Post-Pro Tour Standard is here! At Grand Prix Milwaukee, we had further confirmation that practice makes perfect in this current Standard, which was taken down by Adrian Sullivan with his personal version of Jeskai Control. Let’s evaluate how this shapes Standard going forward!

Adrian Sullivan has always been known for two things during my time playing Magic: Playing lands in front of spells (Coverage rules have changed this though) and the fact he will choose a control deck, almost no matter the format. He does not get the same recognition for his dedication to control like other names in Magic such as Shouta Yasooka and Guillame Wafo-Tapa, but I’m here to right that wrong. When wanting to play a Standard format and I need a list, Adrian Sullivan is always the first person’s deck I look for. The decks he takes to tournament have been fine-tuned, with the number of each card he plays in the deck being the perfect number. For example, in his main deck he is running one Spell Pierce, which may appear out of place in any deck, let alone a control deck. However with undoubtedly the number of reps that Adrian has put in with the deck he came to this exact number that was required. This is what makes him one of the more underrated deck builders in Magic today, and the GP result means it’ll be great to see him back on the Pro Tour.

Coming out of Milwaukee

Looking at the Grand Prix, it appears that we may have finally found the consensus best version of the Izzet Drake deck. Going into the Pro Tour and coming out of it, there were two builds of the deck. One using all eight drakes, one-mana cantrips such as Warlord’s Fury and Crash Through, while the other leans on Enigma Drake, Goblin Electromancer, and better cantrips such as Radical Idea. This Grand Prix has changed that though, deciding that the consistency of Goblin Electromancer was better. “Bolt the bird” is effectively back in Standard, except this time it’s a goblin wizard.

Standard has been a mostly midrange metagame so far, with a couple of aggro decks making an impact. Even the control decks have not been controlling decks in the typical sense, using a lot more creatures than normal and acting closer to slower Midrange decks. This probably comes from imperfect mana bases and Carnage Tyrant. What is certain though is that Adrian Sullivan’s winning deck was control. Niv-Mizzet Control. Relying on the parun to close out games, there was no doubting its ability to control any threat on board, combining with Expansion // Explosion for multiple one-shot kills.

With this in mind, I am expecting adjustments to be made in the metagame. Unfortunately I think that signals the end of Boros Midrange / Aggro in its current form. While the haymakers it has are good against aggro, its wings are unfortunately clipped by Golgari and Jeskai “Control” as threats are dealt with before they can make an impact.

How can decks adapt to Jeskai?


The deck with no real bad matchups, but with not many good matchups either. The main deck is fairly well suited to facing control decks with no dead cards in the match up, as it’s filled either with creatures or planeswalkers. A problem of the deck though is that it’s effectively playing a bunch of overcosted bears for card advantage. While duress is in every sideboard, I would be interested to see the re-introduction of Vine Mare as a hexproof threat that closes games very quickly. It would also pull double duty against the Dimir Surveil fringe deck, as Blood Operative, Doom Whisperer, and Thief of Sanity cannot block it.

White Weenie / Heroic Reinforcements

Arguably the premier aggro deck of the format, it has a distinct advantage in game one against control due to the inherent nature of the deck. Low to the ground aggressive creatures alongside value permanents such as Legion’s Landing and History of Benalia force Jeskai to rely on a well timed sweeper or face an early demise. The issue is that post board, the Jeskai deck can attack the white weenie deck on multiple fronts—for example, by bringing in Deafening Clarion, Cleansing Nova, and also Lyra Dawnbringer. Overwhelming the opponent remains the key, but being able to rebuild from a boardwipe is still important. Cards such as Ixalan’s Binding are important for removing key threats and Experimental Frenzy can lead to explosive turns.


Arclight Phoenix is the threat that never really goes away, and the version of the deck with Maximise Velocity can really kill out of nowhere. Post sideboard, Lava Coil is a very real threat as it stops Arclight Phoenix from recurring, so you need additional threats in Niv-Mizzet, Parun. The deck can also turn to The Mirari Conjecture re-buying spells such as Banefire. To shore up the matchup, I could see a one of Thousand-Year Storm being introduced to the sideboard to have inevitable combo-turns using Shock or Banefire to kill in multiples.


In the mirror, Ixalan’s Binding shutting down their threats while providing a clock with your own Niv-Mizzet is how you’ll generally win most of your games. Post-board, Nezahal, Primal Tide can go over the top of your opponent, or Legion Warboss can give you a one-card army to go underneath your opponent.

Standard is at its healthiest in years. It appears to be plateauing with individual skill and metagame choices defining tournament results rather than one dominant deck. With multiple decks all fighting to be the best deck and different decks winning tournaments each week, I would not expect any new decks to emerge until the remaining shocklands are in Standard with Ravnica Allegiance.

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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