Semifinals: Jake Humphries vs. Korey McDuffie
Representing the villain going into the weekend, Korey is on Junk Reanimator which Jake is on the other most popular deck as of late, Esper Control. In this battle of the favorites, who will come out on top?
Jake Devours the front end of a Thragtusk.
Jake, by virtue of the higher seed, kept his opening hand quickly while Korey labored a bit before deciding upon maintaining as well. Arbor Elf followed by Arbor Elf and Mulch (digging up land and Lingering Souls) followed by turn 3 Thragtusk was Korey’s line, while Think Twice and Forbidden Alchemy was how Jake started things off. Supreme Verdict cleared the board (save for Thragtusk’s 3/3) on turn four. Korey flashed back Lingering Souls before attacking Jake to 17 and playing his fourth land as well.
Jake settled in for a long game, simply playing a land and passing back to Korey, who at end of turn cast Grisly Salvage… and what a Salvage it was! Two Unburial Rites, Restoration Angel. Cavern of Souls, and Arbor Elf. Korey selected the utility land from the pile before untapping, attacking Jake to 12, paying two life for Temple Garden, and casting Unburial Rites targeting Thragtusk. Jake flashed back Think Twice to put an extra card in his hand at end of turn as well, then cast another Supreme Verdict. This had the same result of the first, making a Beast on the way out, and Jake passed with two mana available.
But Korey was not done yet. Thragtusk from hand was his play, and Devour Flesh ate the 3/3 Beast token (setting life at 32-12) before Avacyn’s Pilgrim could be added as well. Snapcaster Mage snapped back Supreme Verdict numero tres of the match and had the same result: make a 3/3 Beast. Cavern of Souls naming Angel was land seven, allowing Korey to resolve Angel of Serenity while Jake was tapped out. He removed a pair of Thragtusks and Restoration Angel with the creature.
Jake wasn’t in a great spot. Angel and Beast got into the red zone, but Think Twice happened and… Terminus! That’s the end of the line for those creatures! Dissipate took care of Thragtusk as well. Augur of Bolas from Jake revealed Sphinx’s Revelation on the next turn, and now the Esper player (thanks to a quite timely Miracle) was cooking with peanut oil. Jake wasn’t out of the woods yet, as the second Beastly buddy came down for Korey. Now at 37, Korey gained three more thanks to Devour Flesh eating the ‘Tusk before Jake untapped. Life totals were 40-9.
Beast dropped Jake to 6, and then Korey cast Lingering Souls. At end of turn, Jake went up to 11 and drew five cards to refill his hand and life bar with Sphinx’s Revelation. Now with fresh new options and a full clutch of cards, Jake began with Augur of Bolas (which whiffed) then added Hallowed Fountain before passing. Korey had Restoration Angel at end of turn before he untapped, and when he did he cast Mulch (turning over Cavern of Souls and Angel of Serenity among others), attacked (getting Restoration Angel put on top with Azorius Charm) to put Jake to 9, played Cavern of Souls on Beast, and cast an uncounterable Thragtusk. At the end of that turn, Jake Murdered Thragtusk. A busy turn indeed.
Jake used the Murder in order to cast Supreme Verdict without fear of a token coming off of it, then cast Augur of Bolas (turning up the last Verdict in his deck) before passing. Korey cast Unburial Rites targeting Angel of Serenity, which resolved, and chose two Thragtusks and Deathrite Shaman with the trigger. On the stack, Murder took out the Angel so Korey chose to not remove the creatures.
Jake had difficulty with his next play, but ultimately decided to cast Jace, Memory Adept and use his 0 ability to mill ten of Korey’s cards. Among them was Unburial Rites, and on Korey’s turn (after an end of turn step Restoration Angel) he counted his library (19 cards left) before casting Mulch and attacking Jake for three. Jake decided to use Azorius Charm on the Angel to Time Ebb the creature. After combat, Lingering Souls made two more tokens from the graveyard before Korey passed. Jake used Jace’s Glimpse the Unthinkable mode again, this time milling Craterhoof Behemoth into Korey’s bin and also casting Supreme Verdict to clear out the tokens and remaining Augur. He would be able to survive a Craterhoof Behemoth, even if two more creatures came down at sorcery speed on Korey’s next turn…
But another end of turn Restoration Angel threw a wrench in the works.
Korey flashed back Lingering Souls and cast Unburial Rites on the #HOOF, gave the creatures +4/+4 and trample, and attacked with 9/9 Behemoth and 7/8 flying Angel. Jake was fresh out of answers, so that was enough.
Korey's Angel of Serenity pulls him ahead.
Korey 1, Jake 0
Now on camera and under the lights (you can see the match from here on out in the coverage archive), Jake had the play and both players led things off with a mulligan. Once the festivities got underway, the first relevant play of the game came from Korey, who at the end of Jake’s turn three cast Grisly Salvage to add a land to his hand and bury three non-creature, non-Unburial spells. Jake cycled Azorius Charm at the end of his turn, then untapped and passed.
Garruk Relentless was the play from Korey turn 4, and Jake decided to let it resolve. Korey made a Wolf and passed. On his next turn he played a shockland untapped and cast Acidic Slime, but not before Jake floated mana and cast Restoration Angel with it. Wolf attacked anyway, and Jake fell to 18. Restoration Angel took out four-mana Garruk on Jake’s turn and he passed with no further play (besides a land drop). Korey’s 2/2s beat into the red zone, dropping Jake to 12. Acidic Slime number two faced down Jake now, and Jake decided to Dissipate the troublesome Ooze rather than face his mana base getting further decimated.
Jake untapped and just passed, with six mana available (including this game a Nephalia Drownyard or two). Acidic Slime swung in, dropping Jake to 10, and was joined by Thragtusk (putting Korey to 23, not that it matters). Jake elected to mill himself with Drownyard to find Snapcaster Mage targets and things like Think Twice, then untapped for his turn. Restoration Angel went upstairs in a rare bit of player damage, then Jake cast Terminus to put an end to the creatures on the battlefield… save for Thragtusk’s little baby, who came back to the battlefield to find the one who killed his mama.
Korey correctly identified Jake as the culprit, so Beast charged Jake and dropped him to 7. Jake drew and passed, and Korey also added Restoration Angel. When the pair attacked, Jake’s Snapcaster Mage flashed back Azorius Charm to Temporal Spring the Angel and then threw itself under the tires of the Beast token to prevent some damage. Once more, as Esper Control is want to do, Jake passed with all of his lands available to him… but then, so did Korey (after drawing an Angel we all knew about). Instead, he made his Beast a 4/4 with Gavony Township at e.o.t., and untapped.
Korey untapped and played land number eight…
It was Cavern of Souls…
And casting Craterhoof Behemoth.
Shields down and without an answer, Jake extended his hand.
Korey 2, Jake 0