Finals: Jonathan Kurpaska vs. Gerard Fabiano
Gerard Fabiano commented a few months ago that he may have the most losses in sanctioned Magic history. Well, he’s hoping to not add to that total here in the finals piloting U/W/R Delver as he takes on Jonathan Kurpaska’s Death and Taxes.
“Hopefully I put on a better showing than in the Swiss,” commented Jonathan, who lost to Gerard in the Swiss rounds. Gerard seemed nonplussed, as Invitational champion Erik Smith posted up behind Gerard for the final round.
The number one overall seed, Gerard led things off with Delver of Secrets. Jonathan attempted Mother of Runes, which resolved. On Gerard’s upkeep, he cast Brainstorm to make sure Delver flipped (thanks to another Brainstorm) then Lightning Bolt took out Mother before Insectile Aberration started its march towards tempo victory. Wasteland joined Plains, and Swords to Plowshares was met by double Daze to counter the Ice Age instant and prevent Gerard’s land from dying! Gerard dropped Jonathan to 14, then replayed Tundra before passing.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben was Jonathan’s next play and that resolved. 3/2 flyer attacked once again, and Gerard played out Misty Rainforest before passing. Jonathan used three mana to cast Mangara of Corondor, which resolved, and Thalia dropped Gerard to 17. Jonathan fell to 8, then Wasteland took down Karakas before shenanigans could ensue. A pair of Wastelands removed Gerard’s mana and the Mangara left Gerard permanentless. Mother of Runes joined Jonathan’s side of the board. Gerard, very mana flooded, could only pass.
Thalia swung again and again, eventually dropping Gerard into single digits. But Jonathan was stuck on only a Plains, while Gerard simply played out land after land after land. He eventually was able to Overload the Mother of Runes by casting Stifle and and Lightning Bolt, thereby removing the Thalia. A follow up Swords to Plowshares took care of the Mother of Runes on Gerard’s next turn. Jonathan ‘miracled’ a new land, the newly-much-better Flagstones of Trokair (now with M14 basically without a drawback). Aether Vial was countered by Spell Pierce on its way back down.
Gerard cast Delver of Secrets and used the classic play of Wasteland on Flagstones of Trokair in Jonathan’s upkeep to prevent a two-drop from coming down, should Jonathan not find a land (which he didn’t). Delver immediately flipped, and Jonathan fell to 6. Serra Avenger was Jonathan’s play to stem the bleeding, but Ponder found Swords to Plowshares to remove the offending 3/3. This meant Jonathan stayed at 6, but no longer had a defender in the air.
Jonathan’s third land was Horizon Canopy, and at this low life total the damage could be devastating. Jonathan instead used Horizon Canopy to try to dig… but Stifle countered the draw. Jonathan fell to 3 on attacks, and with Gerard at 5 (and now hellbent) he had a few outs… but couldn’t draw out of his predicament, and with a hand full of two- and three-cost creatures Jonathan scooped an intense (and strange) game.
Gerard 1, Jonathan 0.
Well that’s a lot of land for Gerard… and he almost needed all of it, thanks to the Death and Taxes player’s mana denial! Luckily, the King of the Nerds hopeful was able to pull out a very close win.
Jonathan led off with Mother of Runes, and Gerard began with Misty Rainforest. Jonathan played Wasteland on turn two and simply passed to Gerard, who dropped Tundra and passed… right into the Wasteland. Jonathan chose not to kill the dual, fearing Stifle… and rightly so, as Wasteland’s ability was countered. As Jonathan put it, “one mana Stone Rain.” Jonathan played Phyrexian Revoker and named Grim Lavamancer , but not after Gerard cast Brainstorm. Gerard cast Delver of Secrets and Grim Lavamancer on his next turn.
Jonathan took down the Delver before it could become Insectile Aberration, and Thalia also resolved for Gerard. Revoker and Lavamancer traded in combat. Gerard untapped and cast Stoneforge Mystic to get Batterskull and passed with only Volcanic Island remaining untapped. Jonathan tapped his Karakas before playing a second, then used three mana to resolve Sword of Fire and Ice. Thalia dealt two damage, and Jonathan passed, threatening quite the lethal turn should he get to untap…
But Gerard had a Batterskull at end of turn for some much appreciated defense. The Sword tried to equip to the Mirran Crusader and swing, which it did, but Gerard decided that now was the time to overexert the Mother of Runes. Stoneforge Mystic blocked, Swords to Plowshares targeted Crusader, then Mom did too… and then Stifle, once again, countered the Mother of Runes activation. Jonathan went to 24 thanks to the instant though, so Jonathan then just equipped up the Thalia for defense.
But yet another Swords to Plowshares rid the battlefield of the Thalia, and Batterskull started its march. Oh, and Lightning Bolt killed the Mother of Runes, and the Wasteland killed the Karakas. That’s… that’s many dead things. Gerard passed after that, and Jonathan could only resolve Serra Avenger. Batterskull set life totals at 26-19 in Gerard’s favor, and another Stoneforge Mystic grabbed Umezawa’s Jitte from Gerard’s deck. Now rather than a Delver deck, Gerard showed his U/W/R deck’s value in the late game with the Stoneforge Mystic package.
Sword of Fire and Ice equipped to Serra Avenger sounds good to most, but even unblocked Gerard stayed above 20 and only knocked down a Stoneforge Mystic. “If you Daze, this I’ll be upset,” said Jonathan after casting a Stoneforge Mystic of his own…
Guess what Gerard had.
Batterskull picked up Jitte, swung, got some counters, and further added life to his back pocket while whittling away at Jonathan. Jonathan fought back, attacking for five and triggering the Sword of Fire and Ice again, but making no headway. He then tapped out for Batterskull (“If you have another Daze…”), and that equipment resolved. Gerard untapped and cast Brainstorm, and found Engineered Explosives among others. Sadly, all of Gerard’s items (Germ, Jitte, and ‘Skull) shared casting costs with Jonathan’s (Germ, Avenger, ‘Skull)! Gerard attacked, Jonathan double blocked, and Gerard made his Germ an 8/8. Johnathan went to 19 and Gerard to 27, then Gerard killed off the token with the resulting Jitte counters. Meddling Mage entered the battlefield (naming Swords to Plowshares) before Gerard passed.
Mr. Pikula suited up a turn later, thanks to Jonathan’s dead draw. On Gerard’s upkeep Jonathan tapped one of Gerard’s Volcanic Islands with Rishadan Port, but Meddling Mage marched in nonetheless. There was a long way to go, but Gerard had an endless stream of -/1-/1 counters and +2/+2 pumps to divvy up from here on out. Jonathan’s only play was to return the Batterskull, recast the ‘Skull, and equip the Sword… But now Engineered Explosives was able to shine, taking out the Germ before it could block!
Now strained on mana himself, and unable to do all of the things he needed to come back from the brink of defeat, Jonathan passed. The enormous Meddling Mage attacked, dropping Jonathan to 3. Gerard used Wasteland to try to knock down the opposing Wasteland, to which Jonathan responded by trying to bounce Batterskull… to which Lightning Bolt from Gerard ended the game in style!! Jonathan extended his hand to the victorious Standard Open champion Gerard Fabiano!
Gerard 2, Jonathan0.