Quarterfinals: Drew Iafrate vs. Aaron Barich
A fast-paced red mirror awaited these two players, with Aaron on a Naya build featuring Voice+of+Resurgence and Drew on the R/G Aggro deck popularized by a win in Charlotte.
Aaron shuffles up after losing a tight first game.
Drew kept his opening hand and began with a Mountain while Aaron led with Stomping+Grounds and Experiment+One. Drew trumped that line with Burning-Tree+Emissary into Firefist+Striker, but Aaron kept the pressure up with Strangleroot+Geist. He sent in both creatures, Drew declining to block and going to 16.
Attacking Aaron to 14, Drew tapped out for Boros+Reckoner on turn 3, throwing the brakes on Aaron’s offense... until he played a Reckoner of his own. That made the Experiment+One a 3/3, and after careful consideration Aaron decided not to block and to build for a bigger turn later on. Drew had some options, and decided to play Temple+Garden tapped then Stromkirk+Noble, debating a swing with Boros+Reckoner before passing the turn instead.
Another Experiment for Aaron and then a Dryad+Militant to evolve it, but Searing+Spear slew that Experiment in the end step. Drew still lacked a good attack, facing two opposing 3/3s, but Hellrider made the damage he could get in by swinging worthwhile. Taking 2 damage to threaten giving his Reckoner first strike, the Striker kept Aaron’s Reckoner out of combat. Hellrider put Aaron to 9, and he blocked Geist on Striker, Militant on Emissary, and Experiment+One on Hellrider.
That left Aaron with a 3/2 and his own Reckoner against a Reckoner and 2/2 Noble on Drew’s side of the board, sitting at 5 life. He attacked Drew for 6, putting Drew to 8, and played Loxodon+Smiter. Drew swung in, losing his Noble but putting Aaron to 2 life with Reckoner still threatening lethal damage. Drew’s leashed Rakdos+Cackler was good enough to chump Smiter, keeping Drew alive long enough to end the game on the following turn.
Drew likes his chances against his shockland-laden opponent.
Drew 1, Aaron 0
A mulligan from Drew after Aaron kept his seven. Stomping+Ground and pass for Aaron, while Drew played Rakdos+Cackler via Mountain. Another Stomping+Ground for Aaron but no plays, leaving him on 18 as Drew likewise missed on turn 2. Loxodon+Smiter was large on turn 3, block Rakdos+Cackler when it attacked before being cleared by Pillar+of+Flame.
The follow-up Cackler lacked a follow-up land, and Drew found himself two-for-oned again when he cast Searing+Spear on Aaron’s Boros+Reckoner. The next Boros+Reckoner also earned a Searing+Spear, and Aaron lacked the big gas as he played Voice+of+Resurgence. Flinthoof+Boar and Stromkirk+Noble for Drew, and then a pass.
Aaron made no play, sitting with seven lands, and he took 3 from Flinthoof+Boar on the next turn. Drew played Boros+Reckoner, but Pacifism removed it from the equation as Aaron began to draw Experiment+Ones. Pyreheart+Wolf set up a major Hellrider turn, the 4 damage putting Aaron to 11 before he threw Voice and Experiment+One in front of the Hellrider. Drew considered leaving the Voice in play to avoid making an Elemental token, but decided to just go ahead and make the trade.
Drew 2, Aaron 0