Deck Tech: White-Blue Control with Brian Cooper

Posted in Event Coverage on August 28, 2016

By Frank Karsten

Recently, many control mages were tempted by Nahiri, the Harbinger to switch to the Jeskai clan. But in the Top 100 after Day 1, I was surprised to see multiple players who had stuck with good old Blue-White Control.

One of them was Brian Cooper, who runs the Gaming Center in Perryville,Missouri in daily life and who found himself (after beating Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa in Round 11) at a 10-1 record at Grand Prix Indianapolis.

"I've always been an Azorius guy," Cooper told me. "They are my two favorite colors. You can pretty much answer anything."

"I've been playing since Alpha and I always liked the colors, so I wanted to stick with them in Modern. If you stick with a deck, through both the good and the bad times, you can become a master with it. Some people, like Tom Ross, are known as an Infect guy, and that's what I would like to be for blue-white as well."

So let's break down the card choices made by the blue-white master.

"Ancestral Vision is the optimal turn-1 play for the deck," Cooper explained. "I was very happy it was unbanned." Indeed, control decks need card advantage to make sure they don't run out of gas in the late game, and Ancestral Vision is one of the most mana-efficient options around.

"Then, most of the time it's a Mana Leak to counter their play on turn 2; a Kitchen Finks or Jace Beleren on turn 3; and a Supreme Verdict on turn 4."

Afterwards, Ancestral Vision comes off suspend, and the control game kicks in.

"I really like Sun Titan," Cooper told me. "I played it a lot when it was legal in Standard, and I tried to build my Modern deck to abuse it."

Cooper's deck has plenty of cards that he can return from the graveyard, such as Kitchen Finks or Jace Beleren. Returning a Snapcaster Mage to recast another spell is pretty sweet too.

"One of my favorite things to do is Ghost Quarter recursion. Eventually, they have no basics left, and I just run them out of mana."

To bridge the gap from the early game to the late game, the deck employs a number of planeswalkers.

Jace Beleren draws cards, can be returned with Sun Titan later on, and Cooper has even used the ultimate to beat an Melira, Sylvok Outcast combo player at infinite life!

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has also done a lot of work. "Gideon has been a house. It dodges Abrupt Decay and a lot of the removal. I mainly make Knights because I don't want to attack and turn on an opponent's Path to Exile." Meanwhile, Cooper was not tempted by Nahiri, the Harbinger. "I playtested Nahiri, but I don't think the red is necessarily needed."

In the end, planeswalkers are fickle, and Cooper actually won most of his games with Celestial Colonnade. "Lands are hard to deal with."

Cooper's sideboard contains typical inclusions such as Stony Silence against Affinity and Rest for the Weary against Burn, as well as a split between Surgical Extraction and Rest in Peace for graveyard hate. According to Cooper, Rest in Peace is technically the best card against Dredge, but it also harms his own game plan with Snapcaster Mage and Sun Titan. What's more, he cannot flash back Rest in Peace. That's why he has a split.

Matchups

"I think the deck is pretty well positioned right now," Cooper said when I asked him about his matchups. "I feel I'm pretty good against Jund and any creature deck, really."

"The deck doesn't have a super bad matchup. I guess Tron maybe, but that's why I have 4 Ghost Quarters main deck and 1 Bribery sideboard. And sometimes, time is my worst enemy as my deck isn't the fastest at winning."

Goals for the event

But Cooper hadn't dropped more than one match yet at the time of writing, which meant that he was in a prime position to post a great finish.

"I've played for a long time and met a lot of friends through Magic, but I always told my friends and family that if I ever played one match on the Pro Tour, then I would consider my Magic career complete. My ultimate goal would be winning a Pro Tour, but I'll never be that good and I can never dedicate enough time next to running my store." However, playing on the Pro Tour is a realistic goal.

For that, Cooper will need to score at least a 3-1 record in the last four rounds. We'll see tonight if he will reach his goal…and put blue-white control back on the map.

Brian Cooper's Azorius Control – Grand Prix Indianapolis 2016

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