Quarterfinals: Jacob Neighbors vs. Meru Bhanot
The power of Pack Rat had helped both Jacob Neighbors and Meru Bhanot slice through the swiss, but only one could advance to the semifinals. Would Jacob’s B/W Midrange prevail, or Meru’s Mono-Black Devotion?
Meru Bhanot slinging removal spells.
Both players led off with temples on their first turns, and Jacob had the first play of the game on turn 2 with a Thoughtseize, seeing Lifebane Zombie, Underworld Connections, Hero’s Downfall, Temple of deceit, and three Swamps. He took Meru’s Underworld Connections. On his next turn he had Pack Rat, but missed his third land drop. Meru disposed of it with Ultimate Price.
Jacob found his third land, but it was a tapped Temple of Silence. Meru made his first threat, a Desecration Demon, but it fell to an end step Ultimate Price. Next up was Lifebane Zombie, which got rid of Obzedat, Ghost Council and left Jacob with two Hero’s Downfalls and a Desecration Demon. It also met an end-step demise, this time due to Hero’s Downfall.
Jacob cast a Desecration Demon, which met Hero’s Downfall from Meru, and then followed up with Lifebane Zombie, seeing Swamp and Hero’s Downfall. This one stuck! It knocked Meru to 17, and Jacob had a post-combat Desecration Demon, which Meru decided was a big enough threat to use his Hero’s Downfall on.
Meru drew and cast a blocker, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, which set life totals to 16 Jacob, 19 Meru. Jacob had the Hero’s Downfall and attacked again, but Meru had yet another Gray Merchant, going back up to 18 and draining Jacob to 14. Jacob had Desecration Demon next, and Meru was out of answers. It came across for 6 next turn, knocking Meru to 12, and Jacob followed up with Underworld Connections, looking to close things out.
Meru had no play, and the Demon came attacking again, knocking Meru down to 6. Blood Baron of Vizkopa was the post-combat play this time. Meru needed something big if he hoped to stabilize, and found a Pack Rat. Would it be enough? He made a Rat and fed it to the Demon, but still took 4 from Blood Baron of Vizkopa, falling to 2 against the protection from black threat. He made a Pack Rat token at Jacob’s end step and took his draw step, looking for an out.
He didn’t find one.
Jacob Neighbors 1, Meru Bhanot 0
Jacob Neighbors askes if Meru would like to feed his Desecration Demon.
Both players made idle chit-chat about their previous day as they shuffled up for game 2.
Jacob: “You play this matchup much yesterday?”
Meru: “Once I think. You?”
Jacob: “Five times.”
Jacob led off with a Thoughtseize, seeing Duress, Lifebane Zombie, Underworld Connections, Erebos, God of the Dead, Temple of Deceit, and Swamp. He got rid of Meru’s Duress. Seeing that the coast was clear, he played Pack Rat on turn 2. Meru didn’t draw an answer, but he had found a third land with which to cast Underworld Connections.
Jacob declined to make extra rats on his own turn, casting Underworld Connections instead. Meru drew his cards and cast Lifebane Zombie, getting rid of Sin Collector, and leaving Jacob with Devour Flesh, Hero’s Downfall, and Lifebane Zombie. Jacob cleared out the Lifebane Zombie with a Devour Flesh and attacked for one again. Meru’s next play was Erebos, God of the Dead, which wasn’t quite in creature form just yet.
Pack Rat tokens finally began to emerge, as Jacob pitched Hero’s Downfall and came swinging with a 2/2 Rat. Meru found Gray Merchant of Asphodel, knocking Jacob down to 11, and then swung with the 5/6 Erebos, knocking him to 6. Jacob untapped and cast Devour Flesh. Meru considered his options before giving up the Erebos. Jacob tapped out for another Pack Rat and started considering his attacks, but Meru expedited the process by showing him the lethal Gray Merchant of Asphodel in his hand.
Meru Bhanot 1, Jacob Neighbors 1
A turn 1 discard spell from Jacob kicked off the decider, as Thoughtseize revealed Lifebane Zombie, Thoughtseize, two Gray Merchant of Asphodels, Temple of Deceit, and two Swamps. He took the Thoughtseize. Jacob followed up with turn 2 Pack Rat, and Meru failed to remove it. He did have Thoughtseize, seeing Devour Flesh, Hero’s Downfall, Godless Shrine, and another Pack Rat. He got rid of the Pack Rat from Jacob’s hand.
Jacob Thoughtseized again, taking the Lifebane Zombie and Leaving Meru with only a pair of Gray Merchants and lands. The Rat and Mutavault came swinging and Jacob passed with both players at 14. Meru had no play, and Jacob chose to make a Rat token and attack for 2. Meru didn’t find a fifth land for his Gray Merchants, but found a Pack Rat of his own. On his next turn, Jacob made a Rat token and attacked with his two 3/3s, and Meru activated Mutavault and double-blocked, losing both to trade with one of the Rats.
Meru drew and passed with no play, and Jacob played it safe, simply attacking for four with his two Rats and passing back with mana untapped. Meru found his fifth land and went for a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but Jacob killed it with Hero’s Downfall with the trigger on the stack. He untapped, activated his two Mutavaults, and came across for 12 to finish Meru off.
Jacob Neighbors 2, Meru Bhanot 1