Round 9: Andrew Maag vs. James Vari
From James Vari’s vantage point, his opponent Andrew Maag was a cool, calm and collected character looking to potentially steal his spot in the Top 8. That Andrew had won the die roll and James had to take a pair of mulligans before finding a playable hand didn’t help James’ case any. But that was overlooking the fact that Andrew’s leg was shaking with nervous energy as he prepared for the critical battle with his RUG Delver deck against James’ unknown deck.
Andrew Maag gets his beatdown on.
Delver of Secrets got Andrew on the board first and it was followed by Sylvan Library after a minor counterwar. James fought back with a pair of Nimble Mongoose, but Delver of Secrets flipping put Andrew way ahead, and things only got worse after a Wasteland.
His stunted draw crippled, James had to watch in horror as James flipped a miraculous Temporal Mastery off of his library, calmly executing the play that had the internet going wild over the past few weeks and getting in for six points over two turns with his Insectile Aberration. Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolt finished James off on Andrew’s extra turn, and we were headed to game two.
Andrew 1, James 0
Both players got to keep their openers this time and James got to massage his a little with a Ponder. He followed up with Nimble Mongoose—an all-star in the matchup due to its untargetabiity—but Andrew burned a Force of Will on it and played his own white-bordered version of the troublesome 1/1.
James retaliated with Wasteland and Tarmogoyf, but Andrew was right there with him, crushing the large threat with Spell Snare. Both players were weaving their way around backbreaking Submerges now, and despite the powered-up Nimble Mongoose on Andrew’s side, you got the feeling that James was going to pull ahead very soon thanks to the Life from the Loam that would allow him to keep attacking Andrew’s fragile manabase.
Grind, grind, grind went the game for James as he worked through Brainstorms and Life from the Loams to cut Andrew’s mana supply off. He was down to 7 before he finally found a Nimble Mongoose of his own, and with James fully crippled by the never-ending string of Wastelands he was happy to trade 3/3s. The power of Life from the Loam provided James with a steady stream of cards and land, and it wasn’t long before he found a Tarmogoyf that was safe from Submerge due to Andrew’s lack of Islands.
Comeback kid James Vari.
It was academic from there, taking James’ Tarmogoyf just four easy attacks to force a deciding game.
Andrew 1, James 1
Delver of Secrets and Nimble Mongoose provided a nice start for Andrew, and he pulled even further ahead with a major coup on James’ second turn. James had waited a turn to play his own Delver of Secrets, seemingly to play around Daze, but he stumbled when Andrew cracked a fetchland in response to the wizard. James cracked his own fetchland, opening himself up to the Daze that he couldn’t pay for. He got Taiga and Lightning Bolted the Delver of Secrets, but now it was Andrew’s Nimble Mongoose on against an empty board that had the makings of repeating last game’s grind.
Life from the Loam did enable the setup for the comeback, giving James the mana he needed to work Scavenging Ooze and Nimble Mongoose into play with James already in Lightning Bolt range. He happily traded guys and prayed that Andrew didn’t peel a burn spell before his Scavenging Ooze was able to take over and gain enough life to get him to safety.
It wasn’t there, and James was able to mirror his victory from the second game, leaving Andrew’s manabase crippled as his Scavenging Ooze feasted first on the fallen armies and then on Andrew’s life total. The comeback was complete and now it was time for James to hope his tiebreakers would get him there.
James 2, Andrew 1