Semifinals: Joe Lossett vs. Emin Hatamian
Two blue decks squared off in the semifinals, but Joe's U/W Control deck couldn't be more different from Emin's take on the popular Mono-Blue Devotion strategy. U/W has been gaining popularity, however, and Joe hoped to prove why.
Joe's Elspeth ran rampant in game 1.
On the play, Joe considered his seven before both kept, and Joe began with Temple of Deceit, leaving his top card in place. Judge’s Familiar from Emin gave him an attacker, while Joe played just Mutavault on turn 2. Frostburn Weird joined Emin’s cause as he attacked Joe to 19, and now Joe played Plains.
Emin’s next attack went unblocked and unpumped, with a third Island and Nightveil Specter resolving in Emin’s second main. Joe dropped a second Plaisn and swept up all of the creatures with Supreme Verdict, leaving Emin’s position hurting after that exchange. He worked to recover with Jace, Architect of Thought, but it offered only Islands or Frostburn Weird—he took the creature.
Joe’s Mutavault executed the Jace, and he ended the turn after playing a Temple. Emin attacked with his own Mutavault, playing Cloudfin Raptor and then Frostburn Weird, but he was rapidly entering the endgame that Joe’s deck was designed to dominate. Almost as if to prove it, Joe tapped out for Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and boosted it.
A second Frostburn Weird gave Emin a way to pressure Elspeth by evolving the Raptor to 2/3, but even an army of 1/4s would eventually pale as Joe made more and more tokens. Passing after putting Elspeth to four, the Raptor halved her loyalty immediately after. Joe had another couple turns with his Elspeth before she died—he’d be able to make it to fifteen tokens.
Last Breath ensured he’d make even more, exiling the Raptor and forcing Emin to play another one. Without an additional creature, it wouldn’t pose any threat, however. Judge’s Familiar on the next turn put him back into position for the same clock, but he was basically starting over from scratch now that Elspeth had gone unassaulted.
“This is getting weird,” Joe admitted, in no imminent danger but seemingly without Supreme Verdict or Sphinx’s Revelation to really pack the game away. He attacked with his twelve Soldiers, getting 8 damage past Emin’s two Weirds and two Mutavaults before using the Supreme Verdict he had after all to devastate his opponent’s position. With only Islands in play and facing an Elspeth on the way to four loyalty, the game was almost totally outside Emin’s control.
Jace, Architect of Thought boosted on Emin’s turn, but Joe didn’t have to worry about it; it would only ever trade for one -2 activation, somewhere down the line. When Emin went for cards, he turned up Tidebinder Mage, Nightveil Specter, and Frostburn Weird—Joe split the ground pounders against the 2/3 flier, and Emin decided to take the pair.
Sphinx’s Revelation for six thrust Joe even further ahead, and it was only a matter of time from here. Emin couldn’t protect his Jace or put pressure onto Joe’s Elspeth, and when another shockland untapped forecasted Sphinx’s Revelation, the writing was on the wall.
Emin struggles to create a board state against the control deck.
Joe 1, Emin 0
Joe started with a Temple of Silence and an Island, while Emin’s first creature was Frostburn Weird before being joined by Judge’s Familiar and attacking for 2 damage. Mutavault added to the pressure on the board, and Emin ended the turn. Just another tapland from Joe—would he be taking 5 or 6 damage on the chin?
Emin didn’t go all-out, instead casting Jace, Architect of Thought and giving it the -2. That revealed Gainsay and Islands, with Emin taking the counterspell. Joe had a lot of problems to deal with now, and appeared to debate burning Last Breath in the end step before ultimately untapping in order to cast his own Jace, using the +1 to defend it from any attack.
Emin knocked Jace down to two loyalty, but Joe boosted back to three and used Last Breath to execute the planeswalker’s only real foe—Frostburn Weird. Emin’s Gainsays had nothing to say about that, and Joe sent the turn back over. A Jace standoff favored him, but Emin had gotten down first and Joe knew he’d eventually have to fight through the counters.
The next -2 from Emin’s Jace offered him Island and Thassa or Aetherling, and Emin had a sixth land already in his hand. He took the Aetherling, and tapped out to cast it. Would Joe have the Verdict he needed to clear it now?
Yep—both Aetherling and Judge’s Familiar disappeared, and Joe boosted his Jace to keep Emin’s Mutavaults at bay. He needed to solve those manlands before he could begin generating value. Emin kept up the heat with Master of Waves for three Elementals, but Joe overmatched the Master with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.
Combined with Jace, Joe’s Elspeth threatened to once more crack open the game... but Emin had a second Master to invalidate that particular defense. The three Elementals that could attack went at Elspeth, reduced to 2/2s by Jace, and Joe blocked them all rather than trying to trade at the cost of some loyalty. Jace’s -2 from Joe indicated he was in dire straits, and it did not reveal Supreme Verdict—just Detention Sphere and Divination alongside Temple of Deceit. Bottoming Divination, Joe grabbed the Temple and Sphere before casting the enchantment.
Gainsay countered, and Joe followed with a second copy, exiling both Masters and wiping away the majority of Emin’s threats while he sat tapped out, a second Gainsay in his hand. He’d been forced to play the Master in order to remain ahead on the board, but Joe had been able to take advantage of a choke point in his mana development. Emin still had Mutavaults, but Elspeth boosted to hold them at bay and keep Jace safe.
Having turned the corner, Joe sent the turn back to Emin. He boosted up his own Jace and cast Nightveil Specter, forced to head to the skies with Elspeth approaching her ultimate in two turns’ time. Elspeth and Jace both ascended, and when the Specter attacked Joe used Azorius Charm to try and lock in an ultimate from Elspeth—Gainsay countered and Joe shrugged, going back to six loyalty.
Emin ticked down Jace, getting Thass for his troubles. Casting her, he lost the God to Essence Scatter and had just Frostburn Weird to follow. Joe used three tokens to eliminate the Jace that Emin had controlled for so long and got in 3 damage on Emin along the way. Elspeth and Jace once more ticked up, and Joe sent the turn to Emin.
Drawing Bident of Thassa—a card he’d badly wanted many, many turns ago—Emin tried to see his way out of his current predicament. Neither his attacks nor his blocks were making much headway here. Although he could add Tidebinder Mage to the board in order to slow down Joe’s offense, that would basically just be forestalling the inevitable.
Casting the Bident, Emin had to attack Elspeth in order to avoid dying, but Celestial Flare took the Specter down and left Emin dead on the board to the ultimate.
Joe 2, Emin 0