Quarterfinals: Caleb Durward (RUG Delver) vs. Shaheen Soorani (Esper Stoneblade)
The quarterfinals appeared favorable for Caleb at first glance, and he wasn’t displeased to see the Esper matchup on the other side of the table. That said, Shaheen hadn’t gotten here by losing matches of Magic—he promised to be a challenging opponent.
Shaheen’s seed did reward him with the play in the first game, but he mulliganed his starting hand while Caleb kept seven. Starting on Island, Shaheen passed to Caleb, who began with Tropical Island and Nimble Mongoose. Shaheen had Plains for turn 3 and decided to hold his Stoneforge Mystic, playing around Daze.
Brainstorm from Caleb drew him three more cards, followed by a fetchland. The Mongoose put 1 damage in, and Caleb passed the turn. Shaheen dropped Tundra and then Stoneforge Mystic on turn 2, and Caleb nodded. Searching for Umezawa’s Jitte, he finished the turn with Island untapped. Caleb drew and then fetched Volcanic Island, pointing Forked Bolt at the Mystic to clear the way, but Shaheen Brainstormed in reply.
The Bolt resolved, and Caleb fetched Taiga and cast Green Sun’s Zenith for one to get another Nimble Mongoose before attacking. He was only 3 cards away from threshold as Shaheen dropped to 18. Fetching on his turn for Underground Sea, Shaheen cast Lingering Souls and left his Plains untapped. Caleb used another Forked Bolt to get rid of the 1/1s and cast Brainstorm. Scalding Tarn gave him the seventh card he needed for threshold, fetching Tropical Island as he attacked for 6 damage.
Fetchland for Shaheen preceded Stoneforge Mystic, but Caleb had Force of Will pitching Daze to counter. Following that, Shaheen flashbacked his Souls and passed the turn to Caleb. Caleb Predicted Ponder successfully, drawing two cards before attacking Shaheen for 6 damage. Shaheen fetched, and Caleb was clearly debating a Stifle but allowed it. Grabbing Scrubland, Shaheen blocked with one Spirit and fell to 7.
Wasteland on a Sea left Shaheen untapping with four lands to attempt Jitte, Force of Willing the Lightning Bolt that Caleb pointed at Shaheen’s token when he equipped it, attacking. He had to use both counters to stay at 4 life prior to damage on Caleb’s turn, and Delver of Secrets added to his woes.
Attacking Caleb again, he put him to 14 and had Swords to Plowshares for the Delver of Secrets. Caleb had no cards, but any burn spell would win the game. Shaheen dropped to 2 on the next offensive, and when his draw step yielded a land he was forced to Swords his own token to stay alive on 1 life.
The next card did nothing to stop the bleeding.
Caleb 1, Shaheen 0
Another mulligan for Shaheen, while Caleb nodded and found his seven worthwhile. Shaheen’s six included Brainstorm, and he really needed it to hit big—his hand was heavy on lands. He fetched Island, and crossed his fingers mentally. Caleb had no turn 1 beyond a fetchland, and Shaheen held onto his spell and played Flooded Strand.
Drawing Stoneforge Mystic went a long way—Shaheen held her for later and played Karakas prior to Brainstorming. He tried to break his fetchland on his own turn, and Caleb fetched Tropical Island for Stifle, likely just as Shaheen had hoped considering his Mystic. Caleb cast Brainstorm, remarking “This deck’s so good,” before playing Wooded Foothills to fetch Volcanic Island and cast Delver of Secrets.
Swords to Plowshares aimed at the Delver from Shaheen, and Caleb pitched Force to Force of Will. “Mongoose protects itself, it’s so much better,” Caleb complained. Shaheen untapped into Inquisition of Kozilek to see Forked Bolt, Stifle, and Sulfuric Vortex—all cards that would defeat his Stoneforge Mystic plan, or at least put a major crimp in it. He took Stifle, and then resolved his Mystic for Batterskull.
If Caleb hit a red source during his draw step it would be real bad for Shaheen, but he only revealed lightning Bolt to make a 3/2. He aimed the Bolt at Stoneforge to keep Forked Bolt for future Lingering Souls, and Shaheen had to start making moves from 15 life with Vortex on the way.
Fetching Tundra, Shaheen sent Swords to Plowshares at Delver after passing to Caleb, who replaced the Delver with a second copy. Shaheen did have his fifth land, however—Batterskull landed the old-fashioned way, threatening to race Caleb down.
Caleb missed his Delver flip and decided to fetch during the upkeep in search of a fresh draw before tapping out to play Sulfuric Vortex. Shaheen had the goods on top—a second Stoneforge for Jitte with the land in hand to equip Batterskull. He fell to 11 as Caleb chumped, and Caleb pointed Forked Bolt at the Stoneforge Mystic on his own turn.
Caleb 1, Shaheen 1
Mulliganing to six cards for the first time, Caleb was at a disadvantage as Shaheen kept his seven. Misty Rainforest broke to find Tropical Island and cast Nimble Mongoose, starting the game off right for Caleb. Shaheen fetched Island on the first turn to Ponder. Caleb Dazed, and replayed his Tropical Island before attacking for 1.
Starting Polluted Delta rather than Strand—he’d really need a Plains—Shaheen baited out Caleb’s Stifle and ended his turn with just the Island in play. Caleb Pondered and attacked Shaheen to 16 and passed, lacking lands.
Shaheen took advantage by fetching Scrubland and casting Stoneforge Mystic, in fear of Wasteland but finding a Batterskull. Caleb began his turn with an attack for 1 with Mongoose into the Mystic, and Shaheen eventually decided not to block. Good thing—Thought Scour put Caleb to exactly threshold, and Shaheen hit 12. Still no land for Caleb, however.
That meant Shaheen untapped with active Stoneforge. He fetched Plains and passed, gaining ground fast. Caleb’s second Mongoose was no threat to Batterskull, which Shaheen put into play on the following turn. Untapping, he cast Perish and Caleb tried the Daze, but Shaheen had the fourth land to pay one, taking down the game.
Caleb 1, Shaheen 2