Gold Pro and StarcityGames columnist Adrian Sullivan has been an advocate of control decks for years and is most known for his Top 8 at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir with Blue-Black Control. These days it's really tough to find the perfect control deck, especially in a format as wide-open as Standard. Adrian seems to have found it in his Mono-Blue Control list, which he calls “Blulamog.” He has been piloting the deck since Grand Prix New York three weeks ago.
Adrian's deck is a pure control deck. It looks to delay the game by countering everything in site with Clash of Wills and Void Shatter. While Void Shatter is simply a three mana hard counter, Clash of Wills is a much more interesting choice. It's the most versatile counterspell in Standard right now and is the only reliable 2-mana counterspell that can hit anything. It's incredibly important to have access to a spell like this to stop early aggression, especially if you're on the draw. Any creature that slips through the cracks can be dealt with using Spatial Contortion, Engulf the Shores or Jace, Unraveler of Secrets.
The real beauty behind this deck is how quickly it can cast an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. There are so many ways to get this out early, such as Hedron Archive, Mage-Ring Network, and Conduit of Ruin. Ulamog is pretty tough to deal with already but when you're playing a blue permission deck it only makes it that much harder.
When Adrian was asked why he chose to play this style of deck, he said, “I hated everything in Standard but this list looked interesting. I kept winning with it versus most things. Even the worst matchups are an okay fight. The deck loses to ramp and hyper-aggressive decks, but you still have plenty of game. Neither of those decks are common, making this a great choice”
“I played this in New York but I only went 10-5, mostly because I messed up, I played the wrong cards” recalled Adrian. “I found the list online, there were a few versions that went 5-0 in Magic Online Leagues and it also made some PTQ Top 8s.” Adrian tried out a few different variations of the list including some versions that also splashed red but he eventually settled on Mono-Blue for Grand Prix New York.
“I liked the Mono-Blue version. The red seemed unnecessary and the mana was more stable in Mono-Blue. Sometimes you need to topdeck a land and with the red version you are way more likely to draw a land that comes into play tapped.” The red version of the deck played spells like Kozilek's Return, Chandra, Flamecaller, and Roast to help out against aggressive decks. Adrian felt that the aggressive matchups are not great, but there were still plenty of tools to win the matchup. “Engulf the Shores just awesome,” said Adrian.
Adrian's list has evolved a bit since Grand Prix New York. “For New York, I didn't like the Warping Wails. I thought they were too weak, so I cut them. At the time I didn't realize they were good. They are.” Adrian swapped Warping Wails out for Negate, but he soon realized that it was a mistake. Warping Wail doesn't counter everything that Negate does, but countering important sorceries in today's Standard format is great. The Warping Wails also kill problem creatures like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Dragonmaster Outcast, which is something that blue control decks often have a hard time dealing with. Adrian also cut Harbinger of the Tides, a card that he considered his “pet card” but often didn't do anything and certainly didn't contribute to his game plan of counter everything, delay the game, cast Ulamog.
Adrian has a great sideboard plan for matchups in which you want to be proactive. Four copies of Reality Smasher and three Thought-Knot Seer help greatly against decks in which you can't afford to sit there and do nothing. There will be times where you will be up against decks that are able to sneak problem cards like Planeswalkers through your counterspells, so having a large creatures is great, especially one with haste that can take out a Planeswalker right away.
Adrian is looking for at least three points at this Grand Prix so that a strong finish at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon will earn him Gold in the Pro Player's Club for another year. He hopes that Mono-Blue Control will help him accomplish that goal.