Quarterfinals: Stephen Medanic vs. Nick Carlson
Elves had entered the Top 8 as the top seed, and faced a dangerous opponent in the first round of play in Esper Stoneblade. The removal-laden control deck could threaten a lot of sweepers in the sideboarded games, and had enough countermagic to fight a combo finish.
Stephen had the play but also had to mulligan his first seven. The six cards were also a mulligan, with Stephen diving back into the deck for five. “Ouch,” Nick admitted. “Not how you want to start the Top 8.” The five were good, with Misty Rainforest for Forest and Green Sun’s Zenith for zero finding a Dryad Arbor.
Nick appeared to debate a Force of Will, though it may have been a representation, and spent his own first turn on Tundra and Ponder, with the top three cards meriting a shuffle. Elvish Visionary from Stephen drew a card before the Dryad Arbor swung in 1 damage, and Nick had a surprise on his second turn—immediately entering the cleanup step, where he pitched Lingering Souls. Apparently, that Ponder had not worked out!
Nick squeaked into the Top 8 as the eighth seed with Stoneblade.
When Stephen cast Green sun’s Zenith for one, Nick made good on Force of Will before taking 2 damage from Stephen’s attackers. A Jace hit exile for the counterspell, earning a nod from Stephen, and Nick again missed his second land.
That was all Stephen needed. He cast Glimpse of Nature into Heritage Druid and Wirewood Symbiote, bouncing Elvish Visionary to untap Dryad Arbor and playing another Wirewood Symbiote. He used that one to repeat for another two cards, but that was “all” he had. A fetchland into Underground Sea gave Nick Stoneforge Mystic for Umezawa’s Jitte, and gave him hope in a game that was looking rather dismal otherwise.
Stephen 1, Nick 0
Each player kept, and Nick started with an Island and Ponder on the first turn of the game. This time the three cards stayed put, and Stephen moved onto his turn with a fetch for Bayou and Llanowar Elves. “Best turn 1 in Legacy,” he declared, but Nick had a pretty strong answer in Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull. Did he have the Jitte in his hand already, or did he just think the more aggressive angle was good enough here?
Stephen cast Wirewood Symbiote via the Elf and then played Thoughtseize to reveal Perish, Supreme Verdict, Jitte, Batterskull, Engineered Explosives, and Thoughtseize. “Wow,” Stephen said. “That’s a hand.” With all of the options dangerous to him, Stephen had quite the puzzler. He binned Engineered Explosives then used his Gaea’s Cradle for two mana and another Symbiote before passing the turn.
Nick missed on a black source, playing Karakas and passing the turn. Stephen needed the breathing room badly, with Symbiotes capable of holding off Jitte and Batterskull simultaneously but very vulnerable to any sweeper. He fetched up Forest and cast Green Sun’s Zenith for two, leaving Cradle untapped and putting Elvish Visionary into play. He bounced it a couple times with his Symbiotes, gaining back mana by untapping Llanowar Elves but declining to play more dudes.
Batterskull entered play, and Nick untapped. He attacked fruitlessly, the Visionary bouncing to protect. Nick then cast Snapcaster Mage for Ponder and kept the top three cards, but passed without a land. How good were those three?
Stephen's Elves list stumbled against Storm, but has no other losses today.
Stephen continued to hum along, fetching another Bayou then casting Elvis Visionary once more. He added Heritage Druid to the battlefield and then Llanowar Elves, tapping them all for green mana to cast Heritage Druid and Deathrite Shaman. Symbiote let him draw again with Visionary, and he finished things up with Green Sun’s Zenith for eight.
Force of Will pitching Supreme Verdict saved Nick’s skin—a very good Ponder keep—and the Polluted Delta he’d left on top let him untap into Perish. The Symbiotes saved Elvish Visionary and Heritage Druid, then Nick attacked for 7 damage and put Stephen down to 8 life. Next turn Jitte would come online unless Stephen could get a third Symbiote from the deck, or some other defense.
Elvish Visionary drew him into an Abrupt Decay, but he tapped out of black mana to cast Heritage Druid before Gaea’s Cradle gave him Llanowar Elves. Without the Decay, Jitte was able to trigger when Stephen declined to block. Thoughtseize revealed Abrupt Decay, Regal Force, and Progenitus in Stephen’s hand, with the Regal Force going to the graveyard before being joined by Visionary and Heritage Druid.
One more card for Stephen, and the game was basically over. He lost his board in blocks with an Abrupt Decay killing the equipped Stoneforge Mystic, but untapping with no creatures left him too far back to return from the brink against Jitte.
Stephen 1, Nick 1
A snap-keep from Nick in the third game, while Stephen went to six and then to five. Turn 1 Verdant Catacombs and no one-drop was a weak start, with Nick beginning on Tundra. That fetchland dug up Dryad Arbor in the end step before Stephen attacked and played another Verdant Catacombs, with another Dryad Arbor on the way.
Under no incredible pressure, Nick started turn 2 with Brainstorm before playing another Tundra and using Ponder to shuffle the library. Stephen attacked for 2 damage and played Gaea’s Cradle to cast Quirion Ranger and Wirewood Symbiote. When all Nick could muster on turn 3 was Jitte, Stephen swung for 4 more damage to put his opponent on 13.
The fourth turn brought no land drop and no play from Nick, leaving him once more opent o Stephen’s small creature assault. He fell to 9, entering the cleanup step on the next turn but having Swords to Plowshares for Wirewood Symbiote when Stephen tried to attack him. That put Nick to 6 life, with Stephen once more on no plays.
Fetchland for Underground Sea gave Nick the mana to Supreme Verdict, Stephen saving a Dryad Arbor with Quirion Ranger. He had Deathrite Shaman on the following turn and replayed his Arbor, but Nick was ready with a second copy of Supreme Verdict. Now Stephen was totally out of creatures, and very vulnerable to Batterskull alongside that Jitte still in play.
He managed to runner Natural Order into Hermit Druid, but Nick’s Force of Will put him to 4 life and defended. Once the Batterskull picked up Jitte and attacked, it appeared all but over. Snapcaster Mage for Swords exiled the Visionary, and Nick attacked for 10 damage to leave Stephen on 4 life before Thoughtseize showed him two Gaea’s Cradles.
That left him drawing dead.
Stephen 1, Nick 2