Quarterfinals: Anthony Kando vs. Eric Jones
StarCityGames.com’s own Anthony Kando made his first Top 8 this weekend—if he wanted to convert it into a Top 4, he’d need to take down Eric Jones and avenge his loss in the Swiss.
Anthony's piloting a G/W/B ramp build.
Gruul Guildgate for Eric gave way to Forest and Riot Piker, while Anthony started on a pair of Swamps. The aggression continued with Skinbrand Goblin for Eric, and Anthony found himself entering the cleanup step on turn 3 after missing on his third land. He fell to 14, but found a Forest and cast Verdant Haven to go back to 16.
Eric had also stalled out, with just three lands and his two little guys in play knocking Anthony down to 12. When Anthony untapped with four mana, his Selesnya Cluestone implied he wasn’t ready to boast much real action—just Brushstrider to trade with the Goblin. Eric nodded, getting in 2 more damage and casting Gatecreeper Vine for Swamp after combat.
Anthony played Basilica Guards and Axebane Guardian on the next turn, while Eric dug into the deck for Grisly Salvage. Turning up a Mountain, he played it immediately on the next turn and then sent his Riot Piker into combat. Burst of Strength saved it from the Basilica Guards, with an awkwardly timed post-combat Carnage Gladiator to follow.
Mana and breathing room gave Anthony Sylvan Primordial, blowing up Eric’s Swamp and searching for Overgrown Tomb. Passing afterward, he had suddenly seized the driver’s seat in this game. Sylvan Primordial gobbled up the 3/2 Piker while Eric played Golgari Guildgate, dropping Anthony to 9 life.
Eric took 6 from the Primordial on its attack, falling to 14 while Anthony began to do some math for his next plays. Popping Selesnya Cluestone first, he decided to pass afterward. The Carnage Gladiator attacked, Anthony taking it and falling to 5 life. Neither player made any other plays, with Eric holding onto Massive Raid and Rakdos Drake.
The Primordial attacked again, and Eric burned Grisly Spectacle on it to mill six cards—five lands and Merciless Eviction. Anthony played Maw of Obzedat afterward, extorting Eric and casting Stab Wound to kill the Gladiator, extorting to leave the life totals at 12 to 7 in Eric’s favor. Clearly, Anthony was pulling ahead here, though.
Eric’s Rakdos Drake landed unleashed, and Anthony swung with his Maw to leave Eric on 9. Trestle Troll with extort evened them up and shut down the Drake—this was almost over. When Eric failed to muster a relevant spell over the next couple turns, it ended. A last-ditch Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers did buy him a little time, however, forcing Anthony to show him Korozda Guildmage for the kill.
Eric drafted an aggressive G/R/B deck.
Anthony 1, Eric 0
Each player started the match off with a mulligan to six cards, but Anthony wound up falling to five. Starting on Plains, he was once more run over as Eric opened on Guildgate, Disciple of the Old Ways, and Dead Reveler—leaving Anthony on 15 after he tapped out for Axebane Guardian and Eric’s Disciple was thwarted. Gatecreeper Vine for Eric found Golgari Guildgate, slowing down the aggression and giving Anthony a reprieve for one turn.
He played a Plains, and with access to five mana he cast Maw of the Obzedat. Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers forced Anthony to sacrifice it, and he took 5 damage, falling to 10 life. Playing a Swamp, Anthony was moving closer to playing one of his heavy hitters but had just Trestle Troll in the interim.
Anthony 1, Eric 1
Forest for Anthony and Swamp for Eric, with Eric first to the board thanks to turn 2 Riot Piker. On the play, Anthony had Basilica Guards to drop right down in its way, eating the 2/1 while Eric missed a three-drop after playing a second Mountain—he had no green sources.
Axebane Guardian plus extort gave Anthony the lead on life and mana, but Grisly Spectacle killed the Guardian to keep Eric from being immediately overrun. Centaur Healer with extort replaced the 0/3, giving Anthony a beater while Eric played a Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers to stand in its way. Purge the Profane with extort saw Eric discard a couple green cards—Disciple of the Old Ways and Trestle Troll—while Anthony looked for ways to press his advantage.
Eric cast Skinbrand Goblin and passed, Anthony simply adding a land to the board on his turn. Neither player made any plays until Anthony suddenly swung with Centaur Healer. Eric blocked with his 2/4, interested in the trick Anthony had, and not too sad to see Willing trade for his 2/4, a bit of an aggressive choice considering Eric’s Mortars. Golgari Longlegs upgraded his board significantly on the next turn.
Sylvan Primordial left Eric on only one black mana the next turn, but he promptly drew a Forest to add options to his game. Still, he could only play Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers. Anthony likely longed for that Ready//Willing now, but he had more bombs to drop. Maw of the Obzedat plus extort put Eric to 15, and Anthony attacked with the Primordial and Healer. Everyone blocked the 6/8, putting 9 power and toughness in front of it—Anthony decided to trade with the Longlegs and Goblin.
Thrashing Mossdog for Eric reinforced his defenses enough that Anthony declined to attack on the next turn, and both players began to draw-go... until Anthony tapped seven mana for Emmara Tandris! Grisly Salvage for Eric gave him a wall in Grim Roustabout, and the board returned to a stable state.
Until Anthony played Korozda Guildmage. “That’s going to kill me,” Eric immediately predicted. Emmara gained intimidate, and Anthony also had the potential to start sacrificing his creatures for tokens that couldn’t take damage and would grow with the Maw!
When Eric drew and overloaded Mizzium Mortars, Anthony cast Druid’s Deliverance to Fog and extort, rather than sacrificing a few of his creatures to the Maw to save at least it, if not sacrificing everything to save the Guildmage. He also had the option of making some token creatures with a similar plan, but I expect he hadn’t imagined he’d rely on Emmara’s ability!
Now Anthony was the one on the defensive, Emmara locked down by Grim Roustabout as Eric switched to attacking. Merciless Eviction exiled the board on the next turn, and Wight of Precinct Six doomed Eric.
Anthony 2, Eric 1