Zac Elsik has emerged as one of the best deck builders of the last few years. He’s the man behind Lantern Control, and he won a Grand Prix playing the archetype. He took the Metallurgic Summonings deck I wrote about and turned it into a real contender. He has a knack for taking unknown cards, rarely seen strategies, and general oddities, and making them work.

This is harder to accomplish in Standard with a smaller card pool, but he’s still building great versions of decks. He used this version of U/R Control to take down an RPTQ and qualify for the Pro Tour this weekend.

This is a Torrential Gearhulk deck, as the vast majority of blue control decks are. It’s a massive creature that doesn’t commit you to tapping your mana until you want to. It beats up on most things in combat, and makes sure to get value in a deck filled with instants.

The best way to control the board, gain an advantage, and make the game go long—and guarantee you win when that happens—is Dynavolt Tower. We saw a resurgence of the powerful artifact at GP Utrecht this weekend, although none of the lists ended up making it deep into the elimination rounds. It converts your extra energy into an effect that won’t tax your mana but can control creatures and planeswalkers, which is critical to a control deck’s success.

Leaving home without the full playset of Glimmer of Genius in your Tower and Gearhulk deck is blasphemy, but playing all 4 Anticipates isn’t as common. It doesn’t give you any card advantage and comes at a very real cost of 2 mana, but this is a deck that needs to find the right pieces at the right time, so you’re willing to pay it. Both ensure there’s always an instant in the graveyard for your Gearhulk and that you have more ways to chain energy together for Dynavolt Tower.

A playset of Harnessed Lightnings is another no-brainer. It scales up in any deck with energy and is cost efficient. A playset of Galvanic Bombardment is unusual, however, as Shock is now a legal card. Sacrificing the ability to send that extra damage at planeswalkers, especially Saheeli Rai, means Zac is already very confident in that matchup, and just wants the extra help against creature decks. Since that’s the biggest part of the metagame, it makes sense, and being able to go up the chain to deal 3 to a Snake and 4 to a Gearhulk or Heart of Kiran is a nice bonus.

The playset of Disallow gives you a lot of options. It’s a versatile counter that can stop some really annoying abilities (namely from planeswalkers). A pair of Negates gives you extra insurance against planeswalkers as well, along with Vehicles. Zac includes 3 copies of Horribly Awry, a card that has seen little play, but actually stops the vast majority of creatures in Standard. It’s almost the blue Fatal Push!

Brutal Expulsion is an excellent value card that is a bit expensive to cast, but can permanently handle Scrapheap Scrounger. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets adds some tempo by bouncing creatures, and makes sure that you run away with the game once the board is stable. The ultimate isn’t relevant against the top two decks in Standard, but it can win the game in the other matchups.

I always love to see Zac Elsik’s latest concoction, and seeing him secure the blue envelope just goes to show how much power is actually here.

U/R Control

Zac Elsik, 1st place at RPTQ