Standard Rotation Watch: Esper Control

Standard Rotation Watch: Esper Control

In our third part of the Standard Rotation series, we’re taking a look at one of the best decks in Standard right now: Esper Control. Does it have enough cards to stay relevant or will it suffer a loss in power come rotation?

Will Esper Control Survive Rotation?

Esper Control is arguably one of the best decks in Standard, and probably has a lot of people speculating as to whether or not it survives the coming rotation. With the arrival of War of the Spark and M20, the deck’s power level remains consistent and is one of the most feared decks in Arena and on Paper.

Here’s a decklist of a typical Esper Control Deck:


4 x Drowned Catacomb

4 x Glacial Fortress

4 x Godless Shrine

4 x Hallowed Fountain

4 x Isolated Chapel

1 x Plains (331)

1 x Swamp (339)

4 x Watery Grave


4 x Basilica Bell-Haunt

4 x Hero of Precinct One


1 x Command the Dreadhorde

1 x Despark

1 x Liliana, Dreadhorde General

3 x Narset, Parter of Veils

3 x Oath of Kaya

1 x Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

4 x Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

4 x Teferi, Time Raveler

1 x The Elderspell

4 x Thought Erasure

3 x Tyrant’s Scorn


1 x Cast Down

1 x Command the Dreadhorde

2 x Cry of the Carnarium

1 x Despark

2 x Duress

1 x Ixalan’s Binding

3 x Kaya’s Wrath

3 x Lyra Dawnbringer

1 x The Elderspell

What Cards Rotate Out?

Glacial Fortress

Drowned Catacomb

Isolated Chapel

Cast Down

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Lyra Dawnbringer

Ixalan’s Binding

It loses anywhere between 15 to 20 cards, with the loss of the fast lands affecting the deck severely. Losing 12 cards in your mana base is devastating for Esper Control, and it’s going to be a nightmare to do color fixing for this deck after rotation

In terms of its removals, it only loses Cast Down and Ixalan’s Binding, which are both sideboard cards or at least 1-of’s in the mainboard. It doesn’t really hurt the deck that much, to be honest.

Lastly, it loses Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, which the deck runs 4 copies of. While Teferi is not really their win condition, losing this card greatly affects the deck’s ability to control board states and the player’s ability to draw and untap mana.

What Cards Do They Need To Survive Rotation?

Well first and foremost, the deck needs a new set of lands to replace the 12 lands that it loses during rotation.

As long as the colors White, Blue, and Black are secured with the new lands, the deck should still have a fighting chance after rotation.

There are a lot of planeswalkers, removals, and even creatures to help the deck survive rotation, so I don’t think it needs any replacements from the new set.

But still, losing 15 to 20 cards after rotation is still no laughing matter.

Verdict: Will It Survive Rotation?

Quite frankly, it has a 50% chance of survival because it just needs to secure its mana base if it wants to retain its shell.

If there is no way to secure its manabase after rotation, then the deck’s shell will have to transition into different colors and we’ll be seeing a new shell in its entirety.

Meanwhile, check out this video from Merchant on the best cards leaving Standard this rotation:


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