Finals: Michael Marlow vs. Ross Merriam
Michael Marlow puts his game face on in the finals.
“Since I’ve started playing this deck, I’ve had five losses—period,” Michael noted as the players discussed their decks. “One of them was to turn 3 Batterskull.” Well, Ross didn’t have that capability, but he did have the dangerous living weapon at his disposal for the later turns... assuming he could get there!
Michael got the play just barely, having finished one seed higher than Ross. He kept, and Ross decided to flash his hand to the camera before mulliganing. “Some people might keep that hand,” he said. “They’re bad. You can’t keep hands on the draw where your play is turn 1 Glacial Fortress, go.” After the quick Delver lesson, Ross kept on six cards.
Leading Diregraf Ghoul, Michael flashed his hand to Ross following Gitaxian Probe, to show Gravecrawler, Geth’s Verdict, Tragic Slip, Swamp, and Ponder. Just Glacial Fortress followed from Ross—awkward. Highborn Ghoul resolved for Michael, and Ross Pondered on his turn before playing Seachrome Coast, with Vapor Snag at the ready.
Michael swung, and the Ghoul was predictably Snagged. Replaying the 2/1 alongside Gravecrawler, Michael pushed farther ahead despite lacking blue mana. Two Tragic Slips killed a Delver of Secrets from Ross through Mana Leak, and he fell to 8 life from Michael’s attack. Thought Scour on himself, and cantripped even more.
Michael 1, Ross 0
This time Ross got the play, and he flashed his seven once again before keeping, paying blue to Probe and see two Ponder, Swamp, Cavern of Souls, Fume Spitter, Geralf’s Messenger, and Nihil Spellbomb—a pretty beatable hand for Delver. Michael led the Spellbomb instead of the Fume Spitter, and passed.
Ross played Glacial Fortress and passed, Ross now dropping Fume Spitter and Swamp. “If you Gut Shot it, I’m going to be sad,” he admitted. Ross tapped out for Geist of Saint Traft, defending from the Spitter, and Michael cast Geralf’s Messenger through the Cavern, putting Ross on 18.
He played Moorland Haunt, Celestial Purged the Messenger, and attacked, bringing Michael to 14 before casting Gut Shot to kill Fume Spitter, followed by Snapcaster Mage—the prompted the pop of Nihil Spellbomb. He should’ve reordered this sequence, leading Gut Shot then Snapcaster Mage before casting the Purge, to keep a strong instant in his graveyard for future Snapcaster Mages. “Sorry Matthias,” Ross said, referring to the commentator watching the match, and he passed the turn.
Michael shuffled a Ponder after playing Drowned Catacomb to cast it, and really needed a solution to Geist in a hurry. That would be all the more difficult with Moorland Haunt turning off his Geth’s Verdicts in future turns. He tapped out for another Geralf’s Messenger to put Ross on 14.
Ross swung again, dropping Michael to 6, and cast Sword of War and Peace before passing the turn. Highborn Ghoul for Michael and then Blood Artist, and he passed the turn on defense. Peeling Vapor Snag, Ross wreaked havoc on Michael by snagging the Messenger and Snapping it back, turning his Geist’s angelic companion into a lethal attacker.
Michael 1, Ross 1
Ross Merriam's Celestial Purges are sure useful in this matchup.
A quick chat about the merits of marble investment and Pawn Stars preceded the third game, the players considering how best to spend their prize money from the event—a cool $3,600 they’d decided to split $2,000 to $1,600. “I hope you’ve had fun, like I’ve had,” Michael offered as they shuffled, and Ross agreed. “This is a lot of fun!”
Each player kept, and Ross had Mental misstep for the Diregraf Ghoul Michael began the game with before casting his own Delver of Secrets—tempo seized! Michael played Gravecrawler and then Slipped the Delver, gaining ground, and Ross passed after playing Glacial Fortress. Michael swung, dealing 2 damage, but when he failed to drop Messenger Ross used his Purge on the Gravecrawler.
He cast Sword of War and Peace on turn 3, and Michael played Blood Artist. Ross passed with four up, as did Michael, and Restoration Angel hit the field. “Pray you don’t have Geth’s Verdict?” he said, untapping with the Angel successfully. The Sword of War and Peace connected, putting Michael on quite the clock!
Ross Pondered and ended his turn with two mana up, in fantastic shape against his opponent’s zero-power board. Phantasmal Image copied Restoration Angel and Geralf’s Messenger followed—reordering those would’ve cost him playing around Leak but enabled him to squeeze in two more damage from the Messenger.
Killing Image with Snag, Ross untapped and landed his Batterskull. “I had a pretty good draw this game,” Ross admitted. Michael popped Nihil Spellbomb in search of some aid, but none appeared forthcoming. Playing his sixth land, Michael did some math... and conceded.
Michael 1, Ross 2