April 5, 2016

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Tournament Report – St. Jerome Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier – Part 2

Read Part 1 here!

Round 4: Mardu Green

Like I said: Mardu Green on the rise. This match was pretty uneventful. Scouting told me he was on the mirror so I made my mulligan decisions as such. Game one I mulled to five on the play and needed him to not have his third Siege Rhino. He did. I died. Sideboarding was the same as last time:

Out: 2 Radiant Flames, 4 Silkwrap
In: 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, 2 Pulse of Murasa, 1 Ruinous Path, 1 Chandra, Flamecaller, 1 Infinite Obliteration

Game 2 was my turn to play Siege Rhino. He mulled to six while I kept my seven. I Transgress the Mind him on turn two taking his Read the Bones and seeing a hand with two Sylvan Advocate a Goblin Dark-Dwellers and a Chandra, Flamecaller. I followed up with Abzan Charm, Rhino, Rhino and Dark-Dwellers flashing back Abzan Charm to kill his only block. Game three was much more interesting. He cast a turn one Duress taking my Transgress the Mind and followed it up with a turn three Infinite Obliteration naming Siege Rhino of which I had one copy in my hand. At this point, he’s controlled my hand and has removed one of my best threats, how could I possibly win this game? By casting three Sylvan Advocates and smashing his face with my Needle Spires, of course! I wish I could say that there was some sweet play here, but it was really just me slamming down two more advocates and attacking with an 8/7 double striker.
Record 3-1

Round 5: Mardu Green

Yep; Mardu is definitely on the rise. This match had much more interaction then my previous two mirrors. My opponent was a stand-up guy too. We didn’t have any of the usual gamesmanship that can come with competitive Magic. We talked strategy and what we thought of the deck and the current Meta game. There was a mutual respect that can often get lost in win-and-ins.

Game one and game two really just came down to us grinding each other down and playing off the top of our deck. Game one he drew out of this position first and then game two I returned the favour. Sideboarding was the same as previous rounds:

Out: 2 Radiant Flames, 4 Silkwrap
In: 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, 2 Pulse of Murasa, 1 Ruinous Path, 1 Chandra, Flamecaller, 1 Infinite Obliteration

Game three was a much different affair. Admittedly, I kept a shaky hand on seven and was immediately punished with a turn one Duress.  I was able to draw a Read the Bones and stabilize my draw but my opponent had a decent amount of pressure already going. We got to the point in the game where he had a Goblin Dark-Dwellers and a Siege Rhino on board with a man land he could activate. He also had three cards in hand. I was at four and he was at 13. I had a Chandra, Flamecaller at four loyalty and every fetch-able land in my deck in play. Also of note was that I had a Shambling Vent. My play this turn was either -4 Chandra and kill his Dark-Dwellers then cast my Ruinous Path with Awaken on his Rhino or to cast Ruinous Path on his Dark-Dwellers and 0 Chandra to get a re-draw on four cards (which were all dead fetch lands). The problem with the Awaken play is a) I’m dead to any removal spell or a Chandra of his own and b) even if I survive I’m not working towards winning the game. I would lose my Chandra and trade my land for his land with a hand full of dead lands.

I cast my Ruinous Path on his Dark-Dweller and used my Chandra to draw. I draw a Crackling Doom and a Sylvan Advocate to block. I cast the Advocate and now I need to decide if I use the Crackling Doom or do I activate my Shambling Vent to block and gain four life. If he has a removal spell the Crackling Doom is the best play. If he has a Chandra then activating the land is the best. Since he didn’t cast a Chandra to just kill me the turn before; I put him on not having it and went for the Crackling Doom play. He untapped, played Chandra and killed me. He said he just drew it so at least my read was right.
Record 3-2

In between round 5 and 6: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”

Well, that’s it. My chances of winning this tournament are over. To make things worse my teammates Brad and Alex are dead too. But wait, is my first round Rally opponent – who I warned about timing – going to draw again this round? That would mean there would be three players with a 3-0-2 record. Alex and I talk, look at standings, and realize if everything goes perfectly we can sneak in at 7th and 8th. The round goes up and all we do is play and hope.

Round 6: Esper Midrange

My potential win-and-in round is against Esper Midrange. To make things even better, my opponent was the other 3-2 player who had a chance at top 8 and Alex is playing up against a 3-0-2. If we both win and table three isn’t a draw we can make top 8! Enough of that though. Let’s talk about the match.

Game one I get absolutely demolished. I mulled to five and can’t draw a red source for my Radiant Flames against his full board. His deck consisted of cards like Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Eldrazi Skyspawner, Wingmate Roc, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and a bunch of removal. My board plan was pretty similar to how I board against Bant Collected Company:

Out: 3 Transgress the Mind, 2 Roast, 2 Crackling Doom
In: 1 Languish, 1 Chandra, Flamecaller, 1 Ruinous Path, 2 Pulse of Murasa, 1 Radiant Flames, 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

My plan is to become a full on control deck for game two and three. I play a ton of sweepers and value cards. I wanted an extra early threat in Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet just in case I needed a little more time. I cut Transgress the Mind because I couldn’t think of a card other than Gideon, Ally of Zendikar I’d want to cast it on. Roast seemed terrible against all of his flyers. Crackling Doom also seemed bad as all of his creatures are dorky value creatures but I still need an answer for Wingmate Roc.

Game two played out like this: he plays a creature on each of turn two-five finishing off by tapping out to play a Wingmate Roc. I went turn three Pulse of Murasa to bring back a land and turn four Ruinous Path his Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. I untapped on turn six and played Chandra, Flamecaller wiping his board. This leaves him with nothing but a card in hand and the game was clearly mine.

Game three was a little tougher. He had a Gideon on turn four and smacked me from 15 to 8 on turn five. I untapped and ripped a Ruinous Path for his Gideon and played a Sylvan Advocate. I slowly turned the game around until I drew a Chandra to wipe his board away. The key play of this game was when he says “I’ll start with the easy play” and attacks me for six. Then he plays a Gideon, makes an emblem for +1/+1 to all of his creatures and passes the turn. I still have no idea what he was thinking there. Had he attacked after making the emblem he could have tried to push through the extra bit of damage to kill me. Fortunately, he didn’t and I won the match.
Record 4-2

Top 8 Announcement: “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!”

Alex won. I won. Table three didn’t draw. It was time to find out if the odds were finally in my favour. The head judge makes the announcement counting from first place down. When he gets to 7th Alex and I share a look. If we were going to make it he would have to be in 7th. The judge yells “In 7th place with 12 points Alex Bat..is…stellis?” We cheer loudly but then I put my head down on the table. I did not want another 9th place on tie-breakers story. There’s a quick moment of silence until the head judge says “and in 8th place, with tie breakers at 59%, Mike Brierley!” I yell. People clap and cheer. Who knows, maybe it’s my day after all.

Tune in later in the week for the finale of Mike’s Tournament report!

Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter @Tanggarth for live tournament updates and sassy remarks.