Semifinals: Andrew Johnson vs. Nick Paulson
It was Andrew Johnson’s Jeskai Aggro and Nick Paulson’s Abzan Midrange in this semifinal, perhaps the iconic matchup of this Standard season. Who would earn a seat in the finals and a shot at a trophy finish?
Andrew Johnson had the first play of the game, a turn 3 Goblin Rabblemaster, and it immediately began cranking out tokens. Nick made his land drops, but had only black/white dual lands, stranding the green cards in his hand. The Rabblemaster made a second token and Andrew rumbled in for 6 damage unchecked. Nick played Sorin, Solemn Visitor and made a 2/2 blocker, but Andrew quickly disposed of it with Lightning Strike and kept on swinging, killing off the Planeswalker and dropping Nick to 9.
Nick checked his top card, shrugged, and scooped up his cards, down a game in less than 60 seconds.
Andrew Johnson 1, Nick Paulson 0
A turn 2 Fleecemane Lion kicked off the aggression for Nick, and Andrew swiftly dispatched it with a Glare of Heresy. A second Fleecemane Lion met Lightning Strike, and Wingmate Roc met Stoke the Flames. After this initial exchange of removal for threats, both players were content to make their land drops and pass back for a few turns, getting themselves established.
Nick broke the silence first, casting Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, but Andrew was ready with Negate. Andrew attempted establish a clock with a Mantis Rider, but Nick’s Bile Blight took care of the problematic insect. Nick’s next attempt to make some headway, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, was killed off with a Lightning Strike, but it left a 2/2 Vampire in its wake, which got in for some damage. Andrew flashed in Hushwing Gryff at Nick’s end step and cracked in for 2 right back, but passed again without further play.
Both players took turns attacking each other for 2, and Andrew used Jeskai Charm to drop Nick to 11. Nick attempted Hero’s Downfall on the Hushwing Gryff, which was countered with Negate, then untapped and used Drown in Sorrow to clear the board. Andrew promptly found Mantis Rider and began the offensive once more. Nick drew and cast Deathdealer Rakshasa, but it was exiled with Banishing Light. Nick fell to 8, then 5, then 2. He found a Fleecemane Lion, but no answer to the Mantis Rider, and extended the hand in defeat.
Andrew Johnson 2, Nick Paulson 0