Round 3: Ross Merriam vs. Joe Lossett
Ross focuses trying to find a winning line.
Favored Hoplite kicked things off for Joe, and Defiant Strike allowed him to swing for 3 before Ross had even played an untapped land. Seeker of the Way came down on turn 2 for Ross to hold the fort, and Joe got in another hit for 2 with his Favored Hoplite, then cast Hero of Iroas and passed without a third land, and still missing a blue source. Lightning Strike from Ross cleared away the Hero of Iroas, allowing him to attack for 3 with his Seeker of the Way. Joe had a Seeker of his own as a replacement, but it too was shot down by a Magma Jet, and Ross added a second Seeker of the Way before passing. This time Joe had no play, and still without a blue source, he was forced to pass the turn right back.
Jeskai Ascendancy came down on Ross’s side, threatening some shenanigans on the following turn. When Joe again had no play, Ross cast Goblin Rabblemaster and then tapped all four of his creatures to cast a free Stoke the Flame at Joe’s head before combat. Joe fell to 10, then Ross’s creatures came swinging, and a Raise the Alarm provided enough pump triggers that Joe had no way to survive the attack.
Joe’s first threat, a Battlewise Hoplite, ate a Magma Jet from Ross, while his second got to stick around as Ross added Goblin Rabblemaster to his board. Joe attacked for 2 without adding any pants to his Battlewise Hoplite, then cast a Hero of Iroas and shipped back. Ross surprised him by attacking with the Rabblemaster itself along with a 1/1 Goblin Token, and Joe spent a moment in the tank before deciding to only block the 1/1, falling to 16. Ross had Seeker of the Way to follow up, and passed back.
Ordeal of Heliod pumped up the Battlewise Hoplite once, then Defiant Strike pumped it again, and Joe was able to attack for 5 and gain 10 life, jumping up to 26. Ross added Jeskai Ascendancy to his board and came swinging with everything, leaving two mana untapped. Joe blocked the Goblin Rabblemaster with his Hero of Iroas, prompting Raise the Alarm from Ross to grow it to 3 toughness. Gods Willing allowed Joe to pump up his Hero of Iroas, giving it protection from red to survive combat and kill off the Rabblemaster. He untapped and came knocking with his two heros, and a Defiant Strike after Ross declared no blockers made it 10 damage total, dropping Ross to 6. Favored Hoplite post-combat and a Temple of Enlightenment left untapped were all of Joe’s defenses as he passed the turn to Ross’s board of tokens + Jeskai Ascendancy.
Ross led off with a Lightning Strike on the Favored Hoplite, but Joe used Gods Willing on the Hoplite in response. The Heroic trigger prevented the damage from Lightning Strike, so Joe named White, preventing Ross’s Seeker of the Way from gaining him any life. Ross had Hordeling Outburst next, and sent in some of his tokens to drop Joe to 17. Joe needed Aqueous Form to close things out. His draw found him the redraw option of Defiant Strike, and the Strike found him Ordeal of Heliod—not quite what was he was looking for, but still a fine draw, as casting it on Hero of Iroas allowed him to force a chump block on two different creatures, and gave him a fine buffer life total, as he jumped up to 27.
Treasure Cruise jump-started the Jeskai Ascendancy shenanigans on Ross’s turn, and it found a second copy of Jeskai Ascendancy, which Ross cast. He attacked with one token and his Seeker of the Way, dropping Joe to 18, and giving him a little breathing room by bringing him up to 9. Joe’s draw step gave him Heliod’s Pilgrim, which was a proxy of the card he’d been looking for last turn, Aqueous Form. The bad news for Joe was that the life Ross had gained in the meantime meant that his largest creature, Battlewise Hoplite, would be one point short of swinging for the win. He determined it was still his best course of action, and he fished up the enchantment and attacked with all of his heroes. Ross was forced to chump block with two of his tokens, and untapped looking for a spell to trigger his Jeskai Ascendancy.
He didn’t find one, and scooped up his cards.
Joe needs a hero.
Both players came out a little slower in the decider, as the first to board was Joe with a turn 3 Heliod’s Pilgrim fetching Ordeal of Thassa. Ross matched his three-drop with one of his own, casting Goblin Rabblemaster. Joe wasn’t prepared to commit his Ordeal to the board just yet, and passed the turn after playing a Temple of Enlightenment. Ross’s 1/1 Goblin token made a mandatory suicide attack, and he had Jeskai Ascendancy post-combat. Joe found and played Favored Hoplite, casting Aqueous Form on it before passing back.
Ross spend a moment in the tank assessing his options on his own turn before firing off a Hordeling Outburst. He passed the turn back to Joe with mana untapped, and when Joe cast Ordeal of Thassa on his Favored Hoplite, he allowed it resolve but cast Erase before combat to keep Joe from drawing any extras. He took five from the Hoplite, untapped, cast a second Jeskai Ascendancy, and came crashing in. Joe blocked a token with his Heliod’s Pilgrim and the Rabblemaster with his 2/2 Battlewise Hoplite. Raise the Alarm pumped everything up, allowing his Goblin Rabblemaster to survive and dropping Joe to 8.
Ordeal of Heliod off the top for Joe looked like it may swing the race back in Joe’s favor. He put the pants on his Favored Hoplite and cracked in, going back up to 18 life and dropping Ross to 3. He passed the turn to Ross, who needed help now to finish things out on his turn. He cast Magma Jet on his upkeep, took a peak, and found the perfect card: Jeskai Charm gave him 28 points of lifelink to attack with, giving him a lethal swing even through the Triton Tactics that Joe had tucked away.