Finals: Michael Majors vs. Phillip Braverman
Michael Majors took UWR Delver to the finals of an Open just a month ago, in Atlanta, but came just short of a trophy. Now he’s back for another try, and this time it’s Phillip Braverman’s UWr Miracles standing in his way. Majored had already eliminated one Braverman brother, but could he finish the job?
Michael casts a parade of Stoneforge Mystics...
Michael kicked things off with Tundra into Ponder, keeping his cards on top, and Phillip was content to play a Flooded Strand and pass back. Michael went for some quick pressure, playing a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic, fetching Batterskull after it resolved. Phillip fetched up a Plains sent the Mystic farming with a Swords to Plowshares on his own turn, then dropped Misty Rainforest and shipped the turn.
Looking for some pressure, Michael Brainstormed, but found no other play, simply dropping Scalding Tarn and passing. Phillip wanted in on the cantripping game, and cast a Ponder on his own turn, also passing back with no other play. Michael shuffled away his top two with a Scalding Tarn, then paid 2 life to cast Gitaxian Probe, seeing Phillip’s hand of Scalding Tarn, Brainstorm, Swords to Plowshares, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and two Vendilion Cliques.
Michael tried for another Stoneforge Mystic. It resolved, and he grabbed Umezawa’s Jitte. Phillip had another Swords to Plowshares, though, hoping to strand the Batterskull in Michael’s hand for at least a while longer, but Michael simply made his fifth land drop and put it into play the honest way. Phillip Brainstormed, looking for an answer, and came up with his third copy of Swords to Plowshares on Michael’s end step.
When Phillip tried for a Jace, the Mind Sculptor on his next turn, Michael attempted to counter it with a Force of Will pitching Daze. Phillip tried a Spell Pierce, but Michael had a second Daze, and the Planeswalker hit the bin.
Michael Pondered and passed, and Phillip simply untapped and passed right back. When Michael again had no play, Phillip went for an end step Vendilion Clique, seeing Stoneforge Mystic, Lightning Bolt, and Umezawa’s Jitte in Michael’s hand. He sent the Stoneforge Mystic to the bottom. On Phillip’s end step, Michael Lightning Bolted the Clique away, then bounced Batterskull to his hand.
Hoping to get a clock back on the board, Michael cast True-Name Nemesis, but Phillip said no with a Counterspell. Phillip passed the turn again, and Michael Pondered, finding a True-Name Nemesis. He opted not to cast it, vocalizing that he didn’t want to play into Snapcaster Mage flashing back Counterspell. Phillip played a Vendilion Clique in Michael’s end step, and Michael used Brainstorm at end step to hide some of his goodies. Knowing that he’d see only the dregs, Phillip chose to target himself with the Clique.
Michael: “Geez, your hand is good.”
Now with perfect information, Michael tapped out to recast his Batterskull, which drew Snapcaster Mage flashing back Spell Pierce from Phillip. Phillip attacked Michael down to 9 on his own turn, and cast his Jace, ticking up to peek at Michael’s top card. He saw a Daze, and decided Michael could keep it.
Michael quickly untapped, cast True-Name Nemesis and Umezawa’s Jitte, and passed the turn. Michael found a miracled Terminus on top of his deck, and Michael pitched Daze for Force of Will, which resolved. Phillip played the last two cards in his hand, a Counterbalance and a Sensei’s Divining Top, and passed to Michael.
Now in the Counter-Top lock, Michael knew he’d struggle to ever resolve another spell, but he had some spicy action on board, as he equipped his True-Name Nemesis with Umezawa’s Jitte and attacked the Jace, the Mind Sculptor down to two loyalty. The Jitte gained two counters, and one was used immediately to dispatch Vendilion Clique. Phillip untapped, attacked Michael down to 3 with his Snapcaster Mage, and went digging for more action with his Jace, the Mind Sculptor and his Sensei’s Divining Top. He found no further plays, and passed.
True-Name Nemesis swung at Jace, the Mind Sculptor, sending it to the bin, and Umezawa’s Jitte killed off Snapcaster Mage. Michael attempted Stoneforge Mystic as a follow-up, but Phillip spun the top and flipped up Snapcaster Mage with his Counterbalance. Phillip drew the Snapcaster, used it on his main phase to cast a Ponder from his graveyard, and shipped the turn back. Michael did some calculating, pumped his True-Name Nemesis twice with the Jitte, and attacked Phillip from 14 to 7, threatening lethal on his next turn.
Then things got weird. Phillip, tired from the long tournament weekend, drew a card after resolving his fetchland, thinking that he was resolving the Ponder. The Head Judge and Table Judge stepped away for a discussion, and returned concluding that the infraction was Drawing Extra Cards, which warranted a game loss.
An unfortunate end to a tense game. It was stressed by the judges that they suspected no intentional foul play, but that the penalty guidelines were clear and inflexible.
Michael Majors 1, Philip Braverman 0
...and Phillip Braverman sends them each to the farm in turn.
Michael was on just five cards for the second game, and Phillip, on the play, led things off with Island into Sensei’s Divining Top. Michael spent his first turn Pondering, and Phillip spent his second spinning his top and casting another.
Michael held several 2-drop threats, but didn’t find the second land to cast them. He cast another Ponder, found the land he needed, and then cast Gitaxian Probe, seeing Sensei’s Divining Top, Swords to Plowshares, and two Flooded Strands from Phillip. He passed the turn, and Phillip simply played his land and passed right back.
