Semifinals: Brian Braun-Duin vs. Anthony Kando
These two friends see each other at work almost every day, but looking across an SCG Open semifinal match was something completely new to them! Brian was in the hunt for his first trophy, while Anthony was looking for the same.
Brian took a loss to the Maw in the first game.
Brian led Island while Anthony had a Forest. Brian committed Azorius Arrester to the board on turn 2, getting in 2 damage when Anthony made no two-drop. Brian lacked a three-drop himself, and Anthony’s was the brick wall himself, Basilica Guards.
“My fun just ended,” Brian admitted. He played a fourth land and passed to Anthony, who had Axebane Guardian and extort. Inspiration for Brian drew him up to six cards, seven on his draw step, but did he have a way to break up Anthony’s mana machine? Playing a Swamp, he dropped Syndic of Tithes and then Woodlot Crawler accompanied by an extort trigger.
The unblockable 2/1 was a clock, but Anthony had plenty of answers. Tapping out, he dropped the 5/7 Emmara Tandris to make a clock. “Uh-oh,” Brian said. He drew and stared at her, then decided to send Woodlot Crawler in for 2 damage to put Anthony on 16. Azorius Cluestone extorted Anthony, and Tithe Drinker gave Brian another source of damage.
Emmara dropped Brian to 16 life on offense, Anthony following with an untapped Overgrown Tomb and Trestle Troll using extort. Axebane Guardian afterward allowed him to play Korozda Guildmage and extort it, putting Brian to 14 and Anthony to 15. The tables were clearly turning...
Brian swung with his Crawler and played a seventh land, just two cards in his hand. Casting Zarichi Tiger with double extort, he put Anthony down to 11. His Arrester chumped the Emmara, and Anthony cast Wight of Precinct Six alongside extort beforeaddign a Stab Wound to Brian’s Zarichi Tiger.
Falling to 12 in his upkeep, Brian played another land and sent in his Crawler. Anthony fell to 11 life, and Nav Squad Commandos with double extort put Anthony to 9 and Brian to 14. He had enough mana left to use his Tiger for 2 life before it went under the bus to Emmara, which is exactly what he did when Anthony attacked on the following turn with his 5/7.
Anthony passed afterward, his defenders not getting it done against the landwalk. If he had switched to detonating some of his walls for tokens, he’d perhaps have been able to create some pressure, but it’s not clear whether Brian could’ve capitalized on that with a bounce spell or not—it was certainly a risky line, but as Anthony fell to 7 some of these risks had to be looking a lot better.
Brian attacked and blew up his Cluestone for a card, finding no spell he wanted to cast. When Anthony attacked with Emmara on the next turn, Nav Squad Commandos got in the way before Brian cast Far//Away with double extort, bouncing his Commandos and making Anthony sacrifice a creature. Bouncing his own creature would offer Brian two more extort triggers, though it would come at the cost of most of his mana.
Anthony responded by sacrificing his Trestle Troll for four Saprolings, and sacrificing one of them. Brian untapped with Anthony on just 5 life, attacking with his Woodlot Crawler and making Anthony Druid’s Deliverance to stay outside the range of extort. Brian reduced Anthony to 3 life by replaying the Commandos, and passed the turn.
He drew a big game in Maw of the Obzedat—could he use it to create a threatening combat step? The answer had to be yes, with four mana and Emmara Tandris capable of giving his team +7/+7 at a moment’s notice thanks to Korozda Guildmage, with an extort trigger boosting him to 4 life. Brian had three blockers to Anthony’s six non-Emmara attackers—that would be lethal if he shove all-in and Brian had nothing.
Anthony attacked with all but one of the tokens, leaving Brian a window to try and solve the blocks. He had to avoid getting hit by three creatures, which was impossible, although he could let Emmara through in order to keep Anthony from sacrificing her. Putting Tithe Drinker on the Wight and Commandos on the Korozda Guildmage, Brian decided to put Syndic of Tithes on Emmara at last—it looked like it might not matter whether he blocked her or not.
