Esper Control by Andrew Davis at GP New Jersey – 31st

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (30)
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Dynavolt Tower
1 Authority of the Consuls
1 Fumigate
2 Ruinous Path
2 Anguished Unmaking
3 Anticipate
4 Fatal Push
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Grasp of Darkness
2 Negate
2 Void Shatter

Lands (26)
1 Aether Hub
3 Choked Estuary
2 Concealed Courtyard
2 Evolving Wilds
3 Island
1 Plains
2 Prairie Stream
4 Shambling Vent
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
1 Negate
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
3 Spell Queller
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Immolating Glare
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
2 Flaying Tendrils
1 Blessed Alliance


It’s been a while since a true Esper Control deck has been viable in Standard, but Andrew Davis’s 31st place-performance at GP New Jersey shows that perhaps it may be time for the 3-color control deck to make its mark on Standard once again. At this point in time, before the inevitable changes to the ban list are announced Monday morning (which appear to be happening before this article goes up, but after it’s written), Standard is a two deck format composed of Mardu Vehicles and 4-Color Copycat.


Sure, there are other decks like Temur Tower and B/G Constrictor mixed in, but just looking at the percentages of those two decks in all Standard top 8’s paint a very ugly picture of Standard. In order for a deck to be viable in this format, it needs to have at least a positive matchup against one of the two decks. This Esper Control deck aims to have both.


This deck is very heavy on the black removal spells that are good against Mardu Vehicles, as it has 4 copies each of Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness. It also has access to 2 copies of Ruinous Path, which more that often read: “destroy target Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.” The removal spells are also good against 4-Color Copycat, but not nearly as effective at battling the underlying strategy of the deck.

Counters and draw spells, however, do a very excellent job of pulling ahead until Torrential Gearhulk can take over the game. The singleton copy of Fumigate is undoubtedly for this matchup, but happens to have fantastic applications against B/G Constrictor as well. The 1 mainboard copy of Authority of the Consuls is absolutely a concession to the 4-Color Copycat matchup, which indicates that while it’s not necessarily a bad matchup, it needs some help.

The sideboard for this deck has one unifying theme: creatures. Control decks have always loved sideboarding into creatures, because most of the time the opponent will be sideboarding out their removal spells, leaving the control deck’s creatures to sit on the board and gain as much value as they please. This deck is no different, with 4 copies of Glint-Sleeve Siphoner to draw cards and 3 copies of Spell Queller to counter spells and pressure opposing planeswalkers. Being able to sideboard into a more proactive strategy where your opponent is devoid of most (if not all) interaction is a winning recipe.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:


-2 Liliana, the Last Hope

+1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

+1 Fumigate


-1 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

+1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

This is day 72 0f’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 71 here, where we featured a Legacy ramp deck that plays a bunch of Standard cards!

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