Round 9: Alex Gonzalez vs. Bernardo Fonseca
Alex Gonzalez tried to take a break from Magic—but the game beckoned him back, and he was now a win outside of Top 8 with Grixis Control. Piloting Esper Spirits, Bernardo Fonseca also needed just one more victory.
Alex started things with Dragonskull Summit, and Bernardo Gitaxian Probed to reveal Go for the Throat, Snapcaster Mage, Forbidden Alchemy, Blackcleave Cliffs, Nephalia Drownyard, and Island. Seachrome Coast and Delver of Secrets landed, Alex immediately taking Delver's throat. Just Evolving Wilds on turn 2 for Bernardo.
Cliffs predictably for Alex and a pass, while Bernardo searched up Swamp during the end step, confirming his Lingering Souls list. Just Island and pass on turn 3, however, giving Alex the freedom to Forbidden Alchemy, binning three spells—including Desperate Raving!
The Drownyard landed, and Alex ended the turn. Snapcaster Mage for Bernardo during the end step started some beatdown, swinging in 2 damage. Moorland Haunt post-combat for Bernardo, and the turn then ended. “You're no fun,” Alex said, milling himself to add Doom Blade and another Alchemy to his graveyard.
Alex has battled back with Grixis.
Sulfur Falls and pass for Alex, a Spirit token joining the board during his end step. That enabled an attack for 3 damage as Bernardo continued to be offensively measured. Alex milled himself into a Think Twice, and cast Olivia Voldaren—no response from Bernardo. He had Phantasmal Image to kill her, but she did ping Snapcaster to death before hitting the bin.
An attack and Lingering Souls from Bernardo, tapping low—that was all the incentive needed for Alex to drop Batterskull. Bernardo swung him down to 11 with three Spirits, and played Dungeon Geists. No counter or Doom Blade from Alex, who was forced to untap sans Batterskull's token, Bernardo still sitting on Moorland Haunt.
Another Olivia Voldaren for Alex, and when Bernardo tried to Midnight Haunting, Alex burned Mana Leak to counter that. Another Phantasmal Image killed Olivia, one Spirit also dying, and Bernardo swung Alex to 6 before flashbacking his Lingering Souls. It was getting tight on that board, and Alex needed a sweeper.
Drawing, he played Blackcleave Cliffs and passed the turn on eight mana, still without an untapped Germ. Bernardo attacked, and Snapcaster Mage flashed in on Doom Blade to kill the Dungeon Geists—Alex dropped to 1 life, and would have to move his Batterskull or have another removal spell to even make that lifelink matter. Bernardo confirmed life totals before passing the turn.
During the end step, Desperate Raving binned a Mana Leak—likely a good thing for Alex against Bernardo's eight lands. Paying five, he shifted Batterskull to Snapcaster and swung for 6—successful! He went to 7 life, and another Moorland Haunt Spirit entered play. Bernardo attacked for 6 damage, dropping Alex to 1 life—he then tried Divine Offering on Batterskull during his own turn!
Alex let the Batterskull die in order to Think Twice—twice—no doubt needing a sweeper. He cast another one on his own turn before attacking for 2 damage, playing Black Sun's Zenith post-combat. Another Spirit during the end step, but Snapcaster Mage on Doom Blade killed it, tapping out Alex. Bernardo cast Delver of Secrets, and passed the turn.
A pair of Desperate Ravings for Alex, pitching Island and Darkslick Shores—he had to beat the Delver. He declined attacking, likely hoping to block if the Delver missed. It did, and Bernardo's Spirit died to Doom Blade while the Delver sat back. Alex flashbacked another Think Twice, and then untapped to cast one. No more creatures meant no more Moorland Haunts—it was on Delver, now.
Bernardo failed to flip again and passed, giving Alex space to flashback Forbidden Alchemy. He cast one from his hand, and then untapped with a pretty commanding lead… albeit in dangerous shape. He cast Grave Titan, hoping to close the game out quickly, and Bernardo sighed, nodding. He drew another Delver, attacking with the one he had in play and casting another after that one died.
Alchemy for Alex, still digging. He swung with everyone, getting through for 12 damage and putting Bernardo to 3. Bernardo made a Spirit token and tried to get through… When another Snapcaster Mage showed up, he lost that token to Doom Blade and died on Alex's return swing, shaking his head in disbelief at how many cards he'd missed to win.
