Quarterfinals: Ricky Sidher vs. Nathan Hale
Grand Prix top 8 competitor Ricky Sidher had successfully navigated his Esper Control deck through the swiss rounds, but would need to best Nathan Hale and his Jund Monsters deck to advance further.
Both players mulliganed to six and quickly got down to business, simply making their land drops for the first two turns. Ricky, on the play, made his third land drop and passed, but Nathan unfortunately couldn’t match, passing on turn 3 with no land drop and no play. Ricky had a Jace, Architect of Thought on turn 4, ticking down to net an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.
Nathan still didn’t find a third land, but did find a third mana source in the form of Elvish Mystic. Ricky was quick to remove it with Detention Sphere. After Nathan again missed his land drop and passed, Ricky used Jace’s -2 ability again, this time acquiring a Sphinx’s Revelation. He then played his 6th land and added Elspeth to the board, making three tokens.
Nathan drew his card and, having missed his land drop yet again, decided he had seen enough.
Ricky Sidher 1, Nathan Hale 0
Nathan opened the action in game 2 with an untapped Overgrown Tomb into Elvish Mystic. After Ricky’s land-go Turn 1, Nathan developed his mana even further by shocking himself with a Blood Crypt, then casting another Elvish Mystic and a Sylvan Caraytid, threatening a big play on turn 3.
Perhaps sensing a hasty creature was imminent, Ricky cast Bind Obedience on his turn 2. The play from Nathan turned out to be Stormbreath Dragon, but Blind Obedience held it at bay, at least for a turn. Ricky had Detention Sphere, which couldn’t answer the Dragon, but did remove Nathan’s two Elvish Mystics. Nathan quickly attacked for 4 with the Stormbreath Dragon, but could only muster a second Sylvan Caraytid after combat. Ricky took the one-turn reprieve to cast a Divination and then play a Temple of Deceit, scrying a card to the bottom.
Stormbreath Dragon again came across for 4, dropping Ricky to 12. After combat, Nathan cast Domri Rade, ticking up but failing to find a creature. Ricky had no answer, only playing a Mutavault and passing the turn back with five mana open. When Stormbreath Dragon attacked again, Ricky had a Doom Blade ready. Domri ticked up to 5, missing again, and Nathan added a second Stormbreath Dragon to the board, tapped due to the Blind Obedience. Ricky cycled Azorius Charm, draining for 1 with extort.
After untapping and considering his options, he played Detention Sphere, exiling the Domri Rade and extorting for 1. Stormbreath came across again for Nathan, dropping Ricky to 9, and Nathan passed without a play. Ricky cycled another Azorius Charm, looking for an answer to the Pro: White menace.
He found quite the answer, in the form of a third white source and seventh land to cast Fated Retribution in Nathan’s upkeep. Nathan had the perfect response, though, and regenerated his team with Golgari Charm. This tapped down his creatures, though, and Nathan again passed without a play. Ricky did the same, however, playing a tapped land and passing right back.
Nathan knew he needed to make a move, and went for a Rakdos’s Return for three. Ricky responded with Sphinx’s Revelation for four, then pitched an Elspeth, a Far/Away, and a land. After Nathan’s Stormbreath attack, he untapped at 4 life and quickly cleaned up the board with a Supreme Verdict, extorting back up to 5.
Nathan, stuck on three land without his mana creatures, tapped low for a Domri Rade, which met Syncopate from Ricky. After Ricky simply drew and passed, Nathan attempted another Domri. This one resolved, but Ricky drew five fresh cards with Sphinx’s Revelation at his end step. He untapped and drew 2 more cards with Divination, then attacked Nathan down to 8 with a Mutavault, passing with a full grip.
Nathan upticked his Domri and found a threat in the form of Mistcutter Hydra. He played an untapped Blood Crypt and cast it as a 3/3, but could not attack due to Blind Obedience. Ricky had Doom Blade, and attacked with Mutavault again to knock Nathan down to 3 in conjunction with extort triggers.
Nathan had one last chance to stick a threat and stabilize, but his Reaper of the Wilds was countered with a Syncopate. Ricky extorted Nathan down to 2 life, then closed things out on his turn with a Mutavault attack.
Ricky Sidher 2, Nathan Hale 0