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%2C+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%2C+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%2C+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%2C+Lord+of+Innistrad, Tamiyo%2C+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%2C+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%2C+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%2C+Lord+of+Innistrad, an Isolated+Chapel, Oblivion+Ring, and Tamiyo%2C+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%2C+Lord+of+Innistrad, Tamiyo%2C+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%2C+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