Quarterfinals: Erik Carson vs. Michael Svien
Michael was playing a hot new deck in the format—the Rector-wielding version of Omni-Tell that had left many players scratching their heads and picking up their cards this weekend. Erik himself had a unique U/R Delver build complete with Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
With the play, Erik opened on just Scalding Tarn. Michael had mulliganed to six but started strong on Island and Lotus Petal, getting the extra mana into play early. Just Misty Rainforest for Erik, both fetches uncracked, while Michael drew and passed on turn 2. He’d considered his six for some time—now we knew why.
Michael's piloting a new take on Omni-Tell.
Fetching after playing Volcanic Island, Erik grabbed a second Volcanic and then fetched up a third copy of the dual land. He sent the turn after that, and cast Vendilion Clique during the draw step. Michael responded with Brainstorm to try and hide some good ones, putting Lotus Petal and Emrakul on top of his library.
He decided to follow with Force of Will, pitching Show and Tell—interesting. Erik allowed that to resolve, and in his main phase Michael played Underground Sea and then Cabal Therapy. He named Spell Snare, hoping to protect his Living Wishes, and hit one. Erik also revealed Force of Will, Jace, Lightning Bolt, and Wasteland—the latter was particularly vexing.
Erik declined to Wasteland and instead resolved Jace, the Mind Sculptor on turn 4. He brainstormed with the planeswalker, and ended the turn after that. Michael cast Cabal Therapy once more, and this time Erik paused for much longer. He lost Force of Will, revealing Lightning Bolt, Spell Pierce, and Grim Lavamancer this time.
Playing another Lotus Petal, cracking one let Michael Living Wish for Cavern of Souls. He held it in his hand to protect against Wasteland, and ended the turn. He was behind in a bad way against that Jace, but if he could get to Academy Rector then he might be in business. His Emrakul went to the bottom following a fateseal, and Erik used Wasteland on Underground Sea before casting Sulfuric Vortex!
On the clock, Michael went to 17 and drew Show and Tell. Not bad at all. With Erik tapped out, he had an opportunity to cast Living Wish using his other Petal and set up a play if he could fight past Spell Pierce on a future turn, and he decided to try and do just that by grabbing Boseiju and playing Cavern of Souls—he might regret that if he happened to draw a Griselbrand next turn, but it’s hard to say with Jace in play already.
Brainstorming for more defense—like Wasteland—Erik shook his head. He did not appear to have found much, and Ponder confirmed that to be the case. Shuffling, he followed up with Grim Lavamancer and a Chain Lightning to the dome. Michael untapped on 12, and Pondered himself before shipping the cards with a shuffle and drawing Academy Rector. He laid Boseiju, and passed.
Erik himself went to 14 and fatesealed, sending the card to the bottom. He cast Brainstorm afterward and played Delver of Secrets. Falling to 10, Michael had to operate under the possibility of dying on the next turn. He went to 8 for Boseiju, leaving him dead to the board plus Erik’s Lightning Bolt, and cast Show and Tell for the hail mary.
Dropping Academy Rector, Erik had Snapcaster Mage—the trigger gave him access to Brainstorm if he wanted it, but that wasn’t likely to matter. Michael followed by sacrificing his Rector to flashback Cabal Therapy, and Erik went with Lightning Bolt once Omniscience was in play to avoid losing it.
Responding with Brainstorm, Michael found the best possible card on top—Emrakul! He fell to 5 for Lightning Bolt and named Chain Lightning with his Therapy, seeing nothing of consequence in the grip. Casting the Emrakul, he triggered another turn and swung for lethal.
Somehow, Michael had managed three running cards to win the game... while being fatesealed!
Michael 1, Erik 0
“I made a bad Brainstorm on that last turn,” Erik admitted. He started game 2 with a mulligan to six, while Michael kept his starting seven. Volcanic Island for Erik, and Michael grabbed Island with his Polluted Delta to cast Lotus Petal and then Ponder. During the end step, Erik Brainstormed.
