The Different Flavors of Jeskai Control

Brandon Ayers

Brandon Ayers


Brandon Ayers

Left to Right: Brandon Ayers, John Rolf and Peter Yeh
(Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast)

My name is Brandon Ayers and I’m a Gold Level MTG Professional. I’m thankful and excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the Hararuya Pros family. I’ve been on the Pro Tour “Train” for the last two years. I have four Grand Prix top 8 finishes and multiple strong Pro Tour finishes with my best finish being at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary in Minnesota. I teamed with John Rolf and Tom Martell to a 16th place finish which locked me for Gold status and our 6-man roster finished in 4th place in the 2017-18 Pro Tour Team Series rankings.

Now that you know a little more about me, let’s delve into Standard and the different Jeskai Control variants! This format appears to be the most diverse we’ve had in years. Choosing what deck to play is far from easy and to make matters worse, each deck has a flexible card pool to build from. With so many options from deck choice to card selection, it’s important to predict the metagame with accuracy.

Prior to Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica, I struggled to settle on a deck. Everything I played had powerful cards but still felt clunky and inconsistent. Most decks I tried felt like block constructed decks. After a poor showing at the Pro Tour with Green White Angels, I felt more lost than ever.

History of BenaliaGoblin ChainwhirlerJadelight RangerCrackling Drake

Based on the Pro Tour results, I expected White Aggro and Mono Red to be overly represented. In addition to the aggressive decks, I anticipated Golgari, Jeskai Control, and Izzet Drakes to also be public enemies. After talking to some friends, it seemed as though everyone was diluting their decks in preparation for the post-Pro Tour aggressive metagame. I also noticed Magic Online decks adding sweepers and spot removal.

Deafening ClarionTeferi, Hero of DominariaExpansion+Explosion

With the information I had, Jeskai Control stood out as an absolute all-star choice for the weekend. With minimal time to practice I was initially concerned about submitting a control deck because I’m not exactly the fastest player, and I’ve also avoided controlling archetypes for the past five years or so.

After endlessly contemplating between Jeskai Control and Golgari I decided to lock in Jeskai Control on Friday night. Regardless of the outcome, I couldn’t have been happier with my choice!

Here is the decklist I piloted to 14th place at Grand Prix Milwaukee 2018:

Niv-Mizzet, ParunSeal AwayJustice Strike

I knew I wanted to add 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 to the main deck because it’s great against Izzet Drakes and opposing control decks. I also planned on other Jeskai Control/Grixis players to play a respectable number of 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 in their main deck.

The stock Jeskai Control decks tend to play 2-4 《Seal Away》. This card really shines against 《Adanto Vanguard》 but I expected White Weenie (WW) decks to be heavily targeted.

After careful consideration, I settled on 3 《Justice Strike》 and zero 《Seal Away》. 《Seal Away》 can be played around somewhat easily so I get some upside if the majority of lists play 《Seal Away》, but I play 《Justice Strike》. Being able to interact with 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 at instant speed and then getting a full turn without fear of interaction from your opponent can heavily sway the game.

Grand Prix Milwaukee 2018

Day One

Siege-Gang CommanderExperimental Frenzy

Grand Prix Milwaukee started off perfect. After three byes, I had a round four feature match against WWr and to my surprise the match was over after twenty minutes, in my favor. Throughout day one I beat one WWr deck, two Izzet Drake decks, and a Golgari deck. The Izzet Drake matchup felt great but WWr didn’t stand out as an excellent matchup due to me playing 《Justice Strike》 over 《Seal Away》. I ended day one with a 7-1 record. Unfortunately, my only loss was to Midrange Red which is a deck that Jeskai Control should prey upon. I won game one off the back of 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 but games two and three fell apart due to a combination of mulligans and too many tapped lands.

Day Two

Adanto Vanguard

My day two start was far from ideal. I didn’t get much rest and I also overslept my alarm. I make it to the first round with no time to spare. I’m against Selesnya Tokens which is an excellent matchup. The match goes to three games, but the match slowly slips away as I fail to hit a 4th land in time and the game quickly snowballs in my opponent’s favor. After a tough 0-1 start, I rally by beating multiple Jeskai Control mirrors. In round 13 while I was up a game, my Golgari opponent was disqualified, he drew two cards in one turn when he needed his third land. In round 14 I lost a win-and-in match for top 8. It was an extremely close match against WW aggro. I finished the tournament by beating a Midrange Red deck to finish in the top 16 (12-3).

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the Jeskai Control list I played. I felt the list was very strong against Izzet Drakes and opposing Jeskai Control decks, while being slightly favored against Golgari. WWr and aggressive Mono Red decks were the only two decks I wasn’t thrilled to play against, but the matchups certainly appear to be winnable. Based on the Standard MOCS results I’d recommend a different build of Jeskai Control for upcoming tournaments. With Jeskai Control becoming a more prevalent deck and Izzet Drakes showing dominance I would play this version of Jeskai Control,

Treasure MapNiv-Mizzet, Parun

Having access to 4 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 against opposing blue decks weights the matchup in your favor. 《Treasure Map》 is also extremely strong in matchups where you aren’t under pressure. I think both variants of Jeskai Control are strong choices but the metagame dictates which is the ideal choice.

If you want to beat Golgari and WWr I would recommend the traditional list that I piloted in Milwaukee. If you expect a slower metagame that consists of Jeskai Control mirrors and Izzet Drakes I would play the list that features 4 《Treasure Map》 and 4 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》.

Thank you for reading my write-up on Jeskai Control and may the 《Teferis》 always be with you!

Brandon Ayers

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Brandon Ayers

Brandon Ayers Brandon Ayres is a pro player from United States. He is a skillful player so he has multiple GP Top8s and is maintaining the Gold Level. In the 2017-2018 season, With a stable and steady run in the 2017-2018 season with good finishes in both Pro Tour Dominaria and Pro Tour Magic 25th Anniversary, he was able to lock up Gold level status again for another year. With John Rolf who is the teammate and best friend in the same town, he joined Hareruya Pros in the 2018-2019 season. Read more articles by Brandon Ayers