Finals: Tim Rivera vs. Steven Phillips
Steven was one of many players adding Counterflux to their U/W decks in order to gain a leg up in Elixir of Immortality mirrors, while Tim had brought a Mono-Black Devotion deck to the table that hedged slightly against aggressive decks, making this a mismatch for him.
Steven delivers an unfavorable Verdict for Pack Rat.
Steven and Tim each began the match with a mulligan, and then tapped lands. Predictably no turn 2 came from Steven’s deck, a reactive one without many early plays, while Tim played Swamp and Thoughtseize in order to strip away Jace, Architect of Thought and leave Steven with just Azorius Charm, Divination, and lands.
Cycling the Charm, Steven cast the Divination on the next turn and immediately passed back to Tim, effectively neutralizing his mulligan. Tim had a third land but still no threat—neither Underworld Connections nor Nightveil Specter entered the battlefield. Scrying with a Temple, Steven cast a second Divination.
When Tim had a fourth land and no spell, Steven just played another Temple and ended the turn. Turn 5 Desecration Demon from Tim gave Steven something to busy himself with, but he made no plays when Tim attacked, falling to 14 before casting Quicken and then Supreme Verdict in the end step. A bit greedy, maybe, but he could certainly gain back the 6 life lost.
Elixir of Immortality resolved for Steven, and Tim had no threat to play into his open mana. That meant Steven was rapidly pulling ahead, and a shock on the next turn indicated he intended to cast Sphinx’s Revelation. Tim had another Demon, but Revelation for five would likely outpace it quickly. Untapping into Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Steven slew the Demon with the -3.
Thoughtseize from Tim revealed Supreme Verdict, Detention Sphere, Azorius Charm, Syncopate, and another Jace alongside two lands. Tim once more chose to discard Jace before casting Hero’s Downfall on Elspeth. Steven cycled Charm again, untapping with a lot of lands but little to do with them.
Casting Nightveil Specter, Tim once more found himself with a threat when Steven declined to Syncopate. In the end step, Elixir shuffled back all those Charms and Jaces, freshening up Steven’s deck. He found himself still drawing lands, however, and burned Supreme Verdict on the Specter. Against a potential Syncopate for five, Tim would need to tread carefully. He knew Steven still had Sphere, so even getting a Connections onto the battlefield wouldn’t be enough to let him grind it out.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel zapped Steven for 2 and gave Tim something to build pressure with, but Steven had Jace on the next turn to occupy its attacks, using the -2 to gain Counterflux while sending Quicken and Plains into the graveyard.
Gray Merchant attacked, and Tim used Pharika’s Cure and then two Devour Fleshes to trade with Steven’s two Mutavaults, Counterflux, and Jace—but Steven did get to keep that Syncopate wrapped up. The Gray Merchant continued to battle, while Steven dug for an action spell. Any Revelation would probably put it away, but none were forthcoming as both players watched the 2/4 attack until Steven used Verdict to end it.
Steven drew and played Ratchet Bomb before a Thoughtseize from Tim drew the Syncopate, exiling Thoughtseize. A second Thoughtseize revealed Tim had been sandbagging—he took Counterflux and left Steven with two Spheres and Supreme Verdict. Afterward, Tim cast Nightveil Specter.
Drawing Jace, Steven used the -2. Tim offered him a choice between Elspeth and Azorius Charm plus Detention Sphere. After some debate, Steven took the Elspeth and then cast Supreme Verdict. Tim played another Specter, and the Bomb ascended to two counters. Jace finally found Steven the Revelation he’d been looking for, and it was going to be a big one. Specter attacked, and Steven had no responses—it hit Dissolve! Now Steven would have to kill the Specter before he could cast Revelation, due to the Temples in play on Tim’s side, but Ratchet Bomb did that just fine.
Elspeth and a pair of counterspells for Tim’s attempts at Hero’s Downfall were enough to earn the concession.
"Enough of that," Tim said, as Elspeth convinced Tim to pack it in.
Steven 1, Tim 0
Tim kept his opening hand, and began with a Swamp. Steven played Guildgate, and Tim’s turn 2 offered Thoughtseize, revealing two Spheres, Azorius Charm, Revelation, and three more lands—not bad. Tim took away the Revelation, and ended the turn. Steven made another land drop and passed, while Tim had turn 3 Pack Rat but no turn 3 land.
