Quarterfinals: Ben Lundquist vs. Daniel Nowak
Invitational Top 8 competitor Ben had taken his first loss of the tournament to Daniel on SCGLive, and wasn’t eager to be paired against this particular opponent again. Ready to battle uphill, he sat down for this rematch on the draw as a result of seeding.
Daniel's hoping to take down Ben twice in the same day.
Daniel opened by fetching with Marsh+Flats for Swamp and casting Deathrite+Shaman. Ben had Island and Aether+Vial on turn 1 to match the potential of that acceleration, but Daniel would certainly be first out of the gates. Playing Scrubland, he cast Thoughtseize on Ben and discovered two Force+of+Wills, Spell+Pierce, Silvergill+Adept, Lord+of+Atlantis, and Island waiting for him.
One Force+of+Will went to the graveyard, and Daniel cast Inquisition+of+Kozilek afterward, likely planning to aim at Silvergill+Adept. Ben appeared to debate using Force+of+Will to protect his hand this time, and decided to do so by exiling Spell+Pierce. Deathrite+Shaman gave Daniel white mana, and he cast Mother+of+Runes.
Vial hit one, and Ben cast Standstill into the board—he faced a Shaman that could get pretty rowdy, but Daniel knew he wasn’t beating Ben’s current setup. When he untapped, he played Arid+Mesa and jammed Stoneforge+Mystic into the Standstill, resolving it to dig up Batterskull. In the end step, Ben dropped down Cursecatcher before untapping and boosting the Vial.
Once it hit two, he used it to play Silvergill+Adept and draw a card, adding Lord+of+Atlantis to the board afterward. Wasteland took Daniel off his Scrubland, but he had two Arid+Mesa to fetch up another white source and Deathrite+Shaman if necessary. The Mesa indeed found Plains, Daniel declining to get another Scrubland and drain in favor of dodging future Wastelands.
Ben played another Vial once Daniel passed, and ended his own turn unable to break through. The Batterskull hit play, and Daniel followed with Swords on Lord+of+Atlantis—Ben decided to scoop rather than play it out from this position.
Ben's bringing back Merfolk almost single-handedly.
Daniel 1, Ben 0
Ben kept his starting seven while Daniel mulliganed down to six. Just an Island on turn 1 for Ben, Daniel fetching Scrubland and casting Inquisition+of+Kozilek into Daze. Wasteland took out the Scrubland, but Daniel replaced it with Plains on the next turn with no other plays. Ben had an Island, and ended his turn as well.
Daniel had a second land in Wasteland, clearly considering a two-drop play—likely Stoneforge+Mystic—but wary of the potential for another Daze. He cast it, resolving the Mystic for Batterskull but losing his 1/2 to Dismember in the end step. Ben played Mutavault and cast Silvergill+Adept, revealing Merrow+Reejerey. He had access to other Islands and appeared to be drawing Daniel into the idea of Wastelanding.
A second Stoneforge+Mystic with one mana up resolved, granting Daniel access to Umezawa’s Jitte and a new tool for getting Batterskull into play. Master+of+the+Pearl+Trident from Ben gave him a more reasonable clock, knocking Daniel to 16 with his Adept. Daniel played a land and ended his turn on the next one, content to lean on his equipment.
Ben played Merrow Reejery before attacking with just Silvergill+Adept, which went unblocked. Daniel went to 12 life, putting down Batterskull in the end step. If had the fourth land to start getting counters on Jitte, Ben would be in dire shape... but that did not appear to be the case. Daniel cast the Jitte, Ben deciding to Daze it and guarantee that Daniel wouldn’t be equipping it to anything this turn. Daniel fetched to pay for it, and then swung with Batterskull.
Taking the opportunity while he had it, Ben double-blocked and lost Reejerey, killing the Germ. He replayed his Island and made another Reejerey before attacking for 7 damage. That knocked Daniel to 8 when he didn’t block, restricting his ability to use Jitte significantly. It was no good on blocks, and a losing proposition on offense if he couldn’t play Swords or some one-drop blocker to buy time.
Mother+of+Runes fit that bill after Daniel equipped to Stoneforge, but he passed rather than attacked. That meant he was dead to any Merfolk lord, and Ben’s Lord+of+Atlantis tapped the Mystic and permitted Ben to swing for lethal.
Daniel 1, Ben 1
On the play once more, Daniel mulliganed to six before Ben kept his seven. He kept the second hand, starting with just Marsh+Flats. Ben’s own opener held no one-drop, just Island for him on the first turn. Daniel played Wasteland and debated a play—which two-drop did he have? Fetching for Plains, he cast Umezawa’s Jitte.
Ben nodded, and debated between spending his second turn on Silvergill+Adept or Wasteland. He probably suspected that Daniel was vulnerable to the latter, but elected to go with the two-drop. After all, how many creatures could Daniel threaten on Plains and Wasteland anyway? He was right—Daniel had no second land, and the Wasteland was just as good a turn later.
Swords+to+Plowshares killed Lord+of+Atlantis when Ben attacked, and Daniel once more failed to make a land drop on his turn. Merrow+Reejerey increased the clock, Daniel going to 14, but Savannah and Squadron+Hawk came to the rescue for Daniel. Still, Ben had Mutavault in the back and another Lord+of+Atlantis in his hand—he would be attacking for 11 damage with just those!
Cursecatcher for free thanks to Reejerey came down as well, and the Lord+of+Atlantis provided a trigger to help Ben pay off his Mutavault. Wasteland followed on Savannah, leaving Daniel really hurting. He drew Scrubland to try and claw his way back out, but the advantage had become too oppressive—on 3 life, he couldn’t bounce back with just two lands.
Daniel 1, Ben 2