Round 8: Nic Harlow vs. Michael Diamant
Nic's looking at a strong shot for Top 8!
With the Top 8 growing ever closer, the fight at the top for slots began to heat up. A Delver mirror awaited these two, after a long day of scrapping. With one loss each, neither could afford another, and even a win would not lock the Top 8.
Each kept their starting seven, Nic starting with 2 less life for Gitaxian Probe. He spotted Probe, Dismember, Restoration Angel, Ponder, Delver of Secrets, Island, and Cavern of Souls. Seachrome Coast followed for Nic, and Delver of Secrets. Casting Delver, Michael passed. Nic revealed Mana Leak to flip—“Aw, run goods!”—and then attacked for 3 damage.
He had another Seachrome Coast, and passed. Michael ran less good with his flip, playing Island and casting Probe for mana. He saw Ponder, Mana Leak, another Probe, and two lands—a very beatable hand if he could race down the Delver. Drawing for Probe, Michael attacked and cast Ponder—Nic Mana Leaked it.
Sending in the Delver for 3 damage, Nic put Michael to 14 before Pondering. He’d be hoping for another Mana Leak here, and his Island told nothing as he passed the turn. Michael didn’t flip his Delver, and indeed Nic had the Mana Leak when Michael attempted to Snapcaster Mage. Ouch! He could Dismember or Snag now, at least, and passed with one up after attacking.
Michael Pondered, attacked, and then cast Geist of Saint Traft. On 11 and under a ton of pressure, Michael’s Dismember was much more costly now, and he probably regretted taking the 3 damage. Cavern of Souls on Angel for Michael, and he passed the turn—would Nic attack anyway to put Michael on 3?
Nic might not buy the Restoration Angel here, and indeed he paid 2 life to Probe before seeing it did exist, alongside Mana Leak and another Delver. Casting Thought Scour again, Nic really wanted a Snag to force a chump block from Michael’s Delver of Secrets. Appearing to lack one, he played Moorland Haunt and passed the turn without an attack from Geist.
Still no flip for Michael!
Cavern on Human then Delver landed, Michael passing the turn with Leak in his hand. Nic made a Spirit with Moorland Haunt and untapped. He had one more creature left, so Michael wouldn’t need to worry about the Haunt for too long. Nic cast another Delver, then passed—it seemed almost unbelievable when Michael whiffed the flip again, drawing Island.
Nic made a second Spirit, his Delver ground-bound, and cast Snapcaster Mage with three up. He resolved it, casting Ponder—that earned the Mana Leak, costing Nic the single additional mana. Nic attacked with his Geist and the Spirits, leaving his Delver out of combat. Unhappy, Michael blocked Geist and took 6, falling to 1 life. Now he was dead to a ton of cards...
Vapor Snag flipped his Delvers but did not defend him from Nic’s lethal alpha on the next turn—too little, too late.
Nic 1, Michael 0
Michael's early stumbles cost him... twice.
Michael took a mulligan to start game 2, growing slightly frustrated. He’d need a win here to force the third game, and Nic’s quick keep told him it would be no small feat. The next hand wasn’t great, but he kept and started... Moorland Haunt? Uh-oh. Nic Pondered on Seachrome Coast, keeping his three and passing.
Cavern of Souls for Michael kept him off spellcasting for turn 2 as well, naming Angels. Nic didn’t have an aggressive hand, Pondering again and then shuffling, playing Glacial Fortress. No land for Michael on turn 3, and Nic named Spirit with his own Cavern before jamming Geist of Saint Traft.
Glacial Fortress had Michael passing turn once more, wide open to an attack from Geist. Nic swung, and played Cavern for Angel afterward, ending the turn. Michael had Phantasmal Image for the Geist, but couldn’t defend the play—he just had to jam it and cross his fingers. Nic declined to Vapor Snag his man in response, and stuck an Angel. He attacked Michael for 3, putting him on 11, and played Island. He cast another Geist, and passed with two mana up.
Could Michael muster another Image? That didn’t appear to be the case. He played Glacial Fortress, tapped, and cast Delver of Secrets. Nic’s attack would bring him to 2 life if he didn’t block or Dismember, and going to 1 would be effectively lethal. He chumped, falling to 4 life and lacking the Dismember.
Nic 2, Michael 0