Quarterfinals: Eric Rill vs. Royce Walter
“My friend told me, ‘You can’t play Storm, it’s too hard,’” Eric said as the players shuffled, laughing. His last-minute decision to play the difficult combo deck had paid off with a Top 8 finish! Now he found himself fighting a very dangerous matchup against Royce Walter’s similarly-minded TES.
Eric kept and led with a fetchland for Underground+Sea, casting Duress to see Lotus+Petal Brainstorm, Rite+of+Flame, Infernal+Tutor, Silence, and Burning+Wish in Royce’s hand. Discarding the Brainstorm, Eric would need to worry about that Silence in the future.
Royce played Scalding+Tarn and Lotus+Petal, likely guarding against Cabal+Therapy while keeping the Silence constantly available. Eric made a land and passed, while Royce had no second land and simply sent the turn over to Eric. No land drop for Eric on turn 3, and Royce made his move on the following turn. Breaking Scalding+Tarn for Underground+Sea, he cast Cabal+Therapy targeting Eric.
It resolved, discarding Infernal+Tutor from a hand containing Lotus+Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Cabal+Ritual, Tendrils+of+Agony, and Ad+Nauseam. Now both players would be peeling and waiting. Eric played two Lotus+Petals on the next turn and fetched for Volcanic+Island. He could Cabal+Ritual to bait out the Silence by threatening a large Ad+Nauseam, but would he want to wait until Royce’s turn to do it?
Doing so on his turn, the Petal popped for Silence. Royce cast Ponder and kept his three cards, playing Gemstone+Mine afterward and casting Silence during Eric’s upkeep in order to prevent Eric from drawing a land or Ritual and going for Ad+Nauseam. Gitaxian+Probe on the following turn revealed Ad+Nauseam, Duress, and Tendrils+of+Agony in Eric’s hand, with Royce still blank. The Duress revealed two more Silence Rite+of+Flame, Infernal+Tutor, and Burning+Wish—Eric’s kingdom for a Cabal+Therapy!
He took one Silence rather than a kill condition, giving himself more outs to remove the remainder but also giving Royce more sequence to kill him. Ponder for a second Gemstone+Mine, and Royce passed the turn. Eric had some options now—he cast Lotus+Petal, and waited to see if Royce would Silence him. He declined, and now Eric played Ad+Nauseam, earning the silence. Eric went to 11 for two Infernal+Tutor, Cabal+Therapy, three lands, Ponder, Gitaxian+Probe, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. Playing a land, he moved to the cleanup step and discarded two lands, Ponder, and an Infernal+Tutor.
Royce needed to make a play here, knowing Eric had all the tools for a kill with his Silences exhausted. Casting Burning+Wish, he grabbed Cabal+Therapy and cast it naming Infernal+Tutor to get rid of Eric’s one in hand, revealing Dark+Ritual among Tendrils, Gitaxian+Probe, Cabal+Therapy, and a pair of Diamonds.
Eric took 2 life for Gitaxian+Probe, spotting two Infernal+Tutor and a Rite+of+Flame in Royce’s hand—easy game. Ponder followed, shuffling up the deck and drawing another Ponder, which in turn kept the cards in place. Eric played Dark+Ritual then Cabal+Therapy, naming Royce’s Infernal+Tutors, and fetched Underground+Sea in order to Preordain before playing another Therapy to clear Royce’s hand... and passing the turn. Probe, Therapy, and pass turn seemed like it might have been able to set up a more certain win in a couple turns; now he could be genuinely pressured by a quick foursome of Goblins if Royce drew well.
Duress on Duress for Eric, and then he played both Diamonds to protect them from Cabal+Therapy. Brainstorming his way into Past+in+Flames on the next turn, Eric very easily killed his opponent from there.
Eric 1, Royce 0
Royce had the play with both players mulliganing to six, and Royce started by fetching Underground+Sea to cast Cabal+Therapy, knocking two Lion’s Eye Diamonds out of Eric’s hand. Eric returned the favor with Duress to strip Royce’s Burning+Wish and reveal that he was stuck on just Underground+Sea for mana!
Ponder for Eric into Cabal+Therapy left Royce on Silence, Chrome+Mox, and Rite+of+Flame. Eric drew and cast Dark+Confidant to begin pulling ahead, while Royce hit a winner in Brainstorm to hopefully find some mana and combo pieces. He dropped Volcanic+Island and then Chrome+Mox, exiling Silence and threatening a second copy.
Eric Brainstormed, playing a fetchland and then Duress to take Silence and leave Royce on only Rite+of+Flame before attacking. Duress off the top revealed Dark+Ritual and Ad+Nauseam, discarding the big draw spell from Eric’s hand. Dark+Confidant revealed a Brainstorm, and Eric continued to attack and played a second Dark+Confidant with his Brainstorm find.
An attack put Royce to 15, and the turn quickly came back to Eric. Attacking for 4 damage after finding land and Ponder with Bob, he was assembling quite the position. An attack put Royce to 11, and Eric decided to go for a kill.
Eric 2, Royce 0