Quarterfinals: Andrew Jessup vs. Rahwaizh Abdulrahman
The top seed earned Andrew the play, but his Domri Naya deck was up against the best Thragtusks in Standard—the value-laden Beasts of Junk Reanimator. Could he come out of the gates fast enough to let Thundermaw Hellkite finish cleaning up?
Andrew took Naya to the top seed after the Swiss.
Starting with Stomping Ground and Arbor Elf, Andrew was looking good as Rahwaizh failed to make a mana dork on turn 1. Andrew’s Flinthoof Boar came out hasted and dropped Rahwaizh to 17, but he caught back up on turn 2 with Farseek. Keeping the pressure on, Andrew attacked Rahwaizh to 14 and then hardcast Ghor-Clan Rampager.
He had two Selesnya Charms in his hand, which meant the bloodrush wasn’t nearly as necessary. Rahwaizh considered his options before passing on turn 4 with four lands untapped, representing Restoration Angel. Andrew immediately cast Thundermaw Hellkite on the next turn and attacked with just the Rampager and the Hellkite, avoiding the 3/4 eating his Boar.
No blocks from Rahwaizh dropped him to 5 life, and he cast Grisly Salvage to reveal no Angel of Serenity, no Unburial Rites, and no Shadowborn Demon—all cards he really wanted to see here. He grabbed Avacyn’s Pilgrim, and moved to his own turn. There weren’t many big plays available to him beyond jamming a big five-drop, but all he could muster was the Avacyn’s Pilgrim and a pass of the turn.
Andrew attacked with the whole team this time, and Rahwaizh conceded.
Rahwaizh jots down some last-minute sideboarding notes to use between games.
Andrew 1, Rahwaizh 0
Rahwaizh had the play now, which he hoped would help him to turn things around and force game 3. Woodland Cemetery on turn 1 was matched by Sacred Foundry from Andrew, which gave Rahwaizh the initiative when he cast Farseek on turn 2. Andrew had Scavenging Ooze on his turn to limit Rahwaizh’s graveyard shenangians, but the 2/2 was overmatched by Rhox Faithmender from Rahwaizh.
Playing a land, Andrew mulled over his options. He had a Blasphemous Act, so committing additional creatures to the board could be dangerous... but his Arbor Elf would let him threaten Thundermaw Hellkite and Zealous Conscripts much faster. He wound up deciding to go Rest in Peace and then Arbor Elf, leaving his Scavenging Ooze permanently neutered and likely content to see it one day die to the Act.
Rahwaizh attack to gain 2 life on his turn and then cast Grisly Salvage for Obzedat, putting Restoration Angel and nothing else of note into the graveyard. Cavern of Souls on Spirit and Avacyn’s Pilgrim concluded his turn. The Obzedat made Andrew’s Blasphemous Act much worse—but at the same time, he had no other way to clear the Rhox Faithmender which Obzedat would do some deadly work with.
Attacking for 2, Andrew passed after playing a land. Obzedat resolved on the next turn, Rahwaizh going to 24 before exiling the 5/5. Things were going nowhere fast for Andrew—Acting to give Rahwaizh a three for two was miserable, so he decided to up the heat. He played Thundermaw Hellkite, likely hoping the Dragon might lure Rahwaizh into Angel of Serenity. In the meantime, he’d also be trying to draw Selesnya Charm and kill Obzedat.
Rahwaizh attacked and used Vault of the Archangel, going to 34 life and leaving Andrew on 8. Things were getting dire on Andrew’s end—he’d be dead next turn without some kind of defense, and Rahwaizh appeared to have no interest in committing further to the board. Andrew dropped Avacyn’s Pilgrim and Ghor-Clan Rampager after an attack, likely hoping to push Rahwaizh onto the defensive by threatening a trade with Obzedat.
Downside? Now he was straight-up dead to Angel of Serenity.
Taking a shockland hit, Rahwaizh cast Grisly Salvage to reveal two Angel of Serenity! One went to the exile alongside an Unburial Rites, and Rahwaizh added Blood Baron of Vizkopa to the board as well. That left Andrew dead if he did much attacking, and he certainly couldn’t cast Blasphemous Act yet.
Attacking with just Thundermaw Hellkite, Andrew played Boros Reckoner and ended the turn. Rahwaizh cast Angel of Serenity, taking the Reckoner, Rampager, and Ooze before swinging with everything. Dan chumped it up, and if he drew a Selsenya Charm he’d be able to Act and then extinguish the Spirit—but he failed to do so.
Another option here had been Zealous Conscripts instead of Reckoner, thieving the Blood Baron for a turn to gain some life in order to avoid going to 2, leaving Thundermaw Hellkite on defense and giving him a potential avenue to gang-block Obzedat depending on what Rahwaizh did. At a minimum, he’d have gotten an extra turn to try and find Selesnya Charm.
Andrew 1, Rahwaizh 1
Keeping a hand with no white mana but both Flinthoof Boar and Thundermaw Hellkite, Andrew dropped Stomping Ground on turn 1. Rahwaizh missed his Pilgrim but had the Farseek, Taking 3 damage on the following turn while Dan played Arbor Elf and Stomping Ground. That let him threaten the Hellkite on the next turn!
Rahwaizh was wary of Andrew’s mana recognizing the Hellkite potential. He removed it by casting Fiend Hunter on Arbor Elf, leaving the Flinthoof Boar around to get a little rowdy. Andrew attacked for 3 more damage and played the Sacred Foundry he’d drawn in order to cast Rest in Peace.
Rhox Faithmender rejoined the party for Rahwaizh, and he passed after attacking. Andrew dropped his Thundermaw Hellkite into play and put Rahwaizh down to 9 life, ending the turn with the Boar on defense. It soaked Faithmender’s attack as Rahwaizh went to 11, but no Thragtusk meant Andrew was still ahead.
Just Thundermaw Hellkite attacked, and Rahwaizh was down to 6 life. Adding Scavenging Ooze to the board, Andrew ended the turn with Gavony Township in play but one short of being able to activate it. Rahwaizh opened with Grisly Salvage on the following turn, finding no Thragtusk but a pair of Blood Barons.
Staring at the board and his cards in hand, Rahwaizh conceded—he had no spells left to cast, and lacked the mana to land a Baron.
Andrew 2, Rahwaizh 1