Round 4: Brad Nelson vs. Ross Merriam
Brad has been on a Standard tear in 2013, with multiple Grand Prix Top 8s in his favorite format. Looking to escape Legacy undefeated and start his tournament off strong, he’d need to go through Atlanta Invitational Top 8 competitor Ross Merriam.
Ross took the die roll, and both players found their sevens less than exciting. Sixes for both players, and Ross started on Volcanic Island and Ponder, shuffling the deck immediately after looking at the top three. Brad’s turn 1 started and ended with a fetchland that grabbed Island, clearly indicating Brad considered it possible that Ross was on RUG Delver and had access to Wasteland and Stifle.
Ross Merriam's off to a good start with Sneak and Show...
Another Ponder for Ross, and Brad nodded—this one also shuffled Ross’s library, and his second land was City of Traitors. Ross was on Sneak and Show! He added Lotus Petal to the battlefield, the City available to pay for Spell Pierce, and Brad allowed the Petal to resolve.
Starting his second turn with Gitaxian Probe, Brad spied Emrakul, Intuition, another City of Traitors, and another Ponder. He had Scalding Tarn for a land drop, but no other plays. Ross declined the end step Intuition for Show and Tell, but played Ancient Tomb after floating two mana with City and before casting Intuition. That resolved for three Sneak Attacks, with Ross ending the turn and continuing to play around Spell Pierce. His spare City would do the trick next turn...
Brad fetched in the end step and drew for turn, playing another Volcanic Island and passing. Ross drew an excellent card in Gitaxian Probe, allowing him to see that Brad had Force of Will rolled up with Brainstorm, Sneak Attack, Griselbrand, and some more lands—but none that made two mana. Ross knew he couldn’t Sneak this turn, so he played Ponder to dig for answers to Brad’s potential haymaker on the next turn. Was he obligated to keep most three cards here just to put some fear into Brad?
Leaving three on top, he added Force of Will to his hand. Brad drew another Probe, going to 14 to see the Force but also to see that Ross had no blue card—just a Griselbrand to go with Sneak, Emrakul, and the spare City. Brad Brainstormed now, with Petal and a land that made two mana capable of threatening the Demon...
He fetched another Volcanic Island with Misty Rainforest to shuffle away chaff, then went to 12 to Probe once more before playing two Lotus Petals to resolve Sneak Attack and put Griselbrand into play! Brad fell to 4 life to draw cards and then attacked for 7, going to 11 all—but Brad was hardly done, drawing another seven cards to make sure his hand was as stacked as possible.
Ross drew, and was killed on the next turn when Brad summoned a hasty Emrakul.
Brad 1, Ross 0
Ross had Scalding Tarn to start, while Brad played Island and Ponder. Ross fetched for Volcanic Island in order to Spell Pierce the Ponder, perhaps indicating a counter-heavy hand on his side of the board or a suspicion that Brad was land-light. Casting his own Ponder, Ross kept the top three and ended the turn without a land drop—Brad wasn’t sure how to respond to that!
Brad played Volcanic Island and ended the turn, Ross playing Mountain on his own—that pretty much “revealed” Ross had probably Pondered into Force of Will, as it’s the only spell he could realistically skip a land drop in order to ensure he could access. Brad kept going slow, using Island to Ponder and keep his top three before passing. Ross dropped City of Traitors and cast Sneak Attack, Brad aiming Swan Song at the enchantment to give Ross a clock but deny him the combo enabler.
Ancient Tomb on Brad’s side, and then he did something unorthodox—he cast Show and Tell! The sorcery was clearly threatening a Sneak Attack into Emrakul, and Ross wasn’t having it. He Force of Willed the Show and Tell, and then untapped into Through the Breach.
There was nothing Brad could do to stop the hasty Emrakul, and they were off to game 3.
Brad 1, Ross 1
Fetching on turn 1, Brad grabbed Volcanic Island and cast Ponder, leaving the top three in place. Ross passed after laying Misty Rainforest down, and Brad had only Island on turn 2. Ross followed suit, each player building toward the mana threshold for the big spells. On turn 3, Brad started with Brainstorm—Ross responded with his own copy of the cantrip, but had no Spell Pierce for Brad’s.
Ponder after the Brainstorm on Brad’s side, but this time Ross had his number-fetching Volcanic Island, Ross used Red Elemental Blast to counter. Brad had no land and was sweating as Ross untapped—he knew this could be it.
Ross Probed, revealing two Lotus Petals, Force of Will, Spell Pierce, Sneak Attack, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. He knew Brad didn’t have a land on top, so Ross wasn’t in danger on the next turn—he had no motivation to get hasty. Playing Volcanic Island, he ended the turn.
Brad decided to pull the trigger as best he could. Playing both Petals, he cast Sneak Attack. Ross Spell Pierced, and Brad Force of Willed. That left Brad tapped out and open for business, and Ross revealed that he had Ancient Tomb into Sneak Attack into Emrakul, earning the concession when he revealed the second Emrakul in his hand for next turn.
Brad 1, Ross 2