Semifinals: Joe Pennachio vs. John Spires
A Naya mirror in the semifinals was proof that 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