Quarterfinals: Thomas Pannell vs. Alex Gerlock
Thomas admitted he didn’t like his green creature matchup, but he’d at least have the advantage of the higher seed in his quarterfinal pairing against Alex’s aggressive Selesnya deck.
Alex awaits his opponent's next attack.
Thomas began with Mountain and Firedrinker Satyr, while Alex has Selesnya Guildgate to start. Burning-Tree Emissary into Gorehouse Chain-Walker put a lot of power into play for Thomas very quickly, but Alex was able to stall some of it with Soldier of the Pantheon on turn 2. Thomas had the answer in Shock... but Gods Wiling from Alex countered!
That was enough to convince Thomas not to attack, and he cast another Chainwalker prior to passing turn. Stuck on two lands, Alex could only muster Fleecemane Lion and pass back. Animating Mutavault, Thomas sent in the team—12 damage in total, with two blockers on Alex’s side.
The Lion jumped on Mutavault and the Soldier ate the Emissary, with Satyr getting pumped to drop Alex down to 9 life. He played Experiment One on turn 3, still lacking a much-needed third land. Thomas hit Chandra’s Phoenix and attacked with it and his two Chainwalkers, a second Gods Willing protecting Fleecemane Lion when it blocked while Soldier traded, the Phoenix leaving Alex on 7 life.
The card he kept with scry was, of course, a land—but he had to race the Phoenix now. Casting Loxodon Smiter, he attacked with just the Lion and ended the turn. Clearly debating some Firedrinking, Thomas considered his offensive options before just putting Alex to 5 with the Phoenix and playing another Mutavault.
With potentially three ground attackers on the other side, Alex had to remain careful. He drew a fourth land and played it, attacking with both the Lion and the Smiter. Thomas appeared to have given up on the ground, and doubled up on Fleecemane Lion to trade a Mutavault off, buying more time for the Phoenix.
He got Alex to 3 and played Burning-Tree Emissary, one more cog in the chump blocking engine. On 12 life, Thomas was hoping to get two draw steps—he could only really guarantee one. When Alex attacked with only the Smiter, Thomas simply took 4 and gained a turn almost immediately as a result.
Then he drew Shock, and that sealed things up.
Thomas 1, Alex 0
Guildgate vs. Mountain again, but no one-drop for Thomas. Alex had Soldier of the Pantheon once more, and that made the Burning-Tree Emissary into Gore-House Chainwalker much less threatening, although Alex did miss the point of life. Loxodon Smiter landed to throw down an even bigger roadblock, and with Alex tapped out Thomas sent in just the Chainwalker.
Alex fell to 17 without blocking, untapping into Unflinching Courage to completely warp the shape of the game. Thomas had an Unflinching Courage he’d theoretically be able to time in a useful way here, but his window was very, very small—he’d probably need to draw another Skullcrack to win.
Lightning Strike on the Soldier took it down, and Thomas attacked for 8 to put Alex on 15. He was clearly looking to Skullcrack here, passing without a play, but Alex headed him off at the pass with Voice of Resurgence, forcing Thomas to Skullcrack in response to the 2/2 and giving Alex the option on whether or not to attack.
He declined, and Thomas needed more help now. He had Rubblebelt Maaka if Alex put Smiter in front of a Chainwalker, but Gods Willing would basically end the game on the spot. Sending in the Chainwalkers, Thomas got a block on both from Alex—and sure enough, Gods Willing let him gobble up those attackers.
A bestowed Boon Satyr put the game out of reach.
Thomas struggled against Unflinching Courage in sideboarded games.
Thomas 1, Alex 1
Alex’s Fleecemane Lion was removed from Firefist Striker’s path via Mizzium Mortars, leaving Alex on 18 but without a turn 3 play due to his shockland-heavy draw. Thomas dropped a second Mutavault for his fourth land and had Shock to ward off the potential Selesnya Charm, which is exactly what he did, getting in 4 damage.
On 14, Alex cast Polukranos and tapped out. The Striker was very up to the task of handling the Hydra this turn, though things would likely change if it gained Courage or just became a monster—Thomas burned Shock and Mortars to make sure those things wouldn’t happen, putting Alex to 10.
Another Hydra landed, and Thomas went right by it with Chandra’s Phoenix and an attack from a Mutavault, putting Alex to 4. Thomas had Act of Treason in his hand—even if Courage hit the Polukranos, Alex would also be required to have Gods Willing in order for it to matter. Alex did have Unflinching Courage, and he went up to 11 before passing with three mana untapped.
Gods Willing countered the Act of Treason when Thomas went for the kill, and his window was closing fast. Polukranos was outracing his board at the moment by no small margin, and Act of Treason had been his best hope. Monstrosity could eliminate the Firefist Striker on the next turn, but a bestowed Boon Satyr made the lifelinking Hydra the end of the tournament for Thomas.
Thomas 1, Alex 2