Alex Bertoncini is scratching out another strong Legacy finish with Merfolk this weekend and thought he had the Top 8 locked after ending the 7th round in fourth place. A pairings mishap saw him not only failing to be paired up but actually being paired down against a player who was fighting for Top 8 even if he won. That opponent is Liam Kane piloting a potent Storm variant that Alex was very unhappy to see sitting on the other side of the table.
Liam kept his opener cracking a Scalding Tarn for an Underground Sea and casting Ponder. He shuffled for a random card and shipped the turn. “I kept a hand without Force of Will—good thing right?” Alex Wastelanded the Underground Sea dismayed to see a second. He played an Island and an Aether Vial passing the turn to Liam who passed it right back. Alex ticked Vial and cast Lord of Atlantis—Liam spent his turn whiffing on Duress. Alex landed Silvergill Adept and Merrow Reejery on the next turn sending in Lord for 3.
Liam made some headway with a City of Brass and a Lotus Petal cracking the latter to Orim's Chant Alex with kicker. Alex had a pair of Mutavaults and even managed to Vial in a Silvergill Adept. “Maybe you'll die next turn” Alex mused. Liam knew that Alex had Kira and a Coralhelm Commander left over and he began to make his moves. He cast Lotus Petal and Lion's Eye Diamond followed by Silence which resolved. Dark Ritual Chrome Mox with no imprint and a Burning Wish—cracking Diamond for blue in response—dug up Diminishing Returns.
They shuffle dup and drew new hands of seven with a single black mana floating in Liam's pool and 7 spells cast. Chrome Mox imprinting Duress a pair of Diamonds and an Underground Sea followed with Liam cracking both Diamonds for black and red in response to a Ponder. That revealed an Ad Nauseam which he promptly cast with a black and a red still floating on 14 life. He flipped over a Dark Ritual and a Tendrils of Agony amidst all the other cards which was lethal.
Liam 1 Alex 0
“Can you beat a Platinum Angel?” Liam asked and Alex nodded. “That's unfortunate” Liam said. “It was my boarding plan.” Alex kept his opening hand for the second game as did Liam and Alex began with the Vial. Duress off Gemstone Mine met a Daze and the Vial ticked up as Alex replayed his Island. Liam dug up an Underground Sea and lost another Duress to a Spell Pierce casting Xantid Swarm off the Gemstone Mine. Alex ticked the Vial to two and played a Mutavault as all Liam could do with his Swarm was cast another one.
Lord of Atlantis landed followed by another and a Merrow Reejerey on Alex's next turn. Liam was facing lethal on Alex's next turn as he Pondered and shuffled for a random card. It didn't save him—Alex animated the Mutavault and attacked for lethal ending the game in two swings.
Liam 1 Alex 1
“Top five hardest keep/mulligans of my life” Alex admitted after Liam kept his first seven. Alex was staring at Mutavault Aether Vial Daze Silvergill Adept Coralhelm Commander Umezawa's Jitte and Spell Pierce in crippling fear of Duress on his Vial. He decided to mulligan the hand after some thought more than a little disgusted about it. He kept the six and Liam led off with a Misty Rainforest for Underground Sea and a Ponder shuffling once again. Alex played an Island and an Aether Vial to begin the turn while Liam cast a Brainstorm on his next turn. Scalding Tarn shuffled away some lands and found a Volcanic Island casting another Ponder and keeping the cards.
Vial ticked up as Alex began his next turn dropping a Mutavault and an Umezawa's Jitte. Liam played a Gemstone Mine and stared at a hand of Burning Wish Xantid Swarm and three Dark Rituals as he contemplated what he could do. He cast the Swarm off his Mine but Alex had a Cursecatcher via the Vial to turn his Jitte on. The hit let him remove the bug and Coralhelm Commander landed to gain a level counter with Alex passing the turn tapped out. Liam cast Lotus Petal Chrome Mox without imprint and the three Dark Rituals to generate 7 black mana using his Volcanic Island to Burning Wish for Infernal Tutor and cast it with 7 spells having been played. He found Ad Nauseam on 17 life Alex forcing him to expend all his mana to cast it. He found two Petals a Diamond a Rite of Flame a Burning Wish and a bunch of other irrelevant cards—that was enough to Tendrils of Agony for lethal.
Liam 2 Alex 1