Round 6: Caleb Durward vs. Justin Haas
Justin's Birthing Pod didn't dig up the goods.
Delver against Naya Pod—this matchup has manifested itself a number of times over the course of the tournament, but Caleb’s spicy version of Delver packs a number of spells specifically tailored for the creature deck, including Gut Shots and Mental Missteps.
Keeping his opener, Caleb nodded as Justin quickly mulliganed to six in search of a better hand. Justin’s next hand was also no good, leaving him on five cards and on the draw against Caleb’s aggressive Delver deck. Island and Delver on turn 1 for Caleb, while Justin started with Razorverge Thicket. Revealing Mana Leak, Caleb seized a massive advantage and attacked for 3 before playing Moorland Haunt.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben earned the Mana Leak, indicating Caleb lacked any of his maindeck Gut Shots. He Pondered before attacking, perhaps in the market for Spectral Flight to shorten his clock dramatically. Keeping those three, he played Seachrome Coast and then Phantasmal Image on Delver before attacking and ending the turn. Justin’s Sunpetal Grove gave him Blade Splicer, but he was falling behind fast.
Caleb attacked him to 8 and cast another Delver with just two mana up. The Golem attacked Caleb to 17, and Justin played a tapped Copperline Gorge before trying Phyrexian Metamorph at the cost of 2 life to get a blocker.
Revealing Ponder on top of his deck, Caleb made it through the sky for lethal.
Caleb 1, Justin 0
Avacyn’s Pilgrim off Copperline Gorge earned a prompt Mental Misstep from Caleb and a groan from Justin. Delver of Secrets off Seachrome Coast once again, but Caleb failed to flip after Justin ended turn 2 with only a land drop. Ponder followed the trigger, though a shuffle of the deck meant he still wasn’t locked for a flip. He played Island, attacked for 1, and passed.
Caleb Durward's Delvers did the trick.
Razorverge Thicket and 2 life earned Justin a Birthing Pod, while Caleb failed to find a spell on top once more. Playing Glacial Fortress, he attacked for 1 and cast Geist of Saint Traft. Justin’s Forest had him tapping out for Huntmaster of the Fells and left Caleb looking for help. He lacked a spell on top, but Spectral Flight for his Geist of Saint Traft dropped Justin down to 10 life and left him in trouble.
His Birds of Paradise earned Mental Misstep for 2 life, but Justin had a second copy—Mana Leak caught that one. All Justin could do is attack for 4 and then Pod his Huntmaster into Acidic Slime, binning the flight but still on low life against potentially 7-power in fliers. “All right deck,” Caleb demanded, and it coughed up the goods: Gitaxian Probe!
Probe spotted Mountain and drew Caleb into Ponder, which he kept on top. His attack trade Geist for Slime and put Justin to 3 life, which he followed with an untapped land. That was just enough to Dissipate the Incinerate that Justin drew, and he was forced to Pod his Wolf for Birds of Paradise to stay alive.
“Intense game,” Caleb admitted as he ate that Birds, but Justin was drawing awkwardly—he had Pod for a semi-redraw, at least. Strangleroot Geist did the trick, searching for Fiend Hunter and giving him a 3/2 that sent Caleb to 7 life. Caleb’s next turn featured a Probe and Timely Reinforcements for men, but now it was his turn to peel. Not too many cards would get that 3 life here, and the Birthing Pod was mounting pressure.
Justin sacrificed the Geist before combat for Blade Splicer, and passed. Caleb drew Ponder, left the cards in place, and used Spectral Flight on a token to get in the final points. “Note that any of the two equipment would have done nothing,” Caleb offered with a smile.
Caleb 2, Justin 0