Semifinals: Gerard Fabiano vs. Brian Braun-Duin
These recent Grand Prix winners collide with a spot in the finals and a shot at $20,000. Will Gerard, the winner of GP Baltimore, move on with Sultai Reanimator or can Brian, the GP New Jersey champ, get there with Abzan Aggro?
Gerard plots his next move.
Brian was first to the board with a Fleecemane Lion while Gerard dropped a Sylvan Caryatid off a Temple of Malady and a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. BBD crashed through for 3 and followed it up with Anafenza, the Foremost, but Gerard had the Turn-3 Hero’s Downfall to take care of the troublesome legendary human soldier. Brian attacked for 3 more and kept the hits coming, this time with a Rakshasa Deathdealer.
Gerard found an Eidolon of Blossoms to draw a card, but BBD sent the team into the red zone without fear. Gerard attempted to trade the Eidolon with the Deathdealer and BBD accepted, continuing his offense with Siege Rhino, draining Gerard down to 8. Gerard had a replacement Eidolon to draw a card and passed the turn. Brian sent in the team and Gerard offered no blocks, falling to 1, and Brian dropped a second Siege Rhino to drain him for the last points of life.
Brian 1, Gerard 0
This time Gerard played the first creature, a Sylvan Caryatid, but BBD had the perfect threat in Fleecemane Lion on two. Gerard landed an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and began ticking up the Planeswalker. BBD dropped Ashiok to 2 loyalty and fell to 17 to play Anafenza, the Foremost, keeping up the pressure. Gerard was able to play a Fleecemane lion with Ashiok and hit his fourth land drop to make it monstrous as well, creating quite the road block.
Brian went with a Thoughtseize to get rid of Hornet Queen for good thanks to Anafenza then passed the turn. Gerard drew a card off an Eidolon of Blossoms and passed back, opting not to attack. Brian’s fifth land was a tapped Sandsteppe Citadel so he wouldn’t be able to monstrous his Lion yet. Gerard landed a Courser of Kruphix and began his card advantage engine, playing a land off the top to gain a life, and ended his turn with a Whip of Erebos that also drew him a card. At the end step, Brian fired off Back to Nature to clear the board of the enchantments.
BBD opted to monstrous his Lion and passed back as both players now had indestructible, hexproof 4/4s. Gerard had no play for the turn so Brian attacked with his Lion, though Gerard blocked, but the end result was BBD getting a Wingmate Roc with raid for the extra flyer. Gerard fired off a Murderous Cut on the original Roc and passed back. BBD went to the sky and knocked Gerard to 18 before playing a Temple of Malady and a second Fleecemane Lion.
Gerard ripped Silence the Believers and had the mana to exile the Roc token and Anafenza, leaving both players in a stalemate. BBD played a land and passed, leading to Gerard using a Thoughtseize, ripping a Hero’s Downfall from Brian’s grip. BBD sent in the Lion again and Gerard blocked, but Brian had another Roc to get a companion. Gerard only had a Forest for the turn so Brian attacked Gerard to 10 and brought himself up to 15. Gerard found a Satyr Wayfinder, failing to find a land and passed the turn. Brian bashed with his flyers, bringing Gerard to 4, and when Gerard saw his next card he picked up his cards for a third game.
Brian 2, Gerard 0
Brian drops a Siege Rhino.
Brian had a Turn-1 Thoughtseize after Gerard led with an Opulent Palace, taking Kiora, the Crashing Wave. Gerard had a land and Brian again had a Fleecemane Lion on curve. Gerard played his Courser of Kruphix on the third turn so BBD sent the Lion into combat and Gerard blocked, which led to BBD making it bigger with an Abzan Charm, dropping him to 12 from his lands, while killing the 2/4.
All Gerard had was a land and passed as BBD attacked Gerard down to 15. Gerard used a Murderous Cut on the Lion at the end step, untapped, and played Eidolon of Blossoms, which died at the end of the turn to a Bile Blight. Brian untapped and slammed a Siege Rhino, bringing Gerard to 12. Gerard fell to 10 for a Read the Bones and played a Temple of Malady as he looked for answers.
Brian knocked Gerard down to 6 with the Rhino and passed with four lands open. Gerard played a Swamp and passed, leading BBD to attack, but Gerard had the Hero’s Downfall to stay alive. Brian went to 9 to play another threat, Anafenza, the Foremost. Gerard, however, had an answer for the 4/4 at the end of the turn, in Murderous Cut. Gerard found Hornet Queen on his turn and slammed it, leading BBD to kill the Queen with a Cut of his own.
Brian found a Siege Rhino to bring him to 10 and he passed the turn. Gerard dropped him to 6 through the air and killed the Rhino with a Hero’s Downfall. Brian passed with no action and Gerard knocked him to 2 with his flyers. He followed it with a Courser of Kruphix and went to 4 off a land. BBD could only pass and Gerard attacked for the win.
