Deck Tech: Sultai Control with Ken Yukuhiro

Posted in GRAND PRIX KUALA LUMPUR 2016 on October 22, 2016

By Chapman Sim

The week after the Pro Tour is usually rather exciting, especially with the Standard metagame shaping up and waiting to evolve. Many of the Japanese players are talented deck-builders in their own right and I regularly check in with the contingent to see what exciting products they've brought to the tables now that the Honolulu weekend is in the books.

For example, Yuuki Ichikawa always knows what I'm up to when I approach him some time around Round 3. Always seen with a jovial smile on his face, he reaches into his bag and pulls out his deck box responding with either "cute deck" or "funny deck". On other occasions, such as today, "boring deck".

And by "boring" he doesn't mean that he's not having fun, it's just nothing that we haven't seen before. The three-time Grand Prix Champion is on White-Blue Flash, fanning past Spell Queller, Archangel Avacyn and Reflector Mage. The same goes for Kentaro Yamamoto and Yuta Takahashi.

Probably a great deck but far from being a breaking story.

Unsurprisingly, Shota Yasooka is running Grixis Control but he has minor updates to his Pro Tour winning list. For example, an undisclosed number of Void Shatter has made way for Scatter to the Winds. He has professed that it wouldn't hurt to have one or two more win conditions in his deck.


Ken Yukuhiro

That leaves us with Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Top 8 competitor Ken Yukuhiro, who is here in Kuala Lumpur with yet another design of his own. Yukuhiro is an amazing deck-builder with a reputation for conjuring excellent brews as well as the courage to experiment when others shy away from innovation.

Truly an inventor.

In this case, Yukuhiro took the best parts Black-Green Delirium and a tried-and-tested blue control shell and combined them into the Sultai Control deck he has today. You can build a perfect machine out of perfect parts. That has always been my favorite flavor text of all time (check out Coalition Victory) as well as an ideology that Yukuhiro firmly believes in.

Probably inspired by fellow countryman Shota Yasooka, he has shaven some copies of Glimmer of Genius and opted for Painful Truths as the main source of card economy. However, instead of just a single copy of Essence Extraction, Yukuhiro is up to three, mitigating the life loss of the painful sorcery. Replacing Unlicensed Disintegration with Murder, Galvanic Bombardment with Dead Weight and Harnessed Lightning with Grasp of Darkness, Yukuhiro was able to abandon red from the mana base entirely, paving the way for green cards to enter.

"Green is likely a better color for today's metagame. Traverse the Ulvenwald and Ishkanah, Grafwidow seem well-positioned. Also, judging from the popularity of White-Blue Flash and vehicle decks, it is important to be able to maintain the ability to kill creatures while also being able to win the game quickly before the game spirals out of control."

Because of that reason, Yukuhiro is embracing planeswalkers, going with three copies of Liliana, the Last Hope to combat the sea of Toolcraft Exemplars and Selfless Spirits, as well as three copies of Nissa, Vital Force as a quick clock in addition to providing some recursion possibility.

Despite diluting the critical mass of instants in his deck, weakening Torrential Gearhulk, Yukuhiro was able to support Traverse the Ulvenwald and Ishkanah, Grafwidow in the main deck as well as Grim Flayer from the sideboard. The flexible tutor also enabled him to run Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Tooth Collector in the sideboard.

Really?

Tooth Collector and Gonti, Lord of Luxury?

"Yes, Tooth Collector," Yukuhiro explains with a grin as wide as Cheshire Cat, "I can pull the teeth out of Toolcraft Exemplar, Selfless Spirit, Veteran Motorist and Servo or Thopter tokens. In combination with Liliana, I can even kill toughness two creatures and because I have delirium often, the aggro player has to also deal with it. It is a two-for-one card, just like Gonti, Lord of Luxury is in the correct matchup."

While Tireless Trackers are missing entirely, Yukuhiro maintains that it is probably better to entirely blank an opponent's "small removal", such as Galvanic Bombardment and Harnessed Lightning. In addition, while the deck has the ability to grind it out in long games, what it really wants to do is to quickly close them instead and Nissa will do a great job in achieving that, along with the full playset of Grim Flayers in the sideboard.

As we speak, Yukuhiro is 5-0 and getting ready to engage in Round 6. I think it's safe to say that we'll be seeing more of him and his Sultai Control deck tomorrow!

Ken Yukuhiro's Sultai Control

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