Quarterfinals: Joe Lossett vs. Wilson Hunter
Both players had posted impressive 8-0s in the Swiss: Wilson on the first day of competition, and Joe over the eight Legacy rounds with his Miracles deck. Could Wilson’s Storm deck force its way through Joe’s countermagic and disruption?
Not a bad turn 2 for Wilson.
Joe was on the play, a huge boon in the matchup, and led off with a Flooded Strand. Wilson had only a fetchland too, playing Bloodstained Mire and passing right back. Joe again had land-go, and Wilson sprung into action on his second turn.
He started by fetching an Underground Sea and casting Dark Ritual. It resolved. His next play was Cabal Therapy. It resolved too, and Wilson named Force of Will. Joe showed him Terminus, Island, Pyroblast, Red Elemental Blast, Tundra, and sure enough, a Force of Will, which went to the graveyard.
Wilson cast another Dark Ritual, and then a Cabal Ritual without threshold, bringing his Black mana count up to five. He played Lion’s Eye Diamond, then played fetched up a Volcanic Island to cast Empty the Warrens, making twelve 1/1 Goblins. He sacrificed one to flashback Cabal Therapy, sniping Joe’s Terminus, and passed the turn.
Joe: “If only you’d needed some blue cards to set that up.”
Joe didn’t find a sweeper on his turn, and he played a land and passed. The Goblins knocked him down to 8. Joe took one last draw step and conceded to lethal damage.
Once again on the play, Joe played a Scalding Tarn and passed. Wilson fetched up Tropical Island and cast Ponder, leaving his cards on top. Joe played a Tundra and passed back, and Wilson put him to the test on his turn two with a Xantid Swarm. Joe responded with a Brainstorm, allowed the Swarm to resolve, then fetched up another Tundra and disposed of it on Wilson’s end step with Swords to Plowshares.
Wilson: “We talked a lot last night about how many of those you would leave in.”
After laying an island as his third land, Wilson cast another Ponder, then passed back. Joe went for an end step Vendilion Clique, and Hunter cast Brainstorm in response to the trigger to hide his goodies. He revealed two Dark Rituals, a Cabal Ritual, a Tendrils of Agony, an Abrupt Decay, and a Polluted Delta. Joe decided those cards were fine, and sent none to the bottom.
Vendilion Clique came across for 3 damage, dropping Wilson to 15, and Joe passed the turn. Wilson simply played a land and passed it right back. Joe took the opportunity at Wilson’s end step to cast Brainstorm, but decided not to break his fetchland and shuffle away the cards he put back.
Wilson: “That’s a bad sign.”
Joe untapped and played a Sensei’s Divining Top, and Wilson had a reponse. He cast Dark Ritual to get up to 5 mana, then played an Ad Nauseam with a Polluted Delta untapped. Joe thought for a while before casting Spell Pierce, prompting Wilson to fetch up a Swamp and cast his other Dark Ritual to pay for it. The Ad Nauseam resolved.
Lion’s Eye Diamond, land, Brainstorm, Cabal Ritual, Ponder, land, Abrupt Decay, land, and Gitaxian Probe came off the top. Wilson considered a moment before deciding not to keep going. He fell to 4 Life. The Sensei’s Divining Top finally resolved, Joe gave it a spin, and passed the turn.
With a packed grip, Wilson hoped to get the job done this turn. He kicked off by paying 2 life to cast Gitaxian Probe (#1), seeing Red Elemental Blast and Venser, Shaper Savant. Next up was Brainstorm (#2), which Joe allowed to resolve. Wilson played a Polluted Delta and cracked it, falling to 1 life. Cabal Ritual (#3) brought him up to five black mana in the pool, then Wilson went for another Brainstorm (#4), which Joe again allowed to resolve. Another Cabal Ritual (#5) gave him eight total black in the pool. Wilson tapped his last source of blue mana to cast Ponder (#6), finding another Cabal Ritual (#7) which gave him eleven black total. Two Lion’s Eye Diamonds came down (#8, #9), and Wilson then cast Tendrils of Agony, draining Joe for 20.
Both players played lands and passed back and forth for the first three turns. When Joe made a move to crack his Scalding Tarn at Wilson’s end step, Wilson responded with a Brainstorm, playing around Pyroblast effects. Joe played Vendilion Clique afterward, and Wilson responded to the trigger by fetching up a Tropical Island Brainstorming again. He revealed Dark Ritual, Ponder, Abrupt Decay, Volcanic Island, and three Lion’s Eye Diamonds, and Joe allowed him to keep them all.
