Quarterfinals: Michael Malone vs. Donald Smith
Red vs. Green. Old vs. New. Both players are looking to play a little solitaire on their way to the semifinals. Who will win the race: Michael and his Elves or Donald and his flurry of Burn?
Michael, as the higher seed, will choose to go first. Both players ship back their opening grip, sharing a laugh as Michael reveals he had zero lands and Donald shows he had all lands. Both players like their six, however, and Michael leads with a Forest into an Elvish Mystic. Donald plays a Sacred Foundry untapped, taking two damage, in order to Lightning Bolt the Elf. Donald plays a Cavern of Souls, naming Elf, and plays an Elvish Mystic and a Llanowar Elves. Donald only has a Wooded Foothills, followed by a pass.
The big plays start with Michael playing an Elvish Archdruid and attacking for two. Donald responds by fetching a Mountain and aiming a Lightning Helix at his opponent's head. On his turn, Donald has a Monastery Swiftspear for only one damage, and a pass back to Michael. Heritage Druid and another attack for two is all Michael has, but leaves plenty of mana open, perhaps for a Collected Company or Chord of Calling. Donald starts doing some math on his turn, as most Burn players will do, and decides to cast an Eidolon of the Great Revel and suspending a Rift Bolt. At the end of his opponent's turn, Michael casts Chord of Calling for three, putting an Ezuri, Renegade Leader into play.
Michael adds five mana with his Elvish Archdruid, activating Ezuri's "Overrun" ability. A swing with the team is more than enough to finish off Donald, and we are on to Game 2.
Michael wins Game 1 and leads this quarterfinals match, 1-0!
After sideboards, Donald will be on the play for Game 2, which is very important in this match, as both players are essentially racing to kill the other. Donald starts with a Wooded Foothills, finding a Mountain, and suspending a Rift Bolt. Michael once again has a one-drop, in Elvish Mystic. The Rift Bolt comes off suspend and kills the Elf, just like last game, but this time, Donald fetches for a Sacred Foundry and plays an Eidolon of the Great Revel. Michael is forced to play into the Eidolon, playing an Elvish Mystic and taking two damage for his troubles.
Donald contemplates his lines!
Donald fetches another land, and Searing Blazes the Elvish Mystic, but follows this up with a Goblin Guide as well, revealing a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx on the top of his opponent's library. Massive amounts of damage in one turn by Donald, and all Michael can do is try to stem the bleeding by deploying a Nettle Sentinel and a third Elvish Mystic. Another attack from Donald induces a trade with the Sentinel and the Eidolon, and a pass by Donald. On Michael's upkeep, Donald casts Skullcrack on Michael, preventing him from gaining any life for the turn. So Michael plays out some more Elves…and Donald shows him the lethal burn spells in hand, Lightning Helix and Boros Charm. We're going to a Game 3!
Donald wins Game 2 and ties the match at 1-1!
Being on the play is so important in this matchup, and Michael is on the play for this deciding game. Again both players keep, and this time, Michael leads with a first turn Nettle Sentinel off of a Forest. Donald has an Arid Mesa, fetching a Mountain, to play a Grim Lavamancer, a key card in this matchup. Michael, after an attack with Nettle Sentinel, casts a Spellskite, essentially countering Donald's Grim Lavamancer! Sideboards are coming out in full-force in Game 3.
An attack with the Lavamancer, followed by a suspended Rift Bolt is all Donald has for his Turn 2. More sideboard cards from Michael, as he casts a Kitchen Finks, gaining a much needed two life against the Burn deck. A quick attack by the Nettle Sentinel and a pass back to Donald. Donald starts by Rift Bolting the Spellskite, followed by shooting it with the Lavamancer to finish it off. A quick Lightning Bolt to the Sentinel leaves Michael with only a Kitchen Finks in play.
However, that Finks is followed by another one, and an attack with the first Finks. Donald aims a Lava Spike at Michael, and passes. On Michael's upkeep, Donald tries to Path to Exile a Kitchen Finks, but Michael responds by activating Nykthos for four green mana in order to cast a Collected Company, netting him an Elvish Mystic and a Heritage Druid. Another attack with a Kitchen Finks, and a pass of the turn by Michael.
Trying to continue to clean-up his opponent's board, Donald casts Lightning Helix on the left over Kitchen Finks, followed by killing it with the Grim Lavamancer. Another pass, and more Elves from Michael, this time another Elvish Mystic and an Eruzi, Renegade Leader. But Donald has more Burn to stop the Elf assault, aiming a Rift Bolt at an Elvish Mystic and a Grim Lavamancer activation to kill off the Ezuri.
For his turn, Michael has a second Ezuri, Renegade Leader, followed by a quick attack for two by the Mystic and the Heritage Druid. Donald deploys an Eidolon of the Great Revel and attacks with his Grim Lavamancer, and passes back to Michael.
A third(!) Ezuri, Renegade Leader by Michael, followed by a pass, suspiciously leaving back his Elves. Donald, trying to keep Michael off his Legendary Elf Warrior, aims a Lightning Bolt at the Ezuri, but in response, Michael has a Chord of Calling, getting a Spellskite, and redirecting that Lightning Bolt to it, leaving his Ezuir alive! Donald, taken aback, simply passes the turn back.
Michael counts out his mana!
Michael goes into the tank to start his turn, counting out mana. He starts with an activation of Nykthos in order to activate his Ezuri's "overrun" ability. After counting up damage, Donald realizes that he has run out of gas, and Michael wins the match to move to the semifinals!
Michael wins Game 3, 2-1! He is on his way to the semifinals!