Esper Approach by Alex Lloyd at GP Atlanta – 1st

Creatures (1)
1 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (33)
3 Approach of the Second Sun
2 Fumigate
4 Censor
4 Opt
4 Disallow
4 Fatal Push
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Settle the Wreckage
2 Cast Out
2 Search for Azcanta

Lands (26)
2 Aether Hub
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Fetid Pools
4 Drowned Catacomb
1 Island
3 Plains

Sideboard (15)
2 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Search for Azcanta
2 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Negate
1 Jace’s Defeat
4 Regal Caracal
2 The Scarab God


Since Ixalan entered Standard, Control variants have been on the rise in several different forms, including U/B, U/W, Grixis, and Esper. At Pro Tour Ixalan, Gillaume Matignon took the traditional U/W Approach deck and added the innovation of Harnessed Lightning, adding some much-needed spot removal to the powerful archetype. However, red may not be the best color to splash, as indicated by Alex Lloyd’s Esper Control deck which won GP Atlanta this past weekend, and is the deck we’re featuring today.

Despite being a new take on the deck, this deck has a lot in common with the U/W and Jeskai Approach decks. Censor and Disallow are still the best counter spells available, cycling when not needed and hitting activated or triggered abilities as well as spells, respectively. Settle the Wreckage and Fumigate are still the board wipes in this deck. Despite Matignon only playing Settle the Wreckage, lists since then have added Fumigate, as the upside of the 5 mana board wipe over the conditional 4 mana one is significant.

In the mainboard, the only black addition to this deck is 4 copies of Fatal Push. The 1 mana removal spell allows this deck to stay low to the ground and compete in the early game against the more aggressive decks in the format, as well as hitting some of Temur Energy’s most important creatures. The only other spot removal in the mainboard of this deck is Cast Out. The 4 mana instant-speed enchantment has proven its worth in this format, as it hits the various planeswalkers and other impactful non-creature permanents, as well as the creatures that normal spot removal hits.

Approach of the Second Sun is the primary win condition of this deck in the mainboard. The 7 mana sorcery is less than ideal on its own, as it’s a rather slow and vulnerable win condition, but when combined with draw spells and board control, it’s very powerful. The 7 life it gains is extremely relevant for this deck that finds itself on the back foot more times than not, and it quickly churns through cards thanks to draw spells like Glimmer of Genius and Opt, greatly reducing the wait time for the second… Second Sun.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:


-1 Settle the Wreckage

+1 Cast Out


-1 Search for Azcanta

-1 Jace’s Defeat

+2 Negate

This is day 323 of’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 322 here, where we featured a Legacy combo deck that looks to get creatures into its graveyard and get them back into play.

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