Quarterfinals: Dustin Taylor vs. Justin Uppal
Dustin and Justin are here battling with the two Big Bads of the format: Deathblade and Shardless BUG. Last week on Above the Curve, Todd and Gerry had it out debating which is the better of the pair. So which will come out on top in the quarterfinals here in New Jersey?
Justin had the higher seed and elected to play first, using the first turn to play Tropical Island, and Dustin used his first turn to play Underground Sea and Thoughtseize. A Brainstorm in response hid Justin’s best goodies, revealing Brainstorm, Thoughtseize, Liliana of the Veil, and three lands. Dustin chose to Deprive Justin of his own Thoughtseize and dropped to 18. Justin suspended Ancestral Visions (cleverly hidden on top of his library) with his next turn, while Dustin used another Thoughtseize… to which Justin responded by casting the other Brainstorm. This time, Thoughtseize could choose only Tarmogoyf or Liliana, and Dustin decided to take the planeswalker. Deathrite shaman followed for the Deathblade player.
Dustin made a massive Germ...
Justin cast Shardless Agent (once more, cleverly hidden on top with Brainstorm) and the 2/2 from Planechase cast another Brainstorm along with it. Dustin used this opportunity to add another 1/2 to join his current 1/2: Stoneforge Mystic. The Mystic found Batterskull, and then Deathrite Shaman helped Dustin also cast a 2/1 in Dark Confidant. Justin’s Maelstrom Pulse took down Bob before it could garner any card advantage.
Dustin simply drew and passed, content with sitting behind the activated abilities of his powerful rare Squires. Tarmogoyf joined the fray for Justin, and the current 5/6 resolved. Maelstrom Pulse was exiled by Deathrite Shaman and Stoneforge Mystic dropped the Batterskull at end of turn. Then Dustin untapped and cast Umezawa’s Jitte, immediately equipping the Betterskull’d Germ with the Betrayers of Kamigawa equipment. ‘Goyf blocked, and before damage Dustin fetched out a fifth land in order to exile Dark Confidant to shrink Tarmogoyf to 4/5. The Germ died, yes, but Jitte also finished off the ‘Goyf.
Justin’s Ancestral Vision resolved, netting him a whole new hand in the process. Hymn to Tourach emptied Dustin’s hand and Justin passed with three in hand. Afraid of what might lurk in Justin’s grip, Dustin simply passed with the idea that he’d return the Batterskull and return it to play next turn. Dustin stacked the Stoneforge Mystic activation and the Batterskull activation in such a way that Abrupt Decay wouldn’t blow him out (a useful trick for any Stoneforge Mystic player) and the Germ token arrived anew.
Jitte reequipped, but Abrupt Decay took out the Germ (good thing he played around that!) and Dustin did the same trick once more to reset the Germ. Once more, the Germ dealt damage and this time even gained the Jitte some counters. Finding yet another blank on top of his library, Justin scooped.
Dustin 1, Justin 1.
I shared an interesting fact with Dustin about Justin Uppal and fellow top 8 competitor William ‘Huey’ Jensen: Huey made his Pro tour debut at PT Rome in November of 1998. Fourteen months earlier, Justin was born. Huey made his Magic Pro Tour debut before Justin learned to talk.
Justin led with Polluted Delta into Underground Sea into Deathrite Shaman, while Dustin started off once again with Thoughtseize. Thoughtseize saw four lands and Nihil Spellbomb, so the sorcery took the artifact. Justin untapped and played Wasteland on Dustin’s land before passing. Dustin’s follow up Deathrite Shaman was quickly Abrupt Decay’d, and then Justin slammed Tarmogoyf. Not a bad series of draws!
Dustin searched out Scrubland before using Preordain to bottom both of the cards he saw. Then cast Deathrite Shaman of his own. Justin’s 5/6 ‘Goyf swung in and dropped Dustin to 11, and Dustin cast Dark Confidant. The Ravnica rare looks a lot better when you’re in the lead or at parity, but facing down Tarmogoyf and an active Deathrite Shaman the proposition is slightly worse. Justin further pressed his (card) advantage by cascading into Brainstorm with Shardless Agent. The ‘Goyf garndered a chump block from the opposing Shaman, and after the dying Elf dealt two to Justin Abrupt Decay killed Bob, emptying Dustin’s board.
Liliana of the Veil forced Justin to sacrifice Shardless Agent, but Jace, the Mind Sculptor resolved for Justin. With no Notion Thief to worry about, Justin finished off Dustin’s Liliana and then finished off Dustin after Dustin’s last ditch Batterskull didn’t Fend Off the Jace -1 Unsummon. Dustin had one last turn to try to Brainstorm into Supreme Verdict, but it was not to be and Dustin scooped.
Justin Uppal found himself in dire straits!
Justin 1, Dustin 1.
Dustin was now on the play and got things started with Underground Sea and Deathrite Shaman. Justin decided that sounded pretty good, so he had some of the same. Inquisition of Kozilek from Dustin snagged Shardless Agent from a hand that also included Maelstrom Pulse, Deathrite Shaman, and lands. Then Dustin cracked a fetchland, used the fetch as Shaman fuel, and cast Stoneforge Mystic to get Batterskull. Now that’s what I call an efficient turn two!
Justin’s turn two consisted of a fetchland of his own and Maelstrom Pulse targeting the Stoneforge Mystic. Dustin untapped and decided the best course of action was to cast Preordain and then activate another fetchland to allow Swords to Plowshares to turn the Elf into a farmer. Dustin also cast Dark Confidant on his turn.
Two Deathrite Shamans came to play for Justin, but a Swords to Plowshares revealed to Dark Confidant removed one of them. Dustin had the Snapcaster Mage to not only complete the quadruplicate of insane Legacy two-drops played in this match, but also to reuse the Swords to knock off the second Shaman. Justin drew Baleful Strix and then suspended Ancestral Vision, but Dustin’s foot was well on the gas. Sword of Feast and Famine got equipped to Dark Confidant, Strix traded with Mage, and two Wastelands took out two of Justin’s underground Seas. It was academic from there, and Dustin even topdecked Jace, the Mind Sculptor to stack his deck and Justin’s, not to mention have Unsummon and a back-door finisher available should he need it, before sealing the deal.
Dustin 2, Justin 1.