Round 8: Shaheen Soorani vs. Matt Nass
Two of the three remaining undefeated players met in this match. Shaheen Soorani has four Invitational Top 8s to his name, demonstrating an uncanny level of consistency—especially with Esper. Matt Nass was in search of his first Top 8 and playing his traditional Legacy deck, Elves.
Shaheen sets up the Verdict.
Forest and Deathrite Shaman got Matt Nass off to a decent start, but when Shaheen had Island and no fetchland, Matt decided to just attack for 1 and resolve Quirion Ranger, with Verdant Catacombs in play. Shaheen fetched Scrubland and Stoneforged for Jitte, while Matt fetched Dryad Arbor in the end step.
That gave him access to a lot of mana on turn 3—what would he do with it? Playing Bayou, Matt cast Natural Order sacrificing Dryad Arbor and searched for Craterhoof Behemoth. The Ranger untapped the Deathrite Shaman and that enabled an attack for 16 damage from Matt.
“That’s a lot of damage,” Shaheen sighed. He could go to 2 or 4 life depending on whether he chucked away Stoneforge Mystic, and he decided to make it 2 life. Now he’d need to handle Deathrite Shaman before Matt made it to the next turn, but without the necessary mana to cast Vindicate he was cold.
Turn 3? Take 16.
Matt 1, Shaheen 0
Shaheen led Island—no Swords to Plowshares here. Forest and Deathrite Shaman from Matt before Shaheen untapped and Brainstormed, revealing the method to his madness. Tossing back two, he played Underground Sea and Thoughtseized Matt. That revealed two Glimpse of Nature, Wirewood Symbiote, Nettle Sentinel, and Elvish Visionary alongside Misty Rainforest.
After some thought, Shaheen just had to discard a Glimpse and hope he’d be able to break up the Symbiote + Visionary loop while sandbagging a Force of Will for Glimpse, unless he had some more hand disruption. Matt fetched, using Deathrite Shaman to deploy first Elvish Visionary and then Wirewood Symbiote. Shaheen elected to burn Force of Will, exiling Vendilion Clique—clearly he had plans for the Glimpse, as the card he exiled was Vendilion Clique.
Engineered Plague was Shaheen’s turn 3 play, predictably naming Elves and clearing out the Visionary. Matt opened with Glimpse on the next turn, drawing a card and playing Bayou before tapping out to resolve Qasali Pridemage.
Shaheen lacked Swords, but he had Engineered Explosives to blow up the two one-drops before passing turn. Matt attacked with Qasali Pridemage, content to bring the beats while he waited for killing the Plague to actually matter. Wirewood Symbiote, a non-Elf, joined the beatdown crew—a fetched Dryad Arbor did the same when Shaheen passed the turn.
An attack for 3 damage put Shaheen to 10, and then Pridemage killed the Plague before Matt cast Elvish Visionary twice, thanks to untapping Dryad Arbor. Fetching once more, Matt cast Nettle Sentinel. He appeared to have weathered the sickness... but Shaheen cast Intuition for three white sources, representing Supreme Verdict!
The sweeper landed, and Matt reclaimed his Visionary in response, losing the Sentinel, Symbiote, and Arbor. Recasting Visionary, Matt was quick to reload with Quirion Ranger as well. Shaheen needed to put together some pressure and soon—he was in trouble. The next attack put him to 8, but he had the benefit of Matt’s flood working in his favor. Force of Will caught a post-combat Natural Order from Matt, but he fetched Dryad Arbor to keep his clock intact.
An intimidating Jitte from Shaheen threatened to get nasty if he had Snapcaster Mage, but Matt was already prepared for the kill. A second Cradle gave him enough mana to Craterhoof Behemoth, and Shaheen revealed the Supreme Verdict that could not save him.
Matt 2, Shaheen 0
That left Matt Nass the first 8-0 of the Invitational! Would John Kassari win his pairdown against Todd Anderson, or would Matt stand alone at the end of Day 1?