Semifinals: Jeff Hoogland vs. Bryan Fisher
Jeff had made it to the Top 4 in one of the waning weeks of the Standard format with a brew—RUG Flash. He’d need to make it past format doorkeeper Jund in the semifinals if he wanted a chance at the trophy.
Bryan's Jund build is one of several to do well in Milwaukee.
After a mulligan, Bryan Fisher started things off right with the play and a turn 2 Farseek, while Jeff opened on Stomping Grounds and then Sulfur Falls. Liliana of the Veil on Bryan’s side resolved and began gaining loyalty, each player discarding a shockland. Jeff spent turn 3 on Breeding Pool, paying 2 life and giving away that he had at least one instant available.
On five lands, Bryan cast Huntmaster of the Fells only to get Syncopated for two. Liliana went to five, Bryan discarding Stomping Ground and Jeff a Mizzium Mortars. Now Bryan was off the top, playing what he drew to keep Liliana healthy. This time it was Arbor Elf, but the Spear Jeff had pitched joined with Snapcaster Mage to flashback on the Elf, clearing the way to beat on Liliana.
Garruk Primal Hunter earned another Syncopate, and Jeff deployed his first real threat in Huntmaster of the Fells. Bryan couldn’t prevent the flip and continued to take damage, losing his Liliana as Ravager of the Fells awakened. He drew Mizzium Mortars to defeat the Werewolf, but Jeff had drawn Yeva, Nature’s Herald. A couple turns of her beatdown put Bryan away.
Can Jeff claim a trophy for brewmasters everywhere?
Jeff 1, Bryan 0
“Can’t say I didn’t get an okay draw for a mulligan,” Brian admitted. Indeed, he’d simply been outcarded by Jeff, especially on Huntmaster and Snapcaster Mage, while Syncopate handled his heaviest hitters.
He started on Blood Crypt in game 2 while Jeff had Breeding Pool, and Farseek on turn 2 fixed up Bryan’s colors. Jeff passed on turn 2 after making a land drop, falling behind on mana—but Bryan lacked a turn 3 play despite hitting his fourth land. Jeff took 2 for his third land again, and passed.
Bryan cast Huntmaster of the Fells on turn 4 with one mana up, and Jeff had no Syncopate to stop it. He cast Think Twice, and then another one on his own turn before playing his fourth land, feeling very vulnerable to the Huntmaster after failing to dig up Searing Spear. Bryan cast Underworld Connections on one of his lands, and passed the turn. Jeff was forced to main Wolfir Avenger just to keep Huntmaster a 2/2, but with two mana up the regenerator was at least a solid man on defense.
Regeneration offered no protection from Sever the Bloodline though, and Bryan attacked Jeff to 10 as his Connections continued to stream cards. He drew Searing Spear to handle the Huntmaster and passed, falling to 8 life when the Wolf attacked. Thragtusk resolved afterward, and Bryan ended the turn. Jeff had a plan for Thragtusk at the ready, however.
Clone game him his own copy of the 5/3 and a 5-point life boost, while Bryan fell to 24 as he used Underworld Connections. When Bryan swung with both of his creatures, Jeff opted to trade off the Thragtusks and preserve his life total. The Olivia Voldaren that Bryan cast, however, was too dangerous, and Jeff was forced to Dissipate. Bryan Drew with Connections, and then cast Ground Seal to shut down Jeff’s Snapcaster shenanigans.
Jeff’s own Huntmaster of the Fells came to his rescue after a long lack, Jeff passing with three mana up. With five cards left, Bryan cast Rakdos’s Return for three to make Jeff act. He flashed in Wolfir Avenger and shrugged, tossing his useless Izzet Charm and a third Think Twice. Not so bad, as Mind Twists go. Dreadbore killed Jeff’s Huntmaster, but Bryan ended the turn stymied.
Swinging with Beast and Wolfir Avenger, Jeff traded Beasts and put Bryan to 20, Underworld Connections making it 19. Olivia Voldaren number two for Bryan dodged Jeff drawing a counterspell via Think Twice, and then killed Jeff’s Wolf token. When Bryan declined to block the Wolfir Avenger with Olivia, Jeff scooped them up—he couldn’t beat her past 5/5 at this point.
Jeff 1, Bryan 1
The third game started off with a mulligan for Jeff—not what he wanted to see in the third game. He began on six with Breeding Pool, and Bryan had Stomping Ground. Taking 2 damage for a shockland, Jeff passed over to Bryan... who missed his Farseek. When Jeff had no Think Twice in the end step, Bryan had to assume some sort of counterspell was accessible from two mana.
Jeff drew Hinterland Harbor and played it doing the same on the following turn as Bryan continued to make land drops. The fourth one came along with Underworld Connections, but Jeff’s Izzet Charm protected him from the enchantment this time around. Bryan cast Thragtusk, and Jeff allowed it to resolve, sitting on a handful of Clones.
He cast one, his primary concern with tapping so low being a potent Rakdos’s Return from Bryan all but knocking him out of the game. Bryan lacked the discard spell, but Garruk, Primal Hunter was a similarly dangerous card that could grind Jeff to death if left unchecked. He couldn’t break through this turn, and simply passed.
Bryan moved to draw five with Garruk, but Searing Spear sized down Thragtusk and left him only getting three cards. However, the loss of Spear meant Jeff no longer had any options for killing the planeswalker in his hand—he’d need to topdeck one or rely on Bryan to make a mistake.
Searing Spear and Mizzium Mortars killed Jeff’s Clone of Thragtusk, and he attacked for 3 damage prior to Farseeking and adding an Arbor El to the board. Jeff drew, sighed, and ended the turn. Kessig Wolf Run enhanced Bryan’s position, and he made a third Beast token with Garruk before attacking Jeff to 14. Rakdos’s Return for five threatened to setup lethal damage on the next turn, but Counterflux saved Jeff for now.
Think Twice dug him toward action, but it appeared to be too little too late. Bryan attacked for 9 with three Beasts, Kessig Wolf Run available for exactly eight additional power. Jeff needed to solve two Beasts to survive, otherwise Bryan could simply Wolf Run one of the unblocked ones for lethal. He didn’t have that, and cast Yeva as a blocker, tapping down to Hinterland Harbor.
Bryan decided to play it safe with Olivia Voldaren after cracking Jeff down to 8 life, using the ping to finish off Yeva. Jeff drew one more card... and conceded.
Jeff 1, Bryan 2