Quarterfinals: Josh Cicio vs. Justin Bransfield
Things started slowly between Josh’s Esper Control deck and Justin’s R/G Wolf Run Ramp deck, but that was just fine with both of them. Justin broke the ice with a Solemn Simulacrum on turn four while all Josh could manage was Ratchet Bomb that wasn’t going to do a lot against the huge threats Justin’s deck could produce.
Justin Bransfield pilots his battlecruisers into the fray.
A pair of Phantasmal Images helped Josh keep up with Justin’s mana production and legend rule Thrun, the Last Troll, but Primeval Titan crashed into play to really punish Josh as it fetched Justin’s endgame setup of Kessig Wolf Run and Inkmoth Nexus. Josh shrugged it off with a Forbidden Alchemy to brew up a plan. He came out of the tank with Oblivion Ring on the Primeval Titan and forced Justin to take to the air with his Inkmoth Nexus. Ghost Quarter made sure Justin wasn’t able to go crazy, however, and it was back over to Josh.
Sun Titan arrived and spilled three copies of Phantasmal Image back into play, all copying Sun Titan. The final copy brought back Ghost Quarter, and suddenly Josh had a lethal 24 damage on the board. Beast Within changed things up as it freed Primeval Titan from its bonds, letting Justin tap all but one of his 14 lands to Bonfire of the Damned for six and clear Josh’s board. Primeval Titan slammed in and undid the damage from Ghost Quarter.
Unimpressed, Josh calmly played a second Sun Titan and instantly rebuilt his board, forcing a bonfire-less Justin to stay home and pass the turn. Ghost Quarters ate the rest of Justin’s Inkmoth Nexuses and Oblivion Ring picked off Primeval Titan, allowing all four Sun Titans to rumble in for a quick kill.
Josh 1, Justin 0
Justin went on the beatdown plan for game two, starting with an on-time Rampant Growth into Solemn Simulacrum that Josh copied with Phantasmal Image. Acidic Slime kept the land count in Justin’s favor, and Zealous Conscripts pushed it further, threatening to steal Josh’s Ghost Quarter and forcing him to use it as a self-inflicted Stone Rain. Phantasmal Image and Acidic Slime traded, but Josh was down to 13 from this and the next attack and facing down a Primeval Titan that he couldn’t counter thanks to Cavern of Souls.
Josh Cicio's Esper Control deck overpowers all comers today.
Sun Titan and a clone looked to shore things up for Josh, but Karn Liberated obliterated that plan by eating the real Sun Titan and letting Primeval Titan smash Josh down to 7. Ponder found another Phantasmal Image that copied the Zealous Conscripts to return the blow out by stealing Karn and using it to wax the Primeval Titan, evening things up a little.
Continuing the back-and-forth game of trump, Inferno Titan smoked both of Josh’s Phantasmal Images and Primeval Titan backed it up after Josh kicked out with Celestial Purge. Sun Titan rebought the fallen Phantasmal Images, but Justin found a miracle waiting for him. Bonfire of the Damned threatened to put an immediate end to the game as Josh was on a scant 7 life and Justin had just under a million land in play, but Josh had found the Negate to cut it off. Another Primeval Titan completed his turn and he put both of his giants in front of Josh’ s real, attacking Sun Titan. Gideon Jura pumped himself up to play a big game of catch the titan on the next turn, and the action was over to Justin.
Yet another Primeval Titan jumped out of his hand, and it seemed like the guy would never run out of giants. But Josh had done a good job of working his Sun Titans and Justin was down to one Inkmoth Nexus and no Kessig Wolf Runs thanks to a bevy of Ghost Quarters, and now it was looking like Josh was ready to take over. He let his Gideon die to a Batterskulled Inkmoth Nexus and Primeval Titan, but that just enabled a second copy of the planeswalker to assassinate the massive green man before cracking the remaining Inkmoth Nexus with Ghost Quarter.
Gideon Jura and the two cloned Sun Titans rumbled in, and now Justin was forced into blocking just to keep Josh’s damage output under control. That left Justin in bounce-and-replay Batterskull mode, which was not where he wanted to be. Josh had the same play available to him, but he also had Gideon Jura, a Sun Titan version of Phantasmal Image, and a lot more live draws than Justin had remaining, and Josh set about the long task of grinding Justin out through Batterskull.
Josh 2, Justin 0