Round 1: Chris Vanmeter vs. Steve Mann
Steve Mann had to sweat his spot in the Players’ Champion right up until the last minute, but he ultimately found his way here, bringing W/U Heroic to battle against Season 2 Points Leader Battlewise+Hoplite
Steve had the power one-drop of choice—Favored+Hoplite—to get the beatdown started. He got in a hit for three with in the following turn thanks to a Defiant+Strike, but Chris had a turn 2 Lightning+Strike to shoot it down before it got out of control. Steve replaced it with a Battlewise+Hoplite, and had another Defiant+Strike to grow it and scry. Chris cast Seeker+of+the+Way, but was tapped out in the process, giving Steve free reign to start Heroic-ing off.
Ordeal+of+Thassa was the payoff for Steve, as he was able to immediately draw two cards and attack for five, dropping Chris to 11. Chris has no way to get the 5/5 Hoplite off the board, but didn’t mind a race. He dropped Jeskai+Ascendancy into play then attacked for three with his Seeker+of+the+Way, jumping back up to 14. Steve cycled Defiant+Strike at Chris’s end step to grow his Hoplite, then untapped and dropped Hero+of+Iroas into play, which enabled him to cast another Ordeal+of+Thassa with his one remaining mana. He attacked for 8, dropping Chris to 6, and drew two cards in the process.
Chris was without removal, and could only lean on his Seeker+of+the+Way to chump block in order to stay alive. He attacked, then added a second jeskai Ascendancy to his board, untapped the Seeker. Steve had a full hand, so Chris didn’t seem surprised when Aqueous+Form showed up to let the now 9/9 Battlewise+Hoplite slip through for the win.
Steve Mann 1, Chris Vanmeter 0
Hero+of+Iroas lead the charge for Steve, but a Lightning+Strike from Chris shot it down before it could do any suiting up. Steve replaced it with a Battlewise+Hoplite, and Chris debated casting a Jeskai+Ascendancy on his own turn for a moment before simply passing the turn and leaving his mana open. The Battlewise+Hoplite swung in for 2, which Chris took without response, and Steve passed the turn back. Chris attempted an end step Lightning+Strike, but a pair of Defiant+Strikes grew the Battlewise+Hoplite to 4/4, safely out of range.
Jeskai+Ascendancy entered the battlefield on Chris’s turn, allowing him to drew and pitch a Mountain when he followed up with Glare+of+Heresy on the Battlewise+Hoplite. Steve began the process of rebuilding his board with another Battlewise+Hoplite, and Chris began the process of rebuilding his hand with a Treasure+Cruise on his own turn. Steve had a window to stick Aqueous+Form on his Hoplite and poke Chris down to 14, and cast a Seeker+of+the+Way, but Chris had an end-step Raise+the+Alarm to re-establish a board presence, in the hopes that some fireworks would begin once he untapped with an Acendancy and some tokens already in play.
He led off with a Stoke+the+Flames targeting Seeker+of+the+Way. Steve used Gods+Willing to protect it. He attacked with the tokens, and after Steve declined to block with his Seeker, Chris used Lightning+Strike to shoot down the 3/3 Battlewise+Hoplite, growing and untapped his Soldiers and dropping Steve to 11. Aqueous+Form allowed Steve’s Seeker+of+the+Way to continue getting in for some damage, and a Favored+Hoplite came down post-combat in an effort to hold the ground, but another end-step Raise+the+Alarm gave Chris four tokens, threatening to overrun him .
A Treasure cruise grew Chris’s Soldier tokens to 2/2s, then a second Jeskai+Ascendancy grew them to 3/3s. He attacked with them all, and a Raise+the+Alarm after blockers made it four 5/5 Soldiers coming in for the win.
Chris Vanmeter 1, Steve Mann 1
CVM is ready to Ascend.
Hero+of+Iroas was the hero of choice for Steve in the decider, and this time Chris had no immediate way to get it off the board. He cast Seeker+of+the+Way and passed the turn, declining to block when Steve attacked or two, following up with a Battlewise+Hoplite. Chris swung for two right back, and added a second Seeker to his board along with a tapped Mystic+Monastery. With the shields down, Steve was in the clear to cast some auras, and an Ordeal+of+Heliod came down on the Battlewise+Hoplite, growing to 4/4 after attacks. Chris fell to 11, and a Seeker+of+the+Way made it a trio of threats on Steve’s side of the board.
Chris needed to make a decisive move, and he found one, attacking with his pair of Seeker+of+the+Ways then casting Raise+the+Alarm and using the two tokens to fuel Stoke+the+Flames on the 4/4 Battlewise+Hoplite after no blockers were declared. Steve used Gods+Willing to save his hero, but Chris still connected with two 4/4 Lifelinkers, jumping back up to 19.
Steve had a big life swing of his own in store, as he cast Ordeal+of+Thassa on his Battlewise+Hoplite then attacked, triggering both of his Ordeals in the process. He went up to 18 from the Ordeal+of+Heliod, and with the two cards he found off of Ordeal+of+Thassa was able to grow his Battlewise+Hoplite even further with a Defiant+Strike. When the dust settled, he was just short of a lethal swing, hitting Chris for 17 damage down to 2 life. Chris untapped and cast a Hordeling+Outburst in the hopes of gaining a little breathing room, but Steve showed his last card, a Stubborn+Denial, to counter it. Chris attacked with his Seekers to jump back up to 8, and passed the turn in a precarious position.
All of Steve’s creatures immediately jumped into the red zone, and Chris chump-blocked with his two Soldier tokens to fall to 4. He untapped, cast Jeskai+Ascendancy, but this time could only afford to attack with one of his Seeker+of+the+Ways, leaving the other back on defense. Steve’s draw step found him a Gods+Willing, enabling the 10/10 Battlewise+Hoplite to slip past the Seeker and close out the match.
Steve Mann 2, Chris+Vanmeter 1