Round 8: Steve Mann vs. Dusty Eyers
Steve advanced to 7-0 in short order.
Steve Mann made quite the run at Grand Prix Orlando, finishing within the Top 8 and proving himself a player worth watching at any Standard event. He’d switched his Phantasmal Bears for Strangleroot Geists today, playing a deck with plenty of Forests. His opponent, needing a win to keep Top 8 alive, was playing Humans.
Dustin kept his opening hand and played Plains on turn 1, passing. Forest and Llanowar Elves for Steve got him on the ground, while Dustin started the beatdown with Loyal Cathar. Porcelain Legionnaire and Llanowar Elves gummed up the battlefield on Steve’s second turn.
Honor of the Pure was good, but not good enough to enable an attack from Dustin’s vigilant 2/2—he was also stuck on just two lands. Steve played his third Forest and cast Garruk Relentless, creating a Wolf token and passing, hoping to build a presence. Dustin’s second Honor changed his plans a bit, and Steve decided to put the 3/1 and Elves in front of it, turning the 4/4 into a 2/1 black creature.
Untapping, Steve used Garruk to kill the 2/1 and transformed him, sending his Wolf and remaining Elf into combat. He played Dungrove Elder afterward, and Dustin slammed the Seachrome Coast he drew along with a Mirran Crusader. That 4/4 double-striker had protection from most of Steve’s deck! With one Legionnaire already down, he was in trouble.
Steve had a 5/5 Dungrove and the ability to make a deathtouch Wolf or tutor for a creature, but appeared unsteady otherwise. A Sword of some sort would be reasonably helpful—Steve decided to cast two Phyrexian Metamorphs copying Dungrove Elder, leaving him on 14, and he sacrificed Garruk along with the tapped Elf to find Bellowing Tanglewurm. Dustin was dead if Steve hit Forest!
Losing his Wolf to Fiend Hunter, Steve chastised himself. He drew Green Sun’s Zenith, couldn’t search for anything relevant, and was dead to the Crusader’s second swing, 2 damage shy of the win.
Dustin 1, Steve 0
A sour taste in his mouth had Steve wondering how he could’ve better coordinated those Metamorphs to win the game, playing around all of Dustin’s outs. Forest and Elf for Steve again, while Dustin had no one-drop but did have Coast. Turn 2 Dungrove Elder threatened to get big, Dustin having no reply beyond Honor of the Pure.
A third Forest and Steve swung for 4 damage, casting Phyrexian Metamorph on Dungrove Elder afterward. Already under a lot of pressure, Dustin shrugged and cast Fiend Hunter on the Elf, hoping to dodge Forest.
Steve had another Forest, sending in 8 damage, and Dustin declined to block—that left him on 8 life. Steve followed with Garruk Relentless to create a Wolf token, and ended the turn. Dustin played Hero of Bladehold and passed, but Steve continued to increase the pressure—another Forest!
He sent everyone sideways, getting 5 damage through and losing his Wolf to the Hero. The Fiend Hunter’s death returned his Elf, and Steve chucked Garruk away to finish off Hero of Bladehold. With no creatures on the board, Dustin needed to hit big this turn.
Dustin 1, Steve 1
Dustin's Humans have one loss in the penultimate round.
Each player kept seven, and Dustin began with Champion of the Parish via Seachrome Coast—Steve’s expected Llanowar Elves hit the board. Honor of the Pure on Dustin’s side enabled an attack for 2 damage, while Steve retaliated by attacking for 1 damage and casting two Birds of Paradise.
Steve nodded grimly as Dustin deployed Geist of Saint Traft, taking 2 damage from the Champion. His third Forest gave him six mana, but Steve was in need of a game-changer. Thrun, the Last Troll wasn’t a bad start, but Dustin really put in the screws on the next turn: he cast Mirran Crusader.
Going aggro, Dustin then attacked with his Geist and his Champion making it clear he was about squeezing in damage. Taking 3 after he ate the Geist and chumped the Angel, Steve fell to 13 life. Untapping, he cast Precursor Golem—that would throw down the brakes!
Sitting back in his chair, Dustin stared at the Golem roadblocks. He cast Doomed Traveler, growing his Champion, and attacked with just the Champion. Steve considered his options before deciding to take the damage, falling 9 life. He untapped, now able to lean on Thrun for some defensive aid. Still on three Forests, he was a bit limited by his mana and the desire to hold open regeneration ability, but he cast Dungrove Elder and passed the turn.
Dustin drew and played Seachrome Coast, casting a new Geist of Saint Traft afterward. He didn’t attack, Steve having successfully established a standoff with his Golems. Playing Forest, Steve cast Sword of War and Peace and equipped it to Dungrove Elder, sending 7 damage plus two more across the field. That put each player to 11 life.
Oblivion Ring from Dustin removed the Sword and gave Dustin an opening to attack. He again sent just the Champion, and Steve decided to Dismember it, going to 7. He drew Forest and began doing math—time for Tanglewurm? Green Sun’s Zenith grabbed the big 4/4, and Steve attacked for 9 damage, leaving his opponent on 2 life and in trouble.
Dustin took the damage and then took a deep breath—he needed to kill that Tanglewurm and play two creatures, which he could not do.
Dustin 1, Steve 2