How I Ended up Submitting Golgari and Esper

Christian Hauck

Christian Hauck

My Choice for the Mythic Invitational

The Mythic Invitational is in the books and now it is time to look back at the tournament, take a closer look at the format and rethink decisions made. As most of you already know by now, I registered Esper Control and Golgari Midrange for the tournament.

Going into the event, I knew that Esper would be the most played deck and that Golgari would be a rather unusual choice. It was not a choice of feeling comfortable or being bias, I did and I still do think that this combination would give me the best shot at winning.

The Best Deck of the Best of 1

Let’s get the boogeyman out of the room, most of the players, especially MPL Members chose to bring a version of Esper Control. This came to no surprise for anyone who played some games with or against the deck in BO1, Esper plays some of the most powerful cards in Standard, has answers to everything, is very constant in what it is doing and basically has no really bad matchups against the most popular decks.

I chose classic Esper Control over the 《Dovin’s Acuity》 version because it is favored in the mirror considering 《Mastermind’s Acquisition》 and some kind of 1-of bullets like 《The Immortal Sun》 or 《The Mirari Conjecture》 are the only cards you really need to care about.

Mastermind's Acquisition

The only spice element was playing 《Mastermind’s Acquisition》 even in the classic Esper lists because the card is just such a powerhouse when you can match your sideboard exclusively for this one. At the time the deck submission was due, this sadly wasn’t even a good kept secret anymore and most people playing classic Esper were catching up and adding it to their decks.

NegateThe Mirari ConjectureDevious Cover-UpDemystify

The last change I did was cutting a second copy of 《Mastermind’s Acquisition》 for a second copy of 《Negate》 which in hindsight might have been a mistake. Having two 《Negate》s is obviously very strong in the mirror but the second 《Mastermind’s Acquisition》 gives you infinite reach when the games go long. My sideboard was also missing a copy of 《The Mirari Conjecture》 and 《Devious Cover-Up》, which I would add for a Wrath effect and the 《Demystify》. All in all the deck is just a well oiled machine, you are not doing anything wrong by choosing Esper for a match of BO1.

My Second Deck

The second deck choice definitely gave me a hard time and it turned out be to be a way more interesting one: Golgari Midrange!

During preparation I could not decide which deck I should run alongside Esper Control, in the end it was between Mono Red, Mono White and my trusty Golgari.

It was hard to not be bias because of how much I love the deck, how much work I put into tuning it and how many games I had with it under my belt. I tracked all the results I had with every deck the weeks before the Invitational and Golgari was the clear frontrunner for me when it comes to Win% overall, I just couldn’t get rid of the feeling it is a mistake to not submit a very streamlined, aggressive list alongside Esper.

Wilderness ReclamationTempest Djinn

I was afraid of running into Temur Reclemation or Mono Blue, which both were not the best matchups so my opponent will have an easy choice for game 3. To be fair I didn’t expect a lot of those decks at the Invitational but it was still hard to get rid of this lurking fear that for some reason everyone jumped on that Temur Reclation train for the Invitational because Esper was so popular.

These were my results of the games with the decks which were still in the running from the last two weeks before submission:

Deck Wins Loses Winrate
Mono Red 42 38 52.5%
Mono White 66 46 60.0%
Esper Control 84 43 66.1%
Golgari 147 72 67.1%

My mind kept telling me that an aggro deck is the way to go and that Mono Red should be the superior choice over Mono White because it’s slightly favored against White while still being decent against Esper if you know how to play the matchup and sequence your spells in the right way even without having auto wins from time to time with a flipped 《Adanto, the First Fort》 on turn three.

That said, it is hard to justify your beliefs if you can not get the same amount of wins with the deck after tons of games during preparation. I was ready to discard Golgari but it would be a shame after it served me so well and I expected Mono White to be the second most played deck after Esper. White Weenie is an excellent Matchup for Golgari, the version I played was even doing well against Esper too so if my metagame evaluation is correct, playing a deck which is fine against the two most played decks while serving me with a 67% Win% overall can’t be a bad call.

Why I Chose Golgari over Sultai?

Let’s take a look at the more interesting card choices and deckbuilding decisions which led to my final version of the deck, one of the most common questions I got asked in chat while streaming was why would I play straight Golgari over Sultai in BO1? The GB manabase isn’t even better than Sultai so why not add 《Hostage Taker》 and 《Hydroid Krasis》 like in BO3?

