Round 4: Chris VanMeter vs. Sherwin Pu
Chris had emerged from a month of beard-growing and Magic battling with a plan for Standard—burn spells. Sherwin, on the other hand, was piloting a deck not unlike the Grand Prix Dallas-winning list, with some extra hate for spell-based decks in the main.
Chris team Chandra with her Phoenix.
Winning the die roll, Sherwin announced a mulligan while Chris decided to keep. Leading Swamp and Duress, Sherwin spotted two Shocks, Chandra, Pyromaster, a Phoenix, and three lands—he sent the planeswalker to the graveyard. Chris started with Temple of Triumph, sending another Shock to the bottom.
Sherwin had his own Temple on turn 2, sending his card to the bottom, and Chris likewise passed turn 2. Sherwin’s third turn saw him tap out for Underworld Connections, leading Chris to debate a Shock to the dome—it was time to start this party. He declined the burn spell but did cast Chandra’s Phoenix.
Undoing his mulligan, Sherwin began working the Connections. He cast Prophetic Prism and then added Godless Shrine tapped to the battlefield. Chris knocked Sherwin to 15 and then cast a fresh Chandra, Pyromaster, putting Sherwin to 14 with its ping. The Connections dropped him to 13, and he had to be careful from here—he knew Chris was packing four points of burn in the grip.
Desecration Demon offered Sherwin a way to threaten the Chandra, but the +1 saw to keeping it from blocking Chris’s next attack for 2 damage. The planeswalker on six loyalty, Chris hoped to sacrifice the Phoenix to turn off the Demon for a turn, intent on Shocking it back to his hand and recasting it during the next turn.
Sin Collector affected the math a little bit, forcing Chris to decide how much those Shocks were worth—he wound up Skullcracking and casting Boros Charm in response, suddenly putting Sherwin to 3 life before revealing Shock, Shock, and Toil/Trouble. That looked like it would be outright lethal...
Sherwin discarded the Toil, but when Chris tapped down the Demon he was forced to concede, with no remaining ways to keep those Shocks from finishing the job.
Sherwin's Sin Collector stripped a vital spell.
Chris 1, Sherwin 0
Once more on the play, Sherwin hoped for a more effective seven cards this time around. He found them, while Chris took his own mulligan. Temple of Silence sent the top of Sherwin’s deck to the bottom, and Chris started with just Mountain on his turn. Sherwin Thoughtseized, revealing Shock, Boros Charm, Phoenix, Toil/Trouble, and Chandra, Pyromaster—the planeswalker left the hand once more.
Chris played his second Mountain and passed before losing Toil/Trouble to Sin Collector from Sherwin on turn 3, Shock killing the 2/1. Finding Sacred Foundry to cast his Chandra’s Phoenix, Chris immediately lost it to Last Breath—things were looking very grim. Sherwin established Desecration Demon, and Chris shifted to burn mode—he Charmed Sherwin’s dome, putting him to 12, and then fell to 16 from the Demon.
Pithing Needle outlawed future Chandras, and Chris needed to find a lot of burn in a hurry. He Skullcracked Sherwin to 9, a second copy in his hand, with running draw steps all he could hope for to get in lethal. Sherwin attacked Chris to 4 with the Demon, and he used Skullcrack and Shock in the end step to put Sherwin on 4...
And he peeled Boros Charm!
Frowning, Sherwin flashed Devour Flesh, throwing away his Demon but surviving. Chris had played to make Warleader’s Helix a live draw, but that had meant not having Skullcrack available for when he needed it most. Sherwin’s next turn was a doozy, as he tapped out for Blood Baron on 6 life, leaving Chris drawing very light. He found one of the few ways to maintain the status quo in Warleader’s Helix, but one more draw step sealed the deal and forced a third game.
Chris 1, Sherwin 1
Beginning with a mulligan, Chris knew he’d be in a tough spot against Sherwin’s many discard spells and Sin Collector. Mustering the burn potential necessary to make Blood Baron a loser is always difficult, and requires a lot of spells. Keeping six, he opened on Temple of Triumph.
Sherwin had Swamp and Thoughtseize once more, stripping Warleader’s Helix and leaving Chris with just two Chained to the Rocks and two lands. A horrible spot to be in, now that Sherwin knew to not just ram his Demons into the Mountains. Sherwin played Mutavault, and Chris cast his Skullcrack off the top.
Lifebane Zombie gave Sherwin a clock, and Chris declined to Chain it—he simply shocked himself on turn 4 and passed. When Mutavault animated, Chris took 5 damage and played the forecasted Warleader’s Helix to zap Sherwin. A lot of playing around Sin Collector from Chris here, just unloading his instants and sorceries as he could.
Now he Chained the Zombie, and fell to 15 from Sherwin’s Mutavault. Chandra’s Phoenix attacked for 2 damage but earned a Hero’s Downfall with Sherwin confident that there was no burn spell on the other side for now. He was racing the top of Chris’s deck but also appeared to lack white mana—that could be big.
Chris was out of gas and went to 11 life, while Sherwin finally dropped his Demon. Chris Chained it up, Skullcracking to buy back Chandra’s Phoenix and attacking Sherwin to 6 life. He was slowly but surely making up ground against Sherwin’s mana-screwed hand. The Phoenix put Sherwin to 4, and he appeared to have nothing but Mutavault assaults available as he sat on white spells. Lifebane Zombie revealed a third Chained to the Rocks.
On 7 life, Chris was tempted to kill the Zombie and slow Sherwin down, but he’d want the Chained if Sherwin drew another Demon, as it would be necessary in order to attack for lethal. Tanking, he decided that Sherwin had to lack the Demon and wasn’t very likely to draw it—he exiled the Zombie in order to buy more draw steps should Sherwin draw a removal spell.
Sherwin drew—and revealed the Temple of Silence that had come too late to save him.
Chris 2, Sherwin 1