Quarterfinals: Ross Merriam vs. Adam Prosak
Ross faced a troubling matchup in this Top 8, with his Elves deck overmatched by Adam’s explosive Storm combo build. Still, four sideboarded games might be enough to regain the lost percentage...
Turn 1 saw Adam start with a loss of 2 life and Gitaxian Probe. Ross revealed Glimpse of Nature, Wirewood Symbiote, Heritage Druid, Elvish Visionary, Deathrite Shaman, and Craterhoof Behemoth alongside a fetchland. “Jeez,” Ross said, as Adam Preordained and kept both. Ross then fetched Bayou and began with Deathrite Shaman, the hand he had shown Adam threatening a turn 3 or 4 Createrhoof Behemoth at best depending on how the next couple turns went.
Assuming he even got that many, of course.
Adam Brainstormed on turn 2, following it up with Polluted Delta to fetch Underground Sea and then Cabal Therapy for Glimpse, declining an attempt at the turn 2 kill. Ross had drawn a Nettle Sentinel in the meantime, which gave him some gas next turn. He drew a land, playing Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel before tapping his Elves to drop Visionary. He used his last mana on Wirewood Symbiote, then considered what to do next.
He decided to pass. Adam Pondered into some stinkers, shuffling the deck quickly and earning a celebratory fist-pump from Ross. It was short-lived, as Adam played Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and then Infernal Tutor, popping his Diamond for red. He didn’t need Past in Flames though—his Tutor found more Tutors before Tendrils of Agony dealt lethal.
Ross Merriam musters a motley crew of Elves to the cause of attacking.
Adam 1, Ross 0
Once more, Ross began the game with Deathrite Shaman. Adam started on a Delta for Underground Sea prior to casting Duress. It revealed Glimpse of Nature, Cabal Therapy, as well as Wirewood Symbiote, Dryad Arbor, and Nettle Sentinel. Adam took the Glimpse, willing to lose a card or two to Therapy.
The Therapy named Brainstorm, revealing Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Gitaxian Probe, Chain of Vapor, and Duress. Ross played Nettle Sentinel and Arbor, then ended the turn. Adam Duressed to see just Heritage Druid before playing Karakas. Ross swung for 3 damage and then played the Druid to untap Sentinel before adding Wirewood Symbiote to the board. Paying 2 life, Adam’s Probe revealed Green Sun’s Zenith and he paid 2 life for a second one. Shrugging afterward, he passed.
Ross sent in 4 damage to put Adam on 8 then played Fyndhorn Elves to untap Sentinel before using Green Sun’s Zenith to grab Birchlore Rangers, turning on his Deathrite Shaman. He also happened to now be threatening lethal damage after exiling Adam’ s Probe, and then bounced the Druid to untap Deathrite Shaman. Adam prevented that with Chain of Vapor, causing Ross to recast a sick Shaman instead, but he flashbacked Cabal Therapy to hit Infernal Tutor and get Adam in trouble.
Having drawn two lands in a row, Adam needed help—Cabal Ritual wasn’t what he needed.
Adam 1, Ross 1
A little disruption had gone a long way in that game. Could Ross keep up the momentum? Adam opened with a snap keep, and Ross sighed. “Could you mulligan once for me, Adam?” “I never mulligan!” Adam replied. And why would he?
Turn 1 Preordain shipped a land to the bottom and kept Past in Flames, Ross starting with Nettle Sentinel. Adam played Delta and passed the turn, lacking a turn 2 play of any kind beyond the land. Ross swung Adam to 18 and broke a Misty Rainforest to find Savannah. “Natural?” Adam asked, and Ross confirmed he had simply drawn Gaddock Teeg.
That put Adam in a bind, as his hand lacked an answer to the Kithkin Advisor and wasn’t good enough to kill the opponent, either. He cast an Infernal Tutor, revealing Dark Ritual, and shipped the turn with a fetchland uncracked. Ross attacked for 4 damage, leaving Adam at 1. Cabal Therapy naming Dark Ritual hit twice and revealed Adam was vulnerable—Ross flashbacked it for Infernal Tutor.
He drew and ended the turn, Ross fetching Dryad Arbor in the end step as an additional creature. That let him attack Adam to 10 before casting Scavenging ooze and playing Gaea’s Cradle, which he used immediately to exile all those Dark Rituals.
Adam found Brainstorm on top and hit into some action, including a very necessary Chain of Vapor. Ross cast Heritage Druid and then attacked for 6 damage, Adam falling to 4 life. Chain bounced the Teeg, earning some Ooze activations from Ross. It was do or die now, for Adam.
Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and Lion’s Eye Diamond gave Adam some serious mana. Past In Flames was his last card, but Ross responded by removing Preordain, Adam’s only cantrip in the graveyard—Adam scooped ‘em up, no way to get a kill condition in sight.
Adam sets up a lethal combination.
Adam 1, Ross 2
Visibly excited to be up in a bad matchup, Ross thumbed through the sideboard but didn’t appear to make many, if any, changes. Adam could only shake his head over the back-to-back Infernal Tutors he’d drawn in game 2, wondering what might’ve been if they were just about anything else.
Adam’s keep this game was a cantrip-heavy hand, including the Gitaxian Probe he began with. That revealed Heritage Druid, Nettle Sentine, Wirewood Symbiote, Green Sun’s Zenith, Cabal Therapy, Misty Rainforest, and Dryad Arbor. Finding Underground Sea, Adam cast Ponder. Those three were keepers, including a safely tucked away Infernal Tutor.
Adam had declined to play either of his Lion’s Eye Diamonds here, perhaps assuming Ross wouldn’t Therapy on turn 1 and either way not too concerned about losing a spell or two on his first turn. After all, putting one Diamond into play would give away the one in his hand, and there was every chance that Ross wouldn't even Therapy on turn 1, much less name Diamond.
Unfortunately for Adam, that’s Exactly. What. Happened. Ross named Lion’s Eye Diamond with Therapy, and Adam sighed before discarding both.
Ross revealed he had drawn Mindbreak Trap when Adam Probed him on the next turn—that’s a nice one, to be sure. Gemstone Mine and Ponder followed with Adam now forced to begin setting up all over again. He shuffled that Ponder away, played Lotus Petal, and ended the turn. Ross played some elves on turn 2—Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid—and now Adam had a clock to race.
He drew, played a land, and passed—Ross swung for 3 damage and made Dryad Arbor plus Wirewood Symbiote. An attack for 5 knocked Adam to 9 life, putting him on a two-turn clock, but he simply drew and played a land. Ross was setting up a kill now...
He dropped Gaea’s Cradle and threw away a Druid after using it to flashback Cabal Therapy on Chain of Vapor, using Symbiote and Druid to make enough mana to cast Green Sun’s Zenith for eight. With that, Craterhoof Behemoth ended the game, the match, and Adam’s shot at the Top 4.
Adam 1, Ross 3