Round 7: Zaiem Beg vs. Adam Brown
Adam put up a tough fight in game 1 after a mulligan to five.
These two hadn’t had long drives to the tournament site this weekend, both hailing from the area. They were each playing Snapcaster+Mages and Ponders, but Adam’s Delver deck with blade Splicers would have its work cut out for it against Esper Midrange, a deck designed to utilize many of the same synergies.
Zaeim stood firm on seven, but Adam had to drop to six cards before laughing at those six and throwing them back for five. “Still can’t do it,” he said, checking the top. “I’d have gotten there!” Darkslick+Shores and Ponder on turn 1 for Zaiem, who left the top three in place. Adam dropped Island and Pondered as well.
Seachrome+Coast and nothing else for Zaiem, while Adam Pondered again before playing Cavern+of+Souls on Human and casting Delver+of+Secrets. Thought+Scour for Zaiem binned a Phantasmal+Image he’d known was on top, and he fired Gut+Shot at the Delver, going to 18 and passing with both Forbidden+Alchemy and Snapcaster for Thought+Scour available.
Adam Snapped his Ponder on turn 3, generating a 2/1 but electing to shuffle up his deck before drawing. Zaeim made the Alchemy in the end step, tossing Mana+Leak, Ponder, and a land. Playing his fourth land, Zaiem passed with Restoration+Angel in his hand—would he have an opportunity to cast it? The threat of Mana+Leak loomed... Adam Pondered again, then played Cavern for Angels and passed.
Declining to try either his Angel or his Snapcaster+Mage, Zaiem untapped. He cast Snapcaster+Mage for Ponder after playing his fifth land, checking the top three for some goods and leaving them there. Adam Snapped for Ponder once more, and left the cards there before paying 2 life to Gitaxian+Probe.
The jig was up—Doom+Blade, Restoration+Angel, Phantasmal+Image, Seachrome+Coast, and Oblivion+Ring revealed that Zaiem had a little bit of everything! Afterward, Adam played Island and attacked, with Zaiem declining to trade and falling to 14. Zaiem blocked this time, then played Restoration+Angel before damage—Adam’s Vapor+Snag on Snapcaster+Mage “sort of” countered the rebuy.
Now Zaiem attacked, and Adam paid 4 life to Dismember the Angel. Zaiem passed on six lands, and had his Snapcaster+Mage once more, this time on Gut+Shot. He blocked, then Gut+Shot, and then Doom Bladed before damage, staying at 9 even as Adam Mana Leaked the Doom+Blade.
Both players passed, and Zaiem took control of the board with Blade+Splicer. Adam copied it with Phantasmal+Image, then did that again—now he had the board dominated, with Zaeim’s life total open to pressure. He swung for 3 anyway, then played Phantasmal+Image himself for another Splicer, passing the turn. Zaiem declined to Angel his Splicer when Adam tapped out to Snag that Image, clearly representing another Snag or Snapcaster+Mage.
He attacked with two Golems, and Zaiem resolved Restoration+Angel on his Blade+Splicer, then blocked with his Golems—he lost both to the Snapcaster+Mage from Adam, falling to 8 as his Blade+Splicer bounced. Adam could have Snapped Leak on Angel here, but had chosen this line instead—it kept a Golem around, but gave Zaiem the Angel and an additional Blade+Splicer trigger on the next turn.
Zaiem punished him with the bounced Blade+Splicer and then a second copy, attacking Adam to 8 with Restoration+Angel. Now the boards were mostly even... but Adam had Sword+of+War+and+Peace to threaten breaking parity. He equipped his Golem token, and passed. Zaiem finally hit seven mana with Evolving+Wilds during this end step.
Adam had no cards and couldn’t Moorland+Haunt, and he wasn’t getting that Sword through these Golems. Zaiem started doing the math, and led with Oblivion+Ring for the Sword, locking it out of the game and giving him room to swing with Golems if he so chose. Sending three Golems and the Angel, he forced two blocks from Adam. Snapcaster and two Splicers chumped, and he fell to 5.
Zaiem passed, and Adam conceded after checking his next card.
Zaiem 1, Adam 0
Zaiem had all the answers, however.
Adam had the play and seven cards, casting Ponder on turn 1 once more. Zaiem had no turn 1 past Island, but did Thought+Scour in the end step once Adam passed with only Island. He had Drowned+Catacomb afterward, and no reply for Adam’s Turn 3 Blade+Splicer. Casting ponder, Zaiem left his top three cards and played Plains, then appeared to consider Doom Blading before just ending his turn.
He Doom Bladed when Adam attacked, landing the removal spell and falling to 19. Adam cast a second Blade+Splicer to replace the fallen Golem, and it was Zaiem’s turn to make a 3/3 with his own Blade+Splicer. Casting Snapcaster+Mage for Ponder, Adam looked to find Vapor+Snag and fuel an attack here—missing, he sent only his Golem. Zaiem took 3, and fell to 16. Attacking back, he put Adam to 17 and then cast Restoration+Angel during his turn for another Golem.
Now Adam passed, no longer able to attack. Zaiem shipped in his two Golems and Restoration+Angel, but Adam had an Angel of his own. Gut+Shot killed the Splicer Adam tried to rebuy, but he was able to kill two of Zaiem’s Golems at just the cost of his one anyway, taking 3 damage.
Zaiem Pondered, and cast a second Angel for a new Golem, tapped out. Adam couldn’t equip his Sword+of+War+and+Peace, but he certainly could cast it—with one mana up, he passed the turn with Splicer, Snap, and Angel on defense. Doom+Blade slew the Angel, and Zaiem attacked Adam to 5 before casting Divine+Offering on the Sword.
Reduced to just Snapcaster and Splicer against two Angels, Splicer, and Golem, Adam attacked—that could only mean Day+of+Judgment, which mopped the board. Zaiem cast Lingering+Souls to start rebuilding, and when Adam passed the turn he appeared very vulnerable indeed. Vapor+Snag took out one Spirit, and Adam fell to 4.
Flashback on the Lingering+Souls gaze Zaiem a two-turn clock, and he Negated another Day to protect it. Swinging Adam to 1 life, he passed—Ponder for Adam dug to find one final answer, but when he failed to muster a third day or Ratchet+Bomb off the shuffle, Adam conceded.
Zaiem 2, Adam 0