Finals: Joseph Herrera vs. Charles Johnson
This is Joseph’s third Open Series weekend… and he’s already won the Standard Open in Atlanta and top 8’d the Legacy Open in Nashville in his previous two trips to the playoff rounds. He’s making a case for Rookie of the Year on the Open Series, with 51 Open points already this year before this tournament began. No matter how he finishes here with Big Red he’s secured a bye at the Invitational in Indianapolis… but Charles’ Junk Aristocrats isn’t impressed by those stats, and he’s looking to add to his successful résumé as well!
“We actually do have a fireplace in the store, so that’d be a good place for the trophy!” Charles, the owner of nearby Brewport Games, eyed the trophy. And both players grinned, knowing they were one opponent away from the hardware.
Joseph had the play, thanks to Charles’ 8-seed (“I’m also the oldest person in the top 8!”) and led with land drops for the first two turns. Charles, on the mulligan to five, followed suit. Boros Reckoner was the first play of the game, to which Charles parried back with Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Reckoner drew first blood of the match, but no land drop and no other play might spell trouble. Charles played Desecration Demon on his turn, and in response Searing Spear took down the Troll legend.
Joseph attacked with his Reckoner then added a post-combat Chandra’s Phoenix after Charles did not block and fell to 14. The Demon dropped Joseph to 14 as well on attacks and was joined on Charles’ side of the board by another copy of Varolz. Joseph drew and still failed to draw a fourth land, instead attacking for five with his Minotaur Wizard and Phoenix. Charles dropped to 9 from the damage. Charles attacked for eight and Joseph fell to 6 on Charles’ combat step, and Cartel Aristocrat came down for the Junkman once the damage had been dealt.
Joseph still did not find that elusive fourth land, instead finding another copy of Chandra’s Phoenix which quickly joined the board. Joseph swung with Reckoner and Phoenix, and after he did so Charles sacrificed his Cartel Aristocrat to the Varolz and cast two Tragic Slips to remove the attackers. On Charles’ turn, he used Varolz to scavenge onto Varolz and make the Troll a 4/4. Joseph sacrificed his Phoenix to the Demon trigger to fall to 2, but it was not to be as he ended the game with a hand full of Hellriders, Chandra, Pyromasters, and Burning Earths.
Charles 1, Joseph 0.
The last time Charles mulled to five he defeated his semifinals opponent (in game three) on the draw as well. In that match, he said that the last time he did well in a major Magic tournament (top 4 in Richmond) he also won on a mulligan to five! Seems like mulliganing to five is the way to go for Mr. Johnson!
“Man, Desecration Demon is such a beating.”
Indeed, the Evan Erwin Return to Ravnica preview card (that can tap itself so you don’t have to) has proven its worth this weekend, as a thorn in the side of pretty much everyone from Jund to this Big Red matchup, being wielded not only in Charles’ Junk Aristocrats but also in The Rock, Junk Reanimator, Brian Braun-Duin’s Orzhov Guildgate deck, and more. After a slow start, it’s finally picked up a head of steam, it’s the little 6/6 for four that could!
Both players kept their sevens, and this time the first play of the game was Joseph’s Ratchet Bomb. Scavenging Ooze was Charles’ first play, and Joseph began developing his offense with Boros Reckoner turn three. Charles dropped Varolz, the Scar-Striped turn three, and Ratchet Bomb went to two counters. Joseph then spent his turn attacking with Boros Reckoner to drop Charles to 17 and then using Searing Spear on Varolz. Scavenging Ooze went under the tires to save the Troll, and then Joseph knocked out the Varolz with Mizzium Mortars.
Charles wasn’t done yet though, as he rebuilt with another copy of Scavenging Ooze. Bomb stayed at two counters for Joseph, who added Hellrider (four mana!) and attacked with both of his 3/3s. the attack triggers went off, then Golgari Charm countered the Ratchet Bomb activation and regenerated Charles’ Ooze. At 9 life but with plenty of Ooze-food, Charles looked to be in okay shape. That was even more so when Putrefy knocked out the Devil and Scavenging Ooze ate two creatures…
Joseph played another hasty Dragon. And that was that.
Charles 1, Joseph 1.
Sometimes you have a million Dragons!
Charles and Joseph headed to the decisive third game with Charles on the play and on the mulligan to five, while Joseph kept.
“Mulligan to five? That’s what I’m scared of!”
Charles’ first play was Cartel Aristocrat, which was quickly eaten by Pillar of Flame. Doomed Traveler was Charles’ turn three play, while Chandra’s Phoenix got things started for Joseph. A fourth land with no play was all Charles could muster, while Joseph played land four and Boros Reckoner. Charles had plenty of mana to his name but no spells to speak of, and Joseph continued the beats with Thundermaw Hellkite. Charles fell to 8 on attacks after blocking the Minotaur, and then cast Voice of Resurgence.
But Hellrider follow up and activation of Mutavault meant that Joseph had the stone cold nuts this game, and Charles extended his hand. Joseph Herrera is your StarCityGames.com Baltimore Standard Open champion!
Joseph 2, Charles 1.
“I can only win so many mulligans to five. I was 8-1 on the tournament.”