Semifinals: Joey Andrews vs. Nick Cowden
Nick's Delver couldn't race down two Goblin Piledrivers.
Mountain and Aether Vial for Joey gave him a strong start, while Nick fetched on the first turn for Volcanic Island in order to cast Delver of Secrets, his MVP in the matchup. Wasteland on Volcanic after ticking Vial left Nick with just the Delver, which he flipped on the next turn before attacking for 3... and ending the turn without a land!
Vial went to two and Cavern of Souls enabled an uncounterable Piledriver. Gitaxian Probe revealed what was coming to Nick, including a second Piledriver and Goblin Warchief—serious action. Nick didn’t find a land, and attacked for 3 more before the new Piledriver landed. Vial dropped in Warchief on the next turn, and Joey attacked for 12 damage.
That left Nick on 5 and in grim, grim shape. When he failed to draw a land on the next turn, they were off to game 2.
Joey 1, Nick 0
Nick mulliganed to begin the game, and Joey did the same after considering a one-land keep. On six cards he paid 2 life for Gitaxian Probe, revealing Aether Vial, Goblin Piledriver, Goblin Matron, Wasteland, Cavern of Souls, and Wooded Foothills—a good hand! Tundra and Delver of Secrets gave Nick the early lead once more.
Cavern of Souls into Aether Vial resolved, and Nick failed to flip the Delver. He cast Stoneforge Mystic to find Umezawa’s Jitte and passed, with Joey aware that he was now the one under pressure. He went for Wasteland on the Tundra, hoping to dodge a bloody death via equipment over the next two turns.
Delver revealed Ponder and leapt into the skies, and Nick did indeed lack a second land—he just cast Grim Lavamancer. Joey had bought some time, but he was in a bind against the 3/2. Spending another Wasteland to leave Nick on no lands, he passed with Vial up on two counters. Nick debated how to attack, eventually sending everyone and losing his Lavamancer to the Piledriver as Joey went to 11.
Vial slid in Matron for Joey, which enabled him to Gempalm Incinerator the Aberration immediately and take a healthy lead against Nick’s lone permanent—Stoneforge Mystic. He fetched Incinerator with the Matron, perhaps a waste considering the Ringleader would refill his hand and he already had one Incinerator. Drawing even more Wastelands, Joey was set up to easily take this one down with a creature or two off the top.
Nick found Scalding Tarn to buy him some potential, and Joey left his Vial on three while drawing a land. A second Incinerator ended the Mystic on Joey’s turn, enabling an attack for 4 damage before he played Wooded Foothills. Nick drew and stared at his hand, playing a fresh Volcanic Island and then fetching Tundra. Pyroclasm mopped up the board and gave Nick an even footing.
Wasteland took away another Tundra and Goblin Piledriver resolved once more. Pondering for help, Nick kept the top three and laid Misty Rainforest prior to ending the turn. Joey was drawing nothing but lands, and sent in his Piledriver after playing Wasteland. That would require some dancing from Nick, whose mana was getting stretched pretty thin. He Brainstormed, throwing back two and passing.
The Piledriver continued its assault, putting Nick to 11 before Joey played another Aether Vial. Nick had Swords to Plowshares in the end step after fetching Tundra, but lost the land to the Wasteland Joey had left up for it. Flooded Strand through his Ponder returned him access to his last white mana source!
Goblin Warchief for Joey swung in to leave Nick on 7, and he fetched Tundra before untapping into Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull, passing the turn. Joey fetched down to 10, the game looking grim for him. He drew and attacked for 2 more, but his shenanigans would soon end. The Batteskull entered play, Incinerator a turn late to the party now.
Joey's looking for another win against tempo in the Top 4.
Joey 1, Nick 1
Joey mulliganed to begin the decider and Nick kept his seven cards. Joey’s six began with Mountain and Goblin Lackey over Aether Vial, but Tundra meant that Nick probably had Swords to Plowshares. Indeed he did, and the Aether Vial that followed was a tad slow for the party.
Delver of Secrets and a fetchland on Nick’s side of the board, with Joey ticking up his Vial before jamming Goblin Piledriver down... headlong into Daze. The Delver revealed Force of Will and attacked for 3 damage, Nick fetching for Volcanic Island afterward and ending the turn. His Insectile beats went unchecked until he added Stoneforge Mystic to the board. After selecting Jitte, Joey Vialed in Piledriver.
Vial for Warchief landed next, and Lightning Bolt dismantled the Piledriver before combat. Adding a second Vial to the battlefield, Joey passed. Nick hit his fourth mana and elected to just attack for 3 damage rather than attempt a Jitte. When Warchief battled in, Lightning Bolt killed it and that left Joey stuck exiling Pyrokinesis to Pyrokinesis the board in response to Mystic for Jitte. Nick didn’t have a blue card for Force!
Now with a shot to topdeck some winners, Joey started with a Vial for Warchief and an attack for 2 damage. Nick drew and dropped Delver of Secrets, equipping the little bug and hoping to dodge the top of Joey’s deck for another turn. Mountain was no Goblin, and he could only attack for 2 and end the turn with Tin-Street Hooligan stranded in his hand.
The Warchief died to the Jitte, and Thalia fell to the Force of Will plus a Daze—Nick had neglected his Delver trigger on the previous turn. He missed again, but got in an attack and a Jitte trigger. Joey meanwhile topdecked a fetch for Taiga in order to Hooligan the Jitte, “trading” the 2/1 away.
The Delver flipped to Ponder, and now Nick had Joey on a three-turn clock. Ponder shuffled away the top three cards, and he had no follow-up. Joey hoped to peel Matron into Ringleader into an Incinerator—but Piledriver was not part of the equation. Going to 3 life, Joey drew—and found a taunting Gempalm Incinerator on top of the deck before conceding.
Joey 1, Nick 2