Quarterfinals: Gary Wong vs. Evan Boritas
Gary Wong had sustained an early draw and a late loss but made it into the Top 8 anyway, sitting in sixth place. That put him in the crosshairs of third seed Evan Boritas, on Jund Aggro. Could U/W/R take the match?
After a mulligan Evan began with Mountain and Rakdos Cackler. Gary had Hallowed Fountain tapped for turn 1, falling to 18 and relieved to see Evan play only Forest on turn 2. Augur of Bolas missed for Gary on the second turn, but the body earned a Searing Spear in the end step to keep Cackler attacking.
Adding Dreg Mangler to the board, Evan was beginning to build some real pressure. Gary stumbled on turn 2, Thought Scouring himself in his own turn prior to playing Glacial Fortress. That gave him the mana to Mizzium Mortars Dreg Mangler, and he was back in range of safety, against only Rakdos Cackler.
Evan drew Burning-Tree Emissary and cast it before playing a second Dreg Mangler, putting Gary to 8 life with 7 power now on the board—not even counting the potential for Scavenger! Gary went to 6 for Hallowed Fountain prior to using Snapcaster Mage to flashback Searing Spear on the new Mangler.
The dead Plant Zombie returned to the field in counter form, boosting Rakdos Cackler to 5/5 and earning a chump from Snapcaster Mage while the Emissary stayed home. Trading the 2/2 for 5 damage here would’ve been one way to go, but Evan decided to hang on for some more oomph. Augur of Bolas threatened to neutralize that, and the Azorius Charm that followed meant Evan only got in a chump while losing his second Scavenge on the Emissary.
Snapcaster Mage for Azorius Charm made the same move on the next turn, and now Evan was back to just 2/2s against an opponent on 6 life. Gary took total control on the next turn—he played Boros Reckoner.
Another Snapcaster Mage, this one for Thought Scour, while Evan just sat on his creatures and waited for a chance. Gary swung for 5 with Reckoner and Snapcaster Mage, passing turn on seven mana with Restoration Angel in the wings if Evan got any ideas.
In a couple of turns, it was lights out.
Gary 1, Evan 0
Evan's on Experiment Jund, one of the new archetypes made possible by Gatecrash.
Another quick mulligan for Evan, while Gary kept. Up against the wall on six cards, Evan was looking for a little help here. Stomping Ground for Evan and no one-drop, while Gary made Sacred Foundry. A second Foundry on turn 2 looked awkward, but Evan’s first creature came on turn 3 in the form of Dreg Mangler.
A predictable turn 3 Boros Reckoner from Gary after playing Clifftop Retreat—how could he keep nothing but Boros lands with anything else? Evan Duressed and revealed Steam Vents, Izzet Staticaster, Augur of Bolas, Sphinx’s Revelation, Azorius Charm, and Boros Charm—he discarded the Sphinx’s Revelation and would now need to tread very carefully considering the potential Gary had for infinite life. He swung, and Gary declined to block, going to 14.
Steam Vents cost Gary 2 life, and he played Augur of Bolas to scrounge up an Unsummon from the top three cards. That left him with two mana up, but it wasn’t likely he’d risk giving first strike when his Boros Charm could protect the Reckoner so well, so Evan had a good shot at bluffing in three damage. Then again, because it survived he knew Evan was struggling to topdeck an answer...
Evan did attack, and Gary considered the situation before blocking. Ghor-Clan Rampager came down, boosting the 3/3 to a 7/7 and safe from the Reckoner. Gary declined to respond, binning his Reckoner and dropping to 8 life. Evan added Flinthoof Boar to the table, down to one card now.
Another Reckoner for Gary, this time with Steam Vents untapped. That Unsummon offered him protection from the Abrupt Decay Evan cast, but he declined to play it. Evan swung for 6 damage, and Gary bounced one of them stay on a safer 5 life, declining to chump. When Evan decided not to recast Dreg Mangler, Gary knew to be wary. He was likely just holding to dodge Supreme Verdict, but there could be other reasons.
Drawing and passing, Gary sat on 4 lands as the Mangler returned. Both 3/3s attacked, and Gary cast Snapcaster Mage in order to block the Mangler with both of his creatures, killing Augur and putting Gary to 2 life. He drew and passed, holding off on casting another Reckoner in order to retain access to Izzet Staticaster and create another trade.
Unfortunately for Gary, one Hellrider made that decision irrelevant and killed him on the spot.
Gary 1, Evan 1
Gary's U/W/R list has access to the infinite life combo.
Steam Vents for Gary and turn 1 Experiment One for Evan. Gary played Sulfur Falls and simply passed on turn 2, representing a range of removal spells but likely lacking an Augur of Bolas. Rootbound Crag for Emissary gave Evan one evolve trigger, but the mana went into a Searing Spear at Gary’s dome.
His own Searing Spear killed the Experiment, and Gary tapped out for Izzet Charm on his third turn, seemingly in search of lands. Pitching two Azorius Charms, he played another Sulfur Falls—did he have no white mana? Dreg Mangler punished the stumble, and Gary fell to 12 life as he was attacked for 5 damage.
Gary had found lands now, but declined to make a play with five mana available. Evan knew that smelled like Restoration Angel, a card he would likely be hard-pressed to answer in this particular position. Committing more creatures would leave very vulnerable to a topdecked white mana for Supreme Verdict, however. In the end, he decided to attack with Flunkies and Emissary.
The Angel blinked Augur into Thought Scour, but Rampager made sure Flunkies could live through Gary’s block. He took 3 trample, going to 9 life as Augur bounced off Emissary. The Augur swung on the next turn, and a shockland for white let Gary cast his Verdict. Evan needed follow-up on four mana and had it—Falkenrath Aristocrat. When he moved to attack, he lost the 41 to Gary’s Searing Spear, and the board seemed stable.
Gary passed the next turn, while Evan took 2 for a second red source and cast Hellrider. Gary responded by cycling Azorius Charm and then Unsummoning the Hellrider—smidge awkward, but it got the job done. Untapping, he played Sphinx’s Revelation for three and a tapped shockland.
His 10 life became 6 when Hellrider returned to the battlefield, but he’d have a fresh hand available now. Casting Boros Reckoner, Gary shipped the turn with four mana untapped but only Izzet Staticasters in his hand. Flinthoof Boar for Evan forced Gary to 4 life immediately, and he cast Izzet Staticaster to let him block it all—but another Ghor-Clan Rampager got through exactly lethal damage.
Gary 1, Evan 2