Quarterfinals: Michael Braverman vs. Andrew Tenjum
Neither Junk Aristocrats nor Naya are considered big favorites in Standard currently, and coming into the Invitational you wouldn’t have thought these players are either. But that hasn’t stopped Michael and Andrew from getting this far. Which of these upstarts armed with Voice of Resurgence can make it one step closer to Invitational glory?
Andrew Tenjum keeps up the pressure.
Michael is the top seed, which would normally be a much bigger deal than it is here as a result of this match being best-of-five games. After wishing each other luck, the first game got underway with Michael’s turn one of Overgrown Tomb. Andrew too only played a shockland turn one (Temple Garden), and the first creature of the game was Voice of Resurgence from Michael. Andrew cast Avacyn’s Pilgrim turn two and also added Sunpetal Grove. Michael used turn three to attack, drawing first blood in the match, and resolving Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Andrew used his third turn to drop Loxodon Smiter and Avacyn’s Pilgrim number two with the help of Clifftop Retreat. Michael chose to sacrifice the Voice to create an Elemental token at end of turn.
Michael untapped and scavenged the Voice onto the Varolz to make it a 4/4 before also casting Doomed Traveler. The 4/4 legend entered the red zone and Andrew took four damage to fall to 14. Andrew attacked back with his Smiter, dropping Michael to 16, then cast Mizzium Mortars on the 3/3 Elemental token and also adding a voice of Resurgence of his own to the board. Michael cast Cartel Aristocrat and Blood Artist precombat, then attacked with the 4/4 regenerating troll warrior. Andrew declared Voice as blocker, and both the Blood Artist and Voice of Resurgence triggered to set life totals at 17-13 in Michael’s favor.
Andrew dropped another Voice of Resurgence for additional defense, then took his pair of 4/4s (Smiter and Elemental token) and turned them sideways. Michael blocked with Aristocrat in Smiter and Traveler on token, and before damage gave the Aristocrat protection from white by sacrificing the Human. Domri Rade post combat allowed Avacyn’s Pilgrim to fight Blood Artist off of the board. Life totals sat at Michael 19, Andrew 11.
Michael dropped Gavony Township on turn six, and scavenged the Traveler onto Varolz for an additional +1/+1 counter before attacking with naught but the Spirit token into Domri. Domri Rade died in combat from the flyer, and a second Cartel Aristocrat came down after combat for Michael. Andrew had the advantage now that Michael’s Blood Artist was gone, and especially after Selesnya Charm threatened to exile the now 5/5 Varolz! Michael sacrificed it in response, but it meant that Michael was only left with a pair of 2/2s and a 1/1 tapped flyer, to Andrew’s 5/5, 4/4, 2/2, and pair of 1/1s. Voice and Smiter entered battle for Andrew, and the Aristocrat that gained protection by sacrificing the earlier Varolz as well as the other Aristocrat (eating the Spirit to also be protected from green) took down the Loxodon Smiter. Michael fell to 17, and Andrew kept his foot on the gas by using Mizzium Mortars to kill off an Aristocrat post combat.
Michael simply drew and passed, and when Andrew found his second red source he quickly added Thundermaw Hellkite to the board. 5/5 Dragon, 5/5 token, and 2/2 Voice entered the red zone, and all Michael could do was take ten by blocking the Voice with Aristocrat and activating Township. A turn later, and facing down lethal damage, Michael scooped.
Andrew 1, Michael 0.
Michael had a pretty good start, but ended up a little flooded. Andrew, on the other hand, was able to stay afloat and knock off Blood Artist before it could take over the game. That, and a timely Selesnya Charm to take down a rare 5/5!
Michael Braverman's Junk Aristocrats are in top form.
“I thought you were a little favored game one,” said Andrew, clearly pleased with the first win under his belt. “I have few answers to a turn two Skirsdag High Priest on the draw before sideboarding.” We shall see if that changes after sideboarding, as Michael surely knows his odds go up if he is able to untap with the Innistrad cleric in play.
Once more on the play, Michael led with a tapped Godless Shrine. Andrew played his shockland untapped to cast Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Michael used turn two to cast Cartel Aristocrat, and Andrew parried back with Clifftop Retreat into Domri Rade. The +1 failed to find a creature lurking on top, and Andrew passed. Abrupt Decay took down the planeswalker, and Cartel Aristocrat knocked Andrew down to 16. Andrew was not done though, as Ghor-Clan Rampager entered the battlefield for the Naya pilot.
Garruk Relentless was the follow up from Michael, who made a 2/2 Wolf and passed. Andrew cast Ratchet Bomb precombat, then attacked Garruk with the 4/4 trampler from Gatecrash. Michael double blocked, and the three creatures died. Andrew simply dropped another Avacyn’s Pilgrim and land before ending his turn. Now untapping with Garruk in play, Michael cast another Aristocrat and made another 2/2 to get right back to where he started last turn. Andrew couldn’t do much except hope for a Thundermaw Hellkite, but none came.
Michael build up his board, adding Doomed Traveler and another Wolf, not committing any more to the board than necessary in the face of Ratchet Bomb’s possible explosiveness. Andrew, recognizing he now needed to get Garruk off the board, put a counter on the Bomb, untapped, and cast Missium Mortars with Overload to three-for-one Michael, but the Cartel Aristocrat survived and the Traveler pumped out a 1/1. That didn’t allow Andrew to get in any damage though, and he had to just pass right back.
