Finals: Matt Costa vs. Chris Barone
While Mono-Blue Devotion had been one of the most popular and most successful decks on Saturday, it had been shut out of the finals completely. In fact, there were no blue cards in the finals at all—just a Jund deck and a Boros deck, battling for all the marbles.
Matt's Jund deck is packed with removal spells.
Matt kept seven while Chris mulliganed to five cards—not where he wanted to be against Matt’s removal-packed deck, as mustering the correct threats to push past Anger of the Gods would be very relevant. Chris had the play and began with Boros Elite, but Thoughtseize took away his only other spell—Ajani, Caller of the Pride.
The beats for 1 damage began while Matt made land drops, but Precinct Captain on turn 3 offered Chris some hope of getting an offense in gear. Matt took 2 from the Captain, giving Chris a Soldier, but had committed a Scavenging Ooze to the board before super-sizing with Polukranos.
That effectively eliminated most of the offensive options on the other side of the board, sending Chris into thought. He had one potential spell in his hand alongside a Plains Matt knew about, but the spell was a nice one—Ajani to jump the Captain and make two more Soldier tokens. With the planeswalker on one, Matt could kill it with a Rakdos’s Return, but he decided to get the Captain off the board with Polukranos instead.
Growing up Boros Elite, Chris passed the turn, waiting for a Brave the Elements to come and save him. Matt used Rakdos’s Return to clear the way for his Anger, on the off-chance Chris was holding a Brave or Boros Charm, and Polukranos began to do his work afterward. Chris recovered with a Soldier of the Pantheon, but he was forced to use a too-late Brave to save the Soldier from Hero’s Downfall, and that left him drawing dead after a forced chump block.
Chris worked to rally following a tough mulligan in game 1.
Matt 1, Chris 0
Chris once more mulliganed, while Matt stood on a seven he appeared uncomfortable to keep. Soldier of the Pantheon began the attack for Chris, while Matt once more Thoughtseized the only spell Chris had in Dryad Militant. Mutavault, however, offered him some potential. The Soldier got things started but met a Doom Blade on Matt’s second turn.
Using Ajani to start growing Mutavault, Chris was looking like he might be alright against Matt’s mana screw, but a third Swamp enabled a Hero’s Downfall on the Mutavault. Another Downfall took care of Ajani, but Matt was once more under pressure from Soldier of the Pantheon and had nothing but Swamps in play.
Fiendslayer Paladin made it a three-turn clock, and Ajani shortened that to two. Matt took 2 damage to keep up Overgrown Tomb, using Golgari Charm to shrink Paladin and kill the Soldier outright when Chris tried to pump it, buying one more draw step... but that wasn’t enough to find an answer.
Matt 1, Chris 1
Starting Temple of Abandon, Matt kept his card in place and had turn 2 Caryatid to shut down the turn 1 Dryad Militant Chris cast. Taking 2 damage, Chris attacked and traded Boros Charm for the blocking Sylvan Caryatid. Matt bounced back with Scavenging Ooze, exiling his fallen 0/3 in order to gain a life and create a 3/3 blocker.
Ajani grew up the Militant but Hero’s Downfall ended the planeswalker before Matt added another shockland to the battlefield. He took 3 damage when Chris attacked, content to use his Ooze just as a ward against Mutavault but allowing the Militant to run free. Fiendslayer Paladin joined the board for Chris, and he passed the turn.
Taking advantage of the tapped out opponent, Matt used Downfall on the Militant and then ate it with his Ooze, shifting to 4/4 and moving outside the range of several plays Chris could make. Animating Mutavault, Chris attacked with three mana up. Matt decided to block the Paladin, and a Boros Charm let Matt eat the best creature when Chris gave his Paladin double strike.
On 12, Matt cast Stormbreath Dragon as a blocker against the two Mutavaults and fresh Boros Elite on the other side of the board. Chris was on two cards in hand and likely had some options available, but the game could go either way from here—they were basically down to topdecking. Precinct Captain offered Chris another threat, and Matt had another blocker in Caryatid, mitigating the damage Brave the Elements could do as a falter.
Another Boros Elite for Chris, and Matt now had to cast a Thoughtseize just to make sure Brave the Elements wasn’t lurking. On 10 now, he sent the turn to Chris. Chris debated animating both Mutavaults and eventually did so, attacking with all of his creatures and losing just a Boros Elite, with Matt dropping to 3 life. Another Caryatid was all he drew, just enough to avoid lethal against the next alpha from Chris but not enough to make him a favorite from here.
He fell to 1 as he killed another Boros Elite, and the top of the deck delivered this time—Stormbreath Dragon! That gave him a clock and threatened to let Matt close the game out over three turns of Chris couldn’t improve his position before then. Fiendslayer Paladin stalemated the board once more, and Matt passed turn with the mana available to monstrous.
Matt dealt Chris 2 damage in the next draw step while growing his Dragon, knocking Chris to 16. If he didn’t play a card, he’d be dead to a second use of monstrosity—Azorius Arrester landed. Peeling Scavenging Ooze, Matt exiled all the creatures he could to go to 3 life and then began considering a potential attack. He really wanted to get in one swing this turn so that he’d be attacking for lethal next turn, but that would mean going to 1 life.
The game would likely hinge on this decision and how it affected the cards Chris could draw.
Deciding to put his opponent on a single draw step, Matt attacked for 7 damage and ended the turn. On 9 life and facing a potential 14 power in Dragons, Chris drew... and animated his Mutavaults, attacking. Matt made the blocks that would send him to 1 life, and then cracked back for lethal.
Matt 2, Chris 1