Round 4: Joe Bernal vs. Michael Herrin
Piloting a new take on the age-old B/W aggro archetype, Joe faced off against a more conventional Junk list at undefeated, in the hands of Michael Herrin. Zealous Persecution and Lingering Souls were two of the highlights in this unique build of the disruptive aggro deck; would they be enough?
Michael's Junk list has some Pulses for Joe's tokens.
Fetching Savannah and casting Noble Hierarch, Michael passed to Joe, who wasted no time in Wastelanding that dual. Playing Scrubland, Michael cast Dark Confidant, and Joe Wastelanded that as well before playing Chrome Mox and removing Bitterblossom to Cabal Therapy Swords to Plowshares, hitting and leaving Michael on another Noble Hierarch, Maze of Ith, and Horizon Canopy.
Michael played Horizon Canopy and cast two Noble Hierarchs, swinging for five with his Dark Confidant. Joe played his own Dark Confidant and passed the turn back to Michael, who revealed Karakas and attacked Joe to 9. Post-combat, Terravore was a big problem for Joe! He drew, missing a desperately needed removal spell, and couldn't figure out a line to victory.
Michael 1, Joe 0
Each player kept, and Joe began with Swamp and Sensei's Divining Top. Thoughtseize saw Diabolic Edict, Lingering Souls, Zealous Persecution, Dark Confidant, and Stoneforge Mystic—Michael pitched the Mystic, leaving Joe his draw step to look for land. Failing to find one, he passed the turn. That gave Michael an opening to Stoneforge for Sword of Light and Shadow, passing turn.
Cabal Therapy for Sword of Light and Shadow revealed a bunch of lands and Knight of the Reliquary, but Joe hadn't found a second land with his Top. He sent the turn to Michael, who cast Qasali Pridemage and passed the turn after attacking for 2 damage. During the upkeep, Joe Topped into Marsh Flats, playing it and passing the turn—he'd have to watch that Pridemage!
When Michael just attacked with the Pridemage, Joe fetched—if he wanted to try and kill Top, Michael would sacrifice 3 damage to do so, and he declined. Joe searched up Plains, and spun the Top after Knight of the Reliquary resolved. Drawing, he played Scrubland and cast Lingering Souls. That would give him some defense, especially from exalted attacks.
Michael's Gerrard's Verdict binned another Souls and Dark Confidant—not so bad. Michael followed with a fetchland for Forest, now on five mana. He attacked with everyone, and Joe decided to make no blocks, falling to 8 life. Another Knight of the Reliquary, and Michael sent the turn.
Joe passed after playing his fourth land, holding open Edict and two Persecutions. He used them when Michael attacked, losing a Spirit token to Swords to Plowshares in response but blunting the damage, though Maze of Ith saved a Knight from the Spirit ambush. Diabolic Edict on Joe's turn would finish the job…
He replayed his Top afterward, and passed the turn back to Michael, who fetched with his untapped Knight, sacrificing Bayou to get Wasteland for a Scrubland. Attacking with the 5/5 Knight, Michael earned a chump from the Spirit, Maze of Ith untapping the Knight after damage resolved.
Top dug Joe into Swords to Plowshares, which he used when Michael Wastelanded him again. Michael passed, out of gas, and Joe topped into a fetchland before flashbacking Lingering Souls on his own turn, passing. Michael retaliated with a game-changer—Sylvan Library, on 23 life, certainly qualified. Now Joe needed a clock or an answer, fast.
He fetched Swamp and Topped, on 7 life and reluctant to put himself under Bitterblossom—he played Liliana and boosted her to pitch a Path from Michael's hand. Library grabbed Michael Qasali Pridemage, which he cast. Joe used Liliana to make the Pridemage point at Top, drawing in response and flashbacking Lingering Souls afterward.
Now, Michael used Path to Exile—Joe declined to search, keeping his Top, and lost another Spirit to Swords. Joe replayed his Top, digging into Lingering Souls the third and attacking for one. He couldn't cast the new Souls, so he just sent the turn after boosting Liliana. Vindicate killed Liliana, and Michael ended his turn.
Joe played the new Lingering Souls and attacked, while Michael untapped into Stoneforge Mystic for Umezawa's Jitte, which he played to avoid that Cabal Therapy in the graveyard. Now it was Joe's turn to look for answers once again. He failed to fetch his way into a great one, but Stoneforge Mystic to trade Jittes did the job.
Joseph Bernal has Lingering Souls galore!
Making that play, Joe attacked in for 3 damage, Maze stopping one token. Maelstrom Pulse off the Library for Michael eliminated all those tokens, and each player was at parity once more. Joe's Top found him another Liliana, and he forced Stoneforge into the bin. Paying 4 life, Michael cast Noble Hierarch and Dark Confidant, passing the turn.
Joe flashbacked Lingering Souls and passed with two mana up—a surprise Batterskull ambushed that Dark Confidant, Michael using Maze to save it at the cost of an opening for Joe's attack, given that Michael was on single digit life. When Joe revealed the Persecution he'd been sandbagging, Michael packed it in.
Michael 1, Joe 1
A crazy second game had taken the match to a third, this one deciding who would advance to 4-0 and remain a Top 8 favorite. No mulligans, and Michael began with Plains. Joe started on Chrome Mox, removing Cabal Therapy before playing Scrubland and Hymn to Tourach, discarding Swords and Horizon Canopy.
Fetching for Swamp, Michael cast Thoughtseize and discarded Batterskull, leaving Joe with just Cabal Therapy. He cast that, naming Swords and spotting Forest, Knight of the Reliquary, and Vindicate. Stoneforge Mystic for Jitte followed, the Therapy flashbacking on Knight afterward.
Thoughtseize stripped the Jitte, and Michael passed back to Joe quickly. Lingering Souls gave him an offense, and Michael failed to muster any plays on the following turn. Attacking, Joe flashbacked Souls and then used Wasteland on Michael's Savannah. He returned fire with Wasteland and Vindicate, leaving Joe on two Marsh Flats… and four Spirits.
Cracking for Swamp on upkeep, Joe drew before swinging. Another Marsh Flats, and Michael took 4 damage. Draw, pass—now Michael was on 7 life against Joe's three basics. He cast Knight of the Reliquary off the top and fell to 3, Diabolic Edict killing the Knight afterward—and that was the ballgame.
Lingering Souls in all formats!
Michael 1, Joe 2