Semifinals: Dave Shiels vs. Erik Smith
Grand Prix champion and Gold level pro Dave Shiels is well on his way to a finals appearance, having made it this far with Jund. But Erik Smith stands in his way, and his Jund deck is the deck of the summer. Can Dave pull off the victory against the formats enemy number one?
Dave Shiels flickers an Augur of Bolas.
Dave finished with the higher seed and would therefore get to be on the play for game one. The players played lands for the first few turns, with the first relevant play of Augur of Bolas coming from Dave on turn two, which found Azorius Charm. Farseek from Erik on turn two found Stomping Ground, as the Jund player got things going off on the right foot as well. Augur got in the first point of damage in the semifinals for Dave, who played a land and passed with his third turn. When Erik went for Huntmaster of the Fells, Syncopate said I-don’t-think-so-pate. Fearing another counterspell, Erik played Farseek turn four rather than go for Thragtusk. This allowed Dave to use the Azorius Charm as Whispers of the Muse and draw one card.
Augur continued his long slow march toward victory, protected by Dave’s counterspells. Thragtusk was met by Rewind, and the untapped four lands allowed Dave to blink the Augur and add Think Twice to his hand. Now with a much faster clock, Dave paid two life for a shockland on turn six and passed, telegraphing the Sphinx’s Revelation. Erik also took two from a land in order to cast Rakdos’s Return for five, and in response Think Twice found Dissipate to counter the Mind Twist-Fireball. Dave kept up the pressure, dropping Erik to 7, and all Erik could do was pass.
Dave cast Sphinx’s Revelation at end of turn, which allowed Doom Blade to take down the Restoration Angel. But Dave drew four cards and gained four life, so when he untapped he had the distinct advantage that he’d maintained throughout the game. Augur of Bolas dropped Erik to 6, then Pillar of Flame and Warleader’s Helix combined for the finishing blow.
Dave 1, Erik 0
While much more of a control deck than a tempo deck, Dave nonetheless was able to play a very U/W Delver-like game in game 1, leveraging his counterspells like Time Walks rather than just as ways to stay above board. The burn spell finish cut the clock by several turns, further proving red’s worth in the blue and white shell.
Looking over the sideboards, Dave noted a conspicuous land in Erik’s 75. “I thought everyone was supposed to cut Cavern!” But Cavern of Souls was indeed in Erik’s list, and he would be hoping for it this game to resolve his heavy hitters.
Erik, now on the play, played out lands for several turns, but did not have Farseek to accelerate him. Dave, meanwhile, had Augur of Bolas on turn two once again, this time adding a copy of Negate to his grip. Scavenging Ooze resolved for Erik on his turn three, so at least he’d have a body in play to prevent too much damage from Dave’s 1/3. Don’t laugh, that little guy dealt five last game! Dave simply passed after adding another land, but he did not counter Erik’s Huntmaster of the Fells (instead drawing a card with Think Twice). Dave played land four and cast Restoration Angel on his main phase, finding Warleader’s Helix in the process thanks to the blinked Augur. The tap out allowed Erik to sneak in Rakdos’s Return for three though, so Dave discarded nearly half of his hand. Several spells, including Negate, hit the bin.
Ravager goes down!
Dave decided to pass his next turn, allowing Huntmaster to flip and go to 13 off of the trigger. Erik used Scavenging Ooze’s ability to remove the Think Twice from Dave’s graveyard, which Dave allowed to happen, then the trio of creatures attacked. The Angel and Augur team blocked the Ravager of the Fells, killing it, and Erik took Dave down to 9. Erik’s post combat Huntmaster of the Fells resolved as well, putting him up to 24 before passing. At end of turn, the Warleader’s Helix took out the Werewolf before it could flip like its cousin.
Dave drew and said, “go.” In came the pair of 2/2 Wolfs and Scavenging Ooze, and after Augur declared blocks on a Wolf Erik added a counter to the ooze, but Azorius Charm put it on top of its owner’s library instead. Dave fell to 4, and a lethal Rakdos’s Return for four was met with Dissipate. Dave played Moorland Haunt as his sixth land before passing right back to Erik, who snap-attacked with his two 2/2s. Restoration Angel came into play to blink Augur of Bolas (finding Sphinx’s Revelation), which meant Erik resolved both Scavenging Ooze and Thragtusk. The ‘Tusk was his last card, and Erik went hellbent.
