Quarterfinals: Jim Davis vs. Bryant Cook
The first game saw Bryant flipping for Ad Nauseam on 2 life!
Jim dropped to six cards after Bryant kept seven... and then Bryant passed on turn 1 with no plays! Goblin Lackey entered play for Jim, and Bryant began the next turn with Gitaxian Probe. In the cleanup step, he binned an Infernal Tutor—that’s one way to get rid of extra tutors, I suppose, and it might mean he had a turn 3 kill on the way.
Calculating damage, Jim knew his best bet was to get in as much as he could as fast as he could. His Lackey landed, putting in Matron before he went searching for Goblin Piledriver, which he cast immediately after. Jim might be threatening a two-turn clock from this spot...
Fetching with a fresh Misty Rainforest, Bryant grabbed Underground Sea. “Am I dead now?” Jim asked. “There’s a distinct possibility,” Bryant said. He dropped three Lotus Petals into play and then cast Rite of Flame to play Ad Nauseam on 17 life with no mana floating and no land drops available.
Dropping to 2 life, he kept going! He didn’t have a Dark Ritual in the mix, with just two Chrome Mox and Lion’s Eye Diamond for mana sources and two Rite of Flame the only rituals. He stopped with the second Chrome Mox, putting one into play on black and the other into play on red, leaving him with just one Rite of Flame, which he cast for three red. Lion’s Eye Diamond for more red allowed to cast Empty the Warrens for 22 Goblins, and he ended the turn afterward... just a mana shy of Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony.
Jim drew, and passed the turn. Bryant attacked with 16 Goblins, leaving six back on defense to prevent double Gempalm Incinerator or some other combination suddenly exposing him. Only a Prospector + Warchief + Sharpshooter or a Prospector + War Marshal + Siege-Gang Commander was dangerous here as long as he kept a lot of blockers around. Jim took the 16 damage, and Bryant Burning Wished for Grapeshot.
An Incinerator did take care of one of Bryant’s Goblins in the end step, and another one got Incineratored during Jim’s own turn... but Bryant still had four blockers left.
Bryant 1, Jim 0
Jim started with Skirk Prospector in game 2, and Bryant played just Misty Rainforest on the first turn. Jim’s Prospector attacked, and Thalia immediately followed. Bryant responded to the hate creature by fetching Underground Sea and casting Brainstorm. He’d been basically all set for a turn 2... but no longer. Prospector popped for Lackey afterward, and Jim passed.
Bryant paid 2 mana to cast Lotus Petal and Lion’s Eye Diamond, seemingly preparing to go through Thalia the hard way. City of Brass would make that a smidge costly, but with Dark Ritual, two Rite of Flames, Infernal Tutor, and another land... there was a distinct possibility that Bryant had a turn 3 kill against the 2/1!
Lackey put in Warchief, and Piledriver landed alongside it as Bryant dropped to 15. He could theoretically be dead soon, and he got to work on his turn. Rite of Flame broke even, but the second one netted him a mana before he cast Dark Ritual to gain another mana, going to five total mana before casting Infernal Tutor and breaking Lion’s Eye Diamond—at which point Jim cast Mindbreak Trap, earning the concession.
An impressive try through Thalia, but little gets through Mindbreak Trap.
Jim examines Bryant's decklist during sideboarding.
Bryant 1, Jim 1
Bryant kept his opening seven, while Jim mulliganed to four cards—not a great start. He kept, and Bryant began with Gemstone Mine and nothing else. Fetching, Jim searched for Plateau and cast Goblin Lackey. Bryant played Underground Sea and cast Cabal Therapy for Thalia, missing and seeing Goblin Piledriver alongside two lands.
He fell to 19 when Jim attacked and put in Piledriver, and his Gitaxian Probe on the next turn revealed that Jim had drawn Mindbreak Trap! Duress stripped it from Jim’s hand, but he peeled Siege-Gang Commander on the next turn and jammed it into paly via Goblin Lackey—Jim had lethal on the board, with Bryant at 15!
Rite of Flame for Burning Wish got Grapeshot, and two Lotus Petals gave him six Grapeshots, clearing out everything but two Goblin tokens, with Jim jamming Bryant for 2 more damage to leave him on 13. Jim swung Bryant to 11 and then Wastelanded Underground Sea, but Bryant had a fetch for Underground Sea to replace it.
An absurd upset sees Jim Davis go to four cards on the draw AND WIN.
Bryant 1, Jim 2