Quarterfinals: Matt Firek vs. Jason Janasiewicz
Piloting Mono-Blue Devotion, Matt had bucked the trend of splashing white for Detention Spheres and earned a slot in the Top 8 as a result. Jason, on the other hand, had chosen Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa’s most recent Grand Prix decklist card-for-card.
Jason sideboards after a quick first game.
Matt had clearly been tempted to keep but mulliganed, while Jason faced a similar decision with a Doom Blade-heavy hand that lacked black mana… but had plenty of Temples and a Syncopate. The power level of the removal in this matchup no doubt played a heavy role in Jason’s decision, as it would check Matt’s Bident and keep his Thassa from becoming a threat, especially when facing a mulligan.
Each player opened with lands, Jason scrying to the bottom but keeping with his second land once Matt cast Tidebinder Mage. Attacking Jason to 18, Matt added Nightveil Specter to the board and put Jason in a bind. He had Temple of Silence to open up black cards, but his Thoughtseize was too late to this party and he might not be able to Syncopate at this point either.
Fortunately for Jason, Matt jammed Bident and turned on the Syncopate. Taking 2 for a shockland, Jason followed with a freshly-drawn Supreme Verdict to bounce back into the lead. Matt mustered Frostburn Weird, but this was easy prey for Justin—a Doom Blade went for the Weird when it attacked, but Matt transformed it into a Frog Lizard in response.
That Frog Lizard tried to turn into another Frog Lizard when Jason fired another Doom Blade, but Dissolve countered this one to keep a young Cloudfin Raptor under control. Nightveil Specter grew it up, but Matt found himself once more at the mercy of Verdict. He rebounded with Master of Waves, a decent offense against an opponent on 12 life.
Jason played Jace and ticked down, grabbing an Elspeth and threatening to end Matt’s game in short order. He finished the Jace and attacked Jason for 2, adding Raptor to the board while mostly powerless. Judge’s Familiar evolved it, but Jason was once more ready with Supreme Verdict to put it Elspeth against the top of Matt’s deck. Needless to say, he closed it out from there.
Matt's opening sevens didn't cooperate most of the time.
Jason 1, Matt 0
Matt once more mulliganed, while Jason elected to keep a hand he seemed speculative on once more. Just an Island for Matt, while Temple of Deceit gave Jason some scrying. He had nothing but Temples during the early turns in fact, with Matt casting Frostburn Weird and then Thassa to try and push ahead. Jason was all but obligated to Gainsay Matt’s next spell if it would turn on the Thassa, just to control opposing damage output.
When no spell was forthcoming, Jason took just 2 damage from Frostburn Weird, Matt telegraphing his Gainsay. All Jason could do was run Sphere headlong into it, and the Bident of Thassa that followed put Jason to 11 life by turning on its namesake deity.
Doom Blade took out Frostburn Weird, forcing Matt into the position of potentially overextending against a Supreme Verdict. Gainsay caught a Nightveil Specter, and Matt tapped out for Tidebinder Mage before attacking Jason to 6. He would die if he tapped out for Elspeth, and neither Jace nor Supreme Verdict were particularly exciting options. A Revelation for three would see him fall to 2 life following Matt’s attacks—could it dig him out of the hole?
Jason drew two more cards, finding a Mutavault among them. “I think that wins it,” Jason admitted, and after drawing one more card he knew it to be so.
Jason 1, Matt 1
Judge’s Familiar got Matt onto the board while Jason started scrying up a storm, with Tidebinder Mage joining the crew. Turn 3 gave Jason the mana necessary for Dissolve but not to beat Familiar—Matt, however, was perfectly happy to just attack and pass. That gave Jason a Verdict to protect himself from the potential for a Bident, and Matt was stuck making a new Judge’s Faailiar and passing, his two mana indicating Gainsay.
Jason didn’t throw Jace into its path, letting the Bird peck home for 1 damage. When he tried to add Tidebinder Mage, Dissolve struck down the Mage as Matt couldn’t risk Jason landing a Jace at this time—if he had a Gainsay, he needed to keep it available, and if he didn’t then he needed to bluff it. Jason continued to draw and pass, making land drops with Jace in his hand. Matt’s next Tidebinder Mage all but confirmed the Gainsay, as his plays strongly implied he was keeping a two-drop coutner online.
Expecting the counter, Jason tossed away his Jace and debated how to proceed from there before passing. Matt dropped his own Jace, not the Bident that Jason had been prepared for, and when Matt ticked down Jason replied with Ultimate Price on the Mage in response. It was aggressive, but it worked—Matt held back his Familiar on defense rather than sacrificing to protect the Mage, with Jace on his mind. Jace did draw him Master… but Jason successfully resolved Elspeth!
Killing Jace, Matt grabbed two Islands and bottomed a third—ouch! Not a good time to get flooded. His Familiar dropped Jason to 13, and Matt added Nightveil Specter and Master of Waves—it was all-or-nothing. “Let’s see if I’m good at Magic,” Jason said, peeling a card off the top—Supreme Verdict indeed reduced Matt to nothing, and Mutavault knocked Matt to 18 before Jason recruited three more Soldier tokens.
Another Master wasn’t very imposing anymore, and Elspeth took over the game in short order.
Jason 2, Matt 1