Round 8: Ross Merriam vs. Ben Wienburg
Both of these players are true veterans of the Open Series with twenty-one top 8s and three trophies between them. They also brought the two season-long pillars of Standard to battle—Ben with Mono-Black Devotion, and Ross with Mono-Blue.
Ben is unimpressed.
Ben had no turn 1 play, while Ross led off with a turn 1 Judge’s Familiar. Ben fired off a turn 2 Thoughtseize, seeing Island, Galerider Sliver, Cloudfin Raptor, and two Master of Waves. He cleared out the Cloudfin Raptor, and Ross quickly drew his card, plopped Galerider Sliver into play, and swung, dropping Ben to 17.
Ben get to see the Island that Ross drew for each of his next two draw steps, as he cast Lifebane Zombies and peeked at Ross’s hand. Ross played the Master of Waves on his fourth turn for three elementals, and Ben knocked him down to 11 with his Lifebane Zombies before adding Desecration Demon to his board. Ross wasted no time putting his second Master of Waves into play, upgrading his Elementals to 3/2s and adding some more to his army. He fed a token to the Demon and attacked with his team, dropping Ben to 2, and passing with a commanding board presence.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel isn’t impressed with opposing boards, however, and Ben was able to steal the win away with a clutch Merchant, draining for 8 and then attacking with a Lifebane Zombie to seal the deal.
Ross stares into your soul.
Ross opened up the game with a Cloudfin Raptor, and Ben fired off a turn 1 Thoughtseize, sniping Thassa, God of the Sea and leaving Ross with Two Islands, two Tidebinder Mages, a Domestication in hand. Tidebinder Mage evolved the Raptor and set it on the offensive, but a second Tidebinder Mage drew Pharika’s Cure on the Raptor in response, and Ben untapped and cast a brutal 2-for-1 Bile Blight to leave Ross without a threat.
Bident of Thassa came down for Ross, but without a creature in play it wouldn’t do him much good. Ben cast Desecration Demon, and Ross was ready for it, casting Rapid Hybridization to convert it into a 3/3 then stealing the Token with Domestication. Ben killed off the token with Hero’s Downfall, then added Pack Rat to his board.
Ross needed to commit a threat to the board to have a chance of pushing past the Pack Rat. He drew… an Island. Ben went to work making Rats, and Ross drew another Bident of Thassa on his next turn. Facing down a growing army of Rats, Ross extended the hand.