Now with two mana available, Michael took a moment to consider how to sequence his threats. He led with Stoneforge Mystic, which resolved fetching Sword of Feast and Famine. At the end of turn, Phillip fetched up a Tundra and killed off the Stoneforge Mystic with a Swords to Plowshares. He again played a Flooded Strand and passed, and Michael had another Stoneforge Mystic, this time going for Batterskull. Phillip attempted a Snapcaster Mage at Michael’s End Step, threatening to rebuy his Swords to Plowshares, but Michael responded with Force of Will, pitching Spell Pierce.
Michael revealed the Terminus he’d set up with Sensei’s Divining Top on his draw step, which sent the Stoneforge Mystic to the bottom. He then fetched up a Volcanic Island and Pondered, then dropped another Flooded Strand and passed. Michael found a third land, and cast two threats, a Delver of Secrets and a Meddling Mage that turned off Terminus. Phillip dug for an answer with his Top, but found nothing.
Force of Will was revealed on Michael’s Upkeep, flipping his Delver of Secrets. Phillip destroyed the Meddling Mage with a Red Elemental Blast, but took 3 from the Insectile Aberration, falling to 13. Michael played Sword of Feast and Famine post-combat, and Phillip had Disenchant at the end step to get rid of it as well. Phillip untapped and attempted a Vendilion Clique, but Michael countered it with Force of Will pitching Daze, and the 3/2 came across again, knocking Phillip to 10.
When the Insectile Aberration attacked the next time, Phillip activated his Sensei’s Divining Top to miracle a Terminus. It resolved, and Michael cast Stoneforge Mystic post-combat, failing to find another equipment, but unlocking the Batterskull that had been stuck in his hand all game. Phillip had no play on his next two turns, and Michael Stoneforged the Batterskull into play on Phillip’s end step, then cracked in for 5, dropping Phillip to just 4 life.
Hoping to buy some time, Phillip cast his own Stoneforge Mystic, and retrieved a Batterskull. He opted not to cast it, playing around soft counters like Daze and Spell Pierce, and threw his Stoneforge Mystic under the bus when the 4/4 Germ attacked him. Michael passed back, and Phillip flipped over Entreat the Angels. Despite having a pile of lands in play, he chose to cast it for 2, leaving four lands untapped to conveniently dodge the Spell Pierce, Daze, and Daze in Michael’s hand.
The 4/4 Germ Token entered the red zone, and Phillip quickly blocked with one of his Angel tokens. Michael had no further play, and Phillip untapped, played a ninth land, and cast Batterskull. Michael decided to use his three soft counters to tap Phillip out completely. He found a Delver of Secrets on top of his deck, cast it, and passed the turn back. On his turn, Phillip moved the Batterskull over to his Angel token, and attacked with his 8/8 Vigilance Lifelinker. It connected, and suddenly Phillip was in a commanding position with plenty of breathing room.
Michael Majors 1, Philip Braverman 1
On the play in the decider, Michael dropped Delver of Secrets into play off of a Tundra. Phillip tried to kill it on his turn 1 with a Red Elemental Blast, but Michael had the Daze. It didn’t immediately flip, and Michael simply replayed his Tundra and passed, sitting on Spell Pierce for any of Phillip’s shenanigans.
No shenanigans were forthcoming, however, as Phillip only made his land drop and ended his turn. Michael missed on his Delver trigger again, but found a Wasteland to set Phillip back a turn. Phillip still had no play, and Michael drew Stoneforge Mystic, but opted not to cast it. Phillip played a Plains to bring his total land count to three, and cast a Swords to Plowshares on the Delver with two mana up to pay for Spell Pierce. Michael, unfazed, simply replaced it with another Delver from the top of his deck.
When the Delver of Secrets remained unflipped on his next turn, he cracked in for 1 and Phillip responded with Vendilion Clique. He targeted Michael, and saw his hand of Stoneforge Mystic, Meddling Mage, Spell Pierce, and two lands. He sent Stoneforge Mystic to the bottom, then traded his Clique with the Delver. Post-Combat, Michael played a Meddling Mage naming Sensei’s Divining Top.
Phillip cast a Brainstorm on his main phase, but had no other play, and the Meddling Mage attacked him down to 13 on Michael’s next turn. Phillip revealed Terminus on the top of his deck in his draw step, sending the 2/2 to the bottom. He Pondered, then passed. Michael, for his part, was drawing a string of lands, and simply passed the turn back with no action.
Phillip had another miracle, this time casting Entreat the Angels for one 4/4. Michael drew a Ponder and used to find a Delver of Secrets, leaving Brainstorm on top to trigger it. Phillip had Snapcaster Mage on his turn, flashing back Swords to Plowshares to remove the Delver.
Needing to find some gas, Michael Brainstormed, cracked a fetchland, Gitaxian Probed to see Terminus and Vendilion Clique, and then Brainstormed again. He attempted a Meddling Mage, and Phillip tried for Vendilion Clique in response, but Michael countered it with Force of Will. Meddling Mage then resolved, turning off the Terminus in Phillip’s hand.
Michael wasn’t out of the woods yet, as the 4/4 Angel and the Snapcaster Mage were still beating him down. Phillip knocked Michael down to 7, and Michael cast an end-step Brainstorm, looking for a way to stabilize.
He found a big play. He played Sword of Feast and Famine, equipped it to his Meddling Mage, and attacked Phillip down to 6. The Sword triggered, Michael untapped his five lands, and then cast Batterskull.
Now it was Phillip who needed to find a solution quickly, lest the Batterskull’s lifelink turn the game around. He drew his card for the turn but found nothing, and passed back to Michael without attacking. Michael, at 7 life to Phillip’s 6, thought for a moment before attacking with both of his creatures. The Meddling Mage traded with the Angel token, and Michael dropped True-Name Nemesis into play post-combat.
It was Terminus or bust now for Michael. He drew his card, found no help, and extended the hand in defeat.
Michael Majors 2, Phillip Braverman 1