Now free from Ratchet Bomb worries, Michael cast Lingering Souls with flashback and added another 2/2 to have the maximum amount of tokens at his disposal. Andrew could only muster a third Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Garruk’s Horde of Wolfs and Spirits brought Andrew entered the red zone, and Ratchet Bomb blew up preemptively to knock out the Aristocrat. Two Pilgrims blocked and killed a Wolf and Andrew fell to 4, and unable to find an out (and instead finding yet another land, joining the one already in hand and the six in play) scooped up for game 3.
Andrew 1, Michael 1.
The power of Garruk Relentless when it can be sufficiently protected cannot be underestimated in these creature-heavy matchups. Bitterblossom was a powerhouse as a 1/1 producer that cost life… a 2/2 producer that causes no life loss and can randomly pick off errant 1/1s is equally potent!
Andrew, on the play for the first time this match, played tapped shocklands for the first two turns while Michael’s first play was Cartel Aristocrat. Andrew shocked himself to be able to cast Loxodon Smiter on his turn three, and Michael came back with Abrupt Decay on the 4/4. Pillar of Flame emptied the board before Domri Rade resolved for Andrew, netting him Boros Reckoner off of the +1.
Another Abrupt Decay took out the littlest planeswalker before Michael could untap again, but Andrew dropped the Boros Reckoner it found. Doom Blade took care of that, and Michael followed up with Varolz and Cartel Aristocrat. Andrew cast Boros Reckoner on his turn before passing. Michael labored over his next play, and elected to cast and flashback his Lingering Souls instead of leaving mana open for Gavony Township…
But that opened the door for Andrew to cast a second Boros Reckoner and then follow it up immediately with a one mana Blasphemous Act! Andrew stacked the Boros Reckoner triggers to deal 26 damage to Michael in one fell swoop for the combo-kill.
Andrew 2, Michael 1.
Lest anyone forget that Boros Reckoner is the best Minotaur Wizard ever printed, let Andrew Tenjum remind you not to forget about the potent 3/3. Combos with Blasphemous Act and Domri Rade (using the fight ability to 2-for-1 opponents, or even deal them direct damage) should not be overlooked when setting up a game plan, and Michael became all too aware of that potential in the third game.
Michael led off with a mulligan, while Andrew kept. Back against the wall and down two cards after the first turn, Michael had to pull of some magic to stay alive. He led with Isolated Chapel, to which Andrew responded by dropping Stomping Ground. Michael used Appetite for Brains to show off Andrew’s hand of Pillar of Flame, Ratchet Bomb, Blasphemous Act, Scavenging Ooze, and three lands (including all of Andrew’s color requirements and Township) the 13 damage sweeper went away, and Michael added another Chapel. Andre cast his 2/2 Ooze.
Michael cast Cartel Aristocrat and dropped the Overgrown Tomb he drew. Pillar removed the Aristocrat from the game, and Ooze got things going damage-wise to drop Michael to 18. Gavony Township and Ratchet Bomb was Andrew’s follow up. Michael tapped four mana to cast Garruk Relentless, using a Township of his own, to Fend Off the Scavenging Ooze. Andrew decided to blow up Garruk, the Veil-Cursed with his Ratchet Bomb and then cast Ghor-Clan Rampager on his turn. Michael was able to cast Blood Artist and Voice of Resurgence to keep in the game.
Andrew fell to 16 from his last two land drops, but they allowed him to cast Avacyn’s Pilgrim and… is that...
The M13 mythic Angel has made its return! It made the Rampager 7/7, and after Michael blocked and triggers from Artist and Voice resolved life totals were 15 for Andrew and 14 for Michael. He tried to battle back with Cartel Aristocrat and then attacking with 3/3 Voice token, but the Angel was too sublime. Andrew added Loxodon Smiter before swinging in with 8/7 Sublime Archangel and dropping Michael to 6. Michael drew and cast Voice of Resurgence to keep alive, and 4/4 Elemental token attacked. It was blocked by Andrew’s Pilgrim, activating another Blood Artist trigger, and Michael ended his turn.
Now the impetus was on Andrew. Would Michael have kept back the Doom Blade or Tragic Slip all this time? Would attacking for twelve with his three four power creatures be better than one 7 mana flier? Remember, Gavony Township also is in play for Andrew. How could he close out this game before Michael clawed his way back from the brink?
Andrew decided to attack with just the Angel once more, forcing Michael to act. Michael did not have the kill spell, and Voice of Resurgence sacrificed to Aristocrat. Andrew activated Township to still present lethal damage, so Michael was forced to sacrifice the tapped Elemental token as well. Michael fell to 1, and Andrew also went down to 9.
Michael drew Temple Garden, but at one life couldn’t play it untapped for the Obzedat, Ghost Council that was stranded in his hand for the entire game. He swung for the fences, needing Andrew to block neither creature to get him for exact damage with Blood Artist, Obzedat, and combat. But Andrew blocked them both, and Michael passed the turn. All of Andrew’s creatures entered the red zone, and the last Blood Artist trigger was not enough to pull Michael out of the hole.
Andrew 3, Michael 1
Andrew's creature-on-creature tech of Sublime Archangel proves that even base sets that were released over a year ago can still have an impact. Andrew Tenjum moves on to the semifinals!