Semifinals: Brandon Hull vs. Ken Yeoh
Brandon had drawn the short straw in this matchup—Ken’s UWR deck was packed to the gills with removal and card advantage, leaning on the unbeatable Aetherling to close things out. Could he get a quick enough start with R/G aggro to take Ken down?
Ken's UWR deck has the advantage against aggression.
Turn 1 Stromkirk+Noble for Brandon got in for 2 damage—when ken spent his first turn for Steam+Vents and Pillar+of+Flame. No turn 2 for Brandon gave Ken a reprieve, and as Brandon began to miss land drops Ken could only offer his consolation as he continued to make land drops. Brandon began casting Pillar+of+Flames in order to avoid discarding in cleanup but found his third land on about turn 6.
Then, he passed again.
Ken was confused but content to continue making drops. Flinthoof+Boar gained haste and attacked when Brandon drew Rootbound+Crag, but Searing+Spear slew it. Brandon tried Burning-Tree+Emissary on the next turn, earning a Dissipate, and his follow-up Flinthoof met Snapcaster+Mage for Searing+Spear.
Snapcaster attacked Brandon to 16, and Syncopate for three countered the third Flinthoof+Boar that Brandon tried to cast. On the next turn, Brandon got more serious with Hellrider, but Turn/Burn took it out before a trigger could make it. Ken confidently took a shockland hit on the next turn, forecasting Sphinx’s Revelation, and the next Hellrider resolved to deal 8 damage with Ghor-Clan+Rampager forcing that through. Ken went to 4 life, but Revelation boosted him back to 10.
Mizzium+Mortars killed the Hellrider and Snapcaster+Mage put Brandon to 10 before Ken played Aetherling. Brandon’s window had just become very, very small... He pointed a Searing+Spear at Aetherling when it swung for 8, and then one at Ken’s face in the end step once the Aetherling had gone to exile.
Another Spear met Dissipate, and Brandon was packing them in on the next turn.
Brandon struggled against screw and flood in both games.
Ken 1, Brandon 0
Ken began with a mulligan to six, while Brandon began strong with Stromkirk+Noble and a Lightning+Mauler—only to lose both to a miraculous Terminus! Pillar+of+Flame handled the Rakdos+Cackler that Brandon cast to continue the good fight, but Ken began to fall behind once Brandon successfully landed Hellrider.
Deciding to cycle Azorius+Charm for land rather than for defense, Ken failed to find a fourth one and took 4 more damage. Brandon seized the opportunity to tap out for Ghor-Clan+Rampager with Ken on 11 life, but a shockland and a Supreme+Verdict cleared his board of four-drops. Flinthoof+Boar from Brandon put Ken down to 6, and then 3—but Warleader’s Helix after damage boosted him right back up to 7. Perhaps during beginning combat would’ve been a better timing for that Helix...
Boros+Reckoner and Lightning+Mauler thumped Ken back down to 2 life, punishing him for taking 3 on the previous turn and now putting him dead to the board and a variety of draw steps. An end step Revelation for 1 put Ken up to 3 life. Pillar on the Mauler and a pass for Ken, with Turn buying him a turn against the Reckoner’s attack.
Adding Burning-Tree+Emissary to his board, Brandon waited patiently for Ken’s defense—Azorius+Charm put Reckoner on top and he fell to just 1 life. Azorius+Charm flashbacked with Snapcaster+Mage for lifelink killed the Burning-Tree+Emissary and put Ken back up to 3 life—just enough for a shockland and Terminus.
Brandon passed, and Ken played Aetherling. Boros+Reckoner was outmatched by the Shapeshifter, whose blink would prevent the trigger from going lethal, and Ken swung for 8 before exiling and passing with a blue up. He was dead to Ghor-Clan+Rampager, any burn spell, or Hellrider.
None of those came for Brandon, who swung in and saw Aetherling do its thing. Ken couldn’t get in lethal on the next turn, but Brandon’s draw step yielded no help and Brandon extended the hand.
Ken 2, Brandon 0