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.
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 Aberration—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. “Both Dazes,” Alex noted, and Chris smiled. “I'm pretty good at Magic.” Not good enough to flip his Delver on the next turn, but he did have the Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolt to finish Alex—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. “Chris 'no mulligan' Boozer,” Chris dubbed himself with a laugh. “It's got lands,” 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 drop—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 drew… 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