Semifinals: John McCarthy vs. Gino Bautista
Mono-colored aggression had carried both Gino Bautista and John McCarthy handily through to the top 4, but only one could advance! Would it be Mono-Red Aggro or Mono-Black Aggro that pushed through to the finals?
Gino considers his attacks.
Gino kicked things off with a turn 1 Rakdos Cackler, and John had a Thoughtseize on turn 1 to sniff things out. He saw a hand of Mountain, Firedrinker Satyr, Chandra’s Phoenix, Lightning Strike, and Fanatic of Mogis. He got rid of the Lightning Strike, and took 2 on Gino’s turn from the Cackler. Gino followed up with Firedrinker Satyr, and John had a Thrill-Kill Assassin, leashed, in a bid to stabilize the board.
Gino had the solution; he cast Burning-Tree Emissary and spent the RG on a Lightning Strike to clear away the Thrill-Kill Assassin, sending in his team and dropping John to 12. John had another Thrill-Kill Assassin and a Gnarled Scarhide, but Gino had a Chandra’s Phoenix to compound the issue, attacking with everyone. John’s Assassin jumped in front of Firedrinker Satyr, but he took 6 from the other three creatures, falling to 6.
Bile Blight bought John a turn on Gino’s next attack, but he was dead a turn later to the unblockable Chandra’s Phoenix.
Gino Bautista 1, John McCarthy 0
John has seen better matchups.
John took a mulligan to start off the second game, and agonized over his six card hand.
John: “I can’t mulligan this… but I’m going to lose if I keep it.”
He eventually decided to keep, leading off with a turn 1 Gnarled Scarhide. Gino had no turn 1 play, and on John’s second turn he fired off a pair of Thoughtseizes, sniping Searing blood and Firefist Striker and leaving Gino with a hand of Mizzium Mortars, Chandra’s Phoenix, and three Mountains. Gino, undeterred, simply found a replacement Firefist Striker on top of his deck and played it.
Herald of Torment arrived on turn 3 for John, and the Scarhide attacked, bringing both players to 16. The Herald didn’t last long, as Gino cleared it away with Mizzium Mortars, before dropping John to 14. John had only a Deathrite Shaman to follow-up, and declined to trade off with Gino cast a Chandra’s Phoenix and his next turn and attacked with it and the Firefist Striker.
John dropped Gino to 12 with his Gnarled Scarhide, and then played the last card in his hand, an unleashed Rakdos Cackler. Gino untapped and Lightning Striked the Deathrite Shaman, which dropped him to 10 in response, then sent with his team, leaving John at just 6. He looked to close the door post-combat with Eidolon of the Great Revel.
With two creatures that couldn’t block, John needed a miracle to survive the turn. The draw was Nighthowler, which wouldn’t save him, and he extended the hand.
Gino Bautista 2, John McCarthy 0