Quarterfinals: Brad Nelson vs. Max Tietze
Erik Smith won the last Invitational playing U/W/R Delver in Legacy, a result good enough that former Invitational champion Max Tietze decided to run it this weekend. Across the table, 2010 Magic Player of the Year and StarCityGames.com Versus video star Brad Nelson is quite content with his choice Sneak and Show though, and has the top overall seed to boot. In the fight between Kor Artificers, Insect Wizards, hook-handed Demons, and Lovecraftian nightmare fuel, who will win?
Brad, the knockout rounds’ top overall seed, took the play and decided to lead things off with Gitaxian Probe, revealing Max’s hand of Delver of Secrets, Brainstorm, Arid Mesa, Ponder, Stifle, Geist of Saint Traft, and Lightning Bolt. Brad then decided it was best to just play Island and pass. Max used his Arid Mesa to fetch out Volcanic Island to be able to play Delver of Secrets. Brad played Lotus Petal and Show and Tell, putting Griselbrand onto the battlefield while Max dropped Geist. Brad then paid seven life, going to 11, to draw seven cards, play Lotus Petal, discard down to seven cards, and pass.
Max Delves for Secrets!
Now that’s a good start!
Max, with the Delver trigger on the stack, attempted Brainstorm but Spell Pierce took care of that effort. Brad was flush with action, so it would be tough for anything to resolve at this point! Max did not flip the Delver, instead finding another Arid Mesa, which he used to grab Volcanic Island before passing. Brad played Ponder on his next turn, then dropped an Island before attacking to set life totals at 11-18 in Brad’s favor. Max decided to cast Brainstorm in his end step, but Brad had another Spell Pierce to quash it.
Delver blind-flipped now to a revealed Ponder, which made it a 3/2 flyer and also allowed Max to dig for any answer to his current mythic-sized Avacyn Restored predicament. Max kept the Ponder and dealt nine damage from attacking, hoping to race… a difficult proposition considering the 7/7 lifelinking flyer he was facing! In came Griselbrand to set life at 4 for Max and 16 for Brad, after which he simply played a land and passed. Max cast Lightning Bolt in Brad’s end step targeting his opponent, so Brad fell to 13, which was but a drop in the bucket really. Geist swung alone and dealt six and then was joined by Grim Lavamancer, but being forced to chump block with Insectile Aberration isn’t where any U/W/R pilot wants to be. After one more draw step, Max scooped.
Brad 1, Max 0.
Max led with Delver of Secrets off Tundra, while Brad began with Island. Max failed to flip Delver at random, so the Human Wizard only dealt one damage. Scalding Tarn allowed Max to drop Stoneforge Mystic, which netted him Sword of Feast and Famine. Brad used his Misty Rainforest to grab Volcanic Island and cast Pyroclasm, which was met by Max’s Daze. Brad had Force of Will, but so did Max so the ‘Clasm was countered. Delver whiffed again, so just one more damage to drop Brad to 16. Show and Tell from Brad resolved, and he put in Griselbrand while Max added Sword of Feast and Famine. And for a third time, Delver missed so all Max could do was equip the Sword to the Delver, to which Brad responded by drawing seven cards. He fell to 6 on attacks, then discarded from his ample hand to the Sword’s trigger. Max was also able to untap and cast Stoneforge Mystic number two, which fetched Batterskull before passing the turn back to Brad.
Brad, facing a creature that did in fact have protection from his creature but not in any real danger, attacked to set life totals at 11-13 in the Sneak and Show pilot’s favor. Pyroclasm and Red Elemental Blast cleared Max’s board after that, and Max was fresh out of counter magic.
“All my sideboard cards!”
Max only drew and passed, and the 7/7 flying lifelinking Necropotence-on-a-stick finished the job in short order.
Brad 2, Max 0.
In the hole, Max would have to rattle off three straight wins to advance, and two of those would need to be on the draw against the former Magic Player of the Year’s potent combo deck. Not an easy task, but Max was cool, calm, and collected as usual. If anyone could do it, Max is a good one to bet on.
Brad's builds a Demon on the battlefield!
Max only led with Tundra this time and Brad led off with Misty Rainforest. Max fetched on turn two to grab Volcanic Island and drop Stoneforge Mystic, which also allowed him to get Sword of Feast and Famine. Brad used his turn two fetching Island with Misty Rainforest, playing a pair of Lotus Petal and a City of Traitors, and going for Sneak Attack. Max used Force of Will, removing Stifle to try to counter the enchantment but Brad also had Force of Will, removing Brainstorm. But Max had another Force and another blue card, so the spell was countered.
Max drew and passed, ready to sneak in the Sword. Brad cast Ponder and shuffled away the top three, instead hoping for greener pastures off the top. Max snuck in the Sword, equipped it to the 1/2 and attacked. Brad rebuild admirably from a few turns back though, now casting Show and Tell to put… nothing into play. He was hoping to bait out a counterspell since he now had two copies of the sorcery at his disposal. That plan backfires, as Max gated in Batterskull, so he was able to put far more pressure on Brad. Two turns without any good topdecks later and Brad was done.
Brad 2, Max 1.
That’s one for Max, but now the hardest part: winning two where Brad has the initiative.
Brad was now on the play and mulliganed, as did Max. Then Brad mulliganed to five… as did Max.
“Well, I think you probably like this more than I do,” mentioned Brad.
“Yeah, it probably favors me,” responded Max.
But then Max mulliganed to four.
“I haven’t seen a land yet.”
“I found my one!”
“This could be the best game yet.”
“Now that’s a hand!” said Max.
Brad used his fetchland to grab Island before passing. Max used his Volcanic Island to cast Ponder, which Brad used Spell Pierce to counter. Brad searched out Mountain with another fetchland before passing. Max dropped Delver of Secrets and Wasteland before passing right back. Brad had a Ponder to dig into the missing pieces of his combo, and Max didn’t have much of a clock since Delver did not flip. Brad found what he was looking for, as Show and Tell backed up by Force of Will allowed him to put Griswelbrand onto the battlefield.
It was all over but the shouting from there. Wasteland removed Brad’s Ancient Tomb of course, but when 11-19 goes to 18-12 it’s tough to win. Show and Tell put in Sneak Attack, which allowed Emrakul the Aeons Torn to enter the fray as well. And that’s all she wrote!
Brad 3, Max 1.