Brian Braun-Duin had begun the tournament well but had taken some early draws along the way. Still he had no losses as of yet and Caw-Blade had served him well. Ali Aintrazi was the talk of the tournament with his mono blue Grand Architect deck and despite a loss a few rounds ago he would be in Top 8 contention if he won this last match. This is where they separate the men from the boys.
Brian led off with a Preordain while Ali had just an Island. Stoneforge Mystic on turn 2 for Brian dug up Sword of Body and Mind and Ali sighed. He played Inkmoth Nexus and Thrummingbird passing the turn to Brian. All Brian played was a land planning to drop in his Sword on the next turn. Ali's Everflowing Chalice met a Spell Pierce and now he was in a tight spot facing close to the nuts from his opponent. An Island let him Preordain for more options but the Sword came online for Brian shortly after. It only milled a couple Treasure Mages and some mana fortunately enough. Brian Preordained and played a Celestial Colonnade.
Ali tapped out for a Chalice on 2 and used that one to play a Ratchet Bomb pumping both with his Thrummingbird in the hopes of generating some action soon. With no Hawks in sight his Thrummingbird might just be enough to get him there. The next mill caught Mindslaver Steel Hellkite Contagion Engine and Jace—ouch! Jace for Brian bounced Thrummingbird and Ali was in awful shape now. He cast a Preordain followed by the Thrummingbird but was stuck using his Mystifying Maze for everything else.
Brian Brainstormed with Jace and rammed his army into the Maze getting the Wolves through for damage. Brian didn't have a Tectonic Edge yet but when he found it Ali would be dead unless he found a new solution to these attackers. A Gideon Jura for Brian was serious business and Sylvok Lifestaff followed. Brian chose to not search as his Stoneforge entered play protecting his Brainstorm and he passed it to Ali. Ali played a Grand Architect a Thrummingbird and a Mindslaver taking Brian's next turn in a purely defensive maneuver. He was on 8 to Brian's 18.
Jace bounced a Wolf token Gideon killed Stoneforge and then Ali cast a second Gideon to kill both. Returning a Squadron Hawk and a Sword of Feast and Famine to Brian Ali ended that turn. “Brutal” Brian said. “Did not see that one coming.” Brian had expected that the one Mindslaver he'd milled was the only one Ali had. Ali sent one Thrummingbird at Jace and the other at Brian after casting Tumble Magnet leaving his Grand Architect and the Maze on defense against the Wolf token and a Colonnade. The Wolf attacked alone and Ali used his Maze to kill it. Brian cast the Day of Judgment he'd set on top with Jace and now the game was back in his court.
Ali tapped a Hawk at the end of Brian's turn but his Inkmoth Nexus collection stayed home as he drew a Preordain and found an Enclave Cryptologist to start leveling. Jace the Mind Sculptor off the top for Brian was a pretty nice hit and he began to draw cards as he put Hawks back into the deck. Ali used his Maze to defend from the Hawk's attack and a second hit the board to search up some friends. Ali began looting on his own turn finding a Treasure Mage but little else. He sent both Nexus at Jace now and cast the Treasure Mage for Wurmcoil Engine—his last legal target. A second Tumble Magnet gave him more room to breathe and Ali passed the turn.
Brian had hit his Tectonic Edge now but the Magnets were the most problematic things on the board. On the next turn Ali would be able to remove Jace and prevent Brian from using it to solve the Wurmcoil Engine. Tumble Magnet tapped down an aggressive Colonnade and Brian decided not to attack with any of his Hawks. He had however tapped his lands in a way that prevented him from deploying another Hawk so he passed the turn with only Tectonic Edge and maybe Mana Leak available after fatesealing Ali; that prompted Ali to move his Ratchet Bomb to 4 and take care of Jace on his own turn.
Ali attacked with Treasure Mage and followed that with Wurmcoil Engine and a full level of the Cryptologist leaning on his Magnets rather than his Maze. He only needed to swing once with that Wurmcoil and this game would change in a big way. Brian attacked with both Hawks after he equipped Lifestaff dropping Ali to 4. He followed that with Day of Judgment and Ali nodded reaching for Wurmcoil tokens. A pair of Hawks followed the sweeper and all Ali did on his own turn was attack and pass. He'd use the Magnets to keep the Sword and the Colonnade off his back for now as he dropped Brian to 11 and began racing with his tokens. Inkmoth Nexus could provide him with further insurance against any counterattacks.
Brian blew the Maze with an Edge and then swung with both Hawks. Ali animated one Nexus to block the unequipped one and took 2 falling to 5. His next attack brought him to 8 and put Brian to 5 as Tumble Magnet kept Colonnade from blocking. Brian hung his head probably wondering how this game had so narrowly unraveled from his amazing advantage—Ali was suddenly very far ahead! He examined the board for a sequence of plays that he could use to stop Ali but there was nothing. Magnet tapped the Hawk and it tapped the Colonnade when he tried to block. That's game.
Ali 1 Brian 0
Brian had the play for game 2 but he took a quick mulligan while Ali kept his starting seven. Both players started with just Islands but Michael had a Preordain on the second turn followed by a Celestial Colonnade. Ali stuck a Thrummingbird while Brian played Stoneforge Mystic once again for Sword of Body and Mind—it would be a long game. Ali decided to disbelieve in Spell Pierce and played Everflowing Chalice for 1 proliferating it to 2 and then casting a Treasure Mage. The Treasure Mage dug up Mindslaver and Brian shook his head. The threat of that card would warp his plays for turns to come.
Brian missed his fourth land on the following turn and passed with the Sword ready to be dropped into play. Ali played and tapped Ratchet Bomb before attacking proliferating it and the Chalice as Brian fell to 16. A Jace the Mind Sculptor met Mana Leak from Brian which meant no Sword for him. Now that he had to contend with the Ratchet Bomb and a potential Mindslaver next turn the Sword wasn't even that good. Rather than hold for it again he played Squadron Hawk for the Hawks and passed on three lands once again.
Ali had no way to remove the Hawk so he attacked into it for a really awkward trade. Enclave Cryptologist followed and Ali tapped out to fully level the looter. Stoneforge attacked once again and Brian played the Sword out—interesting. Ali could take care of it with his Bomb pretty easily losing only his own Treasure Mage but he had to be wondering what would compel Brian to play it out so plainly rather than draw at a Divine Offering for the Bomb.
Ali played an Inkmoth Nexus and a Thrummingbird attacking Brian to 12 with his Mage. Brian played a Hawk to defend himself from the Thrummingbird and passed. Without a fourth land Brian could not string together enough plays to keep up with Ali's engine. Inkmoth Nexus entered the red zone now but Brian still blocked the Thrummingbird. Treasure Mage dug up Contagion Engine and now a route to victory had appeared—poison!
Brian found Glacial Fortress enabling a Day of Judgment that cleared the field. Ali played Mindslaver and popped it looking at a hand that did not much. Tectonic Edge on Brian's Colonnade crippled him and the Inkmoth Nexus began to get in for even more damage thanks to Grand Architect. Contagion Engine cleared out the Hawk that tried to stand in its way and that was all it took—eventually Brian would be dead to the poison. He checked the top card and died.
Ali 2 Brian 0