Esper Midrange had a breakout weekend. The deck has been around since the beginning of War of the Spark season, but had not found its way to the top until this past weekend. Four MPL players used slightly different versions of the deck during Week 4 MPL play. Brad Nelson used the deck to raise his MPL record to 6-0 while Ben Friedman piloted the deck to Win Grand Prix Kansas City. Here are the decks they played this past weekend.

Esper Superheroes, Ben Friedman, 1st Place Grand Prix Kansas City

Land (26)
Drowned Catacomb
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Isolated Chapel
Plains
Swamp
Watery Grave

Creatures (8)
Basilica Bell-Haunt
Hero of Precinct One

Planeswalker (12)
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Narset, Parter of Veils
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, Time Raveler

Sorcery (6)
Command the Dreadhorde
The Elderspell
Thought Erasure

Enchantment (4)
Oath of Kaya
Search for Azcanta/Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Instant (4)
Tyrant’s Scorn
Despark
Sideboard (15)
Cast Down
Command the Dreadhorde
Cry of the Carnarium
Despark
Duress
Ixalan’s Binding
Kaya’s Wrath
Lyra Dawnbringer
The Elderspell

Brad Nelson MPL Version

Planeswalkers (12)
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, Time Raveler
Narset, Parter of Veils
Liliana, Dreadhorde General

Creatures (8)
Hero of Precinct One
Basilica Bell-Haunt

Sorcery (6)
Thought Erasure
Command the Dreadhorde
The Elderspell

Instant (5)
Tyrant’s Scorn
Dovin’s Veto

Enchantment (3)
Oath of Kaya

Lands (26)
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Isolated Chapel
Watery Grave
Drowned Catacomb
Swamp
Plains
Sideboard (15)
Command the Dreadhorde
The Elderspell
Lyra Dawnbringer
Cry of the Carnarium
Duress
Ixalan’s Binding
Kaya’s Wrath
Despark

Nelson and Friedman played almost identical decks. The differences were Friedman’s version main boarded one copy of Search for Azcanta and a Despark while Nelson used two Dovin’s Veto. In the sideboard, the only difference was Friedman had a copy of Cast Down and Nelson had a second copy of Despark.

You can see Nelson play the deck in the MPL here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF3iaWpB8J4&t=2493s .

The heart of the Esper deck is planeswalkers. The deck uses both Teferis along with Narset, Parter of Veils, and Liliana, Dreadhorde General. I have written before about the synergy that Teferi creates. The ability to remove a permanent with either Teferi slows down your opponent. They also create card advantage.

Ticking up Hero of Dominaria gets you a card and untaps two lands while you get a card when you use Time Raveler’s ability to put a permanent back in your opponent’s hand. My preference is to use this ability to remove a token or a card I can counter. An interesting use of Teferi, Time Raveler’s -3 ability is to use it on your own Oath of Kaya, so you can recast it to kill a creature or do direct damage and gain 3 life. Against decks that want to cast spells on your turn, Teferi, Time Raveler shuts down that plan. It works particularly well against Mono-Red, Bant Flash, and control decks.

Narset, Parter of Veils provides additional card advantage and limits your opponent’s ability to draw additional cards. With many decks designed to get more than one card per turn, this ability hampers these decks game plan making getting Narset off the field a priority.

With only one copy of Liliana, Dreadhorde General, she has limited usefulness. When she does enter play, she usually takes over the game by killing off your opponent’s creatures or putting 2/2 Zombie tokens on to the field. Her versatility makes her a great late game draw that can turn a game you are losing around quickly. The deck might be better with a second copy of Liliana or by dropping her.

Hero of Precinct One’s ability to create a 1 /1 Human token gives the deck extra blockers against Aggro and Midrange decks. Twenty-three of the thirty-four non-lands in the deck are multi-colored spells. This gives you plenty of opportunities to get value from Hero while you remove threats your opponent has on the field or in their hand.

Overall, Esper has the potential to remain a Tier 1 deck and may make it more difficult for some of the other top Tier decks to perform well.

If you are looking for a place to play a Modern Horizons pre-release event, Win Condition Games will have draft events at noon on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9 with Sealed events at midnight on Saturday and at 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The sealed event at 5 PM on Saturday will feature the Two-Headed Giant format, so bring a partner.

Until next time, good luck playing your, win condition.