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Higher Standard: Week 5 The Heros of the Jeskai Way

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

I do not want to write. I do not want to play Magic: the Gathering Online. This is a fairly recent development. Last week I recorded two weeks’ worth of content with Casper. He’s a good guy, and I hope the videos here and on PureMTGO.com are fun, informative, and feature cool decks. We are really trying to highlight this new Standard. Khans of Tarkir did a great job in giving us a nice open format, and while there are dominant decks, nothing feels like it’s going to be a Caw Blade, or Mono Black Devotion level menace.

At least not yet.

So why did I decide to record two weeks’ worth of content? Why have I taken a sudden disinterest in Magic? Well for the past few days I have rarely been on Twitter or Facebook. I turned off my cell phone. I disconnected as much as I could while staying connected for one thing, and that thing is the new World of Warcraft expansion. Warlords of Draenor has consumed me in a way that Mists of Pandaria did not. I’m fairly late to World of Warcraft. I picked it up at the request of my friend Korri during my divorce, put it aside when I started to date again, and when my last relationship ended I picked it back up. At first the whole grind level thing was fairly boring, and did not really hold my interest. Question marks and exclamation points are fine and all, but I thought that was there was to the game. I picked the game up again a few months ago, because I heard there was a new expansion coming out, was invited to my homegirls guild, and things changed. The social aspect in that guild was not the best, but I found out that you could do other things than just quest! There are dungeons (Mist of Pandaria ones were lame because everyone outclassed the mobs and stuff.) and raids (I had no idea these things happened! I soloed a ton of raid content just to go back and see it!) and PvP!

I’m for the most part terrible at all of this. However, as I progressed from Looking for Raid and the Legendary cloak line, I wanted to chase that better gear down. Openraid.us helped me find groups to level my gear up, and I caught the eye of a progression guild on Uther which invited me along, and we ended up progressing to downing a few of the Mythic bosses on Siege.

That’s what we get for starting late I reckon!

So Warlords is out, and I cancelled my plans to PreTQ. I had waited long enough, and I wanted to see as much as I could as soon as possible. Thankfully I did not have many connection issues, and got my hunter to level 100 in a few play sessions. I tamed new rares, and built my garrison, and yes I realize that this is a Magic site, but I wanted to justify my absence from social media.

Also I want to feel the way I feel about Warlords to translate over to Magic. Standard is fun and all, Khans drafting is outstanding, but something about it is just lacking. It’s less magical or something.

Today we’re looking at the breakout deck from a recent Starcitygames.com Open event. Jeskai Ascendancy has been hyped since it was spoiled. It was going to kill Modern! It was going to strangle Standard! Magic was done because of this enchantment. A sorcery may have a bigger impact on Modern than this enchantment, and Standard has been just fine with the combo deck in the format. While previous versions of Jeskai Combo looked to do things with Sylvan Caryatid and Retraction Helix to grow a single giant guy to win with, this version of the combo plays more like a heroic deck.

Mainly because it is one!

True, Helix plays a large role here, as you can go infinite with Helix, Ascendancy and a Springleaf Drum (the creatures should go without mention.) but the deck does not just lean on the combo. You can play it like a Boros Heroic deck and go super aggressive. I’ve played games where I have won with the combo. I’ve won with just Ascendancy and spells being cast with enough creatures in play. I’ve also won by casting dorks, turning them sideways, and triggering Heroic. While it is a combo deck, having alternative ways to win without actually relying on the combo is super cool!

What’s not super cool, and the winner of the SCG Open event mentioned this in his article, is the deck has a very difficult (his words) matchup with Abzan Midrange. Of course he just won a large Standard event with his deck. He clearly has no idea what he is talking about right?

I would show the world that Jeskai Heroic Combo does not have a terrible matchup with Abzan Midrange. Let’s take a look at the deck, and then take a look at some videos!

And the videos:

Well I was wrong. I’m not going to show anyone anything apparently! Normally going 1-4 is a soul crushing experience, but I wanted to learn something. I went deep with sideboarding plans. I tried to side out the combo, and lean on just winning as a Heroic deck. I tried Chasm Skulker which I think would have been pretty solid against the deck, but never really saw it.

Didn’t work.

I tried to lean on the combo for the post board games.

Didn’t work.

I even decided to not sideboard. If the cards in the sideboard were ranked as the 61st through 75th cards in the list, than maybe they were not good enough to be in the main deck in the matchup.

Jeskai Heroic Combo is a legitimately fun deck to play. It’s also a legitimately not fun deck to play against Abzan. I would strongly recommend playing this deck if you are not going to see much of it. If anything Ivans run through the Starcity Open showed off how important matchups are in an event. I also think it showed off how well reading the metagame can work for someone, and he should be really proud of his win! I’m super impressed with how well he played the deck on camera and how he managed the finals match against (of all things) Abzan Midrange. He also went 2-0 against Golgari Constellation, and did mention it being a fine matchup for the deck in his article.

With that said I am going to wrap up this week’s Higher Standard. Next week I go off the grid a bit and check out something cool (and blue!) that I found on twitter!

Thanks for reading!

*Required Reading*

Ivan Jen takes a look at the deck after his win in Oakland.
Glenn Jones played a slightly different list, and had a deck tech about it during the event.
Jones also wrote about the list here.

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