Quarterfinals: Bryan Eleyet vs. Daniel Nguyen
This round featured a showdown between two very different combo decks. Bryan Eleyet, known for a love of Hive Mind, was championing the former Legacy bogeyman while Daniel Nguyen was playing the significantly more creature-oriented Elves deck.
Bryan's Hive Minds have once more carried him into the Top 8.
Bryan had the play and started with Misty Rainforest but nothing else. Daniel got to the board with a fetch for Forest and Llanowar Elves, accelerating quickly. No turn 2 plays from Bryan beyond another fetchland, while Daniel went into the deck for Bayou before casting Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel.
That earned a pause from Bryan, but ultimately no response. Daniel began mathing, making three mana with his Elves before cast Quirion Ranger and then Elvish Visionary to draw. Out of mana but with three untapped Elves in play, he tapped those for three more mana and played Wirewood Symbiote. It resolved, and he sprung Elvish Visionary to untap Llanowar Elves and recast the 1/1, Nettle Sentinel also ready.
City of Traitors gave him four mana, but he made no plays. Daniel tried Crop Rotation in the end step, turning Forest into Gaea’s Cradle successfully. Untapping, Daniel started his turn off with Glimpse of Nature. Bryan sighed, and cast Intuition for three Force of Wills in order to counter the card drawing machine.
That left him vulnerable to a hardcast Craterhoof Behmoth, which gave Daniel a turn 3 kill.
Daniel 1, Bryan 0
Daniel announced a quick keep while Bryan was thinking, adding a little food to his thought. He eventually decided to also keep, playing Island on the first turn. Daniel had a clock in Nettle Sentinel, and Bryan played Misty Rainforest but nothing else.
He fell to 18 from the Sentinel, and Deathrite Shaman joined Daniel’s board. He missed his second land drop, however, making it the only new addition to his position. Bryan started turn 3 with Ponder, examining the top three cards and keeping them before playing Ancient Tomb. Green Sun’s Zenith for one searched up Dryad Arbor on Daniel’s side, and he attacked for 3 damage.
Breaking his fetchland in the end step, Bryan fell to 14 for Volcanic Island and then 12 to cast Intuition. He searched up three copies of Firespout, and cleared Daniel’s board on the next turn at the cost of 2 more life.
Back down to Forest, Daniel rebuilt with Nettle Sentinel. Bryan cast Brainstorm on his next turn and passed, dropping Pact of the Titan into the path of the 2/2 when it attacked. Daniel did have a third Nettle Sentinel to replace it, but the beatdown was over for now with a 4/4 on defense. Bryan went to 7 as he paid for his Pact, and passed.
Wirewood Symbiote hit the battlefield next, but Daniel remained stranded on a single land. Bryan swung for 4 damage, earning a bounce-block from Nettle Sentinel. When Daniel attacked on the next turn, a second Pact of the Titan ate his Wirewood Symbiote. Sighing, he recast Nettle Sentinel.
Only one Giant attacked as Bryan went to 5 paying for the Pact, and a new Wirewood Symbiote resolved for Daniel. He’d drawn a Bayou, and now played Cabal Therapy naming—after some deliberation—Force of Will... only to see two Pact of Negation, two Show and Tell, and a Brainstorm in Bryan’s hand. He flashbacked it at the cost of Wirewood Symbiote, naming Pact of Negation this time around.
Bryan Brainstormed and then attacked for 4 damage before playing Flooded Strand. A swing with both would’ve put Daniel into The Abyss on the following turn, but now he had a little room to breathe—and perhaps to get at Bryan’s 5 life. Starting the next turn with Crop Rotation, he turned his Forest into Gaea’s Cradle and cast Green Sun’s Zenith for one afterward, finding Wirewood Symbiote.
Now Bryan couldn’t attack effectively—an alpha wasn’t affordable against 12 life, and the Symbiote could thwart singleton assaults. Fortunately, he didn’t need to, as a topdecked Pact of the Titan combined with the Hive Mind he’d Brainstormed into to end the game on the spot.
Daniel 1, Bryan 1
Bryan was fine on seven this time, but Daniel wound up mulliganing down to five cards in search of a keeper. Cabal Therapy on turn 1 met Force of Will from Bryan, implying he had some action planned, potentially with Brainstorm to hide a turn 2 or 3 kill. Leading Island, he passed the turn.
Daniel had a land and two choices—whether to flashback Cabal Therapy and what to name if he did. Green Sun’s Zenith for one grabbed Llanowar Elves, and Daniel ended the turn hoping not to die. Ancient Tomb from Bryan... and a pass of the turn. Clearly Bryan was missing one of the pieces, and he was most likely relying on an Intuition to dig it up based on no Ponder or Brainstorm over the first two turns. Perhaps the Therapy could strip it?
Daniel 1, Bryan 2