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Control is Alive!

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Pro Tour Kaladesh was one of the most exciting Pro Tours in a while, at least for me anyway. Some of the past couple of Pro Tours were won by Mono-Red aggro decks. While it’s cool to see the best players in the world playing Magic, it’s just not the same when you see someone like Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa playing a hyper aggressive deck. I want to see pros navigate through complex lines and milk advantage inch by inch until they finally win. See, control decks insure the game goes long, it’s what they aim to do. When you have two similar control decks going at each other, the better player usually wins since the games go long and force you to make many decisions. This is the kind of Magic I originally fell in love with, it’s what I started out playing and winning with. I’m so stoked that Shota won the whole thing with his Grixis Control deck. On top of that, the top eight even had a couple of control decks! Today I want to go over the control decks from the top eight of the Pro Tour and then talk about my updated Bant Control deck. Let’s go over Shota’s masterpiece that he ended up using to take down the whole tournament.


Thing in the Ice
Did he finely tune this deck by pouring hours and hours into it? Or maybe he just built it the night before? It doesn’t matter. The deck was good enough and built well enough to take down a tournament that consisted of the best Magic players in the world. Clearly this deck is pretty darn good. Shota didn’t go the Planeswalker route. Instead he opted for the instant and sorcery plan with Thing in the Ice and Torrential Gearhulk. You don’t have to think too much when building around Thing in the Ice, just play some good instants or sorceries. However, Torrential Gearhulk is a different monster entirely. You need to pick the right spells to fully abuse the Blue hulk. This is how Torrential Gearhulk can read in Shota’s deck.

When Torrential Gearhulk enters the battlefield choose one:

  • Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, exile it instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.
  • Scry 2, then draw two cards. You get two energy counters.
  • Gain three energy and kill a creature.
  • Gain three life and deal three damage to a creature.
  • Destroy a creature and deal three damage to its controller.

On top of all that you can flash in Fatcaster Mage during combat to cast whatever spell is right for the situation and then kill a creature in combat. If the spell you chose to cast was Glimmer of Genius and you killed a creature, then you just played a four for one. That. Is. Absurd. So much value with the Blue hulk if you build your deck correctly and play with it correctly as well.

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
When I first saw Shota’s list I was curious why he played Jace, Unravler of Secrets over Ob Nixilis Reignited. It’s because Jace also gives you more Torriential Gearhulks if that’s what you want to do with his minus ability. Speaking of bouncing your own Gearhulk to rebuy its ability, Thing in the Ice will also return Gearhulk to your hand when it flips, you can even time so that when it’s ability goes on the stack you can flash in a hulk, flashback a spell, and then have the hulk go right back to your hand. VALUE!

Shota even predicted that the format would have a bunch of artifacts, so many in fact that it warranted playing one Ceremonious Rejection main deck. That’s some next level deck-building. Any Blue deck could’ve played Ceremonious Rejection main deck but none did, at least not in the top eight. Shota got rewarded for predicating correctly since over 20% of the meta were Aetherworks Marvel decks.

This deck looks great and I would highly recommend it if you like playing “draw go” or Grixis control.

The other control deck in the top eight was played by Carlos Romoa. His deck acted similarly to tempo flash decks in the past but it went big and it could tap out for game changing spells like Fumigate, Dovin Baan, and Quarantine Field. Let’s have a look at his list.


Radiant Flames
It’s so strange to see a U/W deck not play Spell Quellers in the main. Carlos however only played three in the sideboard. Most likely for other control or midrange decks. He opted to go for the Fastcaster Mage as well which is definitely a reason to run more spells and less Quellers.

Carlos’s deck tries to keep the board as clean as possible in the early turns with Immolating Glare, Blessed Alliance, Radiant Flames, Void Shatter, and Harnessed Lightning. Then he can start casting his mid to late game cards that can take over the game. Dovin Baan is fantastic alongside Radiant Flames and Fumigate since Dovin can stop Selfless Spirit from countering your board wipes with his plus ability. They will have to either preemptively sacrifice their Selfless Spirit, in which case you plused a Planeswalker to kill a creature, or risk having their board wiped by a Fumigate or Radiant Flames. Talk about mind games!

