Quarterfinals: Mike Rekow vs. Matthew Check
Mike’s Naya deck was a refreshing change of pace to see, featuring all the usual beaters with a complement of Domri Rades and Bonfires to create some explosive turns. Of course, Matthew’s Blasphemous Acts could be even more combustive thanks to Blood Artist and Boros Reckoner.
Mike is playing an aggressive spin on Naya.
Mike’s seed earned him the play, and he kept a threat-light seven that would lean heavily on Domri Rade. Matthew made no one-drop, and Mike chugged along with a second tapped shockland. Blood Artist made Matthew first to the board, but wouldn’t be a significant threat just yet. It was also fantastic fight food for Domri Rade, once the planeswalker resolved.
Electing to burn away the Blood Artist now, Mike used Mizzium Mortars on the Vampire and cast Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Cavern of Souls for Minotaur on Matthew’s side, but he tapped out for Lingering Souls and not Boros Reckoner. Mike cast the Domri Rade and revealed Loxodon Smiter with the boost ability before playing another shockland and passing the turn.
Falkenrath Aristocrat cleared the planeswalker while Mike took 2 damage from the Spirits, now forced to start racing. He attacked with his Pilgrim and then cast Farseek alongside Loxodon Smiter, ramping up his mana but with nothing he could use to leverage all those lands just yet. Matthew kept up the pressure, attacking for 6 and leaving Mike on 11 life. Skirsdag High Priest offered Matthew another way to make more flying threats, and he declined to flashback Lingering Souls before passing the turn.
Mike sent in 4 damage with the Smiter, and Matthew declined to block. Mike made another land drop and passed, sitting on a pair of Restoration Angels. Unfortunately for him, Matthew could trump those with the High Priest relatively easily—Mike needed to solve the Squire. Matthew flashbacked Lingering Souls and then attacked for 6 damage with two Spirits and the Aristocrat. When Mike made an Angel, Matthew decided to sacrifice one of his new Spirits for Tragic Slip—that left him unable to make a 5/5 when Mike played the second Angel and blocked another Spirit, taking 5 damage.
Matthew had another creature though in Cartel Aristocrat, but passed the turn rather than tapping all his guys for a 5/5 Demon. Mike drew and played Smiter after swinging for 4 damage, representing a trick that did not exist. He was on just 6 life, and when Matthew started tossing Spirits into the graveyard for his pair of Aristocrats, Mike knew what was coming—a Blasphemous Act that cleared the way for lethal.
Standard's newest take on The Aristocrats carried Matthew this far...
Matthew 1, Mike 0
Forest and Avacyn’s Pilgrim started the game on a high note for Mike, while Matthew had just Isolated Chapel. Stomping Ground cost Mike 2 life but game him Domri Rade, who missed on the +1 but represented a significant issue. Matthew cast Tragic Slip on the Elf and played Summit, trying to avoid getting buried.
Farseek put Mike right back ahead on mana, with a land meaning he would threaten five mana on turn 4. Domri missed again, but on five loyalty was becoming very threatening. When Matthew simply passed the turn with two open mana, Mike appeared to be very far ahead indeed. He boosted Domri and played Kessig Wolf Run before casting Huntmaster of the Fells for a Wolf token.
Orzhov Charm from Matthew handled the Huntmaster, but the Isolated Chapel he drew meant he still couldn’t threaten Domri Rade. Skirsdag High Priest looked like potential bait for the -2, but Mike knew he had a miracle Bonfire of the Damned incoming. That plus a Wolf attack sent Matthew to 12, and Domri moved to seven loyalty after revealing Boros Reckoner.
The emblem and Mike’s Thundermaw Hellkite represented lethal with the Wolf token. Matthew had Boros Reckoner to block the Wolf, but Mike dropped the Thundermaw and popped, attacking for 10 damage while the Wolf stayed home. Matthew drew one more card, and conceded.
Matthew 1, Mike 1
Turn 2 Blood Artist for Matthew, while Mike had kept just Rootbound Crag on the strength of multiple Avacyn’s Pilgrims and Farseeks. He played turn 2 Pilgrim and passed—would Matthew have the removal spell to punish him? Tapping out, Matthew had a simple Boros Reckoner. Either way, he was leveraging his lead.
Mike spent the next turn Farseeking after failing to draw a land, meaning he was keeping only a turn behind for now. The Reckoner dropped him to 17, and now a Tragic Slip poked him to 16 and killed the Pilgrim, while Lingering Souls pressed Matthew’s advantage. Mike knew he needed to find some lands in a hurry.
He failed to on this draw step, Farseeking again and ending the turn with three lands tapped. Matthew was sitting on five power already, enough to put Mike on 11 and in range of Blasphemous Act. After attacking for five, he cast the sorcery and dealt Mike 13 more, with four Blood Artist triggers he didn’t need.
Matthew 2, Mike 1