Semifinals: Brian Braun-Duin vs. Gerry Thompson
Welcome to another Versus video! We are playing Legacy today, and we have BBD with Esper Stoneblade against GerryT with Shardless BUG. It should be a good match, so let’s get going… oh wait, this isn’t a Versus video? It’s the top 4 of the Invitational? Huh. My mistake.
Gerry snuck into the top 8 as the bottom seed, so BBD had the honor of playing first in this semifinal contest. BBD led with Deathrite+Shaman off Underground+Sea, and Gerry had some of the exact same. BBD used Inquisition+of+Kozilek to show Gerry’s hand: Hymn+to+Tourach, two Shardless+Agent, two Brainstorm, Abrupt Decay… and no other lands! BBD then used Wasteland to knock off the land and Swords to get Gerry’s Shaman.
The Swords that followed blew Gerry out of the water.
Tropical+Island two turns later for Gerry at least got him on the board, with Ancestral+Vision going into the suspension zone. BBD meanwhile added a third land but no other action past the dark elvish Squire. Gerry found another land as well, using it to take care of BBD’s Shaman not but a turn later. While BBD continued to play lands and pass, Gerry used Brainstorm to dig into even more lands and cast Hymn+to+Tourach, making BBD discard Flooded+Strand and Swords+to+Plowshares to have only one card in hand.
Well that game turned quickly.
BBD’s top card was Brainstorm, so on his turn he used it and a fetchland to randomize his deck and then cast Stoneforge+Mystic, fetching out Batterskull. Gerry, now actually playing Magic rather than topdeck-a-land-please, Thoughtseized out the ‘Skull and then landed another Deathrite+Shaman, the third of the match total. BBD just drew and passed, in order to Counterspell the unsuspending Ancestral. Shardless+Agent cascaded into Abrupt+Decay to knock off the Kor Artificer, and Gerry began with the offense. Life totals sat at a basically even 14-15.
BBD used Snapcaster+Mage to flash back Inquisition and rob Gerry of another Agent. Now both players sat hellbent, and the topdeck battle favored the man with the Shaman, and this game that was Gerry. BBD found Creeping+Tar+Pit to start racing though, so it wasn’t over yet. Life totals fell to 11-11 after the dual land creature hit Gerry once, and Stoneforge+Mystic after combat helped as well (finding Umezawa’s Jitte). Gerry switched up the Deathrite strat at this point, choosing to gain life now instead.
Gerry cast Baleful+Strix and passed. BBD untapped and found himself casting Inquisition+of+Kozilek into Gerry’s two card hand of double Verdant+Catacombs. With the coast clear, BBD cast and equipt Jitte to Stoneforge+Mystic. Gerry double blocked, and the -1/-1 counters in concert with combat damage meant the only non-land permanent left on board was Umezawa’s Jitte. Of course, with Creeping+Tar+Pit, that certainly favored BBD.
Gerry drew and cast Deathrite+Shaman, but it quickly died to Jitte counters. Gerry topdecked another stinker in Ancestral+Vision (quite good early and off of Shardless+Agent, not so much here), and BBD’s Tar Pit beats continued to rock him towards victory. Gerry fell to 6 on a fetchland activation, and while shuffling a wild Todd Anderson shouted from the peanut gallery:
“I have no idea how any of you could have won this game.”
“Yeah, this game has been absurd. I was so far ahead and then so far behind and so far ahead again.”
But Gerry was the one to scoop up his cards when his deck found no answers to BBD’s unblockable Elemental land.
BBD 1, Gerry 0.
Gerry had the play but had to mulligan, while BBD was content with his opening seven. Gerry was happy enough with his six, so he kept. He led off game two with Tropical+Island into Deathrite+Shaman, while BBD had Thoughtseize to show Gerry’s hand of Nihil+Spellbomb, double Tarmogoyf, and Abrupt+Decay.
“Stone cold nothing, every time!”
Gerry found Brainstorm on top of his deck though, so it wasn’t so bad for Team G3rryT, and with it he found Bayou and cast Nihil+Spellbomb. BBD cast Dark+Confidant with his next play. Gerry chose to land Tarmogoyf (and speaking of land, no third one), so BBD was able to untap with said Bob, which this time revealed Brainstorm to set life totals at 20-15 in favor of Gerry. BBD played Wasteland last turn and this turn and also cast Brainstorm to try to shut off Gerry’s mana. This worked (for now), as Gerry could do nothing on his turn. He could only sacrifice Spellbomb to add artifact to the Tarmogoyf tally (drawing a card thanks to Deathrite). And begin with the beats.
Kozilek trained Brian well when it comes to Inquisitions.