Sphinx’s Revelation for three found some new toys for Dave on his main phase and also nearly doubled his life total. Thragtusk entered the red zone for Erik, sitting at 28 but with many fewer options. But when Thragtusk is your topdeck, you can do a lot worse!
Dave dropped Thundermaw Hellkite and… left it back on defensive duty. Staring down a pair of 5/3s with extra bodies attached, you do some pretty crazy thing! Erik swung with both Beastly bodies as well as the Wolf token and Scavenging Ooze. Moorland Haunt Spirit chumped one Thraggy, Ooze became a 5/5, Augur died under a ‘Tusk, and Angel dropped the hammer on Wolf token, and the Dragon traded with the M14 Ooze. Izzet Charm finished off the blocked Thragtusk, and Dave took no damage.
Another Thundermaw Hellkite from Dave allowed him to start chpping away at Erik’s life total, dropping the Jund player to 29. Thragtusk once again was stymied by a 1/1 Spirit from Dave’s utility land, and it looked like Dave could well be turning the corner. Hellkite attacked Erik to 24, and Dave threw Restoration Angel into battle to trade with the ‘Tusk. Erik’s back-to-back topdecked dual lands weren’t what he wanted to keep the pressure on, and Dave capitalized. Spirit token took its turn attacking now, so the 5/5 could stand watch over the pair of 3/3 Beasts. Erik was living off the top of his deck… but Jund loves to do that and is well prepared to do so. Olivia Voldaren is usually a great topdeck, but not when Syncopate can turn it off before it starts. The Beasts attacked and Dave fell to 1 after blocking one of them… and Dave marched on.
Think Twice main phase drew new cards, and Erik once again whiffed on his draw step. Now two Spirits attacked, and Erik fell to 21. Erik again found air. Could Dave really pull this off? Thundermaw Hellkite received Doom Blade, and Dave chose to Rewind it. That left Erik with only one more draw step, which found Underworld Connections for the redraw. He paid a life on Dave’s turn, hoping for the miracle…
And none arrived.
Dave 2, Erik 0
Moorland Haunt was a staple in blue-white decks since its first printing and release a couple of years back, valued for its ability to turn all of Flash’s few creatures into Doomed Travelers. Moorland Haunt showcased both of its powerful modes in that game, first as a defensive measure and then as an offensive force once the game is in hand. Dave was able to escape by the skin of his teeth in that once, thanks in no small part to the poor draws of his opponent, but also some credit should be given to the rare land from Innistrad Moorland Haunt.
Erik, once more on the play, had to mulligan his opener. Luckily for him, Dave did as well. Once the players kept sixes, the players played some lands for a few turns and developed mana. Huntmaster of the Fells resolved on Erik’s turn four, and Dave drew a pair of cards off Think Twice over the course of his second and third turn. Dave used Supreme Verdict to clear out the Huntmaster, but Garruk, Primal Hunter threw those plans out the window. Luckily, Thundermaw Hellkiteknocked off the planeswalker, but Lifebane Zombie resolved for Erik, snagging Restoration Angel from a hand of Augur, Sphinx’s, Azorius Charm, and Snapcaster Mage.
“I just drew it last turn,” protested Dave.
Erik’s hand was full of pure Grade A gasoline, starting off with Rakdos’s Return for four. Dave cast Sphinx’s Revelation for two in response to the Return to get back to parity. Dave fell to 6 thanks to the mythic sorcery and the Lifebane swing. Erik followed up with Doom Blade on the Thundermaw Hellkite, which caught Rewind, and then Kessig Wolf Run went for the gusto… but Dave used Burn to, well, burn the Zombie.
Dave dropped Moorland Haunt, and then Erik kept pushing forward with Thragtusk. The Beast was Dissipated, and Dave made a 1/1 flyer off of Moorland Haunt to try to pull back into the game. Another Thragtusk from Erik (I told you he had a full tank!) resolved, pushing his life total up to 24. He also cast Farseek as his land spell in hand. Dave calmly made a second 1/1 Spirit and grew his air force.
