damage to the targeted creatures and gives it a meager +1 / +1 bonus. Finally, Tormenting Voice gets the deck a little bit of extra reach as well as giving you a potential avenue to mitigate mana flood.

The Sideboard is primarily focused around additional removal, which is an important option against the dominance of Izzet Prowess. It includes additional copies of Celestial Flare and Gideon's Reproach, and provides options like Boiling Earth and Twin Bolt to deal with tokens, Pacifism as Sorcery speed unconditional removal, and Bathe in Dragonfire and Outnumber as additional ways of dealing with higher Toughness creatures. It also includes one more copy of Arashin Cleric to boost your Life and an additional copy of Enshrouding Mist to help against a lot of removal.

B. afreeAk's Izzet Prowess


Izzet Prowess has become the deck to beat in the Standard Pauper format, and it doesn't take much analysis to figure out why it's so good. It plays a wide variety of strong spells that all synergize well with its creatures but also provide a constant stream of new cards, quickly burying its opponent with its sheer card advantage. Elusive Spellfist is the only creature that lacks Prowess, but it instead becomes unblockable while still gaining a single point of Power from each spell. Jeskai Sage seems pretty meager as a 1/1 for 1U, but the combination of Prowess and replacing itself when it dies is surprisingly effective, often allowing it to trade for your opponent's creature and still netting you a card. Mage-Ring Bully lacks any such special considerations, but the fact that it's a 2/2 for 2 with Prowess is so efficient that playing this is often the best thing this deck can do on Turn 2. And of course Whirlwind Adept is quite strong thanks to Hexproof, which makes it very difficult for your opponent to ever get rid of it.

The deck's suite of spells can be divided into two categories: card advantage and removal spells. Anticipate, Tormenting Voice, and Treasure Cruise provide a constant new supply of cards, while Clutch of Currents, Fiery Impulse, and Twin Bolt deal directly with opposing creatures. Titan's Strength and Temur Battle Rage can also act in a similar fashion as combat tricks, but more importantly also make for a lethal combo, as it's not too difficult to pump up one of your creatures to 7 or 8 Power before playing Temur Battle Rage, potentially dealing 16 or more damage in a single combat, killing your opponent virtually out of nowhere.

Out of the Sideboard, the deck has even more options at its disposal. Disdainful Stroke, Dispel, and Negate give the deck some options against other Control decks, allowing you to protect your combo and keep your creatures alive in the face of timely removal. Boiling Earth and the second copy of Twin Bolt are useful against token strategies, while Whisk Away gives the deck yet another way to get opposing creatures out of the way and bury your opponent under a relentless wave of attacks. Finally, against an opponent with lots of removal, the two additional copies of Whirlwind Adept can help survive just such a tactic.

III. The Match

I was fortunate enough to be available when these two excellent players scheduled their final match, and as such I was able to record the results.

Congrats to joekewwl on his comeback win after dropping the first game and having some serious mana issues along the way. Both players played very well, and I hope you enjoyed the match as much as I did!

IV. Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Finals of Phase Two of 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.

Next week I'll be back with the Grand Championship of the Double League as well as some closing thoughts on the event as a whole. See you then!