BBD cast Brainstorm and Ponder on his turn (playing basic Island), and with the Lorwyn cantrip he shuffled away the chaff. Dark+Confidant attacking set Gerry back to 18, with Brian at 11 now. Gerry failed to make a land drop yet again (a theme so far) and BBD fell to 7. BBD took one from Dark+Confidant (Brainstorm) and added Deathrite+Shaman to his board as well. Tarmogoyf dropped BBD to 5, and after chumping one Goyf with Bob Gerry added a second.
BBD found a land on top of his library (only his third, not counting the dead Wastelands) and found basic Plains. Swords+to+Plowshares one and two from Plains and Deathrite removed the Llurgoyfs from Gerry’s board, and on Gerry’s turn he added another. But BBD now had two Deathrite+Shamans (having cast one after the Swords), so the road to victory wasn’t clear for the BUGsman. Vindicate from Brian took out Gerry’s Shaman as well, and with an uncooperative top of his library (still no land) Gerry made BBD chump block with one Shaman and could only play Nihil+Spellbomb.
BBD fatesealed Gerry (bottoming the card) and cast Stoneforge+Mystic for Umezawa’s Jitte. Still failing to find land, Gerry glanced at the bottom card of his library (Wasteland) and scooped up his cards.
BBD 2, Gerry 0.
Gerry once more had the play and this time actually kept a hand he was happy with! Just kidding, he mulliganed to six, while BBD kept his seven. Gerry led by suspending Ancestral+Vision, while BBD led with his one-of Tropical+Island and Deathrite+Shaman. Gerry ticked down his suspend card, cast Nihil+Spellbomb, played a second dual land, and passed. This shut off BBD’s mana from Deathrite (effectively) because of the colon placement on the Return to Ravnica rare. BBD forced Gerry to exile his bin (and draw a card) in response, then BBD cast Brainstorm. He played Flooded+Strand for Scrubland (“Scrubland Trop, the most standard configuration in Legacy”) and Inquisition+of+Kozilek. Inquisition robbed Gerry of a newly drawn Shardless+Agent.
Gerry could only play the remaining Spellbombs on his turn. One Spellbomb countered another Deathrite activation, and then Creeping+Tar+Pit and Dark+Confidant joined the board as well. Now with a full three in hand and Ancestral with a paltry one counter remaining, things looked okay for Gerry after his rocky start. After all, his first nine cards of the game were three Tropical+Island, three Nihil+Spellbomb, and Ancestral. Abrupt+Decay took out BBD’s Bob, and Gerry also added Wasteland to his board.
BBD played land four and passed… and Ancestral+Vision resolved. Gerry drew four (including for turn) and Vendilion+Clique showed Gerry’s grip of Jace, Tarmogoyf, Jace, Deathrite+Shaman, and Polluted+Delta. The Morningtide Faerie took one of the Jaces and Gerry drew his fifth card of the turn as part of its ability. He then played and activated the fetchland he drew and cast the other one: Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor. Some say he is better than all. It bounced BBD’s Clique and Gerry passed after that.
BBD went for Deathrite’s mana ability again, and with Nihil+Spellbomb at the ready Gerry countered it (but drew no card). BBD threw down Dark+Confidant and passed. With life totals still at 16-19, it was anyone’s game… but I’m going to bet on Sower+of+Temptation stole BBD’s Dark+Confidant, and Gerry also added his own Deathrite+Shaman to his now ample board state. BBD flashed in Vendilion+Clique at end of turn and chose himself, putting some useless chaff on the bottom of his deck for a chance at a new card.
It may not have been the newest card, but Stoneforge+Mystic came onto the battlefield nonetheless. Umezawa’s Jitte was searched for, cast, and equipt to deal with Sower+of+Temptation and Deathrite Shaman… and Gerry went from great board with Jace to none with Jace. Jace used Unsummon to bounce the Confidant, and Gerry added Tarmogoyf before passing. BBD dug with Brainstorm on his turn. It dug up Swords+to+Plowshares to deal with the green beastie and then, armed with the two best 1/2s in Legacy, Captain Squire himself attacked Jace with his pair of Squire-esque creatures to drop it to one loyalty.
Gerry used Wasteland to take down Creeping+Tar+Pit now, because BBD had two Wastelands of his own. When Gerry untapped he cast Brainstorm himself to try to find some business, but the first one wasn’t great by his expression. He shuffled with a fetchland before casting another and then Shardless agent, which flipped Tarmogoyf. BBD had a draw step and a Bob trigger (which showed Swamp).
“Either one good?”
Gerry kissed his Shardless+Agent for luck.
BBD had to suicide his team to kill Jace, and that let Gerry start going after BBD’s life total. Six at a time, from 18 to 12 to 10 (Tar Pit for team Gerry), to 7, to 2… to dead.
