Semifinals: Dan Musser vs. Ian Barton
Dan Musser came prepared for midrange mirrors, with access to Whip of Erebos and a bevy of durable Junk-flavored creatures on his side. Could Ian get the quick start he needed to knock Dan's deck off-balance?
The forces of the Pantheon took Dan down in game 1.
Ian took a mulligan on the play, while Dan kept his seven. Soldier of the Pantheon for Ian, while Dan began with Temple of Silence and kept his top card on top. Forest and a second Soldier got the clock started on Dan, who had no play on turn 2 except for Overgrown Tomb. Falling to 18 for Temple Garden, Ian attacked for 4 damage before casting his third Soldier of the Pantheon.
That play indicated a likely Selesnya Charm, but there wasn’t much consideration owed on Dan’s end. He tapped out for Loxodon Smiter, giving Ian 3 life and ending his turn. The Soldiers ran in unblocked for 6 damage thanks to their protection, and Ian added Stomping Ground and Boros Reckoner to the battlefield.
On 8 life, Dan was in a tough spot against three nigh-unblockable critters. He debated between casting Voice of Resurgence and Whip of Erebos, trying to figure out an escape, and had no choice but to play the Whip and hope he could survive. Attacking with Loxodon Smiter, Dan kept his Elephant when Ian decided to block with Reckoner and keep his life total on 8.
A second Reckoner ensured that Dan wouldn’t be able to “gain” life this turn either without a removal spell, and that sewed the game up in Ian’s favor when Dan missed.
Ian 1, Dan 0
Dan was off to a stronger start in game 2, leading Elvish Mystic into Voice of Resurgence with a Doom Blade for Ian’s Fleecemane Lion. Experiment One was a minor threat, but with just a second Experiment it wasn’t going to grow large enough to threaten Dan’s life total. If Ian couldn’t muster a threat, Dan’s incidental damage would add up quickly...
Hero’s Downfall removed the largest creature Ian could muster, and the beats continued as Dan jammed Scavenging Ooze and immediately grew it up to 4/4. Faving Voice and the growing Ooze, Ian needed the top of his deck to deliver a winner in short order—when it failed to do so, we were quickly off to game 3.
Ian's deck couldn't cough up another strong start.
Ian 1, Dan 1
Both players mulliganed for their final game, eager to advance to the trophy playoff. Temple Garden and no one-drop for the first time put Ian behind when Dan dropped Elvish Mystic, but Ian’s Scavenging Ooze threatened to become a player... eventually. For now, it was coming up Short against turn 2 Loxodon Smiter from Dan Musser.
With red and green mana showing, Ian successfully attacked past the Loxodon Smiter on his turn, representing Ghor-Clan Rampager while failing to make a third land drop. Dan swung right back to put Ian on 16, and took a shockland in order to play Voice of Resurgence and his own Scavenging Ooze. Ian attacked again, and this time Dan blocked with Voice—Ian either couldn’t afford to get time walked by bloodrushing or had been bluffing the Rampager in the first place, so the creatures traded.
Swinging for 10 damage, Dan passed back to Ian. When he once more failed to find a land, the game was over.
Ian 1, Dan 2