That left him dead if Anthony went for it and he had no spell to defend himself, making the three unblocked Saprolings into 8/8s that would deal Brian 24 damage. Anthony wound up sacrificing Basilica Guards instead, but found the kill the same way once he threw away a few other creatures as well.
Anthony's ramp build is full of bombs.
Anthony 1, Brian 0
Brian mulliganed to start the semifinals, while Anthony kept his opener. Dimir Guildgate for Brian and then Selesnya Guildgate for Anthony, with both players dropping lands but no creatures afterward on turn 2. Azorius Cluestone for Brian fixed up his mana, while Anthony did him better with Verdant Haven.
Tithe Drinker gave Brian an offense, which Anthony overmatched in Maw of the Obzedat. Brian went extorting for a Dimir Cluestone on the next turn, breaking his Azorius one in response to Anthony’s Purge the Profane. He pitched Swamp and Tithe Drinker (!) before taking 3 from the Maw in combat.
Tithe Drinker put the life totals nearly even once more, and Brian cast Diluvian Primordial to fire Purge the Profane right back at Anthony, discarding his Korozda Monitor and Plains. Anthony played Selesnya Cluestone and passed the turn, momentarily stymied by the 5/5 flying beater. Brian popped his second Cluestone of the game to look for help, playing a land and then attacking for 5. During the end step, Executioner’s Swing binned Brian’s 5/5 and left him once more behind.
Maw attacked Brian to 19, and a second Maw landed for Anthony. Brian tapped out for Isperia with extort, evening up the odds. “That’s not bad,” Brian admitted regarding his drawing step. Anthony worked to match him with Sylvan Primordial, destroying a Guildgate and fetching a Forest. Then, he swung with the Maws to put Brian on 14 life after damage, Isperia choosing to remain above the fray.
His hand refilled, Brian stared at the board. He was behind, and his Isperia couldn’t attack due to the Sylvan Primordial. Anthony’s Maws were keeping the pressure on, and this time he sent in Sylvan Primordial as well. Brian drew three more cards, then blocked the Primordial with Tithe Drinker and a Maw with Isperia. Anthony sacrificed the unblocked Maw to the blocked one, and Brian was ready with Far//Away to bounce the remaining Maw and edict the 6/8.
He was suddenly in great shape, even as Anthony cast Basilica Guards and his Maw once more. Holy Mantle on Tithe Drinker gave Brian an additional offensive weapon, and he attacked for 10 damage to put Anthony on 3 life and himself on 20. The top card of Anthony’s deck delivered him a way out—Merciless Eviction to wipe the board after an attack, followed by Wight of Precinct Six as a 3/3.
But all Brian could cast was Orzhov Cluestone. Anthony attacked him to 13 and played Trestle Troll, frustrating Brian’s flashed in Skyline Predator during the end step. Inspiration drew Brian a pair of cards, and he added Wind Drake and Stealer of Secrets to the board. That put Anthony on the defensive, for now.
Brian hoped to force in two damage with his Wind Drake and Predator, but Druid’s Deliverance shut him down. Woodlot Crawler left lethal on the board, and Anthony’s deck didn’t save him this time around.
Anthony 1, Brian 1
Starting on Selesnya Guildgate, Anthony led to Brian who started with basic lands and Tithe Drinker. Anthony made no plays on turn 3, rolling on just lands and Merciless Eviction in his hand. He had to bank on Brian overextending, but it would be easy for Brian to lean on Cluestones and the like.
Stealer of Secrets punished Anthony heavily, as now Brian would be refilling while he attacked. Another Tithe Drinker added to the damage, and Anthony’s first play was Selesnya Cluestone on turn five. Would Brian throw Anthony a fourth creature?
He sent in 6 damage, drew a card, and passed the turn—Brian wasn’t no fool. “Getting Evicted?” he asked. Anthony affirmed and cast the Merciless Eviction. Brian triumphantly slammed down Scatter Arc, countering it and drawing a card... then earning the concession.
Anthony 2, Brian 1