Quarterfinals: Robb Miknus vs. John Mills
This matchup showcased a marquee matchup dating back to Pro Tour Theros: Mono-Blue Devotion against a red-based devotion strategy, but Robb was playing the updated version, with white splashed in for Chained+to+the+Rocks.
John shuffles up after a Fantic-based loss in game 1.
John had the play and started with turn 1 Judge’s Familiar followed by turn 2 Cloudfin+Raptor, while Robb’s first creature to the board was Ash+Zealot. John had a fantastic answer in Tidebinder+Mage, locking up the Ash+Zealot and attacking Robb to 17... but Robb had a big turn coming.
On turn 3, he fanned three Burning-Tree+Emissary before dropping Nykthos%2C+Shrine+to+Nyx and using it to cast Fanatic+of+Mogis for 9 damage! John was hurting, but he had his own Nykthos-powered turn 4... a second Cloudfin+Raptor and Thassa, a full-blown 5/5, to evolve both Raptors. He passed turn with no attacks, and the players appeared to be temporarily stalemated! All Robb had to add was the fourth Emissary.
Each passed, with John debating his potential attacks on the next turn before opting to use Nightveil+Specter to evolve one Raptor to match the other, then using the leftover mana to enable an assault for 5 damage with Thassa, putting Robb to 12. He was in danger... but a Mizzium+Mortars on the next turn overloaded for enough to mop John’s entire board, blasting everything but Thassa from the field and leaving John dead to an attack.
Robb hopes to keep the Burning-Tree Emissaries flowing.
Robb 1, John 0
Once more Judge’s Familiar joined the board first, but it went without a companion on turn 2. Ash+Zealot once more struck from Robb, and was once more locked beneath Tidebinder+Mage. Robb bounced back with Burning-Tree+Emissary... and nothing else but a Temple. John had to be a little relieved after last game’s explosive turn 3!
Master+of+Waves made a small army of Elementals—only four, pretty tame—but he knew Robb had the potential for Chained+to+the+Rocks to disappear his horsies. Only Judge’s Familiar attacked, and John ended the turn. Rob had nothing to break through and no answer to the Master, so only Frostburn+Weird landed on the following turn.
Domestication removed it from John’s path, and he attacked Robb to 11 while trading his Tidebinder+Mage for Burning-Tree+Emissary. If he was allowed to keep Master for another turn, the game would likely be out of reach for Robb. Drawing a card, Robb knew he couldn’t stop the onslaught and packed up his cards.
Robb 1, John 1
Having broken serve in the first game, Robb had the play now. He kept, while John made the first mulligan of the match. Cloudfin+Raptor meets a turn 2 Mizzium+Mortars from Robb, but John has two Judge’s Familiars afterward. Burning-Tree+Emissary uses Nykthos to convert its mana for an Ash+Zealot, overmatching John’s creatures and giving Robb the superior clock.
The Familiars make it 18 for both players, and in Robb’s upkeep John uses Rapid+Hybridization to “kill” Ash+Zealot. Another one lands, and John falls to 14 with plenty more on the way. Nightveil+Specter is late to the party on turn 3 as John tries to stay aggressive, but Robb continues on all cylinders. Another Zealot and a Frostburn+Weird land, Robb throwing away one Zealot to the Specter on order to force in 7 damage.
On 7 life, John swings with the Specter and finds only a Mountain waiting for him. Domestication steals Frostburn+Weird, but he’ll have to chump with his Familiars to escape alive. Throwing both away and taking no damage, he nods as Robb adds another Frostburn+Weird to the list of problems John has.
Robb 2, John 1