Fighting for Top 8 contention, Round 9 featured a classic matchup between U/B Control and the R/U Exarch-Twin list. While Jesse's list was tweaked a bit for the Boston metagame, Barret was still piloting one of his worst matchups. Would Jesse's changes let him steal a victory from his would-be villain?
Jesse started the game with a keep, and Barret followed suit. Just Scalding Tarn on turn 1, while Darkslick Shores and Preordain sent two to the bottom on Barret's turn. Jesse drew and played a Mountain prior to casting Grim Lavamancer. Tapping out on turn 2, Barret used Go for the Throat on the 1/1, signaling he lacked a Black Sun's Zenith to gain value on the little guy later.
Jesse threw a curveball by fetching Island on turn 2 and casting Ponder, much to Barret's amusement. Ponder kept the three cards, and Jesse drew before playing and popping an Arid Mesa for his second Mountain, casting Shrine of Piercing Vision. That gave Barret an opportunity to resolve Jace Beleren on the third turn, drawing a card.
Another Grim Lavamancer for Jesse but no land drop concluded his fourth turn, and Barret decided to draw with Jace all by himself before resolving Solemn Simulacrum. Finding a fifth land, Barret passed in a commanding position.
Drawing for turn, Jesse sat his Shrine on two counters and shot Jace with the Lavamancer. Lacking a land once again, Jesse passed turn—Barret seemed convinced that Jesse had Mana Leak based on the previous two turns. He attacked with Solemn before casting Jace with two mana up, and Jesse allowed the planeswalker to resolve. Barret drew a card for himself before playing Creeping Tar Pit and ending the turn.
Shrine to three, Jesse drew and stared at the board. He shot Jace with Lavamancer once again, emptying his graveyard and ending the turn with just those three lands in play. Barret attacked for 2 before casting another Jace Beleren, again drawing just for himself. These trades were paying off for Barret in a slow grind. He followed with Preordain, keeping two lands untapped, and he split the top two cards before playing Tectonic Edge. During the end step, Jesse used Twisted Image to draw a card and tick his Shrine to four.
Four became five during the upkeep, and Jesse played the Misty Rainforest he had found. Preordain after fetching sent cards to the bottom and the Shrine to six, and Grim Lavamancer killed his third planeswalker of the match. Solemn Simulacrum attacked Jesse to 11 on Barret's following turn, and Preordain buried one card afterward. Inquisition of Kozilek earned a frown from Jesse, but he shuffled up his hand and revealed two Deceiver Exarch, Dispel, Preordain, Spell Pierce, and Into the Roil. Tanking on the decision, Barret eventually decided to pitch an Exarch from that hand. Bold!
Preordain put Shrine to eight on Jesse's next turn, leaving the top two cards intact. Paying 2 life, Jesse went to 9 for Gitaxian Probe and earned a Consume the Meek from Barret in response. Barret lacked any real action against Deceiver, and hoped to generate some time and a card with this play by tapping Jesse below three mana for the turn. Barret revealed a hand filled with Grave Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, Mystifying Maze, Tectonic Edge, and Swamp. Guess he had been hasty with that Go for the Throat! Drawing a card, Jesse played his fifth land—three untapped—and ended the turn with a potential kill in the works. Inquisition of Kozilek from Barret resulted in Jesse casting Deceiver Exarch to tap a Tar Pit. Barret pitched a Dispel from the hand after seeing Splinter Twin, Spell Pierce, and Into the Roil. He cast Sphinx and passed with two mana up.
Jesse declined to Into the Roil Sphinx during his upkeep which would leave Barret dead on the board with all known cards in his hand assuming Shrine for ten could find an untapped land. Drawing two cards, Barret needed double Dismember to beat Jesse's Twin with Spell Pierce backup, and he didn't find that on top of the deck anyway.
Jesse 1, Barret 0
Despite falling way behind on mana and cards, an incredible mana flood on Barret's end had handed Jesse the win in game 1. With Barret on the play and more informed of his opponent's position that promised to be more difficult. Turn 1 Inquisition of Kozilek pitched Deceiver Exarch from a hand holding two Preordain, Spell Pierce, Gitaxian Probe, Scalding Tarn, and Arid Mesa, earning a chuckle from Jesse. He led Scalding Tarn to fetch an Island paid 2 life for Probe, spotting Duress, Stoic rebuttal, Preordain, Preordain, and Drowned Catacomb. Jesse next cast Preordain, hanging onto those top two cards.
Leading Preordain after playing Drowned Catacomb, Barret split the top and followed with a second Inquisition of Kozilek—saving that Duress to hit a Splinter Twin later. He spotted Misty Rainforest, Deprive, and Splinter Twin as new additions, and sent Spell Pierce to the graveyard. Jesse played Misty Rainforest and ended his turn, saving the Preordain for later.
Barret Preordained again, putting one on the bottom and ending his turn with two mana up after making a land drop. In the same boat, Jesse Preordained and played an Island before passing, preserving his fetch effects.
