Semifinals: James Redmond vs. Steven Phillips
After emerging unscathed from the quarterfinals, both Tim and Steven once more find themselves with powerful opposition. In the battle of Boros vs. Azorius, who will come out as the top lawful guild?
James had the play, but had an inauspicious start with a mulligan to four. His hand was pretty good for a one-land four-carder: one drop, one drop, one drop put Steven down to 9 by the time his fourth land happened. But having the advantage of a free Concentrate to begin the match, Steven was able use Azorius Charm and Divination to dig early, Supreme Verdict and targeted removal to keep James at bay, and even used a tactical Mutavault as a pseudo-elimination spell on Daring Skyjek.
Judge’s Familiar number two and Mutavault provided a three turn clock, and Steven fell to 6. Azorius Charm on the land was a nice road block, but Steven still fell to 5 and he had to use Dissolve on Soldier of the Pantheon. But Detention Sphere was a good enough answer, while Sphinx’s Revelation for five provided enough of a lifegain buffer and card advantage to really turn on the gas. Banisher Priest and Mutavault was all James had, but then again four life a turn is often good enough when your opponent wakes up on turn four at ten life!
But not in this case. Elixir of Immortality quickly gained five more life and after yet another Charm to put Mutavault on top of James’ library it looked as though Steven could finally put the game away for good. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion onto an empty board only solidified that position, and they were on to the second game.
Steven 1, James 0.
Both players began with Temple of Triumph; James kept, while Steven scryed his to the bottom. Judge’s Familiar was James’ second turn play, and followed up with Frontline Medic. Steven had Fiendslayer Paladin to try to fend off the attack, but Spear of Heliod meant Steven already was sitting on 13 life. Fiendslayer Paladin helped, driving life totals to 16-15, and Detention Sphere removed the Glorious Anthem effect from James’ board. James attacked Steven to 11 with his 3/3 and 1/1 flyer before passing the turn. Fiendslayer set life at 14-13 (that’s gotta be tiredsome for the aggro deck!) And Steven passed right back.
This could have gone on all day, but instead Quicken plus Divination tried to create Harmonize on the end step, which resolved. James also added Boros Elite after combat to step even further on the gas pedal, but Supreme Verdict after an attack from the Paladin reset the board. Luckily for James, he had Daring Skyjek and Precinct Captain waiting in the wings on his next turn, and also Brave the Elements to counter Steven’s Last Breath.
In came five power to drop Steven to 6, and James made a 1/1 Soldier in the process as well. Sphinx’s Revelation for five was a nice one though, and meant Steven only fell to 5 on the attack step. Detention Sphere removed Precinct Captain for Steven before Ratchet Bomb Elixir of Immortality also joined the party. Using both artifacts, James had Steven to 7 with Boros Elite and Daring Skyjek on board…
But another Sphinx’s Revelation, this time for seven, was backbreaking. Ajani, Caller of the Pride attacked from a different angle for Steven, but Supreme Verdict and Fiendslayer Paladin paired up to reverse the tide. Mutavault picked up a +1/+1 counter but did not attack. It didn’t block either, as James elected to let his Ajani die and for Steven to go to 5. Another Fiendslayer joined Steven’s board as well post-combat, and even though Glare of Heresy removed one of the Detention Spheres to get back Spear of Heliod Steven just had another one to detain the weapon.
Slowly but surely, 2/2 lifelinkers chipped away at James. Azorius Charm on the blocking 3/3 mutavault, activationg another Elixir, and attacking with lifelinkers brough Steven all the way back up to his starting life total with a million cards. Another Sphinx’s Revelation for ten brought that total to 30, and he even drew another one. Having seen enough, James scooped.
Steven 2, James 0.