Semifinals: Brian Braun-Duin vs. Shawn Tappen
“I lost one game today,” Shawn said as the players discussed their Swiss rounds. “Uh, I definitely lost more than one game today!” Brian replied. Could he triple Shawn’s losses and advance to the finals in Philadelphia?
Then Shawn played Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Entomb for Griselbrand, and Reanimate. “I’d say that’s the best hand you’ve had today,” Brian said, and Shawn agreed. Brian drew a card, Probed, and sighed. Shawn had a Show and Tell left over, and Brian needed to get moving. Lotus Petal for Brainstorm saw him toss a Spell Pierce—Shawn’s Show and Tell was one of the few ways Brian himself might be able to win!
Shawn swung Brian to 10, then went to 10 himself in order to draw seven cards. A game-winning Thoughtseize followed, revealing Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Spell Pierce, and Mountain. The Show hit the bin, and Shawn played a land before passing the turn. Brian was dead to the lockdown on his own Ponder, and conceded.
Shawn's start in the second game wasn't quite as explosive.
Shawn 1, Brian 0
Brian kept, and Shawn followed suit. A fetchland for Brian began the game, while Shawn fetched up Island and cast Careful Study, which Brian immediately Spell Pierced. Brian Pondered after playing another fetchland on his own turn, debating the three cards for some time before leaving them in place and casting Gitaxian Probe for 2 life.
That revealed Reanimate, Angel of Despair, Griselbrand, Chain of Vapor, and two Brainstorms. Brian passed, hoping Shawn would brick four cards for and lock himself with Brainstorm. An Underground Sea revealed that this was not the case, but Shawn ended the turn. Brian had his own Brainstorm during his turn, finding a Grafdigger’s Cage but knowing it was already somewhat neutralized by the Chain.
Adding another Scalding Tarn to the board, Brian cracked the first for Volcanic Island and cast Grafdigger’s Cage to go ahead and get the artifact in play, saving another day’s mana today. It resolved, and he ended the turn. Shawn cast Ponder, immediately shuffling them away. “I really, really don’t want these.” A Brainstorm followed for Shawn, and he ended the turn without a land drop.
Brian Brainstormed once more, finding no lands but getting both Through the Breach and Sneak Attack, which could setup his Griselbrand in short order. He chucked the Breach back, intent on keeping Force and Petal, but ended the turn after that. Shawn Entombed Griselbrand and sent the turn right back, leaving Brian in a bind—he needed to protect that Cage now more than ever. Fetching, he Brainstormed in the end step in search of a setup for Sneak Attack.
Brian was cantrip-heavy throughout the match, but to no avail.
Shawn 1, Brian 1
Shawn tanked on his seven for some time before announcing a mulligan—Brian immediately kept. Thoughtseize began for Shawn, and he took Force of Will while leaving Brian with two Brainstorms, Gitaxian Probe, and lands—including City of Traitors. Brian’s Gitaxian Probe revealed Force of Will, Daze, Flusterstorm, and Reanimate—Shawn was drawing light, but wouldn’t be dying anytime soon.
Playing a land and Lotus Petal, Brian passed. Shawn drew and played Underground Sea, and Brian opened on the next turn with fetchland and Brainstorm, which resolved. Brian knew he’d need to take his time getting through that wall of counters, and fetched up another Volcanic before playing Ponder—he was basically daring Shawn to burn the Flusterstorm, as he’d happily trade his Lotus Petal for Daze.
It resolved, finding Through the Breach, Ancient Tomb, and another Force of Will—he shuffled. While he needed to tread carefully against Shawn, he also knew that if Shawn peeled out of his situation soon, those counters would make his reanimation combo very difficult to beat.
Duress off the top for Shawn revealed Force of Will, Brainstorm, Sneak Attack, Ancient Tomb, and Scalding Tarn, the enchantment immediately hitting the graveyard. Brian Brainstormed again, playing his fetchland and passing back to Shawn. Brian broke the fetchland for Volcanic Island, shuffling away the chaff and looking for some fresh cards.
Brian drew and played another Brainstorm, finding even more mana but also a Grafdigger’s Cage. Now he had some protection of his own—but Force of Will removing Daze countered the Cage. Entomb resolved on Shawn’s side for Griselbrand during the end step, as Brian’s Brainstorms had all failed to draw him additional blue cards.
Reanimate grabbed the Griselbrand into play, and Brian fetched once more before untapping, drawing yet another land. No matter how many times he shuffled them away, they seemed to constantly return to his hand! He resolved Sneak Attack, and passed the turn, drawing an exclamation of surprise from Shawn. “I told you those Brainstorms were really bad,” Brian said.
Shawn cast Careful Study, looking for some way to close out the game before Brian could peel Emrakul, his only real way to win. The Study tossed Angel of Despair, and Exhume put it into play to kill the Sneak Attack. He attacked, and passed—Brian flipped over the top card of his deck, Emrakul taunting him with lethal on the board.
Shawn 1, Brian 2