Playing Island and then casting Surgical Extraction on the Ponder, Erik was representing either a second Extraction or Snapcaster Mage, to let him Extraction Rector later. He was dismayed to see Michael had his own Surgical Extraction, along with two Force of Wills, Academy Rector, Brainstorm, and Cavern of Souls. His Extraction also shuffled the top two cards of Michael’s library back in!
Michael opened with Brainstorm on turn 2. “Interesting,” he admitted. Laying Tundra, he passed the turn to Erik. Erik had no turn 3 plays, lacking a land, and Michael found himself once more receiving a Surgical Extraction during his turn—this time on Brainstorm and after he drew. It revealed Omniscience, Cabal Therapy, Living Wish, Academy Rector, Cavern of Souls, Surgical Extraction, and the two Forces.
“Feels like my deck is a lot smaller,” he admitted. He decided to Extract Erik’s Brainstorm as a Peek, revealing two Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage, Force of Will, and Sulfuric Vortex. That meant Michael couldn’t just fire his Rector out there and go off this turn without some tricks. He decided to play Cavern on Rector and then Living Wished for Phyrexian Tower, cracking Lotus Petal.
No land for Erik meant no plays. Michael played Swamp, a good draw, and prepared to go off on either this turn or the next—he decided to wait, and took a Lightning Bolt to the face in the end step. That gave Erik one more turn to find a land for Vendilion Clique to strip that Rector. He found Gitaxian Probe and paid 2 life for it, but still didn’t have a third land... just Delver of Secrets.
Erik's got a different kind of U/R Delver deck, with Jaces and Cliques in the main!
Going down to one untapped land left him mostly dead to Michael’s hand if he had any action in an upcoming draw step. Cabal Therapy from Michael met Force of Will removing one Clique, and Michael played Phyrexian Tower to cast Academy Rector. He sacrificed it to Therapy for the flashback, naming Vendilion Clique after removing the Rector to plop down Omniscience.
He played another Omniscience after that, for good measure. Delver of Secrets didn’t reveal anything, and a topdecked land let Erik attempt Snapcaster Mage, only to get Force of Willed for free! No plays for Michael, while Erik flipped Delver on Daze. Cabal Therapy named Sulfuric Vortex on the next turn, and Michael fell to 7 before Forcing Grim Lavamancer.
Then 4 life.
Then he got Lightning Bolted to death.
Michael 1, Erik 1
Incredibly, this was going to a third game! Each player had snagged victory from the jaws of defeat in their respective wins, which left Michael shaking his head as he sideboarded for a game on the play. “I got greedy that time,” Michael decided. “I figured I had enough turns.”
Mutual keeps in game 3, with Michael starting on Misty Rainforest for Tropical Island and Ponder, keeping the top three. Grim Lavamancer landed for Erik on the first turn, not quite the clock he wanted, and Michael fetched Swamp before casting Cabal Therapy to name Force of Will. He hit, revealing Ponder, Snapcaster Mage, Sulfuric Vortex, and two fetchlands.
Ponder found Erik Wasteland, which he used after attacking for 1 damage to leave Michael with only a Swamp. Island solved that situation, and Lotus Petal gave him access to plenty of colors. Erik played Scalding Tarn on the following turn and attacked for 1 damage before landing Delver of Secrets.
Underground Sea on Michael’s end put him to the dreaded four mana, and he broke Petal to Living Wish with two up to protect against Spell Pierce, finding Academy Rector. Fetching his way to 16 after missing a Delver trigger, Erik grabbed two more Volcanic Islands and played Snapcaster Mage for Ponder after an attack for 2 damage left Michael on 14.
Cavern of Souls on Cleric made it all potentially for naught. The Rector flashbacked Cabal Therapy, finding Omniscience once more and then discarding Force of Will while revealing Lightning Bolt, Sulfuric Vortex, and Snapcaster Mage.
Then Michael Living Wished for Emrakul, took his next turn... and Erik conceded with no permanents.
Michael 2, Erik 1