Quarterfinals: Zac Hicks vs. William Wright
Two U/B decks squared off this round, but they could not be more different! William's Zombie list was aggressive, with a strong curve, but Zac's deck had a clunky, powerful string of creatures bolstered by Heartless Summoning.
William had the play and an aggressive start: Swamp, Diregraf Ghoul. Darkslick Shores for Zac enabled Ponder, but he had to shuffle the deck up after that. The Ghoul attacked for 2 damage, another Swamp landing before William added Skirsdag High Priest to the field. Zac tapped out on turn 2 for Heartless Summoning, while William considered how best to bring the beats.
He swung for 3 damage and cast Geralf's Messenger, leaving Zac on 13 life as he ended his turn. Another Darkslick Shores from Zac, and he cast Solemn Simulacrum for another Swamp and ended the turn with a mana untapped. Solemn didn't buy a ton of breathing room in this position, however.
William entered combat and then decided to send just the Messenger, strangely putting Zac to 10 when it snuck through successfully. Phantasmal Image on Geralf's Messenger put Zac into single digit life, and William ended the turn with one mana at the ready. He's probably planned to copy a non-Messenger and Demon if the Golem blocked, but keeping that option open had cost him a point of damage this turn. The sequence also didn't do too much against Frost Titan, who tapped down High Priest before Perilous Myr slew Diregraf Ghoul.
Sending in both Messengers, William earned a block this time from Solemn Simulacrum and Titan, leaving Phantasmal Image in play as Zac went to 6. Post-combat, a Tragic Slip cleared the Titan and kept William in fine shape on an otherwise empty board. Havengul Lich was bad news for William—with three mana available, Zac spent one on Perilous Myr to kill High Priest, and two more to kill the Messenger (no pun intended).
William was so close, but wouldn't be closing if Zac untapped with that Lich—he cast Drogskol Captain and attacked for 4 with his Image. Zac tanked on the ramifications of blocking or taking the damage before deciding to go to 2 life. He untapped and Myr'd the Captain before nabbing the Image twice, now free to make moves on the board, but wary of Geralf's Messenger. Ponder shuffled again, Zac following with Lich on Image to get another Lich before attacking for 3 damage, flinging Myr to the face for 2 more damage.
Zac 1, William 0
Each player kept, and William again began with Diregraf Ghoul. Ponder also started things for Zac, and this game already looked eerily similar, but Ponder kept the three cards this time around. Another Ghoul after an attack gave William a stern clock, while Zac Pondered again and played Drowned Catacomb, no Summoning in sight yet.
William handed Zac his third game loss of the day in game 2.
Another swing put Zac to 14, and he added Geralf's Messenger to the board—that's a two-turn clock, ladies and gentlemen. Black Sun's Zenith for one bought Zac some time, but it wasn't a fantastic trade—his turn for another turn. He dropped to 8 life, and William passed on three Swamps. Zac's Sever the Bloodline targeting Messenger merited a Geth's Verdict from William on himself—that made exactly lethal on the next turn thanks to undying!
Casual turn 5 kills.
Zac 1, William 1
The seven Zac saw in game 3 had a ton of lands, and he mulliganed while William kept. Darkslick Shores and nothing else for Zac, while William played Gravecrawler. Another Shores and Heartless Summoning got the ball rolling for Zac, and he fell to 18 as William attacked and played Porcelain Legionnaire.
No Black Sun's Zenith—just Solemn Simulacrum, fetching Swamp. William played Drowned Catacomb and attacked with both creatures. Solemn blocked Gravecrawler, and Tragic Slip slew the Legionnaire as Zac drew a card. William had no other plays, passing the turn.
Zac, of The Scoop Phase podcast, focuses on an important third game.
Buried Ruin for Solemn Simulacrum created some value on Zac's side of the board, but it also implied he didn't have any haymakers at the ready. William cast Diregraf Captain and Gravecrawler from the bin on his turn, slowly rebuilding the board. Zac played another Solemn for more land, up to six of them now, and then played Sphere of the Suns.
William was starting to develop a threatening position now, and he knew it. Casting another Captain, he attacked with both creatures, boasting three toughness each—William decided to chump a Gravecrawler and take 3, going to 15 and drawing a card.
He found a reasonable card: Mimic Vat. Casting the Vat, Zac ended the turn after that. William couldn't let his Captain go in there, or its deathtouch would be very troublesome to attack past over any stretch of turns. Doing some math, William decided to Verdict the Solemn during the end step, which let Zac Mimic Vat it—he needed to do that in response to the artifact!
When William swung with everyone, the Golem token leaped to Zac's defense, but was removed by another Geth's Verdict—Zac fell to 3 life. He cast Ponder into Ponder, shuffling after that—drawing another Ponder! Such sweats. The third one found Massacre Wurm and Perilous Myr, which he kept. Playing another Summoning, he killed a Solemn token to draw the other card with Mimic Vat, searching for the land afterward and casting the Perilous Myr to hit a Captain before playing Massacre Wurm, taking just 2 and falling to 1 life.
Massacre Wurm put William down to 12 life from triggers, and Zac ended the turn tapped out. Could he survive the two or three turns he needed? A timely Phantasmal Image copied Massacre Wurm, and William passed the turn with Zac needing to find a way to kill it on top of the deck.
William strangely declined to attack, perhaps unsure of the timing interaction should these Wurms trade or playing around something else. Zac drew another blank, and William remembered to attack on the next turn, handing Zac his first match loss of the day.
Zac 1, William 2