Alex 1, Bernardo 0
Bernardo took the play in game 2, Alex mulliganing to six before they began. Seachrome Coast prior to a Gitaxian Probe for 2 life revealed Oliva, Wurmcoil Engine, Think Twice, and Forbidden Alchemy, but just Darkslick Shores and Island for mana. Delver of Secrets on turn 2 threatened to get ugly, and revealed Divine Offering on turn 2 after Alex's Shores—uh-oh!
Attacking for 3, Bernardo then Pondered but found himself forced to shuffle when he failed to find a land, despite hitting Images galore. He played Island, and passed. Alex played his own Island and fell to 14, while Bernardo topdecked a beautiful Swamp and cast Lingering Souls. Think Twice did find Alex another land in Island, and he passed prepared to take a beating.
Bernardo dropped him to 9 life on the attack and flashbacked Lingering Souls, holding Snapcaster Mage to threaten exactly lethal. Alex used Forbidden Alchemy and then played Dragonskull Summit tapped—when Bernardo cast the Mage, it earned Mana Leak.
Shuffling a Ponder before he attacked, Bernardo appeared to be in search of Drogskol Captain. He missed, and swung Alex to 2 life before passing the turn. Whipflare from Alex slaughtered the board, and he passed with three up. Now Bernardo passed the turn, holding Midnight Haunting if Alex tried Wurmcoil Engine. He went for it, and promptly died.
Alex 1, Bernardo 1
Two keeps for game 3, with Alex on Darkslick Shores while Bernardo played Shores and Ponder. Alex dropped land and Think Twice after a Gitaxian Probe from Bernardo gave away the game plan, but Bernardo's hand was developing slowly, with just lands and no threats to back them.
Alex flashbacked Think Twice and made his fourth land, passing, and had Mana Leak for Midnight Haunting during his own end step. Ponder dug Bernardo into Lingering Souls, and he played Moorland Haunt and cast it, which resolved.
Blackcleave Cliffs and pass for Alex, but Bernardo checked the grip with Probe—Mana Leak, Whipflare, Black Sun's Zenith, Doom Blade, and lands highlighted Alex's grip, which meant it would be a slow offense for Bernardo. He swung and played Evolving Wilds, aggressively flashbacking his Souls before playing Evolving Wilds.
Bernardo's on the cusp of a Top 8 with Spirits.
Alex bit the bait, casting Whipflare, and Bernardo Negated—that gave Alex's Mana Leak a target, and he passed after playing a land. Fetching up Island, Bernardo untapped into another Lingering Souls. He ended the turn after that, and Alex continued to draw and pass with land drops.
Batterskull rejoined the party, and Bernardo tried Snapcaster Mage, flashbacking the Divine Offering to tap out Alex once again. Gitaxian Probe revealed a second Black Sun's Zenith, complicating Bernardo's life significantly, and he attacked for 4 damage, leaving Alex on 10 life. Casting Lingering Souls, he passed the turn.
Nephalia Drownyard for Alex, and he cast Black Sun's Zenith for one before playing Batterskull. Moorland Haunt made a token, and Bernardo drew another way to delay the Germ—Celestial Purge. Flashbacking Lingering Souls, he attacked Alex to 9 and passed with five up. Whipflare cleared the Germ's path, earning a sigh from Bernardo—he needed to kill that Zenith!
Purging the Germ token, Bernardo untapped and cast Drogskol Captain. He flashbacked Lingering Souls, and passed the turn, potentially baiting Alex into tapping out for Zenith and to recast Batterskull. Sure enough, Alex bounced Batterskull and then cast Zenith for two and the artifact. Bernardo had an opening—he deployed Drogskol Captain and copied it with Phantasmal Image as time was called.
Alex knew that could get dangerous. He swung for 4 damage, putting Bernardo to 10 and going to 13. He played a land and passed, Bernardo fetching for Evolving Wilds during the end step. He attacked Alex to 7, and passed the turn. Forbidden Alchemy during the end step flashbacked, binning several lands. He untapped after some time in the tank, needing a win in two attacks.
He put Bernardo to 6 with the Batterskull and cast nothing—only a sneaky Snapcaster Mage could win the game. Moorland Haunt for a Spirit token on Bernardo's side put him very, very close, but he only had 9 damage… and neither player could get there in time.
Alex signed the slip and handed it to Bernardo, who signed it a draw.
Alex 1, Bernardo 1