Duress off the top was Negated, and both Beast and Thragtusk attacked into Dave’s hand of one card and board of three flyers. The Thundermaw blocked Thragtusk, and Beast was blocked by Spirit. Erik decided enough was enough and played right into Dave’s trick should he have it, but the Negate was a clever bluff… and not clever enough, once Kessig Wolf Run put the final nail in the coffin.
Dave 2, Erik 1.
Erik’s risky keep paid off, as the top of his deck allowed him to cast everything on time and in rhythm. Dave’s draw would normally be good enough to keep pace, but the best Jund draws are tough for any deck to keep up with.
Erik's Thragtusk lands on an empty board.
Erik and Dave talked about mutual friend Matt Costa, who of course is a good friend of Dave’s… and who beat Erik in the very first round of this Invitational! Matt had to drop because of illness, but Erik isn’t complaining now that he’s gotten himself a seat in the semifinals.
Now with Dave on the play, the U/W/R player mulliganed all the way down to four while Erik kept seven. “I haven’t ever actually played a game five, so that’ll be fun.”
It was fairly academic. Erik played his lands and spells on time, Dave missed his second land drop. Burn took out Scavenging Ooze on Daves third turn, and Dave even had a third land on turn four. But Huntmaster resolved, and that started a cascade that led to Dave being forced to cast Resoration Angel main phase, which led to Rakdos’s Return stripping Dave of the rest of his hand. Dave flashed back Think Twice to keep Huntmaster from flipping, but Liliana of the Veil made Dave sacrifice his Angel. He also had Kessig Wolf Run as his land drop for the turn, just in case the message wasn’t clear:
Mulliganing to four is not a good time.
Dave stayed above water though, using Azorius Charm to deal with a Wolf Run activation on the Wolf token. Then Thundermaw Hellkite came down and started with the beats, putting Dave in a position to race… but Kessig Wolf Run dropped Dave to 6, then Ravager of the Fells showed up for nighttime, and it was all over. A valiant effort by Dave, but not enough.
Dave 2, Erik 2.
The most exciting two words in Magic: Game Five!
Now on the play once more, Dave actually kept an opening seven and Erik did the same. Erik cast Scavening Ooze turn two, which Dave allowed to resolve. Erik attacked, and Azorius Charm put Scavenging Ooze back on top of Erik’s deck, but it was only a clever ruse to resolve Liliana of the Veil. The Innistrad bad girl used her +1 ability to force both players to discard.
Dave played his fourth land and passed, allowing Erik to cast Huntmaster of the Fells. Dave decided to counter the Werewolf with Syncopate, and Erik then ticked up Liliana again and to five loyalty. Dave simply drew, played a land, and passed. This meant that when Erik cast Garruk, Primal Hunter Dave had five mana and two cards, so when Dave countered the Garruk the last card, Sphinx’s Revelation, hit the bin.
Then Liliana, on ultimate, used her -6 Fact or Fiction ability on Dave’s lands. In response Encroaching Wastes took down Overgrown Tomb, and Dave kept three lands (none of which were shocklands). Erik, luckily for Dave, only drew Cavern of Souls (naming Beast). Scavenging Ooze went on the stack for Erik, and he ended up with the 2/2 in play.dave found a bunch of lands so he could cast his big spells later should he draw them, but the now 4/4 Scavenging Ooze brought life totals to 18 for Erik and 16 for Dave.
Dave went all in with Thundermaw Hellkite, starting a race and dropping Erik to 13. Rakdos’s Return for three made Dave discard even more lands, and life sat at 13-9 in Erik’s favor. That became 9-8 in Dave’s favor shortly thereafter, when Thundermaw struck again. It was all on the mythic Dragon now!
Dave had several live draws, like Thundermaw Hellkite and Warleader’s Helix. If not those, then he’s dead…
For the finals appearance, Dave draws…
Yet. Another. Land.
3 Erik, 2 Dave
And that’s why we play five games! Erik Smith moves on to the finals!