Quarterfinals: Javier Arevalo vs. James Allen
Austin Yost set the world—well, the Washington, DC Legacy Open—afire two weekends ago with Burn, and James Allen sought to do the same today. He'd made it this far, and a favorable pairing against Javier Arevalo's U/B Delver deck meant James might be making a run for the trophy. Could Burn claim running trophies?
James hopes to continue his trend of lighting everyone on fire.
Javier began the game with Scalding Tarn, passing to James. Mountain and suspend Rift Bolt from James wasn't an ideal start, but Javier had no turn 2, either—just another fetchland. James dealt 3 damage with the Bolt and cast Lava Spike after playing another Mountain, putting Javier to 14 life.
A third fetchland for Javier, who continued to pass. During his end step, Lightning Bolt put Javier to 11 life. That became 8 when Javier broke his three fetches for basics, casting Vendilion Clique during his opponent's draw step. He spotted Flame Rift, two Chain Lightning, and Figure of Destiny—that earned a sigh of disgust. Sending Flame Rift to the bottom, Javier hoped James wouldn't have even more fire.
James 1, Javier 0
“This is like my worst matchup of all time,” Javier admitted as they shuffled. “I've only beaten Mono Red once in like, eight times.” “Sorry you had to play against me so soon,” James replied. Javier snap-kept his hand in game 2, falling to 19 as he fetched Island and cast Delver of Secrets. James one-upped him with Goblin Guide on turn 1, but Javier had Daze.
Delver did not reveal on Javier's turn, and he attacked for 1 to even the score before replaying his Island and passing the turn. James Lava Spiked Javier, and ended his turn. Inquisition of Kozilek off the top flipped Delver, and Javier attacked for 3. Playing Polluted Delta, he broke it for Swamp and cast the Inquisition, taking Chain Lightning and leaving James with just Price of Progress.
He played Mountain, and passed. Javier swung for 3 damage, played Island, and ended the turn. James had another land and nothing else, falling to 10 when Javier attacked. The attempt to Chain Lighting Insectile Aberration met a straight up Counterspell from Javier, and the beats continued.
Putting James to 7 life, Javier Brainstormed with a fetchland at the ready, playing Mishra's Factory as well. During his own turn, James aimed Rift Bolt at the Aberration, which resolved. Javier fetched, falling to 14 life for a third Island. He swung James to 5 with Mishra's Factory, ending his turn after a Wasteland destroyed the Barbarian Ring James had played without threshold. He could have Fireblasted Javier and chucked the Ring in response, getting some damage out of the deal and falling to three lands, but declined.
James played another Ring and passed, leaving Javier to tank over whether he should expose Factory. He decided to do so, and James played Price of Progress before popping his Ring to kill that Factory. James drew, and passed—Javier cast Snapcaster Mage on Brainstorm.
He swung James to 1 life and cast Delver of Secrets, making it do or die time for James… who died, after Chain Lightning killed Delver but a Snapcaster Mage on Counterspell prevented Fireblast from killing the other Mage.
James 1, Javier 1
Javier's not optimistic about this matchup, but he's making the best of it.
James took the play and began with Lava Spike after both players kept, while Javier started on Swamp and Inquisition of Kozilek, discarding one of three Lightning Bolts. James drew and passed, sitting on his Bolts. Javier passed turn 2 without a land drop, taking 6 damage in Lightning Bolts at the end of his own turn.
Untapping, James fired Chain Lightning at Javier and put him to 8 life. Out of many choices, Javier played Engineered Explosives for one rather than move to cleanup. James revealed Fireblast when Javier cast Inquisition of Kozilek—big game! James passed again, and Javier drew Island. He lived in perennial fear of Flame Rift combining with that Fireblast for lethal, and passed the turn.
Lava Spike targeted Javier for another 3 damage, knocking him to 5 life and making most of his fetchlands dead draws without Force of Will. He cast Brainstorm to dig for some help during the end of James' turn, but hadn't found much. He played Volcanic Island, sighed, and tapped out for Vendilion Clique. James shrugged, replying with Fireblast on Javier, who went to 1 life.
Vendilion Clique spotted Mountain, and Javier passed the turn. James drew Mountain, played Mountain, and passed the turn right back. Javier attacked James to 17 and sighed, casting Delver of Secrets. Figure of Destiny for James gave him a threat, and he decided to try resolving it. Boosting it to 2/2, he lost the little guy to Ghastly Demise.
Javier's Delver revealed Daze, putting James on a three-turn clock now. He went to 11, and Javier was suddenly looking like he might be in this game—two counterspells would be enough to seal the deal for sure, and if James drew no relevant cards then he'd simply be dead.
James played Mountain and passed—Javier hit his fourth land for Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and tapped out to fateseal James. He left the card place—a Red Elemental Blast—and attacked James to 5 life. James used the Blast to kill Clique and ended his turn, buying one more draw step of life, but against fateseal.
Drawing for turn, Javier chuckled. “Unbelievable,” he said. The next fateseal was a thinker, and Javier eventually decided to bottom it. Attacking James to 2 life, he passed the turn—Javier cast Vendilion Clique during the draw step, only to see that James had drawn an unbeatable form of burn—Barbarian Ring.
Visibly sinking in his chair, Javier extended the hand in defeat. Just as he'd thought he might sneak away with the win, it was stolen in a single draw step.
James 2, Javier 1