Control Rising

Posted in NEWS on June 22, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Coming into Grand Prix Chicago, it looked like Standard had shifted away from the control decks. Aggressive strategies like Red/White Burn and the hyper aggressive Boss Sligh had won the two most recent large Standard events. However, tides change and formats sway, the general redness of the format led many of the best players in the room to pilot Blue Devotion this weekend. Decks like Junk Midrange, Black/White Midrange, Jund Monsters, and the creature based red decks quickly found themselves out of contention in the face of Thassa's army. Meanwhile, Blue/White Control strategies found themselves in a field where Supreme Verdict was a dominant force against the competition.

Blue/White Control is the purest of the Standard control strategies. Blue/White/Black versions of the deck are forced to use a lot of slots on win conditions that do nothing in the face of early pressure. By playing the straight Blue/White version of the deck, we're given a strategy that doesn't need to waste slots of powerful spells, instead using every space available to interact with the opponent. Two of the six players that went undefeated on Day One were piloting the deck. Now, in Round 12, the last undefeated player remaining is piloting Standard's newest top dog.

In fact, a look at the top tables shows us the dominance of the Blue/White Control archetype this weekend. In round 12, table 1 featured a Blue/White Control mirror while Harry Corvese, also piloting Blue/White Control, quickly dispatched Yuuta Takahashi in the X-1 bracket on a video feature match.

"A pair of Blue/White Control players collide at the top of the standings!"

Why has Blue/White been performing so well this weekend?

The heavy creature format has encouraged many players to fill their decks with spot removal. These cards are virtual blanks against the Blue/White Control deck. It's analogous to skipping a draw step every time an opponent draws a card like Doom Blade or Mizzium Mortars.

Blue Devotion is a slamdunk matchup for the Blue/White Devotion decks. We haven't seen much Blue Devotion at recent events, but this weekend seems much different. Many of the professional players that came to Grand Prix Chicago recognized the red decks' weakness to the archetype. The fact that the Blue Devotion decks came out in huge numbers this weekend had an interesting effect on the metagame here in The Windy City.

First, Red decks, especially the creature based versions, have found themselves in a rough spot on day 2. Blue Devotion was everywhere and the Red decks couldn't keep up. The Blue Devotion deck takes no damage from its lands, has a reasonable plan to race the red strategies, and its best card just happens to have protection from red.

"Harry Corvese's Blue/White Control deck emerges victorious against Japanese master, Yuuta Takahashi."

The White/Blue Control decks used to be grinding away, squeaking by through close matchups in every round. Now, there's suddenly a big swath of the field that's Blue Devotion, the deck's best matchup. With Blue Devotion decks making up a fifth of the day 2 metagame, the Blue/White Control strategy's overall win percentage made a huge jump.

Will Blue/White Control continue its dominance here in Chicago? Or will another deck rise to the top of the standings? Stay tuned to continuing coverage for all the latest action!