Quarterfinals: Damon Whitby vs. Juha Tolvanen!
It would look like a zombie apocalypse in this quarterfinal, as both players brought Dredge to the table. Damon was on a traditional build, while Juha was playing the Manaless Dredge variant.
Damon chose to take the draw, knowing that Juha’s only way to pitch a card was to use his Discard Step from 8 cards. Juha of course could do nothing but pass the turn on his first turn, so Damon drew, played Mana Confluence, and cast Faithless Looting, discarding Golgari-Grave Troll and Stinkweed Imp. Juha drew and discarded a Phantasmagorian.
In his draw step, Damon dredged up Golgari Grave-Troll, then fired off a Breakthrough for 0. He dredged up 14 fresh cards and pitched his hand, finding two Ichorids, three Bridge from Belows, but zero Narcomoebas, and passed the turn. Could Juha punish him?
Juha chuckled a bit as he pitched two Cabal Therapies and an Ichorid to return his Phantasmagorian—none of which could actually get his Dredge engine started. He drew for the turn, then cycled several Street Wraiths, pitched his Phantasmagorian, and passed back, revealing that he had kept a speculative hand without a dredger.
Relieved, Damon went to work, returning his two Ichorids and dredging up a Narcomoeba with which to flash back Cabal Therapy. He named Bridge from Below, but saw Two Narcomoeba, Phantasmagorian, Nether Shadow, Dread Return, and Blightsteel Colossus.
Juha: “Worst hand ever!”
Damon couldn’t disagree. He cracked in for 6 with his Ichorids then passed the turn with nine 2/2 Zombies in play thanks to his trio of Bridge from Belows. Juha could see he would be dead before he could ever dredge a card, even if he drew the dredger, and scooped up his cards.
Damon Whitby 1, Juha Tolvanen 0
Damon mulliganed to 6, then decided to keep a hand with plenty of ways to dig, but no dredger. He kept, asking if Juha had the dreaded Leyline of the Void. Juha confirmed he did not, and Damon played Cephalid Coliseum and Lion’s Eye Diamond. Juha drew and predictably binned Phantasmagorian. Damon played a Mana Confluence and cast Breakthrough for 1, drawing several more draw spells but still not finding a dredger. He kept a second copy of Breakthrough in his hand, and passed, daring Juha do to his worst.
Phantasmagorian was activated twice to pitch most of Juha’s hand, and then a Street Wraith plus a draw step turned up 12 fresh cards. Juha found two Narcomoebas and an Ichorid but no Bridge from Belows or ways to keep on going, so he passed it back. Damon drew, then cast a second Breakthrough for 0. This time he found the Stinkweed Imp he’d need to get started, and the engine kicked in. He cracked the Lion’s Eye Diamond and then using his Cephalid Coliseum. He dredged up 5 cards, but failed to find another dredger, and received even worse news when he was forced to draw and discard a Narcomoeba. He still had another shot, as he used the LED mana to flash back Faithess Looting. He dredged five again and still no dredger besides the original Stinkweed Imp, and the second draw from Faithless Looting was the FOURTH Narcomoeba. He flashed back a Cabal Therapy to get some Zombies into play, and passed.
Juha, for his part, wasn’t having so explosive a draw either. After he dredged, He recurred an Ichorid, attacked with his Narcomoebas, then passed, sacrificing the Ichorid to clean out Damon’s Bridge from Belows. Damon untapped, dredged up five, and attacked with his Zombies. Juha took his beats, put Ichorid and Nether Spirit into play on his upkeep, then dredged up Dread Return and Balustrude Spy. These were the missing puzzle pieces that let him go for the kill. He put the Balustrude Spy into play, dumping his library into his yard. He then flashed back another Dread Return putting Flayer of the Hatebound into play, then a third bringing back Golgari Grave-Troll, which was enough to finish Damon off.
Damon Whitby 1, Juha Tolvanen 1
This time Juha was forced to be on the play, but he had a big trump—the dreaded Leyline of the Void. Damon had no way to remove the Leyline in his entire 75, so he knew his only way to win was to cast and beat down with Narcomoebas, Stinkweed Imps, and the like. He also had a turn 1 Thoughtseize, which would set Juha down to 5 cards and keep him from getting his engine started for at least 3 turns. The Thoughtseize saw Blightsteel Colossus, Balastrude Spy, Nether Shadow, Golgari Thug, Dread Return, Golgari Grave-Troll, and he shrugged and sent away the Blightsteel Colossus. He fired off another Careful Study, and then another, and then found a second land and cast a Narcomoeba. On his next turn he found a third land, and then his grace period was up, as Juha got to 8 cards and was able to discard a Golgari Grave-Troll
Damon had no recourse but to keep on poking with his Narcomoeba, and he passed back. An end step Street Wraith served up 6 fresh cards for Juha, then another Street Wraith served up another 5. He untapped, put Nether Shadow into play in his upkeep, then took his Draw step, dredging up another 6 cards. He had now found the Dread Return and the Balustrude Spy, and passed the turn, needing another upkeep to get the requisite creatures into play to go off. Damon simply drew his card and passed back, and another Nether Shadow and an Ichorid jumped into play on Juha’s next upkeep. Damon was able to use Firestorm to kill off two of the creatures in Juha’s draw step, holding off the the Dread Return for a least one more turn, but he couldn’t take advantage of it, simply playing Breakthrough for 1 and passing back.
Now the Nether Shadows and Ichorid came back, and this time there was nothing left for Damon to do but watch as Balustrude Spy entered play, followed by Flayer of the Hatebound, followed by Golgari Grave-Troll.
Juha Tolvanen 2, Damon Whitby 1