Hostage TakerRavenous Chupacabra

After playing a ton of games I figured out that 《Ravenous Chupacabra》 isn’t really a downgrade from 《Hostage Taker》 in BO1, 《Hostage Taker》 is better against Mono Blue and Mono White but I was doing well against White regardless and I didn’t expect Blue to be played a lot. Against Mono Red 《Ravenous Chupacabra》 is superior for obvious reasons, basically every creature in the red deck has Haste or an Enter the Battlefield ability, on top of that the Red deck has infinite ways to kill 《Hostage Taker》 and get the creature back.

Hydroid KrasisCarnage TyrantMemorial to FollyFind/Finality

《Hydroid Krasis》 is an amazing card, but playing 《Carnage Tyrant》 over 《Hydroid Krasis》 is dedicated to the gameplan versus Esper Control. The way the deck is built, it is able to recur 《Carnage Tyrant》 all over again with 《Find》 and especially 《Memorial to Folly》, which I ended up playing as much as 3 copies and which is uncounterable. The only way to interact with your recur chain is to exile the 《Tyrant》 with 《Kaya, Orzhov Usurper》, sometimes it is correct to slowroll your 《Tyrant》 when you have a 《Memorial》 until you hit 10 Mana so you can buy it back in response to the 《Kaya》‘s +1 ability after a 《Kaya’s Wrath》.

Usually the Esper deck needs to wrath your first wave of creatures to stabilize and then you should be able to jam 《Tyrant》 after 《Tyrant》 till they run out of wraths. You do not want to keep 《Tyrant》s in hand because of 《Thought Erasure》, make sure always to activate 《Memorial》 at the end of your opponent’s turn and only if you are going to cast the 《Tyrant》 the turn after.

The Reason Why I Run a 《Sorcerous Spyglass》

Sorcerous Spyglass

Maybe one of the most unexpected decisions was to add a single copy of 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 to the Maindeck, which has a lot to do with the expected metagame and the 《Doom Whisperer》s you can find in my list. A turn two 《Spyglass》 against control naming 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 can single-handed win you the game on the spot, but it even served me well in other matchups too. I named 《Growth-Chamber Guardian》, 《Adanto, the First Fort》, 《Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin》 and even succeed it to 《Vraska, Golgari Queen》 when it was just sitting around.

Doom Whisperer

The decisive argument for running the 《Spyglass》 was when I decided to play 《Doom Whisperer》, his 6/6 Flying body was just excellent against the aggressive decks and against control you were able to set up your next drawstep perfectly after they handled the Demon. Guess what’s a good drawstep after Esper wrathed away your 《Doom Whisperer》 or tuck him in your library with 《Teferi》? Yes, 《Vivien Reid》 is great and so is 《Carnage Tyrant》 or 《Find/Finality》 but 《Spyglass》 just closes the game. Being able to spend as much as 18 life and seeing 36 cards was a huge factor for me to go with a single copy of 《Spyglass》, it even has an additional effect when your opponent knows your decklist. Letting them live in a constant fear makes some decisions of the control player very uncomfortable.

My Tournament

Going into the tournament I was very confident but I lost a quick round 1 while never hitting my landdrops in both Matches, that’s a bitter pill to swallow when this happens in such an important tournament, sometimes even the BO1 shuffler can’t fix it. I had to move on and tried a comeback hitting the right side of Matchups and winning Round 2 and Round 3 but faced the wrong ones in Round 4 and got eliminated from the tournament.

I never set my sights low and I told everyone who asked me that my goal is to win the Invitational. I have no regrets which is the most important thing to me after a tournament and in hindsight I would run the same decks again.

The tournament was a blast after all and I am thankful I got a chance to meet all those great people in person. I made new friends and got to know others better. Playing a tournament on the Arena client instead of playing paper magic was also way more fun than I expected and I already can’t wait for the first Mythic Championship being played on Arena.

Christian @ChrHauck on Twitter / chauckster on Twitch

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Christian Hauck

Christian Hauck 2017-2018 season was an amazing year for Hauck. He made top 8 at the first Pro Tour in the season, and another solid finish (29th place) at the third Pro Tour. Furthermore, his strong finishes at Grand Prix including remarkable 2 top 8 pushed him to be Platinum Level Pro from non Level. He entered Hareruya Pros with the great success story. Read more articles by Christian Hauck