Quarterfinals: Daniel Dusang vs. James Scott
Two unconventional twists on popular archetypes met in the Top 8. Daniel’s Dark Naya list eschewed Rakdos’s Return and ran a pair of Olivia Voldaren maindeck alongside Assemble the Legion, while James had a midrange Bant deck that could be aggressive thanks to Loxodon Smiter.
Daniel stretched his mana in Standard, to great success in the Swiss.
Daniel started the game in ideal form with a turn 2 Farseek, mirrored by James. Garruk Relentless was a big threat to deploy so early for Daniel, and it immediately began churning out Wolf tokens. James passed on turn 3, while Daniel made another Wolf token and cast Boros Reckoner plus Farseek to develop his board.
Restoration Angel from James swooped down in the end step, killing Garruk on the attack before being joined by Loxodon Smiter, creating an imposing presence for James. Daniel had Kessig Wolf Run and seven mana though, so he felt fine attacking with the whole team into just the 4/4. Smiter blocked a Wolf token, and Azorius Charm tossed Reckoner on top of the deck to buy James some breathing room.
Spear finished off the Smiter, then Daniel tapped out to dump a Thragtusk onto the board, butning the Spear in order to get the 5/3 body into the red zone a turn earlier. Redrawing the Reckoner, he swung with Wolf token and Thragtusk, the token dying to Thragtusk as 5 damage hit James in the dome. Boros Reckoner hit the ground once more, and Daniel passed with the 3/3 on defense.
Another Thragtusk moved the race further into James’s favor, and when Daniel swung he settled for just trample on Thragtusk after a trade of 5/3s, landing 5 damage. The remaining mana went into Huntmaster of the Fells, who would threaten becoming a serious threat over the course of the next few turns. James drew, and considered his options.
He took a shock hit to go to seven mana and cast Farseek, his shockland hit appearing to be for Gavony Township’s activation. That would do a lot to keep Boros Reckoner at bay, but the damage would also let Daniel shoot down Restoration Angel, which stopped swinging anyway with life totals at 17 to 12 in Daniel’s favor.
Just the Reckoner swung, with Restoration Angel blocking and Kessig Wolf Run forcing through 2 damage. During the end step, James pumped with Township to get his Beast to 4/4 and Thragtusk to 6/4, and Ravager of the Fells came online during the next turn to leave James at 8. He drew and passed the turn, Township still online.
Daniel swung with Reckoner and James announced no blocks—Daniel declined to pump, considering he could only get in 7 damage anyway. A Sphinx’s Revelation for five drew a boatload of cards and moved James into safer territory at 10 life, and Daniel knew this game might be slipping away. James simply passed once again on his turn.
“You drew another Rev,” Daniel accused, considering whether or not to deploy Restoration Angel in the end step before deciding not to. Moving to his own turn, he knew his attacks were not so black and white after James had drawn six cards. He sent Reckoner anyway, using Wolf Run for three more but losing his Reckoner to Selesnya Charm. In the end step, James cast Restoration Angel to blink Thragtusk and simultaneously flip down Daniel’s Huntmaster.
The Angel put Daniel to 16 on offense, and another Angel put James to 20 during his own turn, keeping Huntmaster in his 2/2 form. Daniel cast two more Huntmasters, going up to 20 life, but he was losing ground. Gavony Township added a counter to James’s team, the Angels going to 4/5 while the Beasts grew to two 4/4s and a 5/5, with Thragtusk a 6/4 once more.
That paved the way for a brutal alpha strike that sent all of Daniel’s Wolf tokens into the graveyard before James cast another Restoration Angel to keep the Huntmasters from flipping. Daniel tried a pass of the turn on his own turn, but James cast Selesnya Charm for a 2/2 to keep those guys Human and that set up another brutal swing that Daniel would be hard-pressed to survive. Restoration Angel blinked Huntmaster, giving him six blockers and 12 life, but the Township was still too much.
James 1, Daniel 0
James made one Thragtusk look like four to take game 1.
A mulligan to six for Daniel, while James kept his seven. A shockland hit for Avacyn’s Pilgrim began the game for Daniel alongside Temple Garden, though it was joined by Clifftop Retreat before attacking on turn 2. James cast Farseek for Hallowed Fountain on turn 2 after playing Hinterland Harbor, earning double of all colors on turn 3.
Drawing Farseek a turn late, Daniel dug up Overgrown Tomb and attacked without playing a land, apparently lacking in that department. James didn’t have a turn 4 play beyond a second Farseek, but he had two mana up to keep Avacyn’s Pilgrim scared of the red zone—both Charms would be brutal here.
Slaughter Games for Thragtusk stole one from James’s hand and revealed Cavern of Souls, Restoration Angel, Detention Sphere, and Sigarda, Host of Herons. Daniel leafed through the deck for some sideboarding insight, noting Supreme Verdicts before passing the deck back to James.
Sigarda landed as predicted on the next turn, possibly enough to win the game by herself. Daniel had Huntmaster of the Fells to go to 20 and present a threat, but James attacked with Sigarda and pulled farther ahead with a Sphinx’s Revelation for three, digging his way to a land and keeping Huntmaster around.
Daniel attacked for 5 damage and cast Boros Reckoner, hoping to race down the Angel but appearing unlikely to do so when James attacked for 5 more with zero hesitation. Detention Sphere took care of Reckoner, and Daniel knew a Restoration Angel was waiting if he tried to pass the turn with Huntmaster. Attacking for 4 anyway, he used his own Restoration Angel to save the Huntmaster from certain death and go to 12, preventing a two-turn clock from Sigarda.
Angel of Serenity off the top of the deck changed things however, and James cleared Restoration Angel, Huntmaster, and a Wolf token before sending just Sigarda, keeping his own Restoration Angel on defense. Mana-strapped, Daniel had an Oblivion Ring but lacked the time to survive the game if he played it, with no other castable spells available. With James on 15 and unkillable for the time being, Daniel extended the hand.
James 2, Daniel 0