Semifinals: Justin Gottlieb (Wolf Run Ramp) vs. Josh Wagener (Zombies)
Justin Gottlieb up early to begin the ramping.
Josh was looking to sneak his Zombie horde past Justin’s Wolf Run Ramp deck, and he’d be leaning heavily on Phyrexian Obliterators to do so—it was his best card in the matchup. Post-board, he’d have to contend with Wrack with Madness and more removal, so it threatened to be a very tough fight for the undead horde.
Josh’s higher seed earned him the play, and he led Swamp and Gravecrawler on turn 1. Forest and Birds for Justin got his ramp started early, but he fell to 18 on Josh’s attack. The Geth’s Verdict that followed removed the Bird and left Justin on Forest. Inkmoth Nexus on turn 2 and no ramp spell for Justin meant he was in trouble—both Slagstorm and his power fours were far away.
Distress revealed that Justin didn’t even have that—just Primeval Titan, Inferno Titan, and four lands in his hand. Josh jotted them down after attacking for 2 damage, discarding the Primeval and passing. Justin hit Rampant Growth on turn 3, back in the game with a necessary ramp spell.
Josh had the goods on turn 4 though—Phyrexian Obliterator! He attacked Justin to 13 and passed tapped out, with Justin on very few potential outs to the 5/5 stick. He drew Slagstorm and could do nothing more than play a land and brace for impact.
He dropped to 6 when Josh attacked, and that left him very nearly dead. Josh was out of gas, just playing and popping Nihil Spellbomb to cycle and exile Justin’s graveyard before playing another Gravecrawler. Inferno Titan cleared all of those, and Justin would be faced with a decision after that.
Dealing 3 damage to Justin with Phantasmal Image on Inferno Titan, Josh forced Justin to block with Inferno Titan during combat and reduced him to just the 6/6. It cleared out Phantasmal Image and attacked, but Josh flashed a second Image to send lethal to the dome on the next turn.
Josh 1, Justin 0
“Kept a real loose hand,” Justin admitted, and Josh smiled. “I noticed—I saw it.” Justin kept in game 2 and started Copperline Gorge, while Josh played Darkslick Shores. Turn 2 Rampant Growth via another Gorge put Justin into the deck for a Mountain, and Josh did not get onto the board, playing a land.
That made Huntmaster of the Fells all the more absurd, sending Justin to 22 and giving him the offense. Josh had a third land and Geralf’s Messenger, but he would have to work to race from here. He took 4 and dropped to 16. Justin played a fifth land and flipped his Huntmaster into Ravager of the Fells, putting Messenger up with a counter and Josh himself on 14. He couldn’t attack now, and played a fourth land before adding Phyrexian Obliterator to the board.
Wrack with Madness reduced Josh to zero permanents and he scooped up his cards.
Josh 1, Justin 1
Josh Wagener wants brains for breakfast!
Each player mulliganed to six cards for the second game, Josh leading Darkslick Shores. Mountain for Justin, while turn 2 featured a Distress that removed Rampant Growth from a hand with Solemn Simulacrum, Inferno Titan, and three lands—just Forests and a Wolf Run. That left Justin with no turn 2 past Forest.
Geralf’s Messenger made first blood on turn 3, and Justin passed after his third land entered play. He fell to 15 from an attack, and Josh cast Phyrexian Obliterator on turn 4—fearless thanks to his Distress. Well, maybe slightly scared, but mostly fearless. Solemn Simulacrum for Justin got him his second Mountain, but he faced a formidable offensive at this point. Without a Wrack, it would be hard to rally.
Josh attacked with all of his creatures, and Justin chumped the Messenger, taking 7 damage and going to 8 life. After combat, Josh Distressed again to check on what Solemn