Quarterfinals: Shaheen Soorani (Esper Control) vs. Ronnie Ritner (U/W Delver)
Shaheen's planeswalkers mount an insurmountable offense and defense!
With Shaheen Soorani the number one seed after the Invitational Swiss, he would be on the play in the best-of-five match against Ronnie Ritner. Who would prevail to move onto the semis?
Shaheen kicked off the quarterfinals with a tapped Drowned Catacomb. Ronnie shot back with Gitaxian Probe on his turn, showing Despise, Tragic Slip, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Terminus, Seachrome Coast, and Lingering Souls. Ronnie then made Delver of Secrets, passing to Shaheen who quickly Tragic Slipped the as-of-yet unflipped Human. Ronnie ended the turn after landing a second Island, and Shaheen cracked Evolving Wilds to fetch a Plains.
Shaheen's third land brought about two lingering souls, and Ronnie Dismembered one and Vapor Snagged the other, going down to 14. Ronnie Pondered on his turn, and Shaheen Despised him. Restoration Angel hit the bin leaving Phantasmal Image, Mana Leak, and Plains.
Ronnie used Snapcaster Mage to flashback a Gitaxian Probe, seeing Shaheen's Plains, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and Terminus; Shaheen then recast Lingering Souls from his graveyard, using one of the tokens to trade with Ronnie's Snapcaster Mage. The ended Mage was reborn as a Spirit token at the end of Shaheen's turn. The two traded, and the board was clean.
The Sorin from Shaheen was Mana Leaked, and Ronnie used the opportunity to resolve Delver of Secrets.
Ronnie slowly untapped, thinking about his end-of-turn play but simply drew his card and swung for one. Shaheen was at 18.
Shaheen used up a full Lingering Souls for four tokens, and Ronnie made one of his own with Moorland Haunt. Shaheen cast Forbidden Alchemy, discarding Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Day of Judgment, and Swamp; he left his Spirits on D, and Delver flipped on Ronnie's next turn. Gitaxian Probe revealed Shaheen's Terminus, Curse of Death's Hold (!), and Doom Blade. A second Probe was cycled, and Ronnie got in for two with his Spirits, putting Shaheen to 16.
In response to Ronnie's Phantasmal Image, Shaheen Doom Bladed the flipped Delver, and Image came in as yet another 1/1 flier. Curse of Death's Hold rumbled in, killing Ronnie's side of the board. After attacks, Ronnie went down to 8.
Shaheen 1, Ronnie 0
Both kept, and Ronnie paid mana for his Gitaxian Probe. "Hoping you're on the big boy plan," Shaheen said, as he showed a slower hand with Isolated Chapel, Forbidden Alchemy, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, and Seachrome Coast.
Trying to aggro out, Ronnie copied his Snapcaster Mage as a 2/1, getting in those beats. Shaheen main phased Forbidden Alchemy, looking for a sweeper. He discarded Think Twice and some lands. Ronnie put Shaheen down to 14 life after he swung with both 2/1s, and yet another Phantasmal Image cloned Coral Merfolk.
Shaheen tapped four to play Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and he summoned a loyal Vampire to his aid. Unfortunately it met a Vapor Snag; Sorin died upon attacks, and Shaheen went down to 11. Shaheen played his fifth land, then cast Tamiyo…but Ronnie had Mana Leak.
Shaheen's life dwindled at 5. He would need to find an out quickly.
He started his turn with a Despise to set up his plays. But in response, Ronnie flashed in Restoration Angel, blinking Snapcaster Mage, and giving Mana Leak flashback. Despise resolved, got nothing, and Shaheen's only recourse was to play out Lingering Souls—with half of it getting countered by the flashed back Leak.
Next turn, Shaheen main phased Forbidden Alchemy but shook his head and scooped them up.
Ronnie 1, Shaheen 1
Shaheen played Drowned Catacomb tapped, while Ronnie Pondered off Seachrome Coast. Shaheen's Seachrome Coast let him forge Mortarpod—and Ronnie had no follow-up. On turn 3 however, he used Snapcaster Mage to flashback the Ponder, and Shaheen responded with a Forbidden Alchemy at end of turn. He discarded Swamp, Tragic Slip, and Batterskull.
Untapping, Shaheen allied with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, who summoned a Vampire token. The Germ was sacrificed to kill off the Snapcaster Mage, and next turn, Shaheen equipped the 1/1 lifelinker to the Mortarpod, swinging. Another Vampire token joined the first, and Ronnie had…little going on, clearly flooded.
Sorin was reduced in loyalty to make the first emblem of the match, and Ronnie went down to 15, with Shaheen at 25. Restoration Angel from Ronnie was met with Doom Blade. Ronnie went with a Blade Splicer on his turn to try to stop the life drain, and Shaheen sacked a token to kill off the Splicer in response to Ronnie casting Phantasmal Image. It copied a 1/1 lifelinking Vampire (instead of the Golem).
