Semifinals: Jesse Hampton vs. Nick Jones
It was control on control in this semifinal, with Jesse’s U/W build fighting against the Thoughtseize-wielding Esper deck that Nick had brought to the table. Would black disruption beat the better mana?
Jesse awaits a mulligan decision from Nick.
Jesse kept his opening hand, while Nick went back into the deck for a fresh six. Each player began making and drops, as expected, for the first few turns... but Nick missed his third one while Jesse continued to drop them “That’s not what you want to do in this matchup,” Jesse cautioned.
When Nick drew Godless Shrine, he took 2 to cast Thoughtseize and took one of Jesse’s Revelations, leaving him with a second copy, two lands, and Celestial Flare. Nick’s deck continued to cough up necessary land drops, but Jesse was ahead in the game and pulled further with Divination.
Jace, Architect of Thought resolved for Jesse, and Nick offered him Syncopate or a land and Azorius Charm—Jesse decided to capitalize on opposing mana issues by taking the Syncopate. The Jace continued to survive through Nick’s turn, and Jesse fired a Sphinx’s Revelation for four cards on the following turn. This was going to get ugly fast, as Nick’s shields were clearly down.
Continuing to boost Jace’s loyalty, Jesse clearly intended to ultimate the planeswalker while Nick lacked a second black mana. Syncopate shut down Nick’s Revelation for two cards, and he untapped into Thoughtseize. Revealing three Dissolves, another Revelation, Essence Scatter, and a land... Nick decided to concede rather than make Jesse pitch one.
Nick's hand was stacked, but he couldn't get through a wall of counters.
Jesse 1, Nick 0
Nick’s seven in game two had just two lands and no black mana, but he hung on and dropped Hallowed Fountain to start the game. Island off the top was a start, but turning on Thoughtseize and Sin Collector was more important. Jesse continued to make lands, and Nick found Temple of Deceit for turn 4 to threaten some real action.
Thoughtseize revealed two Dissolve, Divination, Glare of Heresy, Jace, Architect of Thought, Revelation, and Supreme Verdict in Jesse’s hand. Losing the Jace, Jesse untapped against four open mana from Nick. He made his fifth land off the top, and passed back. Sin Collector for Nick earned Dissolve, with the two mana Nick had left unable to stop the counterspell.
Jesse left the card in top, indicating a land, and then cast Divination on his own turn to keep Dissolve up. Nick had a second Thoughtseize to try and break through the countermagic, but Jesse Dissolved that this time around. Tapped out, he’d given Nick an opening to resolve Jace, Architect of Thought.
Revealing Detention Sphere, Godless Shrine, and Negate, Jesse split the land against the spells, and Nick gave into greed for the spells, missing his land drop for the turn. Jesse played Revelation for three while Nick was tapped out, finding a land and playing it. He was wide open for the worst Nick could do on five mana—after negging Jace to reveal two lands and Syncopate, Jesse grudgingly gave him a land and Syncopate rather than two lands, but kept Nick off double black mana.
Taking two for the shockland, Nick replaced his Architect and had Negate up to defend it. The next neg revealed two Revelations and a land—once more Jesse was forced to offer obvious piles. Nick had to discard in the end step, tossing the Sphere he knew Jesse could already answer with Glare of Heresy.
Jesse tried his own Jace, earning a Negate before using the -2 to get a land and Supreme Verdict over a land. Playing the land, he passed turn. Nick dropped Temple on his turn and pumped Jace up, ending the turn with six mana available. Jesse had nine lands on his turn, and passed without using any of them. Nick sent his Jace to four, and Jesse declined to keep racing—he used the -2 to see Aetherling, Syncopate, and Mutavault. Taking the counter and the land, Jesse put the Aetherling to the bottom of the deck.
Changing gears, Nick sent his Jace to two in the face of Mutavault—that represented some removal. Revealing Pithing Needle, Blood Baron, and land, he had to decide between the artifact and the rest. Eventually, he took the Needle and passed to Jesse. Playing another Mutavault and activating, he bashed the Jace to death and pumped up his own.
Nick’s hand was full of haymakers, but Jesse had him beat on mana and had the more significant board presence. He decided to start by pressing Elspeth—Jesse took the opportunity to Syncopate, trading his conditional counter for Negate while letting Elspeth resolve—he already had Glare of Heresy ready for her, dating back to turn 4. Against Nick’s single open mana, Jesse considered his other options after dispatching Elspeth and elected to just pump up Jace and pass.
Detention Sphere for Nick took the Jace, and he passed back to Jesse. No second Glare freed the planeswalker, but two Mutavaults were holding off the Soldiers anyway. When Nick passed turn with no plays, Jesse played Revelation for seven cards, leaving up two mana. Nick fired his Dissolve, and Jesse had no reply—he simply lost his Revelation and untapped, with no plays on his own turn.
It appeared Jesse was out of gas, and Sin Collector tried to confirm it—but Essence Scatter defended Jesse’s hand. Nick cast an Aetherling on the next turn, and Jesse responded with Sphinx’s Revelation for seven. It resolved, and with three lands and Mutavault open Jesse had a few options to draw into... but the Aetherling resolved.
Casting his own Aetherling, Jesse added Jace, Architect of Thought to the board and ticked down, scoring a Negate. Jesse pitched two cards in cleanup, and it was Nick’s turn. Behind 16 to 30, his Aetherling wouldn’t win the race without help. Just the Soldiers attacked Jace, Aetherling staying strangely on defense, and Jesse blocked two to keep Jace alive. That was it for Nick.
Going unblockable, Jesse attacked with Aetherling. He pumped twice, putting Nick to 10 life, and then he “untapped” Aetherling with the exile before boosting Jace and passing. Nick tried to Revelation for seven, but the Negate shut him down and left him untapping from behind. He gave Aetherling unblockable and attacked Jace, but Azorius Charm defended for a turn.
Obzedat attempted to resolve for Nick, but Essence Scatter fought him off and Nick was forced to pass. Jesse cashed in Jace for cards, finding three Plains and taking two of them. He quickly counted his library to verify it—twelve cards. Maybe the single Plains had been a better option—the Jace, Memory Adept that Nick had in hand might get there yet...
Another Architect of Thought delivered Jesse a Dissolve, and his Aetherling swung in for 5 damage to leave Nick at 5 life. Nick had to do something—he decided to kill Jace with his Aetherling and then cast Pithing Needle. Jesse responded by exiling Aetherling, and then allowed the Needle to resolve. It predictably named Aetherling, but Jesse was ready to defeat this line with Quicken and Supreme Verdict. Nick burned his Dissolve on the Quicken, and Jesse no longer had lethal on the board thanks to a single Soldier chump.
Jesse 2, Nick 0