Steven bit anyway, using the opportunity he had to resolve Detention Sphere, and Tim wound up passing turn 4 without a land drop or spell. Turn 5 offered him Nightveil Specter, which was immediately slain by Supreme Verdict as Steven also put Elixir onto the battlefield. Finding a fourth land, Tim cast Desecration Demon.
With no action in his hand, Steven felt forced to Sphere once more. When Tim played a second Demon, he broke his Elixir to gain 5 life and shuffle back some useful spells. Tim’s Duress took away the last Detention Sphere, and he was able to get Lifebane Zombie and Desecration Demon swinging. On virtually his last opportunity, Steven topdecked Sphinx’s Revelation to dig out, just as Tim tried to cast Erebos!
No Supreme Verdict came on Steven’s turn, but Quicken allowed him to do it on Tim’s, earning a sigh. That attack had been for plenty more than lethal, and now Tim was almost back to square one. A third Demon met Counterflux, and Steven cast Jace on the following turn to reveal Divination, Sphere, and Island.
He got the Sphere, and used it to exile Erebos. Lifebane Zombie revealed the fourth Detention Sphere and Mutavault, but Jace dug Steven into another Supreme Verdict as well. His never-ending stream of answers to Tim’s creatures continued to offer him defense as he waited for the second Revelation to land.
Tim cast Underworld Connections to draw a card, knowing he’d likely lost it to Sphere but needing to do something here. Verdict also took care of the Zombie, and then Tim played a big game—Pack Rat! With four Spheres and two Verdicts gone, the Rat might deliver the game in just two turns, if Steven’s deck didn’t cooperate.
Making a third Rat when Mutavault tried to block, Tim sent Steven to 5 life and the top of the deck. He hit Jace, earning a redraw... and found both Supreme Verdict and Sphinx’s Revelation waiting! Tim offered him the Verdict alone, and Steven took it, clearing the board once more except for that Jace.
Tim Thoughtseized away Azorius Charm and then cast Erebos, perhaps in a position to close it out now. There were no more ways to remove Erebos in Steven’s deck, so life gain was officially off the table—he’d be at five or less for the remainder of the game.
Falling to 11, Tim attempted Gray Merchant to bring Steven down to just 2 life. Resolving one more Merchant would be enough to end this... and most black permanents would let him attack for lethal as well, even through the Jace boost. Tim used Erebos and then cast Thoughtseize, forcing action from Steven. Revelation to only draw cards, leaving exactly three mana open, meant Steven believed Tim was going for a kill here and that he needed to find two counters to survive Tim’s next spell.
Tim keeps his cool and plays threat after threat.
Steven 1, Tim 1
An incredible second game had sent this one to the wire, with Tim carefully and with exacting precision draining away Steven’s answers until even a string of favorable topdecks had failed to save the day. All the more incredible, he’d done it after missing his third land for two turns!
Steven began with a mulligan, while Tim announced a keep—intimidating to hear from the Thoughtseize deck in this situation. Steven took 2 from Hallowed Fountain on turn 2, cycling Azorius Charm while Tim passed without a play. Another Hallowed Fountain shock from Steven allowed him to cast Divination, while Tim used the opportunity to play Specter.
Tapping out for Verdict, Steven had to handle Desecration Demon next—a second Verdict did the trick, but no fifth land was bad news for the Revelation player. Duress revealed a pair of Revelations, Negate, Syncopate, and Detention Sphere in Steven’s hand... what would Tim take? He decided to let Steven’s deck do the work, discarding Sphere and casting Desecration Demon.
Guildgate gave Steven a fifth land and hope, as he could now Rev for two on the next turn and hopefully answer the Demon. Tim decided to flood the board, knowing only two Verdicts remained... Steven sighed and Rev’d for just one card, hoping to remedy this situation before it got out of hand.
Detention Sphere exiled the Rat, but Steven had nothing for the Demon except for an Elixir to balance out its damage a bit. Considering Tim’s plan was to stress Steven’s mana, that meant he was going to be in trouble. Duress took away Revelation and then Gray Merchant put Steven down to 1. Elixir couldn’t save him, and a hand of counterspells was no good against the two creatures.
Steven 1, Tim 2