Finals: Jon Cheng vs. Harry Corvese
Harry snuck into the top 8 with the bottommost seed… but that hasn’t prevented him from making the finals! He is up against Jon Cheng, the 7-seed, who will have the play in the finals in this Esper mirror.
The players harassed each other over their lists for a little bit before starting. Some choice cuts:
“Four Gainsay?! C’mon. ‘How many are legal? Four? Slam!’”
“Oh yeah you’re upset, Mr. Trading Post?”
“Hey, it’s for value.”
Jon took the play and led with Temple of Deceit, and Harry did the same…
You know what, it’s the Esper mirror. Let’s skip ahead a bit, shall we?
Life totals are 20-16 in Jon’s favor on turn four (Harry played Godless Shrine untapped on turn three and Hallowed Fountain on turn four) and no one has played a spell yet… until Harry dropped Jace, Architect of Thought and used the -2 to get Dissolve over Azorius Charm and a land. Detention Sphere removed the Return to Ravnica planeswalker, and Jon paid two life for Watery Grave before passing with two mana up.
A little flurry of action… and the calm seas again. Land drops and passing the turn.
Esper mirrors tend to be all about your mana... and Aetherling!
It’s turn eight now, and Harry resolved Sphinx’s Revelation on Jon’s end step for four cards. He decided to discard down to seven instead of playing anything.
Harry resolves a second Sphinx’s Revelation for four to go to 22. Thoughtseize drops him to 20, and he takes Jon’s Azorius Charm from a hand that had two Elspeth, Sun’s Champion; Supreme Verdict, Hero’s Downfall, Detention Sphere, and Azorius Charm… with no more lands. Aetherling lands for Harry as well, seeing no Dissolve or other counterspells to fight over the shapeshifter. Jon thinks long and hard about how to win this game, and decides on Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as a good place to start. He makes three Soldiers before passing.
Aetherling starts to go to work: unblockable, become 5/4, kill Elspeth (after Hero’s Downfall gets Syncopated). Jon plays another Elspeth, of courseand Ultimate Price targeting Aetherling saves it… but not from Detention Sphere. The army of tokens also get trapped in the Azorius prison, and Jon is back to square one. Jace, Architect of Thought is where he starts. His -2 only garners Azorius Charm, and Aetherling gets back to business. The Charm only fogs the Dragon’s Maze rare for a turn so Jon can go deeper into his deck too, so Harry is able to keep on par with the planeswalker for the turn.
Then, another Elspeth… this time for Harry. He makes a trio of tokens for himself before passing. Jon uses Jace to turn up another Jace, Divination, and Dissolve and Harry presents Jon with piles of Dissolve of the others. Jon selects the other two cards, then uses Detention Sphere to remove Elspeth. Supreme Verdict clears out the Soldiers, Divination draws a pair of fresh cards, and Jon passes with only one mana up.
Aetherling hits for eight. Jon goes to 10. It’s not looking pretty for Jon.
Another Jace, Architect of Thought only garners land this time, and that’s Jon’s only action. Jon uses Far to fog the attack, then casts Sphinx’s Revelation for three. Jace digs into another Jace, and Jon shocks himself to cast the Jace and uses it to grab Detention Sphere. Harry has the impetus, and Jon is going to be on the back foot for this entire game. Even another Sphinx’s Revelation isn’t going to do it. Jon decides he wants one of his own, and after four Dissolves hit the stack it eventually enters the battle field. So now both players have Aetherling, though Harry’s is slightly better at this point. Harry makes the Aetherling unblockable and counters the desperation Doom Blade to finally take game one.
Harry 1, Jon 0.
“After sideboard, I think this favors you,” said Jon.
Jon and Harry played lands.
It’s now turn nine, and Jon casts Thoughtseize (he also cast Divination and Azorius Charm earlier in the game). Harry responds with Dissolve, which Jon Gainsays, which Harry Gainsays, which Jon Gainsays. After Jon scrys, Harry reveals Supreme Verdict, Detention Sphere, and four lands. Harry draws and plays Jace, Architect of Thought to find Elspeth but that’s still fairly lackluster. Jon uses the opportunity to drop Aetherling and also Pithing Needle on Jace, leaving one blue mana available. Harry has a window of a turn to try to get the Aetherling under wraps, but Sphinx’s Revelation for four doesn’t do the trick.
Thoughtsieze further reveals Jon’s advantage and hand of gasoline: Elspeth, Sphinx’s Revelation, Detention Sphere, Gainsay. A second Thoughtseize means both Revelation and Gainsay hit the bin, but there’s still the small matter of the main win condition to be dealt with.
Harry managed to fight back, first with deft use of Thoughtseize to deprive Jon of any future card advantage, then with liberal use of Sphinx’s Revelation. He maneuvers the game into a position where he known Jon only has two cards in hand, one of which is Detention Sphere, and he goes for Aetherling. Unfortunately, that last card is Dissolve and Harry’s 4/5 gets countered.
