Semifinals: Jonathan Cheng vs. Ryan Archer
Maindeck Rootborn Defenses wasn’t what Jonathon wanted to see in the single elimination rounds, but he’d need to come up with a plan for the defensive populate spell in order to overcome Ryan’s token-based offensive.
Ryan's Elementals made quick work of game 1.
Jonathan was slow out the gates with a pair of shocklands, while Ryan had Voice of Resurgence to pressure the control deck on turn 2, followed by Experiment One and a Knight token to grow it. Ryan’s turn 4 attack merited an Azorius Charm, but because it was following the casting of a second Voice it wound up doubling Experiment One’s size while tossing a Voice to the top of the deck.
Supreme Verdict cleaned up some of Ryan’s board, but left him with a 2/2 Experiment One and another Elemental token. He dropped to 7 once Ryan recast Voice of Resurgence, clearly losing the war against a bear designed to punish his archetype of choice!
Revelation for two cards left him tapped out and on 9 life and dead to any 3/3 or better creature and Selesnya Charm—Ryan lacked that option and simply attacked Jonathon down to 2 life. It didn’t matter much... Jonathon conceded immediately after.
Ryan 1, Jonathon 0
The second game started off much better for Jonathan, with a cycled Azorius Charm and Diviniation before Ryan could add a threat to the board. Loxodon Smiter evened up the score, but now Jonathan could start trying to answer each of Ryan’s threats in turn, beginning with Ratchet Bomb on turn 4.
He sent Smiter to the top of the deck with Azorius Charm when it attacked, and had Ultimate Price already available to handle Polukranos on the fifth turn and passed after adding Watery Grave to the battlefield. Ryan made a tiny token army with Scion of Vitu-Ghazi on turn 5, earning the Supreme Verdict from Jonathan, who was stuck on five lands.
Ryan replayed his Loxodon Smiter, but Jonathan answered with Blood Baron of Vizkopa. In the end step, Ryan cast Boon Satyr as a threat that could go toe-to-toe with the big Vampire, but he’d need to put a lot of effort into defending the 4/2—Jonathan had a hand filled with removal spells. Playing Mistcutter Hydra as a 5/5, Ryan swung Jonathan down to 11 life. The Ratchet Bomb ticked up to kill the Hydra, and Far/Away slew both of Ryan’s remaining creatures, as the Smiter was basically dead to recast anyway with Blood Baron on the board.
Ryan took 2 damage to play and monstrous Fleecemane Lion, but that wasn’t going to work against Blood Baron—he just wasn’t getting in enough damage. Two more Loxodon Smiters gave him a chance, with Jonathan on 15, but Hero’s Downfall restored a favorable position for Jonathan. He attacked Ryan to 6 and killed off the second Smiter, once more going toe-to-toe with the Lion and this time crossing the finish line.
Jonathan delivers a Verdict to Ryan's creatures.
Ryan 1, Jonathan 1
Ryan had a keeper in game 3, but Jonathan was not so lucky and fell to six cards. A turn 2 Experiment One was Ryan’s first play of the game, while Jonathan began with nonstop Temples. Mistcutter Hydra for two upgraded the Experiment One and left Jonathan on 16 life as he played a third Temple.
Ultimate Price killed the Experiment One when Ryan swung on the next turn, and Jonathan played a fourth Temple that merited significant thought before leaving the card on top. Advent of the Wurm in his end step earned a quick trade with Ultimate Price from Jonathan, and he fell to 12 life from the Hydra.
Ryan continued to make land drops while attacking with a 2/2, but Jonathan was stuck without land for a turn or two before drawing a fifth Temple. The found him another land, and once he began casting Sphinx’s Revelations it appeared to be his game to lose. Ryan had no form of pressure online and was clearly very, very flooded. The second Revelation found Jace, Architect of Thought, and Jonathan began pumping Jace.
Ryan had Fleecemane Lion and Pithing Needle for Jace, but Away killed the former and Ratchet Bomb threatened to solve the latter. Blood Baron of Vizkopa landed as cleanup crew for Jonathan, and he wasn’t threatened by the Scion that Ryan cast on the following turn. He declined to blow up the Needle, just beginning the Blood Baron beats and using Sphere to exile the Scion.
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage offered a potential mana sink for Ryan’s ten lands, but the Blood Baron was fearless. Jonathan jumped to 21 after attacking Ryan to 12 and then cast another Blood Baron. Now Ryan could make a Centaur and threaten to begin populating, but Jonathan boosted his Bomb up to two counters so that he could kill the Guildmage, enabling a second Sphere to clean all of the Centaurs from the board.
One more turn of Blood Baron beatdown was all it took.
Ryan 1, Jonathan 2