Quarterfinals: Jake Xu vs. Darrel Feltner
Jake Xu was bringing Storm Combo to battle, and he’d face an uphill climb against Darrel Feltner’s U/W Counterbalance strategy.
Underground Sea into Preordain started the party for Jake, while Darrel got a Sensei’s Divining Top into play on his first turn. Jake fired off a Main phase Brainstorm on his second turn, but failed to find a second land. He did find Cabal Therapy, however, and he used Lotus Petal to cast it, naming Counterbalance. It was a hit! He got rid of the pesky enchantment and left Darrel with Swords to Plowshares, Council’s Judgement, a pair of Rest in Peace, and a Polluted Delta.
Darrel stuck one of his Rest in Peaces into play, and shipped back to Jake, who found a Sensei’s Divining Top of his own. He gave it a spin on his next turn, still not finding a second land, and put Lotus Petal into play to keep from discarding. Darrel spun his own top at Jake’s end step, and found a Counterbalance waiting for him on top. He quickly untapped, drew it, and cast it, making a bid to lock Jake out of the game.
The game now slowed considerably, as both players took turns spinning their Sensei’s Divining Tops and making their land drops. Jake attempted a Brainstorm (countered by Counterbalance) but didn’t make any moves otherwise. Darrel for his part was content to keep on developing his manabase, and made no attempts to play any spells either.
After drawing up to 8 again, Jake decided to make his move. He first cast Dark Ritual to see what was lingering on top. Darrel flipped over Swords to Plowshares with his Counterbalance to counter it. He tried Lion’s Eye Diamond next. Darrel spun his Top, but the LED resolved! A second LED came right behind it, and Jake thought for a moment before trying out Cabal Ritual next. Darrel spun his top again, and this time flipped over Rest in Peace. Seeing that Darrel had access to both a CMC 1 and 2 card, Jake was done trying to combo off for this turn.
Darrel wasn’t done with the turn yet, however. He spun the top one more time, then tapped it to draw, and flipped over Entreat the Angels for a single 4/4 Angel. He quickly got the Sensei’s Divining Top back into play and started beating down for 4. With Swords to Plowshares and Rest in Peace still floating on top of his deck, Jake could never resolve another relevant spell, and within a few turns he had fallen to the Angel attacks.
Darrel Feltner 1, Jake Xu 0
Jake had Duress to get things started, seeing a hand of Force of Will, Counterbalance, Entreat the Angels, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and three lands. He sniped the Counterbalance that had been such a thorn on his side the previous game, leaving Darrel with just Force of Will has a line of defense. He had a Ponder on his next turn, then a Brainstorm on his turn 3, but passed it back to Darrel, who snuck a Rest in Peace into play.
Cabal Therapy from Jake on his fourth turn resolved, and he named Force of Will. It knocked the one he knew about out of Darrel’s hand, and Darrel revealed that the mystery cards he had drawn so far this game had all been lands. He followed up with a Duress to get rid of Jace. Darrel drew and played a land, and then it was go time.
Jeff cast Cabal Ritual (1), Lotus Petal (2), Lion’s Eye Diamond (3), and Lion’s Eye Diamond (4). He then cast Infernal Tutor (5) and cracked his Lion’s Eye Diamond, then retrieved and cast Ad Nauseam .(6) After flipping over a huge pile of cards, he used Cabal Ritual (7), a free Massacre (8), Infernal Tutor (9), and then the lethal Tendrils of Agony.
Jake Xu 1, Darrel Feltner 1
Darrel led with an Island, and that let him use a Brainstorm when Jake fired off Cabal Therapy on his first turn. He named Counterbalance and missed, seeing Island, Counterspell, Vendilion Clique, Geist of Saint Traft, and a pair of Rest in Peace. Darrel wasted no time getting the Rest in Peace into play, but was missing a third land to get his clock established.
Jake Brainstormed to start his third turn, then used Misty Rainforest to shuffle away the chaff, then a second Brainstorm. He found and cast Cabal Therapy, which resolved, and named Vendilion Clique. It hit, and left Darrel with Entreat the Angels, Force of Will, Geist of Saint Traft, Rest in Peace, and Counterspell left in hand. Darrel drew an Arid Mesa, which he swiftly played and cracked to get Geist of Saint Traft into play.
Jake fired off a series of cantrips on his next turn, chaining Brainstorm into Brainstorm into Ponder, and culminating with a Cabal Therapy to get rid of Darrel’s Counterspell. Darrel drew Geist of Saint Traft, a blue card he needed to turn his Force of Will on, and began getting his beats on with Geist of Saint Traft and his accompanying Angel. It didn’t prove necessary, and Jake didn’t find an action spell to combo off in the next two turns, and the Geist took the match for Darrel.
Darrel Feltner 2, Jake Xu 1