Quarterfinals: Ali Aintrazi vs. Charles Johnson
Ali's Heartless Summoning deck earned its name today.
Heartless Summoning rocketing to the top of the standings was an unexpected treat today, but seeing Ali at the top was not. Always a strong pick on the Open Series, our National Champion tends to make a good showing at events closer to his home, but if he wants to see the semifinals then he'll need to best Charles Johnson, piloting the Delver-Blade list Todd Anderson popularized.
Winning the first die roll—a rarity for him today—Charles elected to play first, and Ali began the game with a mulligan. Thus far, Delver of Secrets appeared to have the upper hand! Pondering with Seachrome Coast, Charles left the top three in place and passed to Ali. Ali played Darkslick Shores and shipped the turn, but Charles had nothing on turn 2 except a land.
Mana Leak snagged Ali's Heartless Summoning, and Charles Pondered prior to shuffling on turn 3. Playing Island, he passed to Ali, who just dropped his third land and passed right back. Charles cast Delver of Secrets on turn 4 and passed, Ali using Tragic Slip to kill the 1/1. When Ali passed on turn 4, Charles seized his opportunity.
Creating a Spirit with Moorland Haunt during Ali's end step, Charles untapped and tapped out for Sword of War and Peace, putting Ali to 14. It wasn't enough of a blow, however—Ali played Heartless Summoning and Doom Blade on the next turn.
Another Delver for Charles picked up Sword of War and Peace, becoming a real threat. When Ali tapped out for Wurmcoil Engine, Vapor Snag cleared the way for Charles to attack Ali down to 7 life. Another Heartless Summoning and the recast Wurmcoil Engine put Ali very close to dead—when Delver of Secrets flipped on Mana Leak, that was enough damage to make it a lock.
Charles 1, Ali 0
Ali led with Darkslick Shores, while Charles had Delver of Secrets. On turn 2, Ali cast Heartless Summoning, but Charles had Porcelain legionnaire to increase the heat, swinging at Ali for 1 damage. Lacking a third land, Ali used Doom Blade to kill the Legionnaire, and was punished by a Delver reveal of Ponder, dropping him to 16.
Charles followed that with Oblivion Ring on Heartless Summoning, and ended the turn. Ali took 2 for Phyrexian Metamorph, but Steel Sabotage cleared the way for Insectile Abeerration—Mana Leak countered that Metamorph on the way back down, Ali still far behind and on just 5 life.
Pressing the advantage, Charles swung for 3 damage but lost his man to Doom Blade. He slammed Geist of Saint Traft, giving Ali just a turn to find an answer. Drawing at the top of the deck, Ali sighed and extended the hand. It had been a fast and furious match.
Charles 2, Ali 0