Round 15: Ali Aintrazi vs. Nathan Blackmon
In the penultimate round of the Invitational, our two competitors battle for a chance to make Top 8. Ali Aintrazi vs. Nathan Blackmon; Dragons vs. Heroes; who will come out on top?
Nathan and Ali get ready for battle!
Ali wins the die roll, and both players mulligan; Ali down to six and Nathan down to five. Ali leads with a Forest into a Elvish Mystic, while his opponent only has a scryland. Ali continues to develop his mana with a scryland of his own, followed by casting a Sylvan Caryatid. Nathan also has a two-drop in the form of Hero of Iroas.
For his turn, Ali fetches for a Forest and casts a Whisperwood Elemental, making a Manifest creature at the end of his turn. Nathan finds a Forest with his Windswept Heath and starts the Heroic shenanigans; first an Ordeal of Thassa on his Hero of Iroas, followed by a Dromoka's Command, putting a +1/+1 counter on his Hero of Iroas and fighting Ali's Whisperwood Elemental, killing it. Not a bad third turn! Nathan follows up with an attack, triggering his Ordeal and drawing two cards. With all of that, he finally passes the turn back to Ali.
Ali, however, will not be deterred, as he casts a Xenagos, the Reveler, makes a 2/2 hasty Satyr token, and attacks Nathan with his team. Ali plays the last card in his hand – a second Elvish Mystic, and then passes the turn back. However, Nathan only has a scryland and pass back, leaving all of his mana up and his six power Hero back as a blocker.
A Courser of Kruphix is drawn and played by Ali, getting a Forest off the top of the deck, and revealing a Valorous Stance. Another hasty Satyr is made, followed by bashing in with whole squad. Nathan blocks the Manifest token with his large Hero of Iroas, and on its way to the graveyard, it is shown to be only a Plains. Ali passes the turn back, hoping to put the game away soon.
Nathan can only muster a scryland and a pass, as he bottoms the card off of the Temple of Plenty. So Ali draws his Valorous Stance, uses Xenagos' +0 ability, alpha strikes with his whole team, and Nathan reveals his hand – all lands. We're moving to a Game 2.
Ali wins Game 1, and leads the match 1-0!
Nathan will be on the play for Game 2 and, this time, both players keep their opening sevens. Nathan fetches a Plains with his Windswept Heath and plays a Favored Hoplite. Ali matches his opponent's opening with a fetched Forest and an Elvish Mystic. Both players seem to have their preferred opening, we should see some fireworks!
Ali casts Dromoka's Command!
Nathan once again has a Defiant Strike and a pass of the turn, putting Ali into the single digit life totals. All Ali can do is play a Temple of Abandon and say "go", as his hand is full of large spells. Nathan starts his turn with a Dromoka's Command, putting a +1/+1 counter on one Favored Hoplite and having the other one fight Ali's Elvish Mystic. Ali responds by playing a Dromoka's Command of his own, giving the Elvish Mystic a +1/+1 counter and fighting one of the Favored Hoplites. But Nathan has an Ajani's Presence to save that Favored Hoplite as well! After the stack clears, Nathan has two Favored Hoplites with nine power between them, which is exactly enough for lethal. And with that, we go to a deciding Game 3!
Nathan wins Game 2 and ties the match at 1-1!
In a matchup that feels like a race, Ali gets to go first in the all-important Game 3. Both players keep their opening seven, and Ali has his favorite opening – Forest, Elvish Mystic, go. Nathan has a Temple of Enlightenment, keeping on top. Ali continues the ramp with a Sylvan Caryatid and a scry to the top, thanks to Temple of Plenty. For his turn, Nathan leads with a fetch for a Plains, followed by a pass of the turn.
Ali seems to smell the counterspell coming, but plays his Xenagos, God of Revels into anyways. Nathan obliges him by casting a Disdainful Stroke, untapping, and casting a Hero of Iroas. Ali plays another Xenagos for his turn, this time of the Plainswalking variety. He makes a Satyr token, but leaves it back to block, and passes the turn. Nathan has a Favored Hoplite, into a God's Willing on the Hero of Iroas, naming green, in order to kill the Xenagos.
Nathan enchants his Heros!
And then Ali starts to throw some haymakers. He starts with a Dragonlord Atarka, attempting to kill off Nathan's Hero. But Nathan has the Ajani's Presence to keep his Hero alive, delaying Ali's plans. Nathan further hinders those plans with an Encase in Ice for the Dragonlord, followed by an attack. Ali attempts to Valorous Stance the Hero, but Nathan once again has a God's Willing to protect it. After combat, Nathan empties his hand by playing a Lagonna-Band Trailblazer.
For his turn, Ali empties his hand as well. But it's a little more impressive than a 0/4. It's an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Ali uses the Ugin to clear everyone's board, except he has a now unlocked Dragonlord Atarka and an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon against Nathan's empty board. Ali passes back. Nathan draws a Treasure Cruise for his turn, but three extra cards isn't good enough against Ali's board. Nathan extends his hand.
Ali wins Game 3 and the match, 2-1!