Finals: Brandon Ross vs. John Cuvelier
Only one man stands between another win for Junk Reanimator in Standard—John Cuvelier, defending champion of the Orlando Standard Open, who had turned to the lesser of two evils in Jund for this event.
John's Standard defense is against one of his toughest matchups.
The game began with John going to six cards while Brandon had the play. Brandon’s turn 1 Arbor Elf came at the price of 2 life, while John’s owed only a Forest. Turn 2 Mulch for Brandon revealed two lands and tossed Craterhoof Behemoth to the graveyard, with one of those lands enabling Deathrite Shaman. “Doesn’t seem too good against you in the maindeck,” he admitted.
“I’ve seen better,” John replied. His turn 2 Farseek was certainly better, but that’s all the action he had beyond his land for the turn. Threatening turn 3 Thragtusk and—more dangerously—an active Olivia for turn 4, John’s acceleration had kept pace so far. Grisly Salvage gave Brandon Lotleth Troll and put Lingering Souls into the graveyard alongside a land for Deathrite Shaman, but Brandon Mulched again before sending the Shaman in to deal 1 damage.
The Thragtusk hit the board on turn 3, but John already knew that Lotleth Troll would threaten it having a significant impact. Brandon turned out to have a Thragtusk of his own instead, leaving John to initiate combat with an attack. Brandon traded up 5/3s as each player got a Beast, and then he played Huntmaster of the Fells.
John was running low on gas though, and Brandon’s hand was full up. He tapped out for Angel of Serenity on the following turn, retrieving Thragtusk from beyond the grave and exiling John’s Huntmaster and Beast token. He moved to attack with his Beast token now, John facing a potent offensive with most of his board gone now.
Thundermaw Hellkite let John initiate an attack for 8 damage to put Brandon on 13, but he just wasn’t vulnerable enough. On the up side, John sat safe from lethal at 23 life. Brandon attacked for 8 and then flashbacked Lingering Souls and cast Lotleth Troll, gaining traction on the board. John had a big hit on the next turn though: Kessig Wolf Run.
Two Lingering Souls blocked and Brandon exiled a creature to go to 13, but John’s 7 damage left him at 6. Actually dead to the Hellkite now, Brandon needed a spell—he had a pretty good one. The hardcast Craterhoof Behemoth killed John dead in a horrible stomping.
Brandon 1, John 0
Brandon is playing the format's current king in Reanimator.
Brandon had a good seven while John was mulliganing to six once more. This could be the last game of John’s Standard Open reign, a thought that no doubt weighed on him as he shuffled for one more hand. Overgrown Tombs for both players, with John Farseeking on the second turn to grab a Blood Crypt.
Mulch for Brandon revealed Temple Garden and put nothing much of note in the graveyard—maybe a Restoration Angel that would become relevant. John had no creature on turn 3 awkwardly enough, simply playing an untapped land and passing. Brandon Grisly Salvaged on turn 3 into Ray of Revelation, Angel of Serenity, and Lotleth Troll while taking Forest, playing Temple Garden tapped.
John drew and passed in tough shape, leaving Brandon to take the initiative the Farseek might have gained—but he also had no plays. John shipped turn 5 as well, and Brandon drew and played Acidic Slime. “That’s frustrating,” John said, also now in fear of Restoration Angel o Unburial Rites for one. He made a fourth land (again) and passed (again) before taking 2 damage from the Slime.
Brandon played Obzedat and passed, John getting onto the board with Huntmaster but falling behind against these creatures. Brandon attacked with both, John considering whether to chump, trade, or take 7 damage before trying to trade—Restoration Angel blinked the Acidic Slime to kill John’s only remaining red source, and Woodland Cemetery didn’t quite make up the difference.
Brandon 2, John 0