Finals: Brad Eier vs. Kevin Gerhart
Neither of these friends expected to overcome their semifinal matchups, but both of the underdogs came out on top after all! They each knew the matchup well. “This is the one time I've wished that I was playing Blade Splicers,” Kevin admitted. He also noted he'd never sideboarded in his Celestial Purges in the Standard Open, but was pretty happy to have them now!
Brad's hoping to break the "Zombies curse" with a win in the finals.
“Do I keep a donkey hand... on camera... in the finals?” Kevin wondered. He decided to go for it, and Brad mulliganed no lands to six. Starting with Cavern of Souls on Human, Kevin played Delver of Secrets. Tragic Slip consumed the little fellow, and Kevin had no turn 2 beyond Glacial Fortress.
Pondering thanks to his turn 1 Darkslick Shores, Brad kept and played Drowned Catacomb. With three mana and his colors available, Kevin appeared to lack a play. He Vapor Snagged the Gravecrawler that Brad resolved, and the little 2/1 resolved on the next turn once Kevin played Moorland Haunt.
Now with a Spirit in play, Kevin never got to untap due to Geth's Verdict taking it away. That made it more likely Brad had no fourth land (or it was Cavern) and another Verdict, wanting to ensure he could cast his removal spells. Kevin made no plays on turn 4, and sure enough Brad dropped Cavern and Geralf's Messenger during the end step.
Thought Scour from Kevin in the end step hit some creatures, and he played Snapcaster Mage as Ambush Viper to just get some offense. Seachrome Coast followed, and Kevin played Delver of Secrets before attacking for 2 damage and passing with Haunt mana untapped. Cavern on Vampire forced Blood Artist onto the board, and Brad attacked for 5. “That's so good,” Kevin admitted, falling to 10 life. He made a Spirit during the end step.
Missing his Delver trigger, Kevin had to make some moves. Sword of War and Peace onto the Spirit token threatened to start a race, but Brad considered Act of Aggression in response to keep the Sword off the creature while preventing Kevin from making any attacks. “One card,” Kevin said to himself, referring to Brad's hand. “Is it a Killing Wave?”
“Maybe,” Brad replied after Kevin ended the turn, and he attacked Kevin to 5 before casting an uncounterable Bloodline Keeper. No Delver trigger, and a flying black creature to ward off Sword—things looked good for Brad here.
Kevin moved Sword onto the Spirit and did in fact have Vapor Snag in the wings. That put Brad to 12, and Brad fell to 5. Kevin jumped to 8 with his Sword, and had no other plays. Brad swung him to 3, and dropped Mortarpod—Mana Leak countered. The Bloodline Keeper rejoined the party, threatening to prevent a Sword hit and lock up the game.
“I need Vapor Snag, Snapcaster, or Restoration Angel to win the game,” Kevin said, counting off his seven outs. “I'm going to hand you the card.” The Mana Leak Brad revealed was just not good enough. He attacked with everything, Brad blocked, and Kevin conceded.
Brad 1, Kevin 0
"This is the best finals I could have hoped for," Kevin said.
Kevin kept and Brad mulliganed—pretty close to the first game so far. Island for Kevin, and Brad began with Fume Spitter from a Swamp. Glacial Fortress and nothing else for Kevin, who fell to 19 when Fume Spitter attacked. Brad resolved Highborn Ghoul on turn 2, and Kevin cast Snapcaster Mage in the end step.
Attacking for 2 damage, Brad decided not to Fume Spitter. Kevin played Geist of Saint Traft, and sent the turn. Highborn Ghoul attacked for 2, and Cavern of Souls on Illusion dismantled the Geist of Saint Traft via Phantasmal Image, Brad declining to run his Fume Spitter in for a point of damage.
Pondering, Kevin kept and attacked, adding Cavern of Souls for Human and Delver to the board. Brad attacked with all his guys this time, Kevin strangely declining to block Fume Spitter with Delver. Gravecrawler resolved for Brad, as did Mortarpod, but Kevin cast Divine Offering on the Mortarpod during the end step, after Brad killed his Fume Spitter.
Well, that made up for the missed point, sort of. Kevin had a fifth land but no creature, passing with four mana up—oh, I see what's going on. Restoration Angel blocked Gravecrawler as Highborn Ghoul kept rolling, and Brad made a post-combat Blood Artist before getting back Gravecrawler.
Pondering, Kevin sent in his Angel and then cast Delver of Secrets, now with three man untapped. Drowned Catacomb let Brad Ponder, as he sat on 13 life—just behind Brad's 14. He kept, and sent Gravecrawler and Highborn Ghoul in for an attack, pulling briefly ahead in the race. He extended that lead with a second Highborn Ghoul, passing the turn—Vapor Snag kept it off the board.
Delver revealed Ponder and Kevin cast it, then shuffled. He had exactly a two-turn clock in play—if he could avoid any creatures dying and triggering Blood Artist, that is! He put Brad to 6 with his flying creatures, and passed on 10 life. Pondering, Brad knew one of those cards and left his Ponder in place.
Bad news for Kevin.
Brad attacked Kevin to 6, then played Geth's Verdict to gain a life and deal Kevin 2, putting him to 4. Celestial Purge was just far too late for Kevin, and he stared at the board in search of help. If he could survive this turn, he might still be able to win with two quick attacks.
Drawing, Brad could attack for exactly 4 damage. He cast another Blood Artist, and Kevin Celestial Purged to stick at 2 life. Phantasmal Image copied Restoration Angel however, and that gave Brad a virtual lock on the game.
Kevin Thought Scoured, drew Island, and extended the hand.
Brad 2, Kevin 0