I also like how Carlos ran three Immolating Glares and one Blessed Alliance main deck. This makes your opponent’s most games play around Immolating Glare then sometimes you’ll be able to milk a ton of value off your Blessed Alliance by making them sacrifice a creature and then untapping your Avacyn or your Torrential Gearhulk so you can block and eat another creature. See that’s the thing about control decks, all the varied decisions don’t just come from actual game play, so much also comes from building the actual deck itself. You want to diversify your removal and threats so that you have an answer to basically anything in your main deck. We can see that Carlos did that very well and was also rewarded for his play and deck-building.

If you like this style of tempo/control decks, then I’d start with his list.

Now, while I didn’t play at the Pro Tour, I did play in Regionals. I only had one loss with my Bant deck during the Swiss portion of the tournament, this is what my Bant deck currently looks like and I think it’s actually very well positioned for the current metagame.


Tamiyo, Field Researcher
BAM! And we are playing the full set of Spell Quellers, why you ask? Well because they are very good at tempoing the game out or just killing x/2 creatures. They also curve perfectly into Tamiyo, Field Researcher. If nothing else is going on, especially in a slower game, then I’ll flash in my Spell Queller at the end of my opponent’s turn. If they counter it? Then I have free reign on my turn to whatever I want. If they don’t kill or counter it, then I have a clock and have a target for my Tamiyo’s plus ability if I chose to use it.

The biggest difference with this list from my old list is that I’m playing more removal, more Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and I’ve gone for the Bruna / Gisela package over the Emrakul package main deck. I wanted to keep the curve a little lower and Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is just easier to assemble and can be just as backbreaking as Emrakul. Bruna is also good enough just returning a Tireless Tracker, she doesn’t always have to grab Gisela. I found that when I cast Ishkana, Grafwidow that the game came to a halt. This was always very good especially with Tamiyo and Gideon. In a couple of games I was able to get a couple of emblems of a Gideon just because Ishkanah was able to hold down the fort long enough. Even better is when you are slowly upping Tamiyo and getting closer to her ult. Your opponent is forced to attack her and then you make very profitable trades while also drawing cards thanks to the plus ability from Tamiyo. You’ll be surprised how many games you actually win from a Tamiyo Emblem or from forming Brisela.

Blessed Alliance
Immolating Glare

The Blessed Alliance // Immolating Glare split is there for a reason. Blessed Alliance is overall better since you have more creatures to untap like Gisela or Ishkanah. You also control the flow of battle easily with Tamiyo. By targeting two small creatures with Tamiyo’s ability your opponent will be forced to attack with the big creature and then you can remove them with Blessed Alliance. Another cool thing you can do with Blessed Alliance is untap a creature that has been plused by Tamiyo just to block with it so you can draw another card, all the card advantage! Try to keep in Mind that Gisela has First Strike. This is obviously very relevant but for more than you might think. Because of this I was able to block a Smuggler's Copter with Gisela and then draw a card off her since she had Tamiyo’s ability and before my opponent’s creatures could do damage I got to cast the Immolating Glare that I drew off Gisela and kill another creature.

This deck is one that abuses Tamiyo as much as possible. It’s probably one of the only reasons to play Green in your control decks. Tamiyo allows you to build your deck so that it attacks from so many different angles. This is traditionally hard for other control decks to handle. You are fighting with creatures, Planeswalkers, creature lands, and counterspells. I’m personally excited to play against other control decks with Tamiyo.

We live in a very exciting time for Standard. Control decks are thriving and we also have a viable combo deck in Standard. Again, I’m so happy control is doing well, especially in a world full of Planeswalkers and vehicles. I plan on playing in as many Standard events as I possibly can.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and like one of these control decks. It’s time for us control players to rise again.

Pick your deck!

Draw that card!

Then pass the turn!

YAUS!

Ali Aintrazi

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