Quarterfinals: Zach Brasel vs. Mike DeFiore
At 8-0-2, Zach is in the top 8 with one of the only undefeated records in the tournament. But Mike isn’t too far behind at 8-1-1 and he has the power of the Aristocracy on his side. Can his W/B/R Humans defeat the Jund menace?
One of the big reasons to play The Aristocrats is its good matchup against traditional Jund. That point is even more prevalent recently, with Tragic Slip and Abrupt Decay making fewer and fewer appearances in Jund lists… but Zach has both in his main deck, making him better prepared for his matchup against Mike’s Aristocrat-like list. Making matters even more even is Mike’s lack of Boros Reckoner plus Blasphemous Act combo, as he is on the more Human-centric Gather the Townsfolk plan. This should be a close match!
Mike has Zombies and Humans working together! Madness!
Mike and Zach played tapped shocklands on their first turns, and Zach used his turn two to cast Farseek (pying two life for Blood Crypt). Mike spent his turn two Gathering many Townsfolk (that looked oddly like Poliwhirls). Bonfire of the Damned countered that play though, leaving Mike to rebuild with Cartel Aristocrat and Doomed Traveler. Zach paid some more life to resolve a Thragtusk on his fourth turn and stymie Mike’s offense, and Xathrid Necromancer entered play to further solidify Mike’s spot. They were in for the long haul.
Garruk, Primal Hunter went into Flow of Ideas mode, drawing five cards immediately. Mike played Slayers’ Stronghold before giving Cartel Aristocrat protection from green with Doomed Traveler (getting a Zombie and a Spirit in the process) and the now 4/2 Aristocrat (thanks to Stronghold) attacked. Skirsdag High Priest joined the party post combat, adding a real must-kill for Mike. Zach drew for turn, and the best option he had was to Putrefy Skirsdag High Priest. But that led to a Cartel Aristocrat shield and a Necromancer trigger! Olivia Voldaren also joined Zach’s board.
Mike swung with four creatures, Aristocrat plus the three tokens (two 2/2s and a 1/1). Zach elected to take it all, and Mike added two power with his Stronghold to drop Zach to 8. Another Doomed Traveler hit the board after combat. Zach had few options without a Bonfire at the ready, and decided to start by making Mike sacrifice a Spirit to Olivia triggers, then in response targeting Xathrid Necromancer with the Olivia Voldaren. In response, the Doomed Traveler sacrificed itself to also get in on the Zombie fun before the Necromancer died. After the dust settled, Olivia remained a 3/3 (and Thragtusk still did nothing but sit there and watch) and Mike had four Zombies, one Spirit, and a Cartel Aristocrat.
Mike dropped another Aristocrat precombat before sacrificing a 1/1 Spirit to the one without summoning sickness. Four Zombies and the 2/2 Orzhov creature attacked, and despite Olivia blocking Aristocrat and ‘Tusk blocking a Zombie the remaining three Zombies trudged through… and Slayers’ Stronghold did the final points of damage.
Mike 1, Zach 0.
Zach, once more on the play, had his turn two Farseek into Mike’s turn two Gather the Townsfolk. This time Bonfire did not follow, and instead Scavenging Ooze entered the battlefield. Mike dropped Cartel Aristocrat on his third turn. Another Farseek continued to develop the Jund pilot’s mana but no further play after that, as the Humans pilot dropped Xathrid Necromancer on his fourth turn before passing, charging his lasers for a big swing (or two) and making him Bonfire-resistant.
Bonfire of the Damned was indeed the play, as the X=2 mythic went on the stack… but after a protection shield went on the Cartel Aristocrat then two 2/2s entered play. Mike continued to add pressure, casting Mark of Mutiny on Scavenging Ooze before attacking for nine. Zach fell to 11, and after another Cartel Aristocrat entered play Scavenging Ooze was sacrificed to the first one. A Tragic Slip in resonse only ate another Zombie, leaving Mike with one remaining corpse and a pair of Cartel Aristocrats still in play.
Zach ponders his sideboarding, one of Jund's real strengths.
Olivia Voldaren was Zach’s play on his turn, but with only three mana available and one card in hand it didn’t look promising. Gather the Townsfolk added more tokens before combat, when the trio of 2/2s entered the red zone. Olivia stood in front of the Zombie, and the Zombie predictably gave an Aristocrat pro-black. Zach took four damage to fall to 7 before Mike passed, which allowed Zach to ping off (or make a sacrifice trigger) a Spirit.
After zach simply drew, thought for a bit, and passed, then it was Mike’s turn. Mikr cast Intangible Virtue, to which Zach responded by Olivia-ing, to which Cartel survived by sac-ing off the other. The Aristocrat dealt two damage on attacks, and at the end of turn the board looked like this: 2/2 Cartel and Virtue versus 4/4 Olivia Voldaren.
Olivia knocked off the 2/2 on Zach’s next turn, and the now 6/6 flyer took Mike to 12. Rakdos Keyrune came down for Zach as well, who passed the turn with two total mana available and one card in hand to represent the elimination spell. That spell turned out to be Golgari Charm when Appetite for Brains was Mike’s only spell for his turn… and only another land after that, meaning that Rakdos Keyrune and Olivia Voldaren made short work of Mike over the next two attack steps.
Mike 1, Zach 1.
Mike finally had the play for the first time in the match and this time had the advantage of Zach’s mulligan.
“I think I’ve mulliganed like twice today. I’m due.”
After Zach kept six, Mike led off with Isolated Chapel and Zach led with basic Swamp… not exactly what they wanted to see. Mike added Doomed Traveler, then used Blood Crypt to snag Huntmaster of the Fells with Appetite for Brains. Also in Zach’s hand: Golgari Charm, Thragtusk, Rakdos’s Return, Dreadbore, and Woodland Cemetery. Zach wished for Farseek off the top but did not find it, playing his Cemetery and passing.
Mike attacked with his 1/1 before dropping Xathrid Necromancer. Rootbound Crag entered tapped for Zach, which allowed Mike to further his board position with Cavern of Souls into Cartel Aristocrat before Zach’s red spells came on line. Dreadbore helped to remove Xathrid Necromancer, but not before Doomed Traveler jumped into The Abyss to get two total Zombies and a Spirit off of Cartel triggers. Zach played his fourth land, a Blood Crypt, but Mike kept his foot on the gas with Intangible Virtue. Ten damage rumbled in, and Zach fell to 6. Rootbound Crag brought Zach to Bonfire of the Damned mana for two, and Cartel Aristocrat survived the burning (and Mike dropped to 16).
To 4 life went Zach on resolution of damage step, and Lingering Souls also resolved for Mike as well. Kessig Wolf Run allowed Rakdos’s Return for two to make Mike hellbent and fall to 14, and then a desperation Golgari Charm meant Zach fell to 1, but he didn’t have a follow up play after that and Mike took the win.
Mike 2, Zach 1.