Finals: Bryan Fisher vs. Matthew Check
The Aristocrats made a triumphant return to Standard in Atlanta, packing all the Reckoners, Blood Artists, and Blasphemous Act. Now Matthew sought to claim the archetype’s first trophy in a Standard season that was on the way out.
Bryan's hoping to take down a matchup most consider favorable for him.
Bryan had the play and kept his opening seven, but Matthew wasn’t so lucky—he dropped to six cards. Overgrown Tomb for Bryan and Godless Shrine for Matthew, while Bryan started on Farseek for Stomping Ground to start getting ahead. Matthew was the first to play a threat, however, in turn 2 Cartel Aristocrat.
A second Farseek for Bryan gave him more mana, searching up his second black and second red source in Blood Crypt. Matthew took 2 for Godless Shrine and cast Lingering Souls, apparently hurting for red mana with his first three lands being Orzhov-affiliated. The Cartel Aristocrat took Bryan to 18, and Matthew passed.
Thragtusk reversed Bryan’s position, putting him to 23 and with a dominating ground man. Matthew poked back for 2 damage and cast another Cartel Aristocrat, but had no other plays—no fourth land meant no red. Bryan attacked for 5 damage with Thragtusk, and Matthew fell to 13. Olivia Voldaren with two up threatened to start eradicating those Spirit tokens.
Matthew swung with everyone on the next turn, giving Bryan pause. He could smell a trick of some kind on the horizon, and elected to place Olivia in front of one Cartel Aristocrat—Matthew sacrificed a Spirit for protection, and then cast Tragic Slip after damage, losing his other Spirit. Post-combat, Matthew played a third Cartel Aristocrat and Cavern on Vampire.
Bryan swung Matthew to 8 and played another Olivia Voldaren. That put Matthew in a bind, as he’d been planning to lean pretty heavily on Falkenrath Aristocrat this turn, with Lingering Souls available from the graveyard for defense. He drew and cast another copy of the Spirit-maker, but needed to answer Olivia soon. His options? A Tragic Slip or Orzhov Charm off the top, or a red source for his Blasphemous Act.
Matthew made a misstep in allowing Olivia to hit 4/4 as she killed off a Spirit, his Cartel Aristocrats available to prevent it, but he didn’t make the same error on Bryan’s turn when he zapped the last Spirit prior to attacking. That attack did leave Matthew on 4, however, which meant he had one less draw step.
Blood Artist bought that draw step back, and he flashbacked Lingering Souls before playing the Vampire and ending the turn. When Bryan shot at Blood Artist, Matthew responded by using his other two Spirits to gain protection before sacrificing the Blood Artist, going to 7 life. That left him exactly dead to Bryan killing his own Thragtusk with Olivia, growing her to 7/7.
He played a shockland untapped for an eighth mana and sent in both Thragtusk and Olivia, then sacrificed the bull to a greater cause—victory.
Matthew has a strong record against Jund in this tournament, however.
Bryan 1, Matthew 0
Mulliganing to five would make it more difficult for Bryn to keep up his momentum after a game 1 win, but he did manage to hit Farseek in that five and start ramping after Matthew played Cartel Aristocrat. The 2/2 swung, putting Bryan to 18, and Lingering Souls landed once more.
Bryan played Olivia on turn 3, but that wasn’t good enough. The flashback on Souls was followed by Tragic Slip, with one of the new Spirits dying to kill the Olivia. Thragtusk gave Bryan a little more room to breathe, but Matthew had Mark of Mutiny already available. He decided to eke out more value instead, casting Obzedat, Ghost Council after a Spirited attack, leaving Bryan on 14 life.
He cast another Olivia, lacking the sixth land to toughen her up, and fell to 12 life when Obzedat returned. Mark of Mutiny snatched Thragtusk, forcing Bryan to put Olivia on blocking duty in the face of 16 damage—he knew that meant he’d be drawing dead on the following turn, and simply conceded in advance.
Bryan 1, Matthew 1
On the play once more, Bryan examined his opening hand before keeping while Matthew had picked up an easy mulligan to six. Each player began with a shockland, Bryan failing to Farseek on turn 2 but Matthew keeping up his end with Skirsdag High Priest as a two-drop. Pillar of Flame took care of the 1/2, and Bryan had no other plays after his third land.
Cavern of Souls for Wizard paved the way for Boros Reckoner on turn 3, but Bryan answered it quickly with Liliana of the Veil. Struggling to keep a threat in play, Matthew cast Lingerng Souls on the next turn and passed with three cards in his hand against the Liliana. One of Bryan’s mana Olivias resolved on the following turn, Bryan declining to grow Liliana. Apparently, his hand was very good!
Matthew knew that a missed land drop at a minimum meant Bryan had all spells, and he decided to remove Olivia from his path with Orzhov Charm before attacking Bryan and Liliana. That left each player at 17 life, and Matthew added Cartel Aristocrat to his position. Another Olivia replaced the lost one, with a tapped shockland revealing Bryan to have drawn a land as well.
A deep sigh came from Matthew during his next draw step, as he’d peeled a doozy. He already had Blasphemous Act in his hand, and had drawn Boros Reckoner. Couldn’t fire both this turn—and wouldn’t want to—but he had to weigh the ramifications of letting Olivia take over this board for a turn or two. He decided to cast the Reckoner, and pass the turn with two up.
Bryan was still strapped for mana, and if he lacked an answer to the Reckoner might fall just far enough behind. He made no plays, simply passing with five mana untapped and holding strong with Olivia. Matthew attacked with everyone, daring Bryan to do something. Olivia blocked the Cartel Aristocrat and then zapped both Spirits before the Reckoner landed, dealing 3 to put Bryan on 14.
Matthew knew he was so close to landing lethal right there, but declined to finish the job—he flashbacked Lingering Souls. Dreadbore took the Minotaur Wizard out of the picture, and Matthew was no doing things the hard way. He gave Aristocrat protection from red and cast an Act to clear everything else, attacking Bryan to 12.
Garruk, Primal Hunter outmatched the 2/2, making a Beast, but Matthew one-upped his opponent on the next draw step with Obzedat, Ghost Council. Could he race Bryan’s draw step and that Garruk for five turns, or would Thragtusk and Huntmaster ruin his day? Mizzium Mortars cleared the Aristocrat out, and Bryan made another Beast before Farseeking.
Matthew brought back Obzedat and played the land he drew, while Bryan deployed Thragtusk on the next turn, going to 13 and drawing some cards with Garruk. Matthew was really looking for Reckoner here—Obzedat would only remain imposing for so long. He knocked Bryan to 11 and sent the turn. Another Thragtusk gained Bryan 5 more life, and Liliana of the Veil landed to make Matthew discard a land, leaving his second Blasphemous Act alone.
Falkenrath Aristocrat swept Liliana of the Veil out of the way, and Matthew passed again with Obzedat leaving the battlefield—Matthew knew Bryan had 19 power in play, but he was at 20. Popping Garruk, Bryan tried to draw into Kessig Wolf Run, Pillar of Flame, or some other way to finish the job. Failing, he simply attacked for 10 damage with Thragtusks. Dreadbore slew the Aristocrat, and another Thragtusk jumped Bryan to 19, virtually locking up the game.
Matthew drew after getting back Obzedat and going to 12, but it wasn’t going to be enough. Blasphemous Act could clear out a lot of creatures, but the nine power in Thragtusk Beasts that Matthew retained were enough to take the match.
Bryan 2, Matthew 1