Round 16: Erik Smith vs. Harrison Beach
A strong Legacy performance has kept Erik Smith within striking distance of a second Invitational Top 8—he’ll need a win and some favorable breakers to pull it off. Vegas player Harrison Beach needs the same, and hopes to give his hometown a hero.
Erik gets aggressive early against a slow draw.
Harrison mulliganed to begin the match, and Erik started with Forest and Deathrite Shaman. Harrison had no one-drop on his own turn, with just Wooded Foothills—not a great start for Elves. Fetching Swamp, Erik revealed himself to be on Jund with Thoughtseize.
It revealed Glimpse of Nature, Green Sun’s Zenith, and Craterhoof Behemoth alongside two lands, discarding the Zenith. Erik followed by casting Tarmogoyf, hoping he could put enough pressure onto Harrison to keep him from recovering. No plays from Harrison, while Erik fetched Bloodstained Mire before casting Liliana of the Veil and boosting it, with each player discarding a land.
Harrison fetched in the end step for Dryad Arbor, likely holding Quirion Ranger or Gaea’s Cradle, or really hoping to find one of those for a decent Glimpse turn. He cast the Glimpse and then Nettle Sentinel, following with Gaea’s Cradle to cast Wirewood Symbiote. That let him freeroll the Nettle Sentinel for another card before passing the turn.
The Liliana killed Arbor before an Abrupt Decay eliminated Symbiote, and now a 4/5 Tarmogoyf sailed into the red zone. Harrison’s Nettle killed Liliana before he played Dryad Arbor, but he had no further action. Deathrite Shaman began working the graveyard for damage, which meant Harrison was on a two-turn clock.
Harrison struggled with playable openings all match.
Erik 1, Harrison 0
A mulligan to five put Harrison up against the wall fast, but he did start with turn 1 Deathrite Shaman via Forest. Fetching Bayou, Erik Thoughtseized to see Wirewood Symbiote, Nettle Sentinel, and Arbor, losing the Symbiote. Harrison played Arbor and debated his next move before attacking and playing Nettle Sentinel.
On 16, Erik dropped Grove of the Burnwillows and ended the turn. Harrison attacked with all of his creatures, losing Deathrite Shaman to Punishing Fire while the other two skittered in for 3 damage. That was going to be a really tough card to beat on this mulligan... Harrison lacked the speedy start to punish Erik for the three mana he’d need to spend to kill a creature every turn.
Taking a break to pull ahead on the board, Erik Decayed the Nettle and then played his own Deathrite Shaman. Harrison passed, out of gas and needing to assemble Glimpse or Natural Order to beat the Punishing Fire. Erik’s Liliana of the Veil on the next turn made that all but impossible—he’d be losing a card from his hand and/or from his board every turn.
Erik continued to grind the Liliana + Punishing Fire interaction, draining Harrison’s life total with Deathrite Shamans all the while. Grafdigger’s Cage worsened the situation, and a few turns later Harrison decided he’d had had enough.
Erik 2, Harrison 0