Round 16: Shaheen Soorani (Esper Stoneblade) vs. Michael Jacob (Sneak and Show)
Shaheen Soorani had started strong on 7-0-1, but some stumbles on Saturday left him paired down and playing for Top 8 with Esper Stoneblade. Michael Jacob, on 33 points, was playing for a potential Top 8 himself if he could knock Shaheen out of the running, and would certainly lock Top 16 with a win. Could his Sneak and Show list manage one more match?
Tundra from Shaheen led the match, while Michael Jacob Pondered via Island prior to shuffling the deck for a card he actually wanted. During the end step, Shaheen Brainstormed... and then he passed the turn, stuck on one land with no end in sight soon. That was good news for Michael—he Pondered, continuing to sculpt his hand for a combo finish.
“You’re not the only one,” Michael admitted after tanking on his Ponder—he decided to keep the three cards and then move to cleanup, discarding Emrakul to get a shuffle of the remaining two while sacrificing a shot at a random land to get a card he really wanted. Shaheen hit the cleanup step himself on the next turn, while Michael had a third Ponder.
He found Island and passed, while Shaheen could only add Jace, the Mind Sculptor to his graveyard. Michael pitched Misdirection and passed, stuck on two lands now. “So awkward,” he laughed. Shaheen peeled out on the next turn, fetching Underground Sea with Flooded Strand and getting back in gear. He fired Thoughtseize, no doubt happy to see Misdirection in the bin already, but Michael simply Spell Pierced it.
Michael Brainstormed on the next turn, playing Volcanic Island. “So lucky,” he said when Shaheen drew and played Scrubland before ending his turn. Tapping out, Michael tried Show and Tell on his turn. Shaheen cast Counterspell, and Michael Force of Willed pitching Force of Will to resolve the sorcery.
That put Griselbrand into play for Michael and Batterskull into play for Shaheen. Michael immediately drew seven cards, going to 12 life, and played Misty Rainforest before discarding some of his less relevant cards.
Shaheen would either need a land for Jace or to tap out for Snapcaster on Swords to Plowshares in order to defeat the Demon. He found Underground Sea, and decided to go for the planeswalker. Michael responded with a fetch for Volcanic Island and then a Brainstorm, but the Jace resolved. It bounced Griselbrand, and the Germ knocked Michael to 7 and put Shaheen on 23.
Of course, Shaheen’s life total wasn’t as relevant as his quantity of permanents, which was only six. Show and Tell put Sneak Attack into play on the next turn, enabling a lethal Emrakul alongside the bounced Griselbrand.
Michael 1, Shaheen 0
“That game took too much discipline from me,” Michael said. “I had a Brainstorm, and I was missing all those land drops, but I was like, ‘No—can’t risk it!’” The risk certainly hadn’t paid off for Shaheen, whose early stumbles left him easy prey in the midgame.
“This is much better,” Shaheen said, keeping his starting seven for the second game. Michael shrugged and mulliganed his hand away. Shaheen had Flooded Strand on turn 1, and Michael just played his Volcanic Island. Another fetchland for Shaheen, which he cracked once Michael passed the turn with just a second Volcanic. Fetching Tundra, Shaheen cast Brainstorm—Michael Spell Pierced it.
Shaheen had Swamp on the next turn and nothing else. Michael played Scalding Tarn and likewise passed, with Shaheen first to the battlefield on the next turn with Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull. He passed the turn with two fetchlands untapped, threatening reasonable countermagic.
Michael played another land and ended the turn, only one shy of fighting through Spell Pierce. Shaheen cast Ponder, played Flooded Strand, and followed with Thoughtseize. That spotted two Show and Tells, City of Traitors, and Mountain while discarding Force of Will. Fetching after, Shaheen Pondered again. He left them on top, and passed the turn.
During the end step, Shaheen fetched twice to use his Mystic and put Batterskull onto the battlefield. Thoughtseize on Michael during the next turn spotted three Show and Tells, binning one, and then Shaheen paid 2 life for Surgical Extraction on Show and Tell. Michael appeared to weigh the benefits of conceding now in order to preserve his sideboarding strategy, but decided to hand over the Show and Tells and his deck.
Noting the Blood Moons and Pyroblasts Michael had brought in, Shaheen handed the deck back and attacked for 4 damage. Post-combat, he cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor to fateseal, prompting a fetchland crack from Michael Jacob. He drew, and ended the turn.
Fateseal sent the card to the bottom, and Shaheen attacked for 5 damage this time. One more card for Michael, and he conceded.
Michael 1, Shaheen 1
Michael kept while Shaheen mulliganed this time. Volcanic Island and Ponder for Michael, his favorite turn 1 so far, and he kept three before passing the turn. Shaheen likewise Pondered, through Tundra on his side, and kept.
Scalding Tarn for Michael and another Tundra for Shaheen, but nothing else. Michael decided to fetch Volcanic Island during the end step for a fresh draw, and played another fetchland on turn 3. Shaheen felt the need to build something, but had to play safe. He Brainstormed on the next turn, playing Polluted Delta, while Michael fetched an Island in the end step—potentially an incoming Blood Moon. When Michael Intuitioned, Shaheen immediately Spell Pierced.
That left Michael just playing Island on the next turn. Shaheen passed back, sitting on answers himself, and Michael drew in search of more action before passing without a land drop. Shaheen fetched Underground Sea and tried Snapcaster Mage during the end step on Brainstorm, getting three new cards with another fetch in play.
Michael tried Vendilion Clique during Shaheen’s draw step, but Shaheen Counterspelled it. He fetched Plains and cast Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine, then attacked with Snapcaster Mage. Continuing to present cards that wanted answers, Michael dropped Blood Moon on the next turn—good thing Shaheen had searched Plains! He fetched Island as well, and the Blood Moon resolved.
Shaheen cast Sword, and Michael Spell Pierced to tap Shaheen out. During Michael’s draw step, Shaheen fired Surgical Extraction at Spell Pierce in an attempt to keep his Force of Will safe if Michael tried to Sneak or Show this turn, and Michael decided to Brainstorm in response. He likely had a Pierce or two in his hand!
His hand had Sneak, Griselbrand, Force, Brainstorm, and a land in it when Shaheen got his look—not bad. Michael was a mana short of jamming in Griselbrand this turn, but he could tap out to land Sneak Attack—he knew Shaheen had telegraphed vulnerability with that Surgical.
The players traded Forces, but Shaheen untapped with Blue Elemental Blast to kill the Sneak and that was enough to convince Michael to concede to the Sword-enhanced beatdown.
Michael 1, Shaheen 2