Round 9: Michael Fricks vs. William McWhorter
A Runechanter's Pike mirror would decide which of these players would remain in contention for the Top 8 of the Standard Open. Midnight Hauntings, Geist of Saint Trafts, and of course the Pike itself would decide the winner of a convoluted race based on tempo, evasion, and Vapor Snags!
William led the game with Seachrome Coast and Delver of Secrets on turn 1. Michael began with Gitaxian Probe for 2 life, spotting Ponder, Ponder, Moorland Haunt, and two Runechanter's Pikes in William's hand. He did it again, going to 16 before playing his own Delver via Island. Hopefully he'd get a turn with that guy on defense!
Michael Fricks found himself facing down the full amount of Delvers in game 1.
Missing the Delver reveal, William cast Ponder after playing Moorland Haunt—he wound up regretting that when his Ponder found him a second Delver! He attacked, and Michael decided to take the damage rather than trade. His Delver did flip on the second turn, and he attacked for 3 prior to casting Ponder. The three cards merited a shuffle, and he followed with an Island, casting Vapor Snag.
William played an Island and cast Ponder, looking for a little help now that his early aggression had been dismantled. He recast Delver and passed, that Haunt still punishing him as he held blue sources in his hand. Michael swung for 3 damage again, casting Ponder during the second main phase to shuffle his deck a second time. He played an Island, and ended the turn.
Revealing Gut Shot, William flipped his Delver. He played Seachrome Coast and cast Runechanter's Pike, but Mana Leak countered it. A second Delver for William resolved, and he decided to hold the flipped one on defense rather than attack. Michael played a Coast and shrugged, ending the turn with his Delver also untapped.
When William tried Runechanter's Pike with three mana open, Dissipate ended the equipment. William decided to attack now, and Michael declined to block, falling to 12. He cast Snapcaster Mage on his next turn, targeting Ponder upon resolution and keeping three cards in place for once. He cast Delver of Secrets, and passed without an attack.
Trying out a Snapcaster Mage on Ponder of his own, William plucked Disperse from his top three cards, casting it on Michael's flipped Delver to clear the way for an attack that reduced Michael to 9 life. On his own turn, Michael flipped his other Delver thanks to the Probe on top, and swung with both the Aberration and the Snapcaster Mage. Casting Gitaxian Probe, he revealed Gut Shot and Delver in William's hand. Recasting his Delver of Secrets, Michael passed with Moorland Haunt mana available but no creatures in the graveyard, with his opponent on 7 life and in perilous shape.
Gut Shot on Delver gave Michael a creature for his Haunt and put William to 5 life. Casting Probe to see Michael's Mana Leak, William decided to send just his two Aberrations. That merited a chump from the Moorland Haunt token, tapping Michael out. Post-combat, William's Snapcaster Mage targeted Ponder, rather than the Disperse that would remove Michael's Aberration and lock this game up with a key.
Michael needed a lot of help, and the top of his deck failed to deliver much. He couldn't swing with Delver, and he doubted he could afford to swing with his Snapcaster—he had to pass the turn. William sent both Aberrations and both Snapcasters in, trading with Michael's respective copies and leaving his opponent on just 1 life, facing two creatures and Moorland Haunt. That became a third when William cast Delver of Secrets.
One more draw step, and Michael conceded.
William 1, Michael 0
Michael started on Glacial Fortress and a pass, while William began with Seachrome Coast. Casting Delver on turn 2, Michael used Mental Misstep's alternate cost to defend it from Gut Shot, but lacked a second land. William played Island and passed the turn on turn 2, falling behind rapidly.
According to William, his strategy is to bait counters as much as possible so that he can land the real threats.
Attacking for 1 damage after a whiff, Michael cast a second Delver and played Glacial Fortress. William used the end step to cast Snapcaster Mage and Gut Shot a Delver, but lost his Snapcaster to a Gut Shot from Michael in the process. Tapping out on his own turn, Michael landed a major threat in Geist of Saint Traft.
Michael cast Ponder and shuffled after his Delver failed to flip, adding Island and Runechanter's Pike to the board. Vapor Snag on that Delver cleared Geist's path, and Michael took 6 damage. When Michael recast his Delver on the following turn, an overzealous Psychic Barrier from William was punished by the Phantasmal Image that followed, killing Geist. William passed the turn, leaning on Moorland Haunt now.
Drawing Merfolk Looter, Michael temporarily lost it to Snapcaster Mage for Vapor Snag when he tried to equip Runechanter's Pike. William's Mage perished to Gut Shot, and he passed again without action. Michael drew and landed a big card—Geist of Saint Traft! Happy to have the threat, he didn't seem to mind seeing the Midnight Haunting from William during his end step.
Those tokens swung Michael to 7 life, and William passed. He used Vapor Snag and his Moorland Haunt to block all of the damage, but on the next turn wound up trading those Spirits away for the Geist, realizing he couldn't really race it. Michael had another Geist to replace it, putting William in a tight spot. He swung Michael down to 1 life and passed, all-in on his Moorland Haunt for defense from potential death.
Michael found nothing to stop the 1/1 token in play on the top of his deck. He made a tokens wing with Geist, but conceded to the lethal assault shortly after.
William 2, Michael 0