Round 15: Brad Nelson (Delver) vs. Alex Majlaton (Delver)
Brad Nelson's blades were sharp for the Invitational. Can he close Top 8?
This was a very important match for these players, each sitting on four losses with Top 8 perilously close. Like many of the upper tables, these competitors came with U/W Delver. The seventy-five in Brad’s hands had been very successful this weekend, boosting Drew Levin to the same record as they both tore through the field in Standard and Legacy.
Brad had the play but went to six cards in short order, while Alex kept seven. Brad’s six lacked the mana he needed to keep, leaving him falling to five. He led Seachrome Coast and Ponder but shuffled the deck, needing something beyond what the top three offered. Alex played Island and Delver of Secrets, and Brad had no reply—just an Island and the end of his turn.
Alex stayed with a 1/1 Delver and added Invisible Stalker to the field, lacking white mana. Brad spent turn 3 on Snapcaster Mage for Ponder before using Gut Shot to slay the Delver of Secrets, stabilizing the board. Alex put him in a bind with Sword of War and Peace on turn 3, sending in the Stalker for a point.
Snapcaster attacked for 2 on Brad’s turn, and he played Thought Scour. He badly needed to dump his hand and get more aggressive, and he did so on Alex’s turn, casting Snapcaster Mage to give Thought Scour flashback. That put life totals at 23 to 11 in Alex’s favor, and he followed with Ponder plus shuffle, Brad drawing for the Scour during the end step.
He untapped for Ponder and kept his three in place, adding Moorland Haunt and Geist of Saint Traft to the battlefield before tapping out to play Delver, now on just one card. He fell to 7 as Alex attacked, and Alex went to 25—could Brad really threaten to win this race? It seemed implausible as Alex added Snapcaster Mage for Ponder to the field, playing Seachrome Coast afterward.
Ponder flipped Brad’s Delver and he checked the top three again—could he make a ballgame out of this board? He sent in Geist, Aberration, and one Snapcaster—Alex blocked with his Snapcaster and fell to 16, while Brad played his own Sword of War and Peace on one card. He fell to 3 when Alex attacked, one lower than he wanted to be, and Alex played Runechanter’s Pike before passing.
Now Brad started looking livelier, but when he had to Mana Leak an attempted Snapcaster Mage for the block from Alex, that left him gaining only enough life to get to 4, and he couldn’t get rid of the last card in his hand—he was dead to the Stalker on the next turn, having come so close to getting through his opponent’s hexproof clock.
Alex 1, Brad 0
Quickly keeping seven, Brad started with turn 1 Delver of Secrets. Alex had Island and nothing, while Brad missed his flip prior to an attack for 1 damage. He cast Ponder afterward, shuffling the top three before playing Glacial Fortress and another Ponder, which he kept. That convinced Alex to Vapor Snag Delver during the end step.
He cast Ponder on his own turn, keeping the three, and followed with Glacial Fortress and Thought Scour targeting Brad, discarding Gitaxian Probe and Vapor Snag. Brad, lacking a third land, recast his Delver and passed. Alex tapped out to Blade Splicer on turn 3, but Vapor Snag handled the threatening aspect of that spell.
Alex Majlaton with Delver is in contention for Top 8 of the Invitational.
Brad’s Gut Shot removed the Splicer, and he attacked before adding Runechanter’s Pike to the board—would Alex be punished for that Scour? Pondering for answers, Alex found spells on top but not the right ones, and he shuffled. Adding a fourth land to the board, he passed.
Missing his flip, Brad equipped Delver and that earned a Snapcaster Mage on Vapor Snag from Alex—Brad had a third land though, and recast the little 1/1. Alex did him one better, playing and equipping Sword of War and Peace to put life totals at 20 to 8.
Once again in trouble due to Sword of War and Peace, Brad equipped his Delver and Vapor Snagged the Snapcaster, knocking Alex to 11 and threatening potential lethal on the following turn if Delver flipped and he had a spell. Divine Offering killed that dream, destroying Brad’s Pike, and Alex played Moorland Haunt before ending the turn.
Another missed flip on Brad’s side, and he considered attacking before ultimately playing Seachrome Coast and ending his turn. When Alex tapped low to Haunt, Snapcaster Mage on Vapor Snag bounced the token before Alex ever got to untap. He had another big threat in Batterskull on the following turn, however—that left Alex with just two mana untapped as he left his Sword on the side.
Delver failed to flip, Brad playing a fifth land afterward. Snapcaster Mage for Vapor Snag removed the Germ from the field, and Brad attacked with one Snapcaster and Delver. Alex appeared to consider blocking with Snapcaster Mage before declining, using it during the end step instead—Brad had no reply. Alex moved Batterskull to Snapcaster Mage and swung, gaining 6 as Brad chumped with his own Mage.
Brad drew and sent in Snapcaster Mage alone, offering Alex what looked like free life—in reality, his plan was to post-combat Revoke Existence on the equipment, reducing Snapcaster to dead before following with Geist of Saint Traft. Alex was back on 20, but Brad had a stern clock in place. Phantasmal image traded off for Alex before Snapcaster Mage Pondered into more choices, and he cast Delver of Secrets prior to passing.
Drawing Sword of War and Peace, Brad sent Delver of Secrets into the red zone and made it 16 to 9. Alex flipped his Delver through Probe on the next turn, equipping his own Sword and going to 18 as he bashed Brad to 2 life.
Taking one last card, Brad’s Delver didn’t flip of an Island either, and he extended the hand.
Alex 2, Brad 0