Finals: Caleb Durward vs. Lance Behrens
Caleb Durward is a seasoned pro with many top finishes under his belt. Lance Behrens may not have Caleb’s resume, but luckily for him that’s not how championships are decided. Caleb’s Naya Pod and Lance’s NayaBlade were battle tested and both players were in position for the win. With the Star City Games Standard Open championship on the line, it’s anyone’s match.
The finalists shook hands and wished each other luck before the final battle. Lance, the number one overall seed in the tournament, took the play and labored over his opening seven before deciding to keep, and Caleb also kept his opening seven. Lance led with Birds of Paradise off of Forest and Caleb matched it with a Birds off of Razorverge Thicket. Lance dropped a pair of Avacyn’s Pilgrims on the board on turn 2 but no second land, and on Caleb’s second turn he played Mountain into Borderland Ranger, searching up Forest.
Lance played a miracle Bonfire of the Damned for two on his third turn, clearing Caleb’s board. He quickly regrew his board state with another Bird and a Pilgrim of his own. Lance played Sword of Feast and Famine on his next turn along with yet another Pilgrim. Caleb played another Pilgrim of his own, the fifth total of the match, but had no further play. But he left up four mana… wonder what that could mean?
Lance is building up for a major Bonfire.
Lance equipped his sword to a Pilgrim and attacked, but Caleb sprung his trap with Restoration Angel, killing the 1/1 and taking no damage. Lance added a post combat Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to his team and passed. Then Caleb brought a gun to a knife fight: Wurmcoil Engine. With few answers to the giant metal monster, Lance was in deep trouble. He tried his best by playing a Thragtusk, going to 25 to Caleb’s 17, and passed.
But that was the last thing Lance would do that game. Caleb played Birthing Pod, paid a lot of life, and sacrificed the Wurmcoil to go find Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Before the Wurm tokens could even be removed from their the case by the judge staff, Lance decided he’d seen enough and moved on to game 2.
Caleb 1, Lance 0
The players shared some friendly banter between games while sideboarding, debating the merits of Hero of Bladehold in the matchup and sharing opinions on some strategy.
Lance kept his opener, while Caleb said, “I’ll think for a second,” before ultimately mulliganing the close hand. While mulliganing, we learned that today there’d be a Gospel church holding an event next door, to which Lance replied, “Good. I need a miracle.” Caleb replied. “My deck is about half as miraculous as yours.”
Lance led with Cavern on Human and Avacyn’s Pilgrim on his first turn, while Caleb played Copperline Gorge and Birds of Paradise. Lance played turn 2 sword of feast and famine, a scary sight for Caleb’s mostly green deck. He played a Bird of Paradise on his second turn and passed.
Lance equipped his Sword to the Pilgrim and took Caleb to 17, making Caleb discard a Thragtusk and untapping his lands. Lance then played Borderland Ranger, fetching a Forest. Caleb was firmly on the back foot now, facing the Blade portion of Lance’s deck for the first time. Caleb played a Cavern himself, naming Angel, before adding Blade Splicer to the battlefield, which added much needed bodies that could block a Sword-equipped creature to the board. Lance played out the Forest he recently found on his next turn before equipping his Sword to the Ranger. Caleb blocked the 4/4 with his Golem. Lance played Birds of Paradise after attacks and ended his turn.
"I almost Oblivion Ringed your Birds," Caleb admitted after game 2.
Caleb was looking to turn the corner now. He was at a relatively comfortable 17 life considering lance’s start, but a Bonfire of the Damned or a Zealous Conscripts at any time could spell doom for the Pod player. Caleb cast Oblivion Ring which removed the Sword of Feast and Famine from play, added another Avacyn’s Pilgrim but no other land, and passed the turn back to Lance.
While Lance would typically prefer to cast it via miracle, Bonfire of the Damned can also be cast from hands, and a Bonfire for one cleared up much of Caleb’s board. After the top of his library did not reveal a third land, which he needed now without his mana dorks, Caleb picked up his cards and reached for his sideboard.
Caleb 1, Lance 1
Lance showcased his biting (yet accurate) impression of the understated and droll Mr. Durward in between games, and they shared a few friendly barbs before getting back down to business.
Caleb, on the play for the first time this match, called out an enthusiastic “Keep!” in response to seeing his opening hand, and Lance echoed the sentiment. Both players led with mana dorks, Caleb with Pilgrim and Lance with Birds. Caleb played a turn 2 Blade Splicer on the play, one of the strongest plays in his deck, and Lance continued to do his Caleb impression by adding a Blade Splicer on turn two of his own off of Cavern of Souls, naming Human.
Huntmaster of the Fells meant that Caleb had reason to, “Hooooowl,” on his third turn because he went to 22 and got a 2/2 thanks to his Big Bad Wolf. Lance was done doing his Caleb impression at this time and instead added Sword of Body and Mind to the battlefield on his main phase. Caleb played Gavony Township and rumbled in with his 3/3 first strike Golem on his turn, and after Lance declared no blocks he activated his Gavony Township to make his team a little bit larger and take Lance down to 16. On Lance’s turn, Ravager of the Fells reared its ugly head and took down a Birds of Paradise on Lance’s side of the table and dropped him to 14. Lance played Mirran Crusader to try to stave off the onslaught and passed the back to Caleb.
Caleb elected to follow the safe game plan of attacking with the now 4/4 first striking Golem token. Lance threw his Blade Splicer under the tires to prevent the damage. Birds of Paradise and Restoration Angel joined Caleb’s team, and the Angel decided restore the Blade Splicer. This added another battalion to Caleb’s continuously growing army before passing the turn back to Lance. Thanks to two spells being cast by Caleb last turn, Ravager’s night ended and Huntmaster of the Fells flipped back to daytime mode, adding another 2/2 threat to Caleb’s side of the table.
Perhaps the Gospel choir hadn’t arrived yet, because Lance did not find the miracle on the top of his library he desperately needed and was in full-on survival mode now. Mirran Crusader picked up the Sword of Body and Mind and Lance then passed, and with that pass back to Caleb, night once again fell on Caleb’s Ravager of the Fells, dropping Lance to 12 and picking off another mana bug. Caleb did some quick math and swung all out with an untapped Gavony Township and the mana to activate it. Lance surveyed the incoming forces, did some math of his own, and decided that it was just too much damage and congratulated Caleb on his win.
Caleb 2, Lance 1
Caleb Durward is your St. Louis Standard Open Champion!