BBD 2, Gerry 1.
BBD found himself in the strange position of having the option to play first. He also found himself in the strange position of having to mulligan. And Gerry found himself in the even more strange position of actually keeping a seven card hand!
BBD led with basic Island Ponder. After a quick reorganization, Gerry played Deathrite+Shaman. BBD cast Stoneforge+Mystic on his second turn, grabbing big bad Batterskull when it came into play. Gerry cast Tarmogoyf (the third 1/2 on the board!) and played Creeping+Tar+Pit for his turn two, while BBD played land three and passed. Gerry was more active than that, casting Baleful Strix… but BBD of course had effects, casting Brainstorm an then bringing the deep fried Batterskull to the party… and with the living weapon trigger created a Gerry Thompson token.
Oh, the daggers!
Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor bounced Deathrite+Shaman and BBD passed. Gerry used a fetchland to get up to three lands himself and Maelstrom+Pulse the ‘Skull. Stoneforge chump blocked Tarmogoyf and Jace survived, albeit on one less counter thanks to Baleful+Strix. On his turn, BBD rebuilt his empire around Jace by using the Brainstorm ability on the planeswalker and using two Wastelands to deal with Creeping+Tar+Pit and Underground+Sea (robbing Gerry of black mana).
Gerry attacked Jace with his two creatures, and BBD played Vendilion+Clique. Gerry’s hand of Sower+of+Temptation, Nihil+Spellbomb, Deathrite+Shaman, Ancestral+Vision, Underground+Sea (freshly drawn, of course), and double ‘Goyf wasn’t exactly what BBD wanted to see. Brian took Gerry’s Shaman and Gerry drew a card. Tarmogoyf number two joined his countryman in play, and Gerry passed to BBD with a nice board state and an even better hand. BBD tried to claw back into contention with Brainstorm and Thoughtseize (showing that Gerry drew another Deathrite+Shaman off the Clique trigger) snagging Tarmogoyf. BBD also cast Deathrite+Shaman. Life totals sat at 17-19 in favor of Gerry.
Gerry’s aggro plan dropped BBD all the way to 5 (thanks to huge Tarmogoyfs) and Gerry added Deathrite+Shaman to his board as well. When Gerry untapped BBD cast another Vendilion+Clique, Gerry showed off his freshly drawn Liliana+of+the+Veil and scooped based on what he saw.
BBD 2, Gerry 2.
Both player were remarkably calm during this whole match, despite the large crowd that loomed overheard in the cheering sections and behind the ropes. Now on camera, and now the only focus of all involved in spectating both here and at home, the pressure ratcheted up. But these players are no spring chickens; they’ve been on the big stage at the Invitational before. They’re ready for this.
BBD chose to take the play in the deciding game 5 (shocking, I know), and back to normal form (at least for this match) Gerry mulliganed to six while BBD kept. BBD led with Flooded+Strand, Scrubland, and Inquisition+of+Kozilek. Gerry showed his hand of a pair of Brainstorm, Nihil+Spellbomb, Ancestral+Vision, and Abrupt+Decay (plus land). BBD selected the Vision, and passed. Gerry cast Nihil+Spellbomb wth his first turn off Underground+Sea. BBD cast Deathrite+Shaman on turn two, while Gerry dug for lands with Brainstorm, found them, and played Polluted+Delta.
Gerry audibly lamented the difficulty of his Brainstorm, and when BBD tried to activate Deathrite+Shaman for mana Gerry still cracked his Spellbomb to draw a card in response, shuffling away two possible gems. BBD didn’t get the mana from his Elf, but that didn’t stop him from casting Liliana+of+the+Veil on his turn three. Both players had to discard, furthering Gerry’s predicament, and he discarded Brainstorm to BBD’s Liliana Clone.
Gerry cast Brainstorm again, still lacking green mana, but found Verdant+Catacombs so that Abrupt+Decay could effectively deal with Liliana. Gerry went to 18 on the activation. BBD, sitting on 19, cast Umezawa’s Jitte and equipped to Deathrite Shaman… but Gerry’s Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor bounced it. BBD played out two Deathrite+Shamans and equipped one to Rebuild.
“Man, anything but Jace.”
“Anything but Pulse.”
BBD cast a third Shaman on his turn, and Gerry used yet another Brainstorm to add Tarmogoyf to his team as well. Jace bounced BBD’s Deathrite, and then did it again, killing the Jace… but Gerry drew another one, and Gerry cast it (fatesealing). BBD found Stoneforge+Mystic for Batterskull and also recast Deathrite, his trusty 1/2s, to try to get back into the game. BBD cast a Jace of his own to kill off the planeswalker…
Gerry 3, BBD 2.