Brian 2, Gerard 1
Each player led with a tapped land and Brian didn’t have a Lion this time on two, but a Temple of Silence, while Gerard had his Caryatid. BBD did land a Lion on the third turn, adding a Plains to his board as well. Gerard went to 18 for a Thoughtseize, taking Siege Rhino, then landed Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, going up. It was BBD’s turn for a Thoughtseize and he decided to take an Eidolon of Blossoms. After the discard spell, Brian used a Hero’s Downfall on the Ashiok and attacked for 3.
Gerard used a Downfall of his own to kill the Lion and Brian’s next turn had no action. Gerard used another Thoughtseize to take a Back to Nature and ended his turn with a land. Each passed the turn a few times as they sat with hands full of removal. The first nonland play for a number of turns was Gerard’s Caryatid and then a Lion from BBD, who left up five mana for a monstrous activation if necessary.
Gerard found a Treasure Cruise to draw three and passed after paying Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. BBD attacked and Gerard opted to fall to 9. BBD passed so Gerard played a Kiora, the Crashing Wave to lock the Lion down a turn. Brian played another threat, this time, a Rakshasa Deathdealer and shipped the turn. Gerard again upped Kiora and kept the Lion in a bubble.
Brian tanked before using an Abzan Charm to draw two cards and drop to 15. He added a Windswept Heath to his board and attacked Kiora with the Deathdealer, but Gerard blocked with a Caryatid. Gerard moved Kiora to 5, keeping the Lion locked down, and passed once again. BBD sent the Dealer at Kiora again and pumped it when Gerard blocked to kill an 0/3. Gerard used Kiora’s ultimate and the Krakens were unleashed. BBD used a Murderous Cut on the first 9/9, but Gerard stopped it with a known Disdainful Stroke.
Brian killed the 9/9 with a Hero’s Downfall and attacked with his creatures. Gerard put an 0/3 in front of the Dealer and BBD pumped it. After pumps but before damage, Gerard used a Murderous Cut for one mana on the Dealer, delving away four cards, so Brian used the regenerate ability, leaving Gerard a chance to strive Silence the Believers on both the Lion and the Dealer. Gerard landed a Hornet Queen and went to the end step to get a Kraken, but BBD used a Bile Blight on the insects at the end of the turn.
All Brian could do was play a lone Wingmate Roc, but Gerard killed it with a Hero’s Downfall. Gerard knocked BBD to 4 with his Queen and Kraken, played a follow up Queen and passed, getting another 9/9. Brian looked at his next draw and picked up his board, sending the match to a deciding fifth game.
Brian 2, Gerard 2
Brian peaked at his opener and threw it away, marking the first mulligan in the match as Gerard kept his seven-card hand. Brian was okay with his six and opened by going to 17 for a Thoughtseize off a Caves of Koilos, taking a Murderous Cut from Gerard, leaving him with four lands, Satyr Wayfinder, and a Bile Blight. Both players played lands and Gerard deployed the Wayfinder, hitting on a Llanowar Waste.
BBD used another Thoughtseize to take an Eidolon of Blossoms, but passed with no third land. Gerard attacked for 1 and played a land before passing. Brian found a third land and shipped the turn as Gerard knocked him to 12 with the Wayfinder and ended his turn with a Treasure Cruise. Gerard found a Llanowar Waste and a Thoughtseize off the Cruise, leading BBD to respond with fetching a Plains and going to 7 to draw to with an Abzan Charm. After the draws, Gerard took a Siege Rhino from BBD’s grip.
Brian played his fourth land and went to 6 to land Sorin, Solemn Visitor and made a Vampire. Gerard went to 16 to use a Bile Blight on the Vampire, attacked Sorin to 1, then went to 15 to play a Satyr Wayfinder hitting a Temple, and passed. Brian played a land and upped Sorin and shipped the turn back.
Gerard sent his 1/1s at Sorin, but BBD went to 5 to Cut one down, leaving Sorin at 1 loyalty. Gerard drew off an Eidolon of Blossoms and kicked back the turn. Brian went to 4 and found a Rhino to go back to 7, draining Gerard to 12, then upped Sorin. Gerard used his one-of Silence the Believers to exile the Rhino, going to 11, and sent his 1/1s at Sorin again, but BBD kept it around with another Cut.
BBD could only play a temple and up Sorin before passing with no cards in hand. Gerard killed the Planeswalker with a Hero’s Downfall and knocked BBD to 5 with his Wayfinders. He landed a Hornet Queen and passed the turn with BBD, drawing slim. Brian found another Sorin and made a Vampire, but Gerard untapped, used a Cut on the Vampire, and attacked for the win to advance to the finals of the Players’ Championship.
Gerard 3, Brian 2