Semifinals: Ben Perry vs. Eric Rill
“You’re the only guy who beat me today,” Ben said as they shuffled up. “I’ve played everyone in the Top 4,” Eric replied. Considering he was still here, that made Eric a debatable favorite to win the tournament!
Ben's looking to avenge himself in the single elimination rounds.
Ben’s top seed awarded him the play, which is exactly what he wanted to have against Eric’s Daze and Stifle-laden tempo deck. Eric mulliganed a hand devoid of interaction while Ben kept his seven. “It’s fine against... other people,” Eric said. His six had no lands, and he hung on at five cards for dear life.
Gitaxian Probe for 2 life showed Ben that he only had to worry about Daze, and Lion’s Eye Diamond prior to a Land Grant showed that Ben had a turn 1 Empty the Warrens for twelve Goblins—not too shabby. Eric drew a card and scooped ‘em up.
Ben 1, Eric 0
Eric kept his seven on the play, and Ben debated doing the same for some time before agreeing to his seven cards. Turn 1 Cabal Therapy from Eric Rill named Empty the Warrens, revealing Simian Spirit Guide, two Guttural Response, Rite of Flame, Xantid Swarm, and Pyretic Ritual. Lotus Petal off the top for Ben gave him a Xantid Swarm, and Eric debated countering it... while countering anything still worked!
Spirit Guide for Guttural Response countered right back. The Swarm swung in, and Ben cast Land Grant to find Taiga, revealing his hand of known cards. Delver flipped into Insectile Aberration revealing Force of Will, and Eric debated shuffling his library before drawing. He could go for a fresh card...
Attacking for 3, Eric decided to stay on the offensive for now after drawing the Force of Will. When he drew Delver of Secrets, Eric gained a lot more options. He attacked Ben to 14, again declining the defensive before casting just Delver of Secrets and playing out a second fetchland. He had Stifle available as an insurance policy—that would have to do if he found a blue card for that Force of Will, to let him get through the Swarm’s trigger.
Spirit Guide into Rite of Flame into Desperate Ritual gave Ben a resolved Goblin Charbelcher on the next turn, with just Guttural Response in his hand. Brainstorm flipped Eric’s second Delver of Secrets, and he cast the cantrip before attacking for 6 damage and leaving Eric on 8 life. That was a two-turn clock—could the second Stifle Eric had drawn get him through the night?
Ben attacked, as he’d done every turn. Eric tanked before casting Stifle on the trigger, and Ben replied with Guttural Response. Had he really peeled the Lion’s Eye Diamond for a lethal Charbelcher here? Nope—it was just a post-combat Land Grant for the Forest Ben had boarded in!
Eric Pondered on the next turn, finding Gitaxian Probe to go with his Force of Will and remaining Stifle. It was the best he could do and left him vulnerable to Spirit Guide, but an attack for 6 damage left Ben on 2 life as Eric ended the turn. He drew Tinder Wall, and that was just not enough.
Eric, after the game 1 Empty the Warrens.
Ben 1, Eric 1
Picking up his seven, Ben would be hoping for a quick kill to get him past Daze and Stifle. He kept his seven, while Eric’s opener was... mediocre. He had a lot of cantrips to cast on turn 1, but no meaningful interaction with Ben’s combination kills. The Bolt for Xantid Swarm had to be tempting...
He ultimately decided to mulligan to six cards. Those six lacked a Force but weren’t bad enough for Eric to mulligan; he did have a Daze. Ben cast Land Grant, revealing Land Grant, Tinder Wall, Simian Spirit Guide, Xantid Swarm, Desperate Ritual, and Empty the Warrens! Searching up Forest, he appeared likely to be going the Xantid Swarm route.
Resolving the Insect, Ben passed. That was ideal for Eric, whose Lightning Bolt dispatched the bug and whose Daze now had text. He’d been powerless against the Goblins before, but now had a prayer. Ben cast Tinder Wall off the Forest, leaving Eric in a bind. If he countered it, Ben might just Land Grant for Taiga and make a lot of Goblins.
Allowing Tinder Wall to resolve, Eric also declined to Daze the Desperate Ritual. Ben then revealed his hand for Land Grant, showing he’d found another Spirit Guide, and cast Empty the Warrens for eight Goblins. Could Eric beat that?
Turn 2 Young Pyromancer certainly had a shot!
Eric cast the 2/1, prepared to take 8 damage in his mission to stabilize this board. Ben was out of spells—Eric had a good chance at making this happen. Attacking for 8, Ben exiled Elvish Spirit Guide to try and cast Simian Spirit Guide, but Eric Dazed that to make an Elemental. Ponder on Eric’s turn made him another creature, but he shuffled the mediocre three away hoping to find a Lightning Bolt to further slow down Ben.
Failing, he cast Brainstorm and threw away some lands. The Pyromancer attacked Ben to 18, and Eric passed with three blockers on 12 life. He took five damage and fell to 7 on Ben’s turn, going back to his own with another Ponder. That one found additional cantrips worth having, and Eric kept one of the cards but used a fetchland to toss the rest. Gitaxian Probe made an Elemental and revealed Xantid Swarm and Desperate Ritual, the Pyromancer attacking one more time.
It looked good for Eric if Ben didn’t find an additional combo. He was down to two Goblins following his next attack, and Eric still had spells to burn. Xantid Swarm from Ben caused Eric to Daze just for a token, as Ben had the mana to pay. Eric untapped into Brainstorm for a second token but drew a handful of lands—not good. On 4 life, he played Flooded Strand in the hopes of changing the math.
Ben only sent Xantid Swarm into combat this time, and passed the turn afterward. He was inscrutable—it was tough to tell if he had more options here or not! Eric fell to 3 life to fetchland the top of his deck away, drawing Gitaxian Probe to reveal what was actually going on. Ben had his own Probe, Rite of Flame, and Desperate Ritual. Eric drew Wasteland, a pretty live card, and burned it on Taiga after attacking with one Elemental token.
The Swarm came in once more, and Ben cast Probe to reveal Eric’s three lands and Flusterstorm. He passed turn afterward. Eric attacked with two Elementals, putting Ben to 9 and then casting Lightning Bolt on the Xantid Swarm during his own turn—slight leak, given that he wanted to add to Flusterstorm if he needed to, but whatever.
The next swing put Ben down to 7 life, and Eric once more passed the turn. Eric drew a nice card again on the next turn—Cabal Therapy. He could attack with all of his Elementals now, but decided to Therapy first and name Goblin Charbelcher. Ben didn’t have that—he did have Empty the Warrens, Rite of Flame, Land Grand, Desperate Ritual, Guttural Response, and Seething Song. Eric missed a point of damage by sacrificing an Elemental before combat to catch the Empty, leaving Ben on 4 life now.
Ben went to 2 life for Gitaxian Probe, seeing Eric still had just Flusterstorm, and then exiled Simian Spirit Guide to try Rite of Flame. Eric correctly recognized this meant Ben was dead, and Ben conceded a hard-fought battle.
Ben 1, Eric 2