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Valuable Lessons – Yuuya’s Secret Weapon

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons! The sweetest part about the World Championship is that we get to see what decks the best players in the world would play if they were forced to play against the other best players in the world. Today, we’ll talk about a deck that might have broken the format. I’ve spoken at length with a lot of the best Standard minds in the game and they’re all drooling over an opportunity to play with Yuuya Watanabe’s token deck.

Yuuya did it again. This version of Jeskai is quickly establishing itself as one of the format defining decks. The deck presents multiple threats for a single card throughout the game. Opponents will often leave open mana when we’re about to hit our third turn in anticipation of using a removal spell on Mantis Rider or Goblin Rabblemaster. Then we simply cast Jeskai Ascendancy or Hordeling Outburst and essentially ruin their entire game plan.

Let’s take a look:

Yuuya Watanabe’s Jeskai Tokens

By making the deck a token strategy, it becomes much better against spot removal spells that are increasingly common in this Standard format. Sure, opponents can still break even when they kill our Seeker of the Way, but that’s not all that bad.

Jeskai Ascendancy may seem odd as a four-of here, but the card gives the deck a consistency edge that’s very difficult to quantify while also forcing the opponent to start blocking tokens and trading full cards for them for fear of instant death. Stoke the Flames also has very nice synergy with Jeskai Ascendancy, essentially being a free 4 damage to any target, a loot, and an anthem.

Goblin Rabblemaster is obviously the most powerful creature in the deck. Be sure not to cast Goblin Rabblemaster into open mana. The more turns it gets to sit in play, the more likely it is the win the game on its own. I like playing it the turn before my opponent has access to Siege Rhino mana. By doing so, I force my opponent to choose between a spot removal spell and tempo.

Chandra, Pyromaster is beautiful in this deck. I’ve been so impressed with it that I’d really love to find room for a third copy. The card lets us Rabble our way through cards like Siege Rhino, pings away Elvish Mystics, combos with our burn spells to kill huge monsters, combos with our tokens to kill actual cards, and then just draws us an extra card every turn once the board is stalled or we’re winning by a lot.

One of the best parts of the deck is the velocity with which is starts to use powerful engines like Treasure Cruise. Jeskai Ascendancy and the token producers do an excellent job of filling up the graveyard to power out Treasure Cruise which then powers up the next Treasure Cruise. Other decks won’t be able to work with anywhere near the card quality available to this deck in the midgame when it’s able to chain Treasure Cruises. This velocity makes two-ofs like Jeskai Charm and Chandra into draws that we can reliably find.

Take a look at the mana base. It’s perfect. It’s like this Yuuya dude knows what he’s doing or something.

Like many of the sideboard strategies in the current Standard, Yuuya has access to a transformational sideboard plan that punishes opponents that want to win with creatures. It may seem counterintuitive to play cards like Anger of the Gods and End Hostilities in the board of a deck that’s supposedly token-based, but when the other creature decks get to be on the play it can be difficult to win the tempo war and we can punish their sideboarding plan nicely by going a control route. Against matchups where we want to assume a control role I like to take out four Raise the Alarm and three Stoke the Flames for Magma Spray, End Hostilities, Anger of the Gods, and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

Of course, that’s not the only worthwhile sideboard plan. Disdainful Stroke gives the deck excellent game against Abzan and control opponents. Siege Rhino is quite good against us, and the opponent resolving more than one Siege Rhino is usually very bad if we intend on winning a race. Having the ability to counter Siege Rhino and other big plays like End Hostilities is super important for a deck like this. Never sideboard out threats when bringing in Disdainful Stroke. The deck needs to apply pressure when it’s countering spells if it wants to actually get anything done.

Yuuya’s deck is just about perfect. Going forward we may need to adapt the deck to better handle the mirror match and the sideboard could certainly be improved for the matchup, but the list is super tight and it’s going to take a lot of to convince people to touch the main deck at all.

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