Quarterfinals: Andrew Davis vs. Phillip Bertorelli
The two biggest players week one in the new Theros Standard have been Esper Control and Red Aggro. For much of the day, we’ve seen Mono-Red prey on Esper while falling to U/W… whereas the U/W decks fall to Mono-Red! Can Paper pull of the upset against Scissors, or will Phillip’s team of little red men cut straight through the control deck?
Andrew, the tournament’s number one overall seed, decided to keep his opener after some deliberation, while Phillip immediately went down to six once Andrew declared his choice. Once Andrew kept, he led with Hallowed Fountain and Godless Shrine for his first two turns. Phillip had no turn one play, but on turn two he cast Ash Zealot and kept it back to avoid Azorius Charm. Turn three it attacked, then Firefist Striker resolved as well, belying the fact that Andrew did not have the Charm… but he had it a turn later on the Striker to set Phillip back, and Andrew fell to 14. Phillip added a post-combat Firefist Striker to replace the first.
Phillip snuck into top 8 in 8th with Mono Red!
Andrew missed his fourth land drop though, showing why he had such a hard decision with his opener. Magma Jet targeting the Esper pilot further applied pressure, dropping Andrew to 12 and setting the red mage up for the next draw step. An attack meant another Azorius Charm on a Striker, another draw and pass without a land drop from Andrew, and another Magma Jet to put the Charm’d 2/1 on the bottom of the deck with Magma Jet. In fact, Jet number three dropped Andrew to 6 and dug even deeper, as three total cards went to the bottom of Phillip’s deck.
Doom Blade killed Ash Zealot… but another one quickly replaced it. Detention Sphere came down to stop the bleeding at 4, and Rakdos Cackler from Phillip was all he had left in the tank… creature-wise. Another Detention Sphere took out the Cackler, and a quick pass from Phillip meant Andrew could theoretically survive. Temple of Silence found another land on top as well! Could he turn the corner?
Burning-Tree Emissary is pretty unimpressive on turn ten or so, especially when by herself, but nonetheless represented a sizeable threat considering Andrew’s life total. Chandra’s Phoenix off the top represented lethal… but the Far half of Far/Away meant Andrew fell to 2. Phillip ended up having Shock in hand as well, and the competitors quickly shuffled up for game 2.
Phillip 1 Andrew 0.
This game Phillip mulliganed again while Andrew kept, though that didn’t hurt the red pilot last time. Andrew was happier with his opener this time though, and he led off with Temple of Silence. Phillip once again led with no turn one play… but played Rakdos Cackler turn two with no second land! He found the second Mountain on turn three and drew first blood with the unleashed creature, then Burning-Tree Emissary and Firefist Striker joined the board. That extra turn of not being able to cast those 2-power creatures hurt though, since Supreme Verdict cleaned up the board immediately thereafter.
Burning-Tree Emissary and Firefist Strikers number two (for both) joined the board, and the Chandra’s Phoenix also came down to trigger battalion. The Striker went to the top of the deck from Azorius Charm, and on the next turn Obzedat, Ghost Council came down to set life totals at 16-18 in the Mono Red deck’s favor… for now. The 5/5 stayed in play on blocking duty.
Phoenix attacked for two then Boros Reckoner joined the party post-combat. Andrew played his seventh land and pondered his options before deciding to simply pass with the 5/5 still in play. Phillip kept the pressure up with Ash Zealot, but before the blocker’s step Far//Away bounced Boros Reckoner and forced Phillip to bin his Burning-Tree Emissary. The 5/5 then blocked Ash Zealot, and Andrew only fell to 12. Firefist Striker was the follow-up play after all that, with Andrew still sitting on one dozen life points.
Obzedat attacked for five before it did the ghostly dance at end of turn. Phillip attacked for four and Andrew fell to 8, then the Minotaur Wizard rejoined the board. Sphinx’s Revelation meant four life and four cards, then Obzedat returning meant two more life and a 5/5, which then attacked Phillip. Boros Reckoner declared block, using the redirection to kill the Ghost Dad… but Andrew had a second copy at the ready. Andrew went to 16, Phillip fell to 9.
Andrew's our top seed with Esper!
Four power in the red zone continued to march, then both Boros Reckoner and Rakdos Cackler resolved for Phillip. Andrew simply played a land and passed, but had Sphinx’s Revelation for five. Unfortunately, it was in response to Burning Earth, which would hamper the three color deck’s development if it resolved. Fortunately for Team Control, Swan Song countered the M14 enchantment. The team dropped Andrew to 10 before the Esper pilot untapped and decided upon an attack from Obzedat (chump blocked by Bird token)… but lifelink-mode on Azorius Charm gained Andrew five life before the end step. The Ghost blinked into the nether before Andrew passed.
A second Phoenix dropped Andrew to 7, but Doom Blade on Phillip’s one remaining blocker meant that the return to play trigger and one attack could finish off Phillip’s 7 remaining life points. And with that, they went off to game three.
Phillip 1, Andrew 1.
Andrew ended up having to mulligan this time around, and with Phillip keeping his seven for once and being on the play for the first time in the match that didn’t bode well… and going down to five was even worse!
And four was even worse! Oh no!
Phillip did not have a turn one play yet again, but turn two of Burning-Tree Emissary into Burning-Tree Emissary into Magma Jet was pretty bonkers. The pair of 2/2s dropped Andrew to 14, but Detention Sphere was able to remove them before too much damage was done. Phillip didn’t have a strong third turn, playing a just-in-time Rakdos Cackler yet again.
Rakdos Cackler attacked for two, then Fanatic of Mogis made its first appearance of the match. Doom Blade took it down, but Andrew still fell to 10 from the trigger. That became 8 after Cackler hit again… and another copy of the new 4/2 uncommon hit the field to deliver two more damage to Andrew’s dome. Sphinx’s Revelation in response to Phillip’s attack step meant Andrew fell to 4, but Phillip had the follow-up of Chandra, Pyromaster to lean on Andrew and force him to deal with the M14 bad girl.
Andrew found Detention Sphere among the gifts from the Sphinx, but had to remove Fanatic of Mogis to not immediately die on the backswing… but Fanatic of Mogis number three threatened to Char Andrew, and the control pilot extended his hand.
Phillip 2, Andrew 1
“That was quite the mull to four; you almost came back!”