Quarterfinals: Alex Mukhar vs. David Daniel
Alex and David had managed to avoid the Mono-Black mirror until just now in the Standard Open in Las Vegas (aside from intentional draws), but they could avoid fate no longer. Now that 100% of the bets placed would be on black, who would come out on top?
Alex is banking on his Connections to carry the day.
Alex had the honor of the play and the first play of the game was his Thoughtseize, taking David’s Underworld Connections from a hand that also had a second copy of the aura, Nightveil Specter, two Mutavault, Ultimate Price, and one Swamp. Alex continued to play out just as planned, dropping a scryland on turn two and Nightveil Specter on turn three. David’s mana was uncooperative though, only playing the Mutavaults as his lands for the next several turns. Pack Rat off the top did little to stop the 2/3 Nightveil.
The Specter effectively drew Alex cards, since David’s deck was only five cards off from his own. By the time Underworld Connections landed on one of the Mutavaults, Alex had drawn three cards and dropped his own Connections. Under basically no pressure, Alex was able to lean on Nightveil Specter to simply press his advantage on very easy to understand lines. David almost managed to knock off the Specter, using Devour Flesh after an Ultimate Price knocked out Desecration Demon, but Alex’s Mutavault took a bullet from the pseudo-Thieving Magpie.
Basically drawing three cards a turn, Gray Merchant of Asphodel took David from 10 to 3, and even David’s own Merchant that brought him back up to 7 couldn’t save him. David did the best he could and put up a valiant effort, but the early mana stumble was too much to overcome. Even though David was finally able to get rid of the Nightveil Specter, by the time he found Hero’s Downfall a Pack Rat had joined the fray and it was all over.
Alex 1, David 0.
David led with Swamp while Alex this time led off with Temple of Deceit. After keeping, David played out the bane of many a standard player’s existence: Pack Rat. Fortunately for Alex, Devour Flesh is a pretty clean answer to the dirty rat. Underworld Connections on turn three were played by both players, and we were off to the card drawing races.
Both players drew with his Phyrexian Arena wannabe aura and only played a Temple on their turn fours, and Erebos, God of the Dead was both player’s turn five! The mirror match indeed, it seems. David played a second copy of Underworld Connections to turn on his Erebos, and Alex took five, then Devour Flesh and Hero’s Downfall combined to very nearly take down Erebos… but David had a second copy of Mutavault to jump in the way of the Diabolic Edict clone! That spelled trouble for Alex, who dropped to 7 from the God’s attack and then cast two copies of Pack Rat from his hand.
David is betting on Gray today!
Two copies of Gray Merchant of Asphodel for five (with no life gain, thanks to Erebos) and a sideboarded mid-combat Dark Betrayal couldn’t even win the day, as David easily cruised to a rat-infested victory from there.
Alex 1, David 1.
Alex, unfortunately, had to mulligan to begin the final game, but when he kept led with a scry land and David led with Thoughtseize, taking Alex’s Underworld Connections. Alex topdecked a Thoughtseize of his own though, and with it took David’s Pack Rat. Smooth draw, there!
From there, the game was a lot of play-draw. Erebos, God of the Dead came down for David, who also Thoughtseized the last non-kill spell out of Alex’s hand on turn five. Erebos used Greed (it was pretty darm effective), which really put a hamper on things… until Alex found Underworld Connections on top of his deck to get back to parity.
Alex took the Devour before also dropping Nightveil Specter, which immediately ate Dark Betrayal… and then David dropped a third copy of Pack Rat! Alex’s fourth Thoughtseize of the match wasn’t really good enough there, and neither really was Devour Flesh which only served to make David discard a card and gain two life. The sewer swarm stayed on board, Gray Merchant of Asphodel dropped Alex to 5, and David swung in for the win.
They say you should always bet on black, but clearly you should always bet on Rat.
David 2, Alex 1.