If you were watching the latest Mythic Championship, then you likely got a chance to watch Brad Nelson finish in second place with Esper Hero. As it turns out I also chose the same archetype, and even the same 75, as I was testing with Brad for the tournament. Since I didn't have a bye this meant trying to slog my way through a lot of Esper mirror matches. After not playing my best and facing Esper four times I racked up three losses and couldn't make day two. That doesn't mean I regret the deck choice though, in fact there is a good argument for this being the best deck in Standard.

Playing Hero of Precinct One is the correct way to go. With this card in your deck you can fight in many different ways, and it's a card the opponent must respect by leaving in removal between games. In this deck a turn-two Hero of Precinct One that goes unchecked can be absolutely incredible, and almost win the game on its own. While in the Esper Hero vs. Esper Control matchup I would rather be on the control side, I do believe that the control decks have become too weak against the metagame as a whole.

We saw in this set of matches that Esper decks are indeed very popular. When playing Esper Hero, if your opponent casts a Thought Erasure you know it's going to be difficult game one, but after sideboard things do change in your favor. It becomes a matter of figuring out what game plan the opponent is on after sideboard. In the Grixis matchup my opponent definitely caught me off guard with all of the creatures after sideboard, and had I known they were coming I would have taken a different approach.

Esper Hero is very flexible after sideboard, so a lot of the skill required involves reacting to what cards you expect the opponent to have in their deck. For example, against a ramp deck that is very creature-based, Kaya's Wrath is an all-star. Then there are some ramp variants where we don't want Kaya's Wrath at all. I actually started not sideboarding in Kaya's Wrath against Mono-White during the Mythic Championship, because of how well set up they are to beat it post sideboard.

Having an adaptable deck like this one often means changing strategies between games two and three, often based on whether you're on the play or the draw. If you really want to sidestep your opponent, you can always take out Hero of Precinct One and becoming a full-on control deck. This is a great move if you believe the opponent will keep in lots of spot removal. Esper Hero is probably the most difficult deck to sideboard with (and against) in the format because it requires adapting as the match progresses. Still, I think that mastering this deck can be extremely rewarding, as we saw it do very well at the Mythic Championship.


Seth Manfield

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