Finals: Ross Merriam vs. Daryl Ayers
Ross opened up with a Gitaxian+Probe, seeing Double Daze, Kird+Ape, Volcanic+Island, Misty+Rainforest, Ponder, and Brainstorm. He quickly completed the “combo” by casting Cabal+Therapy, naming Daze, and leaving Daryl without relevant disruption. Daryl gamely plopped his Ape into play and passed, and Ross spent his second turn casting Infernal+Tutor, revealing a Dark+Ritual from his hand to get another copy. Daryl cast a Brainstorm and a Ponder on his next turn, then attacked for 2 with his Kird+Ape.
Ross didn’t have a third land, but he did have more discard effects, casting a Duress to take away Treasure+Cruise, and then using Cabal+Therapy to get rid of Brainstorm, Daryl’s last non-land card. Daryl drew a more-or-less useless Forked+Bolt and attacked with his Kird+Ape, then passed and hoped he looked like he had something.
A pair of Dark+Rituals to start the turn said Ross wasn’t buying it. He played Lion’s Eye Diamond, then cast Grim+Tutor, holding priority to sacrifice the LED making red mana. The tutor found Past+in+Flames, which allowed Ross to recast both Dark+Rituals, then a Duress, and the Infernal+Tutor for Tendrils+of+Agony to finish the job.
Delver+of+Secrets was the opener for Daryl, while Ross had a one-drop flier of his own to start the proceedings—Xantid+Swarm. Figuring he wouldn’t get much use out of it if the Swarm resolved, Daryl pitched Treasure+Cruise to cast Force+of+Will. He untapped and revealed Daze, flipping up his Insectile+Aberration, which came swinging in for 3. A second Delver+of+Secrets came down post-combat, threatening a quick clock.
Ross played his second land and cast Brainstorm, but didn’t find the help he would need to push through a combo kill this turn, and passed. Daryl revealed more bad news on his upkeep, flipping over Spell+Pierce to his Delver, and then attacked for 6, dropping Ross to 10. He passed with a Tropical Island Open, threatening Spell+Pierce plus Daze to stop Ross’s shenanigans. Ross cast Duress, clearing out Daryl’s Spell+Pierce, and leaving him with a hand of Daze, Tarmogoyf, and Ponder. He again decided he wasn’t ready to try going off, and passed the turn. Daryl attacked for 6, dropping Ross to 3, and then passed back.
It was now or never for Ross. He led off with a Brainstorm (1) then played a land and cast Dark+Ritual (2), Cabal+Ritual (3), Lotus+Petal (4), and Lion’s Eye Diamond (5). He then gave Daryl the good news: He didn’t have the win this turn. Instead he cast Tendrils+of+Agony, draining Daryl for 12 and jumping back up to 15 life. Daryl quickly untapped and attacked for 6 more, then Brainstormed into a Spell+Pierce and a second land and passed the turn back.
Ross had Infernal+Tutor and Past+in+Flames as outs to win the game outright. Instead he drew Brainstorm, which didn’t find him the help he needed, as he played a swamp and passed. Daryl fetched on end step, untapped, and drew Grafdigger’s Cage, which was enough to prompt a concession from Ross.
Ross Merriam 1, Daryl Ayers 1
Now on the play, Ross kicked off with a Gitaxian+Probe, seeing Kird+Ape, Delver+of+Secrets, Force+of+Will, Vendilion+Clique, and three lands. He then cast a Ponder and passed the turn. Daryl began with a Kird+Ape. When Ross tried a Ponder, Daryl revealed that he’d drawn Daze, and bounced the Volcanic+Island back to his hand. Ross followed up with an Underground+Sea and a Duress, getting rid of the Force+of+Will.
The Kird+Ape came swinging, dropping Ross to 17, and Daryl followed up with Ponder looking for more interaction, but found only another land. Ross cast a Brainstorm on his next turn, then played his third land and passed back, allowing Daryl to get in another attack with the Kird+Ape and play a Delver+of+Secrets. Ross Brainstormed and passed once more. Daryl missed on his Delver check, but passed the turn with Vendilion+Clique up.
Having known about the Vendilion+Clique since turn 1, Ross spent a moment in the tank trying to decide how to best navigate around it. He led off with a Lotus+Petal, then attempted an Infernal+Tutor revealing Cabal+Ritual. The Tutor resolved, and Daryl now knew that Ross’s three card hand contained two Cabal+Rituals. When Ross attempted the first Ritual, Daryl pulled the trigger on his Clique, and saw that the last remaining card was another Infernal+Tutor. He sent it to the bottom, and Ross’s card off the top was a dead end.
Daryl untapped, revealed Daze to flip over his Insectile+Aberration, and attacked for 8, leaving Ross on a one turn clock. Ross drew, layed two lands and a Cabal+Ritual on the table, and extended the hand in defeat.
Daryl Ayers 2, Ross+Merriam 1