Semifinals: Ben Lundquist vs. Nathan Calvin
These decks couldn’t more different—Ben’s hyper-aggressive Boros deck wanted to smash the gates down before Nathan’s Esper Control deck could even get on its feet. Could he dodge Supreme Verdict long enough to attack for lethal?
Ben's Boros deck has the edge in game 1.
First seed gave Ben the play, but his opening seven went back for six while Nathan kept his own hand. Temples for both players kept the top card in place, and one of Ben’s best threats—Precinct Captain—came down on turn 2. Nathan had another Temple on turn 2, which meant the Captain could get to work!
Knowing Jace, Architect of Thought could neutralize those tokens in two turns’ time, Ben continued pressing onto the board with Boros Elite and Mutavault. Detention Sphere from Nathan was countered by Brave the Elements, and Ben got in for 8 damage thanks to his Mutavault, generating another token. He was short a damage to remove Jace if Nathan cast it and boosted its loyalty, however.
No Jace required—Nathan had Supreme Verdict. Ben played a second Mutavault and attacked with the first, playing Soldier of the Pantheon and Precinct Captain afterward. Jace came down now, but Ben still had a two-turn clock already in play! He ignored Jace, attacking Nathan to 2 life and passing turn.
Living in fear of Boros Charm, Nathan didn’t have removal to kill these creatures, either. His only line to survive their assaults was to boost Jace, and then cast another Jace and boost it as well, hoping to find help with the top of the deck and a -2 on the following turn.
No attacks from Ben—they wouldn’t be very productive—but he added Daring Skyjek to the board and ended the turn. Drawing a land, Nathan was stuck repeating the previous turn with his third Jace, although this time he at least got to pass the turn with Dissolve backup. After considerable internal debate, he grudgingly did so. The next turn would be make or break for him.
Nathan discusses his sideboarding strategy after the match.
Ben 1, Nathan 0
Ben had overcome Supreme Verdict into Jace on a mulligan, demonstrating that what Nathan really needed was an early Doom Blade effect and a plan for beating those Mutavaults. After sideboarding, he’d have a much better shot—less dead cards in the main. He had to mulligan his seven cards to six, but Ben got to keep this time.
Nathan’s six were no better, and he went to five. Starting with a tapped Watery Grave, he was immediately under pressure from Ben’s Soldier of the Pantheon. Another shockland offered Nathan no plays, while Ben dropped Temple and then Dryad Militant. Just another shockland for Nathan, though he’d have both Jace and Supreme Verdict available next turn... He used his two mana to Azorius Charm Dryad Militant, and took 2. Ben cast Frontline Medic after playing Mutavault.
Nathan’s fourth land was a Temple, preventing Supreme Verdict and leaving him to just Detention Sphere on the Medic. Ben animated Mutavault and attacked Nathan to 12, casting the Militant afterward. With smaller creatures on the board, Nathan was now content to play and boost Jace rather than Verdict a couple of 2/1s.
Ben had stopped playing lands at three, which meant he had gasoline in the tank. Boros Charm and an attack eliminated Jace, dealing 1 damage to Nathan, and now he was forced to Verdict, going hellbent as he played his sixth land.
Topdeck Revelation one time?
Ben drew a Temple and left his card on top, casting two Boros Elites to threaten an attack for 8. Nathan drew exactly what he wanted, Revelation, and tapped out to draw three cards on his own turn. He dropped a tapped seventh land and passed, falling down to 6 life when Ben attacked with everything. Drawing and passing, Nathan jammed Sphinx’s Revelation when Ben attacked—and died to the Boros Charm Ben was sandbagging.
Ben 2, Nathan 0