Playing his fourth land, Barret passed, and Jesse started the fourth turn with Ponder and a shuffle, finding nothing in the top three he wanted. Arid Mesa landed, and Jesse ended the turn. Barret fired his Duress on the fifth turn, no longer willing to risk dying. He would have to continue doing so—Jesse had two Splinter Twins, Deprive, Arid Mesa, and Spellskite in his hand. Tectonic Edge made Barret's fifth land, and he ended the turn. Jesse fetched up two Mountains to cast Spellskite and ended the turn.
Moving aggressively, Barret tapped out for Grave Titan to try and seize on Jesse's momentary weakness, and that sent the Exarch-Twin player into the tank. He had a sixth land of his own, a third Mountain, and decided to start with Splinter Twin on Spellskite, creating a protective chump blocker for the Grave Titan.
Barret's attack knocked Jesse to 11 as a token Spellskite died, and then he tried to resolve Spellskite. That earned the Deprive from Jesse, but Barret's own Stoic Rebuttal forced the Horror onto the field. With an opposing Spellskite down and Grave Titan active, Jesse was drawing pretty slim, and required running cards to win. He did hit one—Deceiver Exarch—and cast it, untapping a land and passing the turn with his 1/4 on blocking duty.
Barrett attacked with four tokens and his Titan, forcing through 6 damage and knocking Jesse to 4 life. Drawing one more card, Jesse failed to find an Into the Roil or another solution to Spellskite and conceded the game.
Jesse 1, Barret 1
Preordain for Jesse started the game off with a quick cantrip and Barret played Darkslick Shores to do the same, shipping one card to the bottom. Breaking Tarn to find Mountain on the second turn, Jesse cast Spellskite. Playing a Swamp and passing, Barret would be wary of Deceivers from here on out.
Just a third land and a skipped turn for Jesse, while Barret made his land drop and also passed. Jesse drew and failed to play a fourth land, burning mana Leak on Inquisition of Kozilek during Barret's next turn. Still struggling for mana, Jesse passed turn and revealed his hand to Barret's Duress on the fifth turn. Fanning three Dispel, two Deceiver Exarch, and Splinter Twin, Barret decided to steal the Splinter Twin—no surprise! He passed without a fifth land after that.
Jesse still had no fourth land or second blue source, struggling along in a crippled state. Barret's fifth land ended his turn, and when Jesse played draw-go again, Barret bounced Spellskite with Into the Roil during the end step. Jesse replied with Deceiver Exarch to untap his Island before picking up the 0/4. Barret cast his own Spellskite and passed, sitting on three mana and plenty of instants.
Spellskite returned on Jesse's next turn, but Mana Leak challenged its presence. Jesse used one of his many Dispels to resolve the 0/4, and Barret shrugged, happy to have traded for one. Untapping, Barret pointed Go for the Throat at Deceiver Exarch and then tapped out for Jace Beleren, drawing a card for himself and still in need of the sixth land.
Jesse found his fourth mana in Scalding Tarn and shipped the turn, still trying to build some kind of position while Barret danced around potential draw steps. Using Jace Beleren, Barret followed with Preordain and then cast Despise—Mental Misstep, taking Jesse to 17, countered the discard spell. Playing a Creeping Tar Pit, Barret passed.
An Island off the top put Jesse to five lands, and he ended the turn. Jace died to draw one more card before Barret resolved Spellskite, and Jesse grimaced. This game was looking bad. He drew and passed on his own turn as Barret continued to move slowly to establish a hard and fast board position, but he'd want to present a clock relatively soon. Not yet; Jace Beleren the second drew him a card, and he played another Tar Pit before passing with four mana open.
Paying 2 life for Gitaxian Probe, Jesse took a peek at two Flashfreeze, Grave Titan, Creeping Tar Pit, and Tectonic Edge—questionable to board in the super-conditional counterspell here, but it was keeping him well-protected just now. Jesse burned a second probe for the draw, and passed. Barret drew with Jace and then cast Inquisition of Kozilek on his own turn, revealing Spell Pierce, two Dispel, Twisted Image, Deprive, and Splinter Twin—Deceiver hit the bin. Barret cast his Grave Titan, and Jesse Deprived.
Replaying his land, Jesse tried Twisted Image on Spellskite prior to Preordain, keeping one card before passing the turn back to Barret. Drawing for turn, Jace died soon after and Barret tried to cast another Grave Titan, leaving three mana untapped. The big man resolved, and Barret played an untapped land afterward.
In bad shape, Jesse played a land for the turn and then played Ponder. If he could find Into the Roil or Twisted Image and another Deceiver then he could attempt this kill, but that wasn't the position he had yet. Barret achieved a minor victory in trading Doom Blade for Dispel—the removal spell was already blanked by the Spellskite, but Dispel would blank a Flashfreeze and make Splinter Twin more threatening. He then animated Tar Pit and attacked, a little surprised to see Deceiver Exarch show up and block a Zombie. Would it matter, with Jesse on 8 life and dead to the next swing?
Drawing one more card for his turn, Jesse extended the hand. He hadn't been able to answer that last Spellskite!
Jesse 1, Barret 2