Joe untapped and attacked Wilson down to 16, then cast a Sensei’s Divining Top and passed the turn without a land drop. Wilson went for Xantid Swarm on his turn, which resolved. He passed back.
Joe went to work with Sensei’s Divining Top at the end step to find an answer, and one appeared, as Swords to Plowshares came in his draw step to answer the Swarm. He attacked Wilson to 13 and passed with three mana open. Wilson Pondered on his own turn, then fetched up a swamp and paid 2 life to cast Gitaxian Probe. Joe showed him Counterbalance, Counterspell, Swords to Plowshares, and Snapcaster Mage. Wilson used Abrupt Decay to get rid of Joe’s Vendilion Clique before ending his turn.
Having drawn out the Abrupt Decay he knew about, Joe know felt safe casting a Counterbalance. It resolved, and he passed back to Wilson with the lock in play. Wilson began his turn by trying for a Brainstorm, and Joe responded to his Counterbalance trigger by putting the Sensei’s Divining Top on top of his deck to counter it. Wilson saw no way to advance any further, and passed the turn back.
The Top came back into play, and the staredown commenced. Joe passed to Wilson, Wilson drew and passed to Joe, who passed it right back. When Wilson again had no play, Joe made some moves, first spinning his top then tapping it to draw a card, then attempting a Brainstorm. With the Brianstorm still on the stack, Wilson attempted an Ad Nauseam, but Joe shut him down with a Flusterstorm. Joe simply replayed the Top on his own turn and passed to Wilson, who had no play. Joe snuck a Snapcaster Mage into play at Wilson’s end step to reestablish a clock.
The next draw step from Wilson was a big one, as Abrupt Decay showed up to provide an uncounterable means of breaking out of the Counter-Top lock. He cast it and passed back to Joe, but Joe simply replaced it with another Counterbalance from his hand, which was enough to earn a concession.
Joe checks for Terminus against Wilson's Goblin army.
On the play for the first time in the match, Wilson led off with Underground Sea into Duress. He saw Island, Tundra, Brainstorm, Counterbalance, Rest in Peace, and two Vendilion Cliques, and got rid of Joe’s Brainstorm. Joe played a land and passed it back, and Wilson fired off with more discard, casting a Thoughtseize. The new card in Joe’s hand was a Scalding Tarn, and Wilson sent Counterbalance to the graveyard. He played a Lotus Petal as an insurance against topdecked Counterbalance, and passed.
Joe declined to play the Rest in Peace in his hand, simply playing his Scalding Tarn and ended his turn. Wilson used the Lotus Petal and his two lands on his turn to cast Grim Tutor, fetching a Dark Ritual that would allow him to cast the Ad Nauseam in his hand. Sensing danger, Joe cast Vendilion Clique on his own main phase, seeing Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Ad Nauseam, and Abrupt Decay. He sent the Ad Nauseam to the bottom and passed the turn back, crossing his fingers.
Wilson’s draw step gave him no traction, and he passed back. Joe attacked with Vendilion Clique and cast Rest in Peace. It resolved, exiling all graveyards, but didn’t stick around for long, as Wilson destroyed it with Abrupt Decay at Joe’s end step.
His draw step gave him an Infernal Tutor, and he cast both the Rituals in his hand before playing his Tutor, hellbent with two black mana in his pool and three untapped lands. He searched up Empty the Warrens and cast it, putting eight Goblins into play.
Now under a quick clock on-board, Joe went digging for an answer with a main phase Brainstorm. He passed after, and when the Goblins came swinging, he blocked one with Vendilion Clique and removed another with Swords to Plowshares, bringing the life totals to 13 apiece. Joe cracked Arid Mesa on his next upkeep, checked for Terminus, and didn’t find it. He did find Snapcaster Mage, which he used to flashback Swords to Plowshares and thin out another Goblin. On Wilson’s turn, the Snapcaster Mage traded with an attacking token, leaving Wilson with four 1/1s and dropping Joe to 8.
After combat, Wilson showed the two cards in hand were quite the powerful 1-2 punch: Lion’s Eye Diamond and Past in Flames. Both cards resolved, and Wilson went to work casting Rituals out of his graveyard. He finished up by re-casting Empty the Warrens for twelve more goblins.
Was Terminus on top for Joe? No. He had one more shot, though, as he passed the turn and then played Vendilion Clique on Wilson’s upkeep, targeting himself. He revealed a Force of Will, sent it to the bottom, and slowly revealed…
Venser, Shaper Savant. Joe extended the hand in defeat.