Round 8: Ross Merriam vs. Tom Ross
These titans of the Open Series have met in the feature match arena twice this year, and Tom Ross emerged victorious both times. Could Ross Merriam earn the win for Combo Elves when it mattered most, or would Tom Ross continue his streak with Infect?
Tom Ross is all business.
Tom took a peek immediately, thanks to Gitaxian Probe, and saw Merriam’s hand: two fetchlands, two Birchlore Rangers, two Glimpse of Natures, and a Wirewood Symbiote. He dropped Inkmoth Nexus into play and passed to Merriam, who led with a Birchlore Ranger. Noble Hierarch came off the top for Tom, who joked it was “right on time” as he played it on turn 2 and passed back. Merriam crunched some numbers before deciding to show a little restraint on his turn, casting only a second Birchlore Ranger and playing out his second land.
The poisonous beatdown began on Tom’s next turn as he Crop Rotationed for Pendelhaven, and attacked in the air with his Inkmoth Nexus for 3 damage, leaving up Noble Hierarch to represent tricks. Merriam fetched up Dryad Arbor at the end step, then untapped and led with a Heritage Druid, then tapped it and his Birchlore Rangers for three mana and tried a Glimpse of Nature. Tom said no with Force of Will pitching Daze. With one mana floating Ross cast his other Glimpse, but Tom was ready with a Spell Pierce, which Ross declined to pay for. He added two more Wirewood Symbiotes to his board and passed back.
Tom played his fifth mana source on his own turn and passed, sitting on the Force of Will left in his hand. Ross crunched the numbers and decided that since his opponent was known to make an outrageous bluff every now and then, he needed to make Tom have it. He tapped all of his mana sources, generated 8 mana, and cast the last card in his hand, a Craterhoof Behemoth. The bad news was that Tom DID have it, and he hardcast Force of Will to keep the enormous monster from entering the battlefield. Tom wasted no time on his own turn getting in for another 2 in the air with his Inkmoth Nexus, then cast his Glistener Elf and passed.
Green Sun’s Zenith came off the top for Ross Merriam, and being one mana short of fetching his other Craterhoof Behemoth, he chose instead to get Elvish Visionary, representing three fresh cards in conjunction with the two Wirewood Symbiotes he had in play. He looped it in and out of play twice, played a Wooded Foothills, and shipped the turn back. Tom drew Blighted Agent, which meant he wouldn’t be able to close the game out this turn. He gamely poked through in the air to make it a one turn clock, and Ross picked up Elvish Visionary and hoped for a miracle.
He found one on his draw step, as Glimpse of Nature showed up to give him the card drawing engine he needed. Visionary gave him two cards, then came Nettle Sentinel, then another Nettle Sentinel, and from there the world was Ross’s oyster. He chained through a series of Deathrite Shamans and Quirion Rangers, generating mana each time off of his Nettle Sentinels thanks to Heritage Druid. About fifteen cards deeper, he found and cast the second Craterhoof Behemoth and attacked for the win.
Tom opened up with just a fetchland, and Ross’s one-drop of choice was Wirewood Symbiote. It died immediately, as Tom fetched up a Tropical Island and cast Piracy Charm to give it +2/-1. Tom played an Inkmoth Nexus and passed back to Ross, who tried for a Pithing Needle in the hope of shutting off the Inkmoth Nexus before it could attack, but Tom had Spell Pierce at the ready Ross fetched up a Dryad Arbor and shipped the turn to Tom, who got in for two in the air thanks to his third land drop, a Pendelhaven.
Gaea’s Cradle and Wirewood Symbiote from Ross looked like it might give him a mana engine to get his tomfoolery started, but Tom would have none of it—He found Invigorate on his next draw step, which, in conjunction with the Vines of Vastwood he already held, made it a clean 10 Infect damage on before Ross got to untap again.
Ross does the math.
Green Sun’s Zenith into Dryad Arbor was the accelerant of choice for Ross in the decider, which Tom matched, in a fashion, with Tropical Island into Noble Hierarch. Wirewood Symbiote followed by Gaea’s Cradle allowed Ross to get an Elvish Visionary into play with one mana floating to get around Tom’s Daze. He passed back to Tom, who dropped both Inkmoth Nexus and Blighted Agent into play, establishing the potential for big infect swing.
Ross fetched up a second Dryad Arbor, then used the Gaea’s Cradle mana to loop Visionary in and out of play, netting some extra cards. He concluded his turn by Abrupt Decaying the Blighted Agent. Tom still had the Inkmoth Nexus, which got in for 3 damage in the air, and Tom passed back. Ross led off with a Glimpse of Nature on his own turn. Tom had some soft permission, but Ross’s Gaea’s Cradle would make it much less effective. He still concluded it was better than nothing, and he cast both Spell Pierce and Daze on the Glimpse. Ross opted to pay for both, leaving him three mana left in the pool. A second Glimpse of Nature went uncontested. Ross would now draw two cards for each creature he cast, but he only had two green mana to work with.
Heritage Druid made it 1 green floating, and Deathrite Shaman made it 0, but three elves in play, so Ross was back up to three green mana in pool with the Heritage Druid.. Next came an Elvish Visionary and a Deathrite Shaman, and Wirewood Symviote untapped the Heritage Druid to allow Ross another three mana. A pair of Nettle Sentinels came next, meaning each elf he played would generated two green mana. Now with two cards and two mana apiece after each creature he cast, Ross had no trouble drawing through his deck, filling the board with elves, and putting a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth into play.