Shaheen then cast Gideon Jura, and his planeswalkers threatened to take over; Ronnie had a Gideon of his own, however, and his tokens attacked into Sorin. Shaheen double blocked the 3/3 with his 2/1s, keeping Sorin at three loyalty.
Liliana of the Veil joined Sorin's side, and Shaheen used her to deal with Ronnie's remaining creature.
The 2/1 Vampire began draining the life from Ronnie, and he went down to 14, putting Shaheen up to 32. Ronnie was getting flooded out, and Shaheen's planeswalkers kept chugging away, creating an insurmountable advantage. Shaheen was able to make a second emblem with Sorin, and his now 3/1 lifelinkers were getting in for quite the damage.
Ronnie soon picked up his cards, not able to deal with the planeswalker pair.
Shaheen 2, Ronnie 1
Shaheen was wishing right about now that it wasn't best of five, but they had to battle on! Ronnie began the next game with Island into Ponder, into Probe. Shaheen's hand had Evolving Wilds, Darkslick Shores, Terminus, Isolated Chapel, Tragic Slip, and Glacial Fortress.
Snapcaster Mage repeated the Probe, and Shaheen had drawn Gideon Jura; Evolving Wilds got Plains. Shaheen took his turn to Despise, and Ronnie showed Island, Plains, Oblivion Ring, Delver of Secrets, Dissipate, and Mana Leak. The one legal target (Delver) flocked to the yard.
Ronnie Ritner faces Shaheen Soorani in the quarterfinals of the Invitational.
Shaheen then used Think Twice, untapped, and cast Liliana of the Veil. Ronnie had the Mana Leak for it and was able to continue getting in with his lone Snapcaster Mage. Shaheen at 14, he cast Gideon Jura with five lands—"Bet you two bucks you'll Dissipate…" (He did.)
At 12 now, Shaheen passed the turn this time, using Ronnie's end of turn to flashback Think Twice, casting another from his hand.
Shaheen said, "I Despise you," as he cast the named card. Ronnie slammed down his hand of Restoration Angel, Blade Splicer, Oblivion Ring, and Sun Titan—choices, choices! After thinking for a considerable amount of time, Shaheen selected Restoration Angel.
Shaheen then resolved Gideon Jura, killing Ronnie's tapped Snapcaster Mage. Gideon quickly met an Oblivion Ring, and Blade Splicer came down for Ronnie. Shaheen flashed back his Think Twice and made quadruple Spirits with Lingering Souls.
Shaheen then played Praetor's Grasp, greedily grasping Ronnie's deck, looking for targets. He put a mystery card face down on the table.
Ronnie got in for another four with his Golem and 1/1, and Shaheen flipped over the Restoration Angel in wait…however, Snapcaster Mage from Ronnie let him replay Vapor Snag, and he reclaimed Restoration Angel back to his hand! Welcome to Value Town!
Ronnie 2, Shaheen 2
Collecting two warnings in the match, Shaheen needed to take the final game a bit slower; a game loss is not how you want to end your Top 8! A Swamp from Shaheen tapped to Despise Ronnie, and he took the only target out of…a no-lander!
Shaheen's hand was arguably more awkward: Think Twice, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, an Isolated Chapel, Oblivion Ring, and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. No blue sources with only an Oblivion Ring to hold him over!
The two began a search for lands, with Ronnie finding his first in…Glacial Fortress. Eep! He used it to Ponder three times, finding up to three lands. Shaheen was stuck on two for a while.
Ronnie's third land let him use Snapcaster Mage to cast Gitaxian Probe again. Shaheen was stuck with two Day of Judgment, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Oblivion Ring, Think Twice, and Liliana of the Veil.
Blade Splicer from Ronnie met Shaheen's fourth land and Day of Judgment #1. Liliana made Ronnie discard Sun Titan, and Shaheen discarded Think Twice. The planeswalker would continue to make the two discard on subsequent turns, with Shaheen discarding his useless expensive and/or blue cards. Ronnie got rid of a Vapor Snag.
Shaheen tried Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, but Ronnie had Mana Leak. Shaheen finally found his blue land, tapped. Shaheen's Liliana ticked up again, and Shaheen discarded Oblivion Ring, while Ronnie got rid of Mana Leak. Ronnie flashed in Restoration Angel end of turn, attacking Liliana down to one loyalty.
When Angel attacked Liliana, Shaheen Thought Twice but had nothing else. Liliana met her demise. After Ronnie summoned Blade Splicer, Shaheen played Curse of Death's Hold to try to hold onto his life points. However, Ronnie countered with Mana Leak, and his team got in, attacking Shaheen to 13.
With a roar, Gideon Jura entered the thunderdome on Ronnie's side. Even Shaheen's Day of Judgment couldn't stop the massive planeswalker. After taking a few hits from Gideon, Shaheen went from 13 to 7 to 1…and then -5.
Ronnie 3, Shaheen 2