Semifinals: Gabe Shvachkin vs. Alex Bastecki
In a showdown of powerful and popular Legacy decks, we have Miracles vs. Grixis Delver. Gabe Shvachkin vs. Alex Bastecki. Who will be the first to make it to the Finals of our Season Three Invitational?
As the higher seed, Alex chooses to play first, and both players will keep their opening hands. Alex leads with a Gitaxian Probe and Gabe reveals a hand of doulbe Snapcaster Mage, Tundra, Volcanic Island, Terminus, Force of Will, and Sensei's Divining Top. Alex draws his card, plays his Volcanic Island, and passes the turn to Gabe. Gabe simply draws his card, plays a Volcanic Island of his own, and casts Sensei's Divining Top.
Alex plays a Wasteland in order to cast a Young Pyromancer, which Gabe attempts to Force of Will, exiling Snapcaster Mage in the process. Alex has the Force back though, exiling a Brainstorm. The Young Pyromancer resolves, and there is a pass back to Gabe, who uses his Sensei's Divining Top on upkeep, plays a Tundra, and passes the turn back.
To start his turn off, Alex uses his Wasteland on Gabe's Tundra to destroy it. He then attacks with the Young Pyromancer, plays a Misty Rainforest, and says "go." Alex spins his top, at the end of his turn, then draws a card. He casts Brainstorm, but does not find an additional land, having to pass back to Alex with only one land in play. Alex starts to press his advantage by making a 1/1 Elemental token with Young Pyromancer, thanks to a Gitaxian Probe. After an attack with Young Pyromancer, Alex cracks his newly played Scalding Tarn, fetching an Underground Sea in order to play a Gurmag Angler, and then casts a Young Pyromancer, sensing blood in the water. Alex passes his turn back to Gabe.
Gabe attempts to find a land with his Sensei's Divining Top during his upkeep, but is unsuccessful, having to once again pass the turn with no play. Alex attacks with his team and passes for his turn. One more spin of the Top by Gabe finds nothing, and we are on the way to Game 2!
Alex wins Game 1, and leads the semifinals, 1-0!
Gabe Shvachkin spins his Top!
Gabe will be on the play for the first game after sideboarding, Game 2. Both players keep after mulliganing to six, and Gabe leads with a Flooded Strand for a basic Island, then casts a Ponder. He leaves the cards on top, drawing one, and passes the turn to Alex. Alex starts off this game the same way he started off the last, casting Gitaxian Probe for two life. This time, Gabe reveals a hand of Swords to Plowshares, Counterbalance, Ponder, Tundra, and Arid Mesa. Alex then plays a Flooded Strand, cracks it, and gets an Underground Sea. He then plays a Cabal Therapy, targeting Gabe, naming Counterbalance, taking the powerful enchantment out of Gabe's hand. With that, he passes the turn.
Gabe starts his turn off with a Ponder, shuffling his library this time. After drawing his card from Ponder, he plays an Arid Mesa, and passes the turn. Alex draws for the turn, and casts a Delver of Secrets, plays a Misty Rainforest, and passes. After drawing his card for the turn, Gabe plays a Tundra and then fetches a basic Plains with his Arid Mesa. A Swords to Plowshares exiles the Delver of Secrets, and then Gabe resolves a Counterbalance. With all that, Gabe passes the turn back to Alex.
Alex cracks his Misty Rainforest for a Volcanic Island, then draws his card for the turn. A Flooded Strand finds an additional Volcanic Island, which is followed by an attempt at casting Young Pyromancer. Gabe's Counterbalance reveals an Entreat the Angels on the top of his deck, which is read by Alex. After making sure the Young Pyromancer resolves, Alex passes the turn back.
Not quite a miraculous Entreat the Angels is revealed by Gabe (since both players knew it was there, thanks to Counterbalance), and one Ali Aintrazi looking 4/4 Angel token is made. A pass of the turn to Alex, who delves away all but the Cabal Therapy in his graveyard to make a Gurmag Angler. With the Zombie Fish cast, Alex passes the turn to Gabe.
Gabe immediately Swords the Gurmag Angler, and attacks with his Angel, then passes back to Alex. Alex attempts to cast a Young Pyromancer, which resolves through the Counterbalance, and he attacks with his other Pyromancer. Alex casts Ponder on his turn, keeps a Swords to Plowshare that is immediately used on one of Alex's Pyromancers, and attacks with his Angel. A pass back to Alex and it looks like we are in a race.
And Alex's play confirms this, as he casts Sulfuric Vortex, putting both players on a clock. He attacks with his Pyromancer, and passes the turn back to Gabe. Gabe draws and attacks with his Angel, and passes the turn back.
Alex plays a Deathrite Shaman, and then attempts to Cabal Therapy Gabe. But Gabe flashes in a Snapcaster Mage in response. After the Snapcaster Mage resolves, Alex names Monastery Mentor, which is then stripped from his opponents hand. He passes the turn back to Gabe, who takes some damage from the Sulfuric Vortex, and then miracles a Terminus, putting all of the creatures on the bottom of the library. Not to be deterred, Alex plays a Deathrite Shaman, hoping to win the Sulfuric Vortex race (since he has the lower life total).
Gabe can only draw his card and pass, as Alex plays another land, and Ponders. He shuffles his cards, draws one, and passes the turn. Once again, there is a miraculous Terminus waiting on top of Gabe's library, but this time, he loses some life, thanks to Alex's Deathrite Shaman as it goes to the bottom of the library. Gabe then passes the turn.