Harry plays to resolve a key Revelation.
There’s a lot of interplay, with Jon’s Elspeth and Harry’s Hero’s Downfall two turns (and six Soldiers) later, both players casting Sphinx’s Revelations and Detention Spheres, and some more posturing and maneuvering, but in much the same way Harry won game one after a long and drawn out process, Jon is winning game two… but Pithing Needle changes that equation! Now with a vanilla 4/5, and with Jon on 13 life and Harry on 5, it looks like Harry could turn the corner with his active (and protected) Elspeth.
Jon then changes the equation again by resolving Jace, Memory Adept. With Harry’s library on 25 cards, big Jace uses its +0 ability to mill ten cards. Soldiers attack it to two loyalty, but another +0 is rough. Jon’s topdecked Elspeth, Sun’s Champion isn’t going to help things.
After a long sigh, Harry says, “Game three…”
Harry 1, Jon 1.
Harry and Jon trade land drops for a long time before the action really started on turn four with a battle over a Thougtseize. Jon tried to hit Harry, but it eventually lost to Negate, and on the next turn Harry’s Thoughtseize snagged Jon’s Sphinx;s Revelation with no trouble... but Harry missed his fifth land drop! Jon missed his seventh land drop to stay relatively at parity, but a topdecked Sphinx’s Revelation for three threatened to make things awkward. Luckily, Dissolve allowed Harry to stay in the card advantage game.
This though let Jon resolve Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and immediately go to work… and Harry did the same! Now in the exact mirror match, with the exact same board position, Jon used the +1 to make more Soldiers, cast Jace, Architect of Thoughtfound Hero’s Downfall, and passed. Harry attacked Jon’s Elspeth with his three 1/1s, which Jon allowed and his Elspeth fell to 3. Harry plused Elspeth to six, landed Pithing Needle naming Jace (the small variety), then cast Blood Baron of Vizkopa (which got Dissolved).
Jon attacked Harry with his sextet of Soldiers, dropping Harry to 5. He made three more fellas, used Hero’s Downfall to kill Harry’s Elspeth, and passed. Harry used his six Soldiers to attack Elspeth, three of which blocked so Elspeth went to one loyalty. Supreme Verdict cleared out the rest… for a moment, before Jon replaced them on his next turn. He also cast and resolved Blood Baron of Vizkopa to add to his clock, hoping Harry did not have any remaining Supreme Verdicts with which to ruin his plans.
Harry cast a main phase Sphinx’s Revelation to go up to 9 life and draw four, with the plan of falling to 2 on his opponent’s turn. Jon went up to 22 on that attack step, and he also added more Soldiers to his battlefield. Harry did indeed find Supreme Verdict in his top few cards, so he survived for at least the turn. But Elspeth marched on, and Harry was forced to cast an Elspeth of his own, which was Dissolved. Harry also had Dissolve, so his Elspeth came down and even had more counters on it than Jon’s when it used its plus ability.
Jon forced the trade for all three Soldiers in combat before gaining three more fighters and then casting Detention Sphere to remove both of the big white planeswalkers from the board. Harry was able to resolve a Sphinx’s Revelation for seven soon after on Jon’s next upkeep, so he not only survived but thrived. Detention Sphere took out the ithing Needle on Jace so he could use the Fact or Fiction ability finally, about fifteen turns after casting the planeswalker, and found Gainsay with it. Harry’s Jace got the Gainsay on his next turn, but he had a second one and used the +1 to Cumber Stone Jon’s team. Thoughtseize revealed what Harry was cooking with: many lands, a pair of Detention Spheres, and Merciless Eviction. Oh mercy! Jon took a ball of light enchantment before casting Pithing Needle naming the little Jace for himself.
Detention Sphere removed the Needle, then Jace -2 garnered Harry a Needle of his own before big papa Aetherling joined the fray for Harry. Jon cast Sphinx’s Revelation for seven to go to 31 (with Harry at 7) but it was still a very close game. Thoughtseize revealed that Jon mostly whiffed with the draw spell, only getting Divination, Gainsay, and lands. Harry stole Jon’s Divination and put his foot on the gas, powering through Jace to get Sphinx’s Revelation, attacking with the unblockable Aetherling (27-4 now), and drawing five cards (and gaining five life) with the Return to Ravnica mythic rare.
Jon’s deck did not cooperate. He attacked Jace so that it died, but he could only play a land and passed. Aetherling marched on, dropping Jon from 27 to 19 to 15 to 8 to 0 and the win, which Harry Corvese was very happy indeed to collect. And with both players in the Legacy Open, which had already begun and was well into round 1, they were both ready to stop thinking about Esper mirrors for a little while.
Harry 2, Jon 1.