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The Pantheon Deck Tech: Jeskai Control AKA Sneaky-Kiki

I decided not to play the team deck this Pro Tour. I generally think this is a bad idea—if some of the best players in the world decide to play something, they surely know more than I do and I should follow their example, but I am making an exception in this case. I’ve never felt completely comfortable with Infect, which is what most of the team will bring to the table. Infect doesn’t fit my style. I like to trade, which is not something you want to do with Infect. I was in a similar situation last year playing Splinter Twin when everyone was on Infect, and it worked out then.

Fortunately, we had a non-Infect deck that was doing great in our testing that did fit my style.

Jeskai Control (AKA Sneaky-Kiki):

The initial list we started with was a deck Shahar played at Grand Prix Antwerp a couple of years ago. He had Blade Splicers, which we ended up cutting. We built a different sideboard, but his list was great already and we didn’t need to change a whole lot. The deck has all of Modern’s most efficient control cards. When it’s taking control, it can win by either attacking with Snapcaster Mages, Restoration Angels, and Celestial Colonnades, finishing them off with burn, or by making a million Angels by using the Kiki-Jiki and Restoration Angel combo.

The deck preys on any creature deck. The deck is great against Affinity, Elves, Kiki-Chord, and Abzan Chord, and good against decks like Infect and Burn/Zoo. Between Lightning Bolts, Lightning Helix, Wall of Omens, Electrolyze, Path to Exile, and Snapcaster Mage flashing back all of the removal spells, you can kill or neutralize pretty much anything your opponent does, and after taking control it doesn’t take very long for Celestial Colonnade and Restoration Angel to finish them off. We expect those decks to be a large part of the Pro Tour, so the deck should be a good choice.

The deck is not naturally set up to combat the big mana decks—Tron and Eldrazi—too well, but you can steal games with the combo or by burning them out.

After sideboard, these matchups get a lot better. Crumble to Dust is excellent against both, Stony Silence and Shadow of Doubt disrupt Tron, and Leyline disables Eldrazi’s discard and disruption.

Against other midrange decks, the matchups are likely to be about even. The Abzan and Jund matchups are all about Liliana. Leyline helps there and blanks their discard. The deck is pretty weak against other blue decks, but we don’t expect those to be a large part of the metagame. If we do run into a lot of midrange decks, we’ll hopefully draw our one Keranos a lot.

Against combo decks, we have a reasonable clock and some disruption, but with this much removal we also have a lot of dead cards. We don’t think this is going to be a large part of the Pro Tour field so we’re not too worried about combo. Scapeshift was the noncreature combo deck that did best in our testing and we expect it will be played, but between Leylines, counterspells, and Shadow of Doubt, that matchup actually gets pretty favorable after board. We assume all the Relics of Progenitus that Tron and the Eldrazi deck are playing will keep people from bringing graveyard-based combo decks to the tournament, so we decided not to waste any sideboard slots to combat those.

I feel comfortable in the Limited format. I had a 23-22 record in the house drafts, which might not seem great but is pretty decent when drafting against the best in the world. Black/white and blue/red are clearly the best archetypes, though black looks like it will be overdrafted quite often as it has the best common and a lot of cards people will first pick. The two worst color combinations seem to be blue/white and black/red, so I’ll try to stay away from those. Any other color combination I’ll be happy to draft, and all the colors seem to be well balanced this time around.

Antonino de Rosa and I will be playing this deck. Hopefully, our metagame predictions pan out and we get to beat Affinity and Noble Hierarch decks all day.

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