Quarterfinals: Vishaal Desai vs. Edward Gibbs
Finishing squarely in the middle of the Top 8 pack, Vishaal Desai and Edward Gibbs were destined to face off in the first round of the playoffs. It was going to be tough for Edward's W/G/B Tokens deck to overcome the raw power of Vishaal's Frites that packed a ton of wrath effects, including Inferno Titan and the busty Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.
Edward led off by vomiting a bunch of tokens into play with Gather the Townsfolk and Lingering Souls, crushing in for 10 with Intangible Virtue before Vishaal could set up his graveyard. Both sides of Faithless Looting and a Mulch spilled Inferno Titan, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Unburial Rites into the graveyard, and the white legend gave Edward's board the heave-ho before Oblivion Ring took her out.
Another double-cast, this time Tracker's Instincts put a second Elesh Norn into Vishaal's hand while binning a Lingering Souls that was flashed back immediately. Edward had no play on his turn, but Vishaal was hesitant to rush his second praetor into play just for some damage. He instead used a Mulch to dig further into his deck before attacking with both Spirit tokens and a Llanowar Elf, but he got ambushed by Midnight Haunting and lost both of his flying creatures to their larger clones. He flashed back another Lingering Souls before passing the turn.
Edward Gibbs examines his quarterfinal opponent's graveyard.
It was 15-10 in Edwards favor as he took his turn to fire up another Intangible Virtue at which Vishaal could only sniff in disgust. The tokens connected for six damage and were joined by two more spirits from a flashed Lingering Souls. Vishaal had all the mana in the world, but he was going to need Elesh Norn to stick in order to even survive another turn against the four tokens.
He went for it, tapping out for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and the backside of another Lingering Souls, matching Edward spirit-for-spirit and, for the time being, his were 3/3 and Edward's 1/1. Edward added two more spirits to the board with Lingering Souls but Vishaal was able to untap with his powerful legend and he quickly jammed his overloaded team into the red zone. Three spirits blocked and Edward fell to six, leaving himself with a chance to win if Vishaal didn't have a way to get Inferno Titan into play or another Lingering Souls and he drew a Crusade effect.
Vishaal had a full grip of cards, but they were all lands and he said go with fingers crossed. It had to be a bad sign for him when Edward picked up Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite to make sure it didn't have flying, and Edward untapped into not one, but two Honor of the Pure to take it down.
Edward 1, Vishaal 0
Avacyn's Pilgrim into Birds of Paradise and Faithless Lotting set things up for Vishaal as he binned Tracker's Instincts and Ancient Grudge. Gather the Townsfolk was a decent answer, but Tracker's Instincts for Elesh Norn into Lingering Souls made it look a little less good. He happily traded tokens with Edward, nodding as Edward had his own Lingering Souls.
The next Tracker's Instincts was a doozy as two Lingering Souls and Ray of Revelation made their way into the bin. Edward could only shake his head at the turn of events, but Intangible Virtue and Honor of the Pure had to make him feel better. He attacked for six and passed the turn to Vishaal who played his seventh mana source and tapped out for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite before sending his spirit tokens in for six of his own.
“Seems bad for me,” Edward said.
Edward dug back in with a second Intangible Virtue and a vigilant attack, but he got crushed by a peeled Ray of Revelation that wiped out both Intangible Virtues and all of Edward's spirit tokens as Elesh Norn's thirst was finally quenched. All that was left was for Vishaal to double-check the math and ship his team into the red zone to even it up.
Vishaal Desai is calm and collected in his quarterfinal match.
Edward 1, Vishaal 1
The deciding game had a slower pace to it as Vishaal's Llanowar Elves fell to Mortarpod but Edward not having any real action besides an Intangible Virtue, leaving Vishaal free to fill up with Faithless Looting and Mulch. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Unburial Rites waited in the graveyard for Edward to make a move and Vishaal was very calm as he went about his business.
Sword of War and Peace didn't change the equation at all, and Vishaal continued to develop his mana with a fourth land and a Birds of Paradise that would cast the binned pair of Tracker's Instincts if left unchecked. Edwards hands shook as he played his fifth land and a Doomed Traveler, using Mortarpod to keep Vishaal off blue mana and equipping the fresh spirit with Sword of War and Peace before passing.
The lone threat proved to be a problem for Vishaal and his rather full hand, even after reanimating Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite with Unburial Rites. The now 2/2 token rumbled in and connected for a total of seven and Elspeth Tirel arrived to really change the tone of the game as she ticked up to six loyalty immediately.
Vishaal had a lot to think about as he crafted a way out of the suddenly tight spot and decided to take a shot at a bluff. He sent Elesh Norn at Elspeth Tirel with no backup plan, just hoping to get some counters off of the dangerous planeswalker with no real risk of losing his creature to a tapped out Edward. Somehow the large lady got through unblocked and knocked four points off of Elspeth Tirel before Lingering Souls spilled four large tokens onto the board.
The little spirit that could roared in for another six points, dropping Vishaal to 7 and Elspeth gained some life after Oblivion Ring took out Elesh Norn and Gather the Townsfolk made a pair of guys, leaving Vishaal with a one turn window against the sworded-up spirit and Mortarpod.
Ray of Revelation opened that window a bit wider, freeing up Elesh Norn from her temporary prison and letting his spirits knock Elspeth to a single loyalty counter and Edward down to 23 life. Birds of Paradise and another set of four spirit tokens from Lingering Souls flooded the board and gave Vishaal a blocker against the dangerous spirit.
That spirit immediately came across on the next turn and the Birds of Paradise blocked it, winning the fight as a 2/3 vs. the 2/2 token due to Elesh Norn's powers. Left with just an Elspeth Tirel in play and another in hand, and without enough loyalty to make any tokens or any creatures to gain life with, Edward was forced to end his turn.
Six spirit tokens, a Birds of Paradise and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite combined for 24 damage, putting an end to the wild game and propelling Vishaal to tomorrow morning's semifinals.
Vishaal wins the match 2-1