Quarterfinals: Alex Smith vs. Chris Boozer
A Delver mirror in the quarterfinals was nothing new, but these were two different takes on the strategy. Alex had a relatively conventional RUG list, while Chris was piloting the U/R version originally popularized by Andrew Shrout.
Alex found himself plagued by mulligans in the quarterfinals.
Alex had the play thanks to his Swiss standing, but began with a mulligan as Chris kept seven. His next six were also no good, and he found himself on five for the first round of Top 8. Fetching Tropical+Island, Alex started with turn 1 Delver+of+Secrets and ended the turn. Volcanic+Island and Grim+Lavamancer for Chris threatened to kill it, but the Forked+Bolt Alex revealed meant it might not land.
Alex lacked a red source, and had to shuffle a Ponder that failed to find one. He attacked for 3, and passed the turn hoping Chris lacked a fetchland. Chris Pondered to start, leaving the cards in place and playing Scalding+Tarn afterward. He fetched Volcanic+Island, and zapped the little Aberration.
Playing a second Delver, Alex ended the turn hoping to avoid a repeat. Another Tarn from Chris and his own Delver met the board, and he passed. Alex's Delver revealed Lightning+Bolt and attacked for 3, prompting Chris to Lightning+Bolt it. Alex passed, falling behind.
Chris flipped Delver thanks to Daze, a powerful draw, and attacked Alex to 15. He found the fetchland he'd needed ages ago on top of the deck, and went digging for Volcanic+Island. He cast Lightning+Bolt on Delver during his own turn, allowing Chris to Spell+Pierce it as a freeroll. Chris just sent his Aberration during this combat, leaving Lavamancer online.
Another land for Alex, and he tried Forked+Bolt on Aberrationâ€”it hit, and he passed. Lavamancer reduced him to 9 life, a clock he might not be able to race due to his mana disadvantage and that Daze Chris still had. Chris knew the Forked+Bolt was gone now, and cast another Lavamancer and a second Delver+of+Secrets.
Alex cast Tarmogoyf, and Chris Dazed twice to counter after Alex paid for the first one. â€œBoth Dazes,â€ Alex noted, and Chris smiled. â€œI'm pretty good at Magic.â€ Not good enough to flip his Delver on the next turn, but he did have the Chain+Lightning and Lightning+Bolt to finish Alexâ€”Daze bought him a turn, but the creatures on the board could not be stopped.
Chris capitalized on his burn advantage.
Chris 1, Alex 0
Another mulligan for Alex to start game 2, and another keep for Chris. â€œChris 'no mulligan' Boozer,â€ Chris dubbed himself with a laugh. â€œIt's got lands,â€ Alex said of his six, and he started with Tropical+Island and Nimble+Mongoose. Chris played Mountain, and Alex attacked for 1 before playing Scalding+Tarn. Turn 2 for Chris brought Grim+Lavamancer without a land dropâ€”Alex didn't have Daze to punish him after a Brainstorm, and fetched Volcanic+Island.
Alex did have Forked+Bolt, but he didn't really need to burn it right now; would he? He decided to use Lightning+Bolt and then safely attacked after playing Wasteland. Chris drew Arid+Mesa and passed, while Alex swung for 1 and did the same, taking a Lightning+Bolt to the face during his end step. Chris untapped into another Lavamancer, but Alex pointed Lightning Bolt at the 1/1 Wizard.
Chris fell to 16 on Alex's next attack, and Chris played Misty+Rainforest prior to passing the turn. Alex resolved Tarmogoyf, and Chris fetched for Island and Mountain during the end step, going to 13. He then cast Snapcaster+Mage, which resolved, and Lightning Bolted Alex to 13.
A Submerge from Chris on Tarmogoyf during his own turn met Red+Elemental+Blast from Alex, and then he cast Price+of+Progress to deal Alex 6, followed by Chain+Lightning to leave him on 4. Alex used Forked+Bolt to clear the Snapcaster+Mage, and swung for 7 to put Chris on 5 life, passing with Spell+Snares at the ready but little else.
During the end step, Chris fetched Volcanic+Island and cast Lightning+Bolt to put Alex on 1 life. He drewâ€¦ and Submerged Tarmogoyf, buying himself one more turn. Alex Brainstormed in response, and that gave Chris the ability to Snapcaster+Mage Lightning+Bolt for the kill when Alex tapped out.
Chris 2, Alex 0