Finals: Phillip Fortner vs. Mitchell Anderson
Phillip's Zombies have gotten him this far... but burn spells don't even HAVE brains!
It was an aggressive racing matchup in the finals, with local players Phillip and Mitchell squaring off. Phillip had the new tech in B/U Zombies, while Mitchell came with old reliable—Mono Red. The keys to the matchup were difficult to evaluate; one-drops? Shrine of Burning Rage? Efficient removal? The match promised to be telling.
Zombies earned the play, each player quickly keeping their seven cards. Fume Spitter was a fine start for Phillip, immediately trading with Stromkirk Noble once Mitchell played it. Skirsdag High Priest followed on turn 2, while Mitchell made a larger threat in Shrine of Burning Rage. He fell to 19 when Priest attacked, glad to see another Priest and Fume Spitter land on the board, rather than Geralf’s Messenger.
Arc Trail mopped up those guys, and Mitchell passed the turn. He went to 18, Phillip cast Diregraf Captain after combat for a minor threat, missing his fourth land drop. Mitchell also had no fourth land, but his hand was all fire. He began with Chandra’s Phoenix, swinging for 2 as his Shrine ticked to four counters.
Phillip was quick to counterattack, and Geralf’s Messenger gave him a real threat alongside the little lord. Still, Mitchell was probably favored thanks to that Shrine. His Phoenix attacked, and he passed the turn, Volt Charge and Brimstone Volley both in the grip.
Seeing Mortarpod land, Mitchell nodded—Phillip chose to pass the turn, looking for a 5/5 Demon. Volt Charge during the end step let Phillip bring his Shrine to seven counters against Phillip’s 13 life, but he had no other offense. The 5/5 Demon appeared as Phillip passed the turn, Chandra’s Phoenix potentially on blocking duty.
Diregraf Captain picked up the Mortarpod, and Mitchell sent everyone but the High Priest into battle. That gave Mitchell 6 life left to play with after chumping—he then used Volt Charge to boost his Shrine all the way to ten counters, launching it at Phillip’s face on the very next turn. “I should’ve just killed you,” Phillip lamented, having decided not to cast Geth’s Verdict and equipping Mortarpod to the Cpatain—not Messenger.
Mitchell 1, Phillip 0
Having escaped by the skin of his teeth, Mitchell had the edge now that he would at least get game 3 on the play. Phillip sideboarded quickly, hoping he’d be able to force it to that with a win here. Mitchell’s mulligan to six boosted Phillip’s spirits, and his chances. “Hope it’s a good five,” Mitchell said, sending the six back as well. Turn 1 Fume Spitter for Phillip, while Mitchell had just Mountain.
Skirsdag High Priest made a turn 3 Demon theoretically possible, and Mitchell tapped out for Shrine of Burning Rage. Phillip drew and considered his choices, eventually playing his third land and Gravecrawler, alongside another High Priest—Demon time! Mitchell’s third land didn’t offer him a solution to the 5/5, but he had to mop some of those creatures… Arc Trail targeted High Priest and Gravecrawler, Phillip making his Demon in response.
An attack for 6 put Mitchell within range of a potential two-turn clock, and Diregraf Captain allowed Phillip to recast his Gravecrawler. Mitchell moved Shrine to three counters and drew, pointing another Arc Trail at those Zombies, settling at 12 life. Another 6 damage, and Phillip replaced his Captain, buying back the Gravecrawler. Mitchell had one more draw step… and found nothing.
Mitchell 1, Phillip 1
Mitchell's hoping for more Magic from his Mono Red list.
Mitchell kept for game 3, leading Stromkirk Noble on turn 1. Phillip’s hand lacked the Fume Spitter, leading Diregraf Ghoul into the Vampire. He fell to 19 when it attacked, and Shrine of Burning Rage on turn 2 gave him even more heat. Phillip’s own turn 2, a Skirsdag High Priest, was less threatening—he attacked for 2 damage.
Shrine ticked up, and Mitchell sent Arc Trail at the High Priest before sending in the Noble. On 16, Phillip cast Geralf’s Messenger and attacked with Diregraf Ghoul. The Shrine went to three, and Mitchell added Chandra’s Phoenix to his offense and swung for 5 damage, creating a stern lead. With Phillip on 11, the game could easily end next turn.
Diregraf Captain from Phillip, followed by an attack for 3 damage… but Galvanic Blast on the Captain made it just 2, simultaneously enabling Phillip’s Tragic Slip on Stromkirk Noble. Mitchell continued to go aggro, sending his Phoenix in the air and then playing Mountain—not Kessig Wolf Run, which a Rootbound Crag off the top could potentially enable for extra damage, should he become required to pop his Shrine early.
No answer to Phoenix and just enough counters on the Shrine gave Mitchell the win on the following turn. Phillip’s decision to slip the Noble, not the Phoenix, had narrowly cost him the game.
Mitchell 2, Phillip 1