Nick Spagnolo has been grinding away at the Open Series since the beginning of the season posting Top 32 and Top 16 finishes that left the man wanting. After spending Memphis taking tough losses he managed to win on the bubble in Round 9 and claim a Top 8 slot as a top seed. His matchup in the quarterfinals is a tough one against Kyle Kilhefner playing Mono Red Goblins. Nick's Caw-Blade deck is vulnerable to the efficient red beaters and the burn that tends to follow him but he can also race his opponent down. This will be a matchup all about Goblin Guides and Gideon Juras.
Nick won the die roll a step in the right direction but he looked down at a counter-heavy hand with no Preordain and just a Tumble Magnet to stall. It would be able to survive early but the real test would come once the dust had settled. Nick dropped Celestial Colonnade and passed to Kyle who lacked a first turn drop—very important. Nick drew and cast Squadron Hawk searching up a pair and sending turn to Kyle who added a Goblin Wardriver to his field.
Nick attacked and passed after drawing Day of Judgment content to bait out more creatures or counter real threats. An Ember Hauler met a Stoic Rebuttal and Kyle passed without a third land after attacking. Nick played a second Hawk with two up intending to trade while offering Mana Leak for protection. Goblin Guide resolved and revealed a Colonnade during combat. Nick took 3 from the Goblin Guide trading off his Hawks with the Wardriver but a Spikeshot Elder resolved and earned a Day of Judgment the Colonnade following.
Kyle passed the turn still on two lands and Nick assumed control. He cast a Hawk and passed a Lightning Bolt to his dome earning a Mana Leak. Kyle hit a third land and passed with no play falling to 18 as Nick began attacking. Sword of Feast and Famine hit the board and Nick Mana Leaked a Staggershock directed at his nugget. Goblin Chieftain landed and attacked knocking Nick to 12 but he was gaining momentum. He tried to equip his Hawk Leaking a Burst Lightning that attempted to stop him. A second Hawk followed and his attack forced Kyle to discard a Lightning Bolt. Nick added the Tumble Magnet to the field and moved his Sword to the fresh Hawk.
The Hawk blocked Chieftain on the next turn and Kyle stared at his cards searching for a way out. Burst Lightning and Lightning Bolt combined to clear out both Hawks and Nick began pounding with Celestial Colonnade dropping Kyle to 11. He drew and passed Jace the Mind Sculptor landing on Nick's side of the board. He frowned and scooped after whiffing on two lands off the top.
Nick 1 Kyle 0
Nick sideboarded out a fair number of counterspells and a Tectonic Edge choosing to get proactive rather than attempt to stop his opponent's aggression via attrition. Kyle kept his hand but Nick dove back into the deck for a better one keeping on six. Goblin Guide connected for a land twice on the first two turns Kyle missing his second land as Nick began to Hawk. Guide revealed Flashfreeze and the Hawk chumped it up on Guide as Kyle found a second land casting Goblin Wardriver.
Stoneforge Mystic searched up Sylvok Lifestaff on the third turn and Nick played it immediately. A Staggershock took down the Mystic Kyle's attack dropping Nick to 11 and revealing a second Mystic. Nick cast a Hawk and added Lifestaff to it searching up another two Hawks and adding a tapped Glacial Fortress to the board. Staggershock removed the Hawk on upkeep Nick falling to 9 life as the Goblins attacked again revealing Colonnade. Kyle debated playing another creature fearful of Day while Nick struggled to draw an untapped land for Gideon Jura.
He whiffed and decided to tap out for Jace the Mind Sculptor instead. “That sucks” Kyle said as his Wardriver bounced back to the grip. He spent the end step tossing a Bolt and a Burst Lightning to Nick's dome dropping him to 4. It didn't suck that much as an attack and an Ember Hauler dealt Nick lethal damage and ended the game on the following turn.
Nick 1 Kyle 1
Kyle's bevy of spells had buried Nick in conjunction with the tempo gained from being on the play but the tables would turn in the third game. With Nick on the play his Flashfreezes would be much stronger and he would suffer less from the tapped lands that had slowed him down in the previous game. In the third game both players kept with Nick opening on Seachrome Coast and Sylvok Lifestaff while Kyle had Mountain and Goblin Guide revealing Feast and Famine. Squadron Hawk followed and Kyle nodded.
Squadron Hawk for Nick gave him Lifestaff food but a Burst Lightning and a second Goblin Guide increased the pressure dropping him to 14. The Guide had revealed that Nick would miss his third land dropping just another Hawk and in terrible shape with that whiff. Burst Lightning slew it those Guides revealing only a Flashfreeze as Nick fell to 10. Lightning Bolt removed the next Hawk and 6 damage sailed in thanks to Teetering Peaks. When the Goblin Guides revealed a Gideon Jura rather than a land Nick extended the hand.
Nick 1 Kyle 2