For those of you who don’t know who I am my name is Jonathan Rosum and I’m sponsored by Team Lotus Box and am a frequent SCGTour grinder in the United States. This past weekend I sadly lost my win-and-in for Top 8 of Grand Prix Toronto and ended the tournament in 11th Place with Jeskai Control.
If you had asked me what deck I was going to register at Grand Prix Toronto while I was boarding my plane on Friday, my answer would’ve been 5C Humans. I have been known for being a huge Humans advocate in Modern and it was the deck I was “most comfortable” with heading into the tournament. I was playing Jeskai Control all week because I thought it was a good metagame call heading into the tournament, however, I was only able to play five leagues with it on Magic Online and I didn’t feel like that was enough. I landed in Toronto and met up with my group of Benjamin Nikolich and Luke Purcell (who eventually Top 4’d the tournament with a similar Jeskai Control list) and I was easily convinced to play Jeskai just by chatting with them.
This is the list that I played in Grand Prix Toronto:
Jeskai Control, 11th Place, GP Toronto – Jonathan Rosum
Day 1 of the tournament went relatively smoothly and I played against five fair decks (Burn, Burn, U/W Control, Grixis Death’s Shadowand Lantern Control) and Storm to end the day with a record of 7-1. I lost playing for 8-0 against Burn in a close match. I was content with my play for the day and felt like Jeskai was well-positioned in the event.
Nikolich, Purcell and I were talking at dinner about how our day went and we had a combined record of 15-3 (21-3 if you count the 6 byes we had in total). I can’t seem to recall many of my matches specifically, however I do remember activating a lot of Azcanta’s and winning those games decisively.
Day 2 was quite honestly a roller-coaster of emotions. I managed to start the day off with 4 wins against Jeskai, Humans, Bogles, Bogles (against the eventual champion of Dan Ward) and then saw myself paired versus Burn. I honestly think that Burn is a good match-up for Jeskai even though I lost to it twice in the tournament and I was unable to overcome my mulligan to five in Round 14. I was then paired against R/B Hollow One and won a nail-biter game-three to put myself at 12-2. I was called to the feature match area and the nightmare situation occurred — I was paired against Grishoalbrand. I lost quite handily in a match where I could’ve done some minor things differently, but I think I was heavily favoured to lose as he had multiple Pact of Negations in his deck.
Standings go up and I see myself in 11th Place with a 12-3 record, which was good enough for some cash and 3 Pro Points. If you had told me that I was going to Top 16 this Grand Prix before the tournament I would’ve snapped it off immediately and I would’ve been perfectly content with that, it just stings going from 11-1 to 12-3 and missing Top 8. But, sometimes that’s just what happens!
Now, let’s move in to some of the specific cards that I registered:
Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruins: This is how you win most of your games against the fair decks in Modern. A flipped Azcanta is effectively close to unbeatable against other fair decks and it’s what allows you to pull ahead rather quickly in the late game. The two cards that you can find off Azcanta that will effectively end the game on the spot are Secure the Wastes and Sphinx’s Revelation.
Nahiri the Harbinger: Nahiri is another card that is very strong against the fair decks in Modern. Nahiri can also be considered a “win-condition” in a sense that it lets you get two uses off a Torrential Gearhulk while also being a planeswalker that has high loyalty. It obviously also provides some versatility in the deck, giving you the ability to answer a few problem-permanents.
Logic Knot: This card has been gaining a lot of stock in Modern and I quite frankly believe that it is much better than Mana Leak and Remand. It’s as close to Counterspell as we will probably ever get in Modern.
Runed Halo: This is more of a “niche” sideboard card that is very good against your bad match-ups in Modern, while also being playable against decks that rely on a single threat to beat you. Remember that if your opponent has an Eidolon of the Great Revel in play and you cast Runed Halo on Eidolon of the Great Revel then you effectively forced your opponent to use a burn spell on their Eidolon or be locked under it.
Dispel: This card might seem intuitive, but it allows you to fight U/W/x mirrors and decks like Storm/Burn while being mana-efficient. This is a concept that I learned from Nikolich and I do believe that blue decks sideboarding multiple Dispel will become the norm, especially in a format that is going to revolve around Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Field of Ruin: This is a card that will probably always vary in numbers depending on what you expect each specific weekend. I could see playing a second copy if you expect a lot of Search for Azcanta’s or Tron Lands. It is a very powerful effect that doesn’t destroy your mana like Ghost Quarter would.
I would honestly run back the same 75 if I had a Modern event this weekend as I feel that the list is quite tuned and has all the tools you need to have game against a majority of the format. The deck is very good against the field if you expect people who are trying to play cards like Thoughtseize, Champion of the Parish or Cryptic Command and less good if you expect people to be playing Tron lands, Prized Amalgams and Slippery Bogles.
The biggest problem that I encountered was transitioning from to a control deck in Modern. There is a difference between playing smart and playing too patient, but I found that being too aggressive is also a quick way to lose. You will always have late game inevitably because of how your deck is constructed and you should play for that long game and not try to play the aggressor unless you have the game locked-up. Mis-evaluating your role is a pretty quick way to lose with a deck like this.
Modern has been completely shaken up by the B&R announcement this past Monday. Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf were both unbanned and I will be trying hard to find the best Jace deck.
My initial reaction to the unban was quite negative and only time will tell if the card defines Modern in an unhealthy manner. That being said this is where I’m planning on starting on Magic Online this week:
Jeskai Control – Jonathan Rosum
Overall, I had a great weekend at Grand Prix Toronto and I feel as though the deck is in a great spot in the current Modern metagame. Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf will most likely make the format more of a midrange fest and that would be a good world for Jeskai Control to live in.
Thank you for tuning in to read my first article here and I wish you all good luck in your future events!
Want to try out Jeskai in Modern and win some big prizes? Come on out to our facetofacegames.com Open+ 5k at Seneca College in Toronto on March. 3!