Quarterfinals: David McDarby vs. Justin McPherson
A quick 8-0 had seen David McDarby drawing into Top 8 in Round 9, but Justin had battled all the way to the end of the Swiss for his slot. David came with traditional Delver, but Justin's build included way more one-drops and a human subtheme, which Sam Black popularized at Grand Prix Orlando.
Taking the play, David began the match with a tense mulligan decision involving a one-land hand featuring Ponder—he eventually decided to keep. Justin's starter saw him take a deep breath before keeping, and David's Ponder found him a land in the top three—but only one. Justin started Plains and Champion of the Parish, passing.
Justin's piloting the Delver Humans deck advocated by Sam Black.
Another Ponder for David found zero land but it did find Delver of Secrets and a third Ponder, which he left on top. Casting the 1/1, David passed. Doomed Traveler boosted Justin's Champion, and he added Glacial Fortress to the field before Vapor Snagging Delver of Secrets. Paying 2 life, Justin cast Gitaxian probe to spot Vapor Snag, Snapcaster Mage, Revoke Existence, Geist of Saint Traft, Delver of Secrets, and Mana Leak.
David Pondered and recast his Delver after playing Glacial Fortress, leaving a mana open for Vapor Snag if need be. Justin immediately attacked for 3, and David decided to bounce the Champion and just take 1, going to 16. Ponder for Justin preceded a pass for Justin, keeping two mana open and representing Mana Leak.
Flipping Delver on Midnight Haunting, David passed the turn. Snapcaster and Haunting gave him plenty of ways to threaten Justin during the opponent's turn, destroying Leak's efficiency. Facing a superior clock, Justin considered his choices before attacking. He cast Ponder, then Seachrome Coast, and Mana Leaked David's end step Midnight Haunting.
Swinging Justin down to 8 life with his Insectile Aberration, David tapped out to cast Sword of War and Peace—no doubt fearing the same from Justin, who might also have the mana to equip it. Justin couldn't make that play—he attacked for 2 damage and then cast Gitaxian Probe for 2 life, seeing another Sword, Revoke Existence, Mana Leak, and Snapcaster Mage. Mortarpod and an equip to Doomed Traveler let Justin slay the Aberration. This was what David should have feared—a way for Justin to shift momentum back in his favor, making Justin's own Mana Leaks and Vapor Snags much more powerful.
David drew and played Geist of Saint Traft, hoping to close this out on his next combat step—but Justin's second Geist made the trade. He attacked David to 10 life, and sent the turn. He even had the Mana Leak for David's Snapcaster Mage during the main phase—Justin had all the answers over the last couple turns, and David was running out of steam fast.
Invisible Stalker met Snapcaster Mage on Mana Leak, and now David faced a lethal attack! He Vapor Snagged the Champion to stay alive, and fell to 5 on Justin's next turn. Declining to equip Mortarpod, Justin passed with a ton of mana available—that could not be good for David.
David McDarby hasn't lost a match in this tournament thus far, and he's not looking to start.
Justin 1, David 0
Keeping his seven, David had the play once again. Justin mulliganed down to six cards quickly, but stayed there. David paid 2 life to Probe him, spotting no blue sources in a hand with Ponder, Snapcaster Mage, Geist of Saint Traft, and Moorland Haunt. David played Seachrome Coast, and passed.
Justin led Plains, but he found Island on turn 2 and Pondered while David did nothing. Doomed Traveler resolved immediately after, and Justin passed the turn. Shrugging, David played Geist of Saint Traft—would it live, for once? Nope. Phantasmal Image copied the Geist, and Traveler reduced David to 17.
Sticking Sword of War and Peace, David passed the turn, out of creatures for the moment. Doomed Traveler attacked him, and Justin faked casting Snapcaster Mage before playing Plains and ending the turn.
Moorland Haunt for David gave him some hope, and he passed. Gut Shot took out the Haunt Spirit that Justing had generated, but Divine Offering eliminated David's Sword during Justin's turn. During the end step, David made another Spirit and moved to his own turn.
Replacing his Sword of War and Peace, David got in for some damage but was in bad shape due to that Snapcaster Mage. It rebought Divine Offering and destroyed the Sword, leaving David once again without a threat. He passed after drawing for the turn, at Justin's mercy. Justin swung with everything, Vapor Snag eliminating one token but the two Spirits not trading.
Adding misery to the situation, Justin played Geist of Saint Traft. David topdecked one to trade, staving off that beating, but he was still very far behind—the Geist became a Spirit token during his end step. Drawing for turn, Justin found Sword of War and Peace waiting for him on top of the deck. Gut Shot on Snapcaster Mage couldn't save David from a hit, as Justin had enough mana to move the Sword again.
On 3 life, David peeled at the top for help. Snapcaster Mage was a step in the right direction—it flashbacked Vapor Snag and let David stay alive at 2 life, killing a Spirit token. The next card didn't give David another dodge for the Spirit, and that was the match.
Justin 2, David 0