Round 8: David McDarby vs. Eric Jones
They didn't know it as they sat down, but this was a Primeval Titan mirror match! StarCityGames.com Open grinder-turned-buyer David McDarby was piloting Wolf Run Ramp, which he'd nearly taken to an Invitational Top 8 in Charlotte, while Eric Jones came with Wolf Run Green.
Eric won the die roll, and each player kept their opening hands. Starting on Forest, Eric passed the turn. David had Copperline Gorge and also passed, while Eric quickly moved ahead in acceleration with Green Sun's Zenith for Birds of Paradise off two Forests. David had another Copperline Gorge followed by Rampant Growth for Forest, keeping pace.
Playing a Mountain, Eric cast doubt on whether he was Wolf Run Green or a more normal style—he passed with no plays on the third turn. David's hand had another ramper in Solemn Simulacrum, which he cast for a second Mountain before passing the turn over to Eric.
Eric Jones needs his Dungrove Elders to work out in this matchup.
While David now had the mana advantage, Eric moved to reclaim it with a fourth land and Acidic Slime, destroying one of David's Gorge's. Attacking with Solemn, David followed with Slagstorm on creatures to take a mana away from Eric, replacing his lost Copperline Gorge with a third copy after he drew a card from Solemn's trigger.
Hitting five again on his own turn, Eric cast Garruk, Primal Hunter, and made a Beast token. David sized the Garruk down with Inferno Titan on his own turn, no doubt worried about the draw ability if Eric had a Titan of his own. Rightly so—Eric tapped six lands on the following turn to search for Inkmoth Nexus and a second Kessig Wolf Run, making a second Beast before ending the turn. David went into the tank—he needed that Titan off the board, but he'd still have Garruk to contend with. Devil's Play for five damage on Primeval Titan before combat gave Inferno Titan the ability to kill Garruk and the Titan! His attack went unblocked by the Beasts, and David dropped Eric to 12 life.
Eric tapped out to attack for five poison, forcing David into a do-or-die position. He had a lot of outs to the situation, but if he failed to have one right now, the game was over. Fortunately for David, he had exactly what he needed. Casting Slagstorm to clear the Beasts, David followed with an Inferno Titan attack and four firebreathing pumps—that was 13 damage, more than he needed to finish Eric.
David 1, Eric 0
Having rallied to steal a game from Eric despite losing the die roll, David had an edge as the players moved to sideboarded games. “First mirror I've played all day,” David noted as he shuffled. Each player had been paired against Illusions a number of times on the day, and had emerged victorious time and time again.
David's savvy use of removal was key in keeping control of tempo in the match.
Eric had the play again, casting Forest and Llanowar Elves. Another Forest on turn 2 for Eric, and Dungrove Elder joined the party. David's dual Copperline Gorges weren't so impressive, although Eric offered him a juicy board state when he cast Solemn Simulacrum for a Mountain rather than a fourth Forest on turn 3. David didn't seem to have it, playing Mountain and passing the turn.
During Eric's upkeep, David aimed a Beast Within at one of Eric's Forests, turning Elder down to a 2/2. Eric made it 3/3 once again with Rampant Growth, but missed his land drop. Now, Slagstorm on creature from David was a blowout, removing the Elder, Solemn, Elves, and the Beast he'd given his opponent. Eric recovered with a 3/3 Dungrove Elder, and passed on four lands. David quickly made that three with Acidic Slime, destroying a Forest.
Birds of Paradise for Eric preceded a Green Sun's Zenith for another Birds of Paradise, but David had the answer for that as well—Inferno Titan, killing all the Birds and then dealing Eric a point in the process. This game appeared well in-hand for David, even as Eric tapped low for Sword of Feast and Famine. David swung, and after he dedicated his mana to pumping, he found himself surprised when Eric cast Fog!
Equipping the Sword, Eric swung with his Elder and cast a Birds of Paradise post-combat, but it wasn't enough—Inferno Titan swung through once again, and without another Fog Eric found himself burnt to a crisp.
David 2, Eric 0