In the wake of the Pro Tour, Standard has been absolutely dominated by Planeswalker-oriented midrange decks, primarily Green-White Tokens featuring Gideon and Nissa. As a consequence of that, there is some incentive to move away from Black-based midrange decks, which lean more heavily on removal spells, and towards counterspells, which are much cleaner answers. Of course, when Esper Dragons exists in the format, there’s a need to find a way to both play counterspells against the Planeswalker decks but also go bigger than the other control decks featuring Dragonlord Ojutai or Pyromancer's Goggles. ManuGodineau may have done just that:
Blue-Red Eldrazi - Shadows over Innistrad Standard | ManuGodineau, 16th MTGO PTQ
- Spells (24)
- 4 Anticipate
- 4 Clash of Wills
- 2 Kozilek's Return
- 4 Spatial Contortion
- 4 Void Shatter
- 2 Warping Wail
- 4 Hedron Archive
- Lands (28)
- 4 Highland Lake
- 6 Island
- 4 Mage-Ring Network
- 4 Shivan Reef
- 4 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
- 2 Spawning Bed
- 4 Wandering Fumarole
This deck is interesting because it’s pulling in a lot of different directions. The density of lands which produce colorless mana allows you to utilize colorless removal spells like Spatial Contortion and Warping Wail as the primary removal spells against early creatures. These, backed by Kozilek's Return, give you a reasonable chance of battling back against fast starts from decks like Humans.
The goal of the deck, however, is to get to a point where you can safely leave up countermagic. This allows you to stay ahead of cards like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Seasons Past if your opponent decides to cast one of them, or to cast Anticipates or charge up Mage-Ring Networks if they don’t. A huge part of the power of this deck is that flexibility; that you don’t have to waste your mana if your opponent doesn’t cast a spell into your countermagic.
The end game of this deck is that your removal and counterspells buy you enough time to find multiple copies of Shrine of the Forsaken God and charge up some Mage-Ring Networks such that you can start casting giant threats while still leaving up interaction. There are very few decks that can beat a resolved Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, after all. That gets even more difficult when you can cast an Ulamog and either rebuy a Kozilek's Return or leave up one or more counterspells.
However, Ulamog isn’t the only threat that this deck has access to. Drowner of Hope is another powerful midrange threat that can keep Archangel Avacyn, Worldbreaker, and other monsters under control while you find a way to cast an Ulamog to clean up the game.
This is a deck whose success is highly dependent on what the metagame looks like on any given weekend. If people are leaning heavily on sorcery-speed three- and four-drops, then a deck that can play eight or more counterspells and plays largely at instant-speed is going to be a great choice. As soon as people start shifting towards more aggressive and curve-based decks, this strategy will quickly become much less palatable.