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