Quarterfinals: Jacob Tobey vs. Ben Black
Ben’s ‘throwback’ version of Bant Hexproof has no M14 cards. In fact, it has no Dragon’s Maze cards! Can Jacob Tobey’s R/G Aggro deck, popularized by Brian Kibler at the World Championships, keep pace?
People haven't been able to touch Ben's Bant Hexproof!
Ben, on the play, mulliganed to six, but had a halfway decent draw anyway with Invisible Stalker on turn two. Tobey led off with Arbor Elf into Flinthoof Boar with haste, not a bad draw in its own right. Ben played Strangleroot Geist and attacked for three himself the next turn, and when it comes to racing the Bant Hexproof deck is much better equipped than the R/G Aggro deck. Tobey was able to add a turn three Ghor-Clan Rampager to his board on turn three after combat though so he was in decent shape.
Ben dropped Spectral Flight on Strangleroot Geist… and then another, making the Geist a 6/5 flying Spirit. Tobey fell to 11 on attacks, with Invisible Stalker sitting back on defensive duty. Tobey attacked for seven, the Boar and the Rampager, and Ben fell to 7 as a result. He added Thundermaw Hellkite postcombat for defense against the 6/5 Flyer. Ben needed to play a spell that would change the race in his favor soon or he would end up losing this particular race.
Rancor was added to Invisible Stalker… and then Ben passed, with one card in hand. Tobey, having the knowledge of Ben’s decklist, suspected the Simic Charm (as Ben had four) and thought long and hard before attacking with three creatures: 5/5 Dragon, 4/4 Rampager, and 3/3 Boar. Before blockers, the Charm Unsummoned the Dragon. Ben’s 3/1 Stalker stood in front of Flinthoof Boar and allowed the Rampager to come through, and after the creatures traded and Ben fell to 3. Tobey recast his Thundermaw Hellkite postcombat as well as another Arbor Elf.
Ben needed to draw Unflinching Courage or something similar to prevent losing, but did not find one. Instead a Rancor found its way onto the Geist, and the now 8/5 traded with the front half of Strangleroot Geist. His other card, a freshly drawn Avacyn’s Pilgrim, was no help. Overloaded Mizzium Mortars cleared out any potential blockers and Tobey took game 1.
Tobey 1, Ben 0.
Tobey’s relatively quick (and beefy) draw combined with none of the particularly potent auras for this deck (namely the aforementioned Courage and the first strike-granting Ethereal Armor) coming out to play led the underdog R/G Aggro deck to take out the Hexproof menace in the first game.
In between games Tobey probed about the omission of both Voice of Resurgence and Fiendslayer Paladin from Ben’s list. Ben answered, “I don’t think they’re that good,” in Bant Hexproof. A good enough reason as any!
Tobey's hoping to channel the Dragonmaster in this top 8!
Tobey was the one who had to mulligan his opener this time, and when he kept Ben led off with Breeding Pool. Tobey had Arbor Elf off of Forest once more, and Ben kept an even slower hand this time around with just another shockland turn two with no other play. Tobey had the turn two guy with haste again, a Strangleroot Geist, and Ben played out his Loxodon Smiter turn three. Mizzium Mortars killed the Elephant Soldier, and Strangleroot Geist number two joined the party as well as Ben fell to 14. Ben followed up with Loxodon Smiter number two with Ethereal Armor. Tobey didn’t let a little thing like a 5/5 first striker let him down, and played Flinthoof Boar with haste before swinging in with his three non-Elf creatures. Boar got crushed, and Ben fell to 10.
Ben was pretty flooded now, bplaying land number five, but Rancor made the Smiter 8/6 with first strike and trample. Tobey swung with both Geists into the huge pachyderm combatant, and Ben fell to 8 after one Geist bit the dust.
“Well, I gotta draw something…”
Ben maligned as he only was able to draw a very late Invisible Stalker and passed. Tobey dropped another Flinthoof Boar and swung with the (non-Elf) team. Ben fell to 5 after a 3/2 Geist snuck through for damage while the other two attackers died. Ben drew another Rancor to make the Smiter a formitable foe, 11/7 first strike trample, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold off Tobey’s third Flinthoof Boar, pair of 3/2 Strangleroot Geists, and pair of mana elves. Tobey turned all of his guys sideways, and Ben extended his hand.
Tobey 2, Ben 0.