Semifinals: Joe Pennachio vs. John Spires
A Naya mirror in the semifinals was proof that Aaron Barich’s Dallas creation wasn’t just a flash in the pan—it was here to stay. One of them would be advancing to the finals... but who?
Joe added Silverblade Paladin to the Naya recipe and made it into the Top 8.
Joe kept his seven and opened with Stomping Ground on turn 1. John took a more aggressive approach with Temple Garden into Experiment One, leaving Joe to evaluate his defensive needs. He went to 18 for Strangleroot Geist and attacked, passing back to John. Voice of Resurgence evolved the Experiment One for John, attacking.
Going to 14 for another shockland, Joe bonded Silverblade Paladin with Strangleroot Geist and attacked into the Voice. John blocked, losing his Voice but gaining an Elemental. He took 2 for his next land and cast Boros Reckoner, turning Experiment One and the Elemental into a 3/3. John attacked, keeping the pressure on, and Joe appeared to be considering a trade via Silverblade Paladin... but he took the damage, falling to 8 life.
Rancor on Strangleroot Geist, and it attacked. Boros Reckoner blocked, dealing 3 damage to Joe while the Geist trampled over for 5 total damage. Experiment One and Dryad Militant bolstered Joe’s defenses, and he ended the turn. John went from 9 to 7 for a shockland, Rancoring Experiment One and playing a second Experiment before attacking. Joe knew he had to fear Ghor-Clan Rampager, but it was impossible for him to block and survive that—and that was exactly what John had left.
John's playing a list with few departures from the Dallas Naya deck.
John 1, Joe 0
Losing a game on the play put Joe’s back against the wall—he’d need two straight, and one from the draw. Starting with Sacred Foundry, John had Stomping Ground and no one-drop. Call of the Conclave gave Joe a 3/3 on turn 2, easily outclassing Voice of Resurgence from John on the following turn.
The Centaur attacked John to 17 before being joined by its own Voice of Resurgence, and when John attacked Joe blocked immediately. John took 2 damage for a shockland to cast Loxodon Smiter, but a bloodrushed Centaur token swung over the Smiter and put John behind, on 12 life against an Elemental and a Centaur.
He went to 10 for a fourth land and passed. “I smell a trap,” Joe noted, clearly confident that John had Advent of the Wurm. Joe cast Call of the Conclave and Boros Reckoner, passing the turn as the predicted Wurm appeared in his end step. John cast Pacifism on the Reckoner and Volcanic Strength on the Elemental token, passing turn. He was barely keeping it together, with Joe’s Elemental already a 4/4—one more creature would let it trade with the Wurm, and two more would put John in a bad spot.
Joe attacked with just the Elemental, making a 2/2 with Selesnya Charm to trade rather than pumping. Another Volcanic Strength made the Elemental into a 5/5 for John, but with no other creature he was in trouble. Joe attacked with everyone, losing a Centaur and putting John on 3 life.
Nothing he drew could deliver him from that position.
John 1, Joe 1
Joe began the third game with a mulligan on the draw. John went to 18 for Experiment One on turn 1, while Joe played Temple Garden tapped. Voice of Resurgence evolved the Experiment, enabling an attack for 2 damage prior to Joe casting turn 2 Selesnya Charm for a creature. John Speared it, and attacked for 4 damage.
Pacifism on the Experiment One slowed John down, but Volcanic Strength dropped Joe to 4 on the Voice of Resurgence—Joe was stuck on two lands, and defending himself from this position would be difficult. He found a third land, dropping Loxodon Smiter, but John moved deeper in on the Voice and added a second Volcanic Strength to the Voice.
Joe drew... and extended the hand.
John 2, Joe 1