Finals: Stephan Hink vs. Brandon Nelson
US Nationals 2011 alternate Brandon Nelson faces fellow Minnesotan Stephan Hink in this finals match-up between Naya Pod and Zombies. The folks at home should appreciate not only the absence of Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mages, but also the high level of play between these two Pro Tour competitors. Who will emerge victorious: the team of Death or the team of Birth(ing Pod)?
Since Stephan has the eighth seed, Brandon got the play and started off the finals with Birds of Paradise off of Copperline Gorge. Stephan led with Fume Spitter, taking down the mana dork. Birds of Paradise number two for Brandon on his next turn was followed by Razorverge Thicket, and Stephan played Swamp number two and Diregraf Ghoul. Brandon played Blade Splicer, but Stephan played Mortarpod and Tragic Slip (taking out the Blade Splicer and the token, respectively) on his next turn.
Stephan is choosing Death today...
On turn four, Avacyn’s Pilgrim joined Brandon’s Birds and he also played Gavony Township. Stephan’s Diregraf Ghoul attacked, and Brandon took the first damage of the game. Geralf’s Messenger joined the fray post-combat. Brandon played his fourth Scars land of the game, a second Thicket, and passed with Angel mana available. Stephan cast Sign in Blood targeting himself and another Mortarpod, to which Brandon responded by taking his team to Town. The pair of Stephen’s Zombies crashed into the red zone, and Pilgrim traded with Diregraf Ghoul. Brandon played yet another land, a Forest, and passed.
Stephan proceeded to equip the Messenger to a Mortarpod and attacked with his 3/3, and after Brandon activated Township he cast Geth’s Verdict, taking down Brandon’s last surviving creature. Brandon, severely flooded and with no way to recover, scooped a quick game 1.
Stephan 1, Brandon 0.
“So if every card in my deck is insane against you, what do I take out,” queried Stephan.
Stephan mentioned that this is only the second time in the tournament he’s going to get to make Demons with Skirsdag High-Priest, and seemed pretty excited about it.
Brandon, on the mull to six, began his first turn with Copperline Gorge. Stephan led with Blackcleave Cliffs and a pass. Cavern of Souls named Spirit and crashed in with Strangleroot Geist on turn two, while Stephan followed it up with Mortarpod. Geist dropped Stephan to 16, and Birthing Pod’s Phyrexian mana requirement dropped Brandon to 18 when he cast it. Stephan cast Sign in Blood and fell by a couple more points. The Geist got Gut Shot and Tragic Slip during Brandon’s upkeep, and Hutnmaster came into play on Brandon’s turn four. Flames of the Firebrand and the sacrificed Germ from Mortarpod took care of the pair of 2/2s.
...While Brandon is choosing Life (or at least Birth)!
Elvish Visionary entered play and then quickly jumped into the Birthing Pod, which became a Borderland Ranger. Geralf’s Messenger came into play and suited up the Mortarpod on Stephan’s next turn. Borderland Ranger’s attack took Stephen to 10 and then took a trip through the Pod to come out the other end as a Huntmaster of the Fells, setting Brandon at 18. Since he didn’t cast a spell last turn, only activated an ability, Ravager of the Fells dealt some damage on Stephan’s upkeep (to which Stephan responded with a Mortarpod activation). Geralf’s Messenger number two and Diregraf Ghoul came into play tapped, and Brandon cast Restoration Angel and reflipped his Huntmaster at end of turn. Stephan then did the math and found he was about to fall to zero so he saved time and prepared for the final game of the finals.
“Active Pod is real bad for me.”
“Time to bring in those Shatters!”
Stephan 1, Brandon 1.
Stephen isn’t exactly used to being on the play in this top 8 and his mulligan didn’t help out matters. Dropping to six cards, he snapped his fingers in affirmation for his six and led with Gravecrawler. Copperline Gorge for Brandon didn’t have a mana guy, and Stephen continued his quick start with another Gravecrawler. Birds of Paradise on turn two (just in time) was taken out by Mortarpod and Brandon went to 14 after attacks. Borderland Ranger found Plains for Brandon on turn 3, and Stephen continued the onslaught with Dragonskull Summit and Geralf’s Messenger after combat. No wonder he ‘snap’ kept!
Birds of Paradise for Brandon and pass was Brandon’s play before passing back to Stephan. Stephan attempted to equip his Mortarpod to a Gravecrawler, but it got Gut shot for its trouble. He recast the 2/1 from his bin, equipped and took out the Birds of Paradise, and then Stephan Tragic Slipped his own Geralf’s Messenger to take Brandon to 4 after attacks. Now facing down a 4/3 Messenger, a Gravecrawler and a Mortarpod, Brandon sought to stem the bleeding with Blade Splicer, but Stephan untapped and drew his fourth land which was enough to cast Falkenrath Aristocrat and swing in for the win.
Stephan Hink is your StarCityGames.com Minneapolis Standard Open champion!
Stephan 2, Brandon 1.