Alex Ponders again to start his turn, but this time he shuffles his library. He passes the turn to Alex, who also just draws his card, and passes the turn. Alex casts a Dig Through Time on his own turn, getting two cards, and playing a Volcanic Island. He says "go", but on Gabe's upkeep, he tries to go for the lethal Lightning Bolt. But Gabe triggers Counterbalance, revealing Pyroblast to counter the Bolt. Gabe then casts Ponder, which nets him a Wear // Tear that he uses immediately to destroy the Sulfuric Vortex before he dies. After that, Gabe passes the turn back.
Alex casts Delver of Secrets, but that is immediately destroyed by the Pyroblast from Gabe. However, at the end of his turn, Alex has a Vendilion Clique. Gabe tries to Counterbalance it, but Coutnerbalance reveals a land. Knowing that the last card in Gabe's hand is a Blood Moon, Alex lets him keep it, and then kills him on his next turn.
Alex wins Game 2, and is one game away from the Finals at 2-0!
Unfortunately for Gabe, he has to mulligan to six cards in this crucial game to stay alive. Alex gets to keep his opening seven.
Gabe starts this game by fetching a basic Island with a Polluted Delta, and casting Ponder. He decides to keep the cards on top of his library, draws one, and then passes the turn to Alex. Alex leads with a Flooded Strand for an Underground Sea, and then casts a Delver of Secrets.
Alex plays and cracks another Polluted Delta for a Volcanic Island, and then Pyroblasts the Delver of Secrets to death. With his turn, Alex casts Cabal Therapy, targeting Gabe. In response, Gabe casts a Brainstorm, but lets the Therapy resolve. Alex names "Counterbalance", but misses, as Gabe shows a hand of Ponder, Plains, Arid Mesa, and Flooded Strand. Alex then uses a Wasteland to destroy Gabe's Volcanic Island, and then passes.
Gabe draws the Sensei's Divining Top he had hidden with Brainstorm, plays it and a basic Plains, and then says "go." Alex casts a Pithing Needle, which Gabe responds to be drawing a card with his Sensei's Divining Top. After Gabe draws his card, Alex still names "Sensei's Divining Top" with his Pithing Needle, shutting down the potent artifact. He then passes to Gabe, who starts his turn with a Ponder and a shuffle. Gabe draws from the Ponder and passes the turn back, but Alex casts a Brainstorm at the end of Gabe's turn. After resolving it, it is Alex's turn.
For his turn, Alex leads with a Gitaxian Probe, paying life, to see a hand of Sensei's Divining Top, Arid Mesa, Swords to Plowshares, and Council's Judgment. He then plays a Deathrite Shaman, but that is immediately Swords to Plowshared by Gabe at the end of Alex's turn. Gabe starts by playing his Arid Mesa from hand and then cracking both it and a Flooded Strand to fetch a basic Island and a Volcanic Island. He then casts a Blood Moon.
Without access to most of his colors, Alex is forced to just draw his card and pass the turn. Gabe plays a Brainstorm and passes back, leading to Alex casting a Young Pyromancer. However, Gabe had put a Terminus on top of his deck, clearing away the Pyromancer. He passes back to Gabe, who simply draws his card and passes the turn.
Gabe starts to go on the offensive by casting a Monastery Mentor and passing to Alex, who still can't play any spells, thanks to the Blood Moon. Gabe starts his turn off with a Dig Through Time, which gets him a Monk token and two cards. An attack with the Monastery Mentor and a pass back to Alex, who still is on the draw-go plan.
Gabe plays a Snapcaster Mage, targeting Ponder for his turn, keeping his cards, and then attacks with the Monastery Mentor and one Monk. At the end of his turn, Alex Pyroblasts the Snapcaster Mage, but still has to draw his card and say "go." Gabe goes for another Dig Through Time, but Alex has another Pyroblast for it. An attack by the Monks and their Mentor leads Alex to scoop up his cards. On to Game 4.
Gabe wins Game 3, staying alive for a Game 4. Alex still leads the match, 2-1!
Alex Bastecki Brainstorms for victory!
This time it is Alex who is on the play, and both players keep their opening sevens.
Alex starts with a Flooded Strand, which he cracks to find an Underground Sea. He then plays a Dread of Night and passes the turn. Gabe leads with a Volcanic Island and a Ponder, leaving the cards on his library and drawing one. He then passes to Alex, who finds a Volcanic Island with his Misty Rainforest, and casts a Young Pyromancer. An Island for Gabe and a pass is all he has for his second turn.
Alex has an attack with his Young Pyromancer, followed by a Deathrite Shaman. He plays a Wasteland and then passes the turn. Gabe casts a Council's Judgment, targeting Young Pyromancer. This exiles the Young Pyromancer, but Gabe's Tundra gets Wastelanded by Alex at the end of his turn.
Alex spends his turn by casting a Young Pyromancer. On Gabe's turn, Gabe tries to Brainstorm, but that is Pyroblasted by Alex. Alex then plays a Ponder, making another Elemental token, and then drawing a card. An attack by the Pyromancer and his Elemental friends, and pass back to Gabe. Gabe plays a Sensei's Divining Top for his turn, which Alex attempts to Daze. Gabe pays for the Daze, and the Top resolves, but it is immediately Pithing Needled by Alex on his turn. Another attack by the Pyromancer and crew, and Gabe needs to find a Terminus before he dies.
Gabe draws his card for the turn, and plays a Monastery Mentor, and has to pass the turn. After a Brainstorm by Alex, there is an attack by a couple Elemental tokens, which Gabe chump blocks with his Monastery Mentor (it's a 1/1, thanks to Alex's Dread of Night). After drawing his card and not finding a miraculous Terminus, Gabe extends his hand.
Alex wins Game 4, and the match, 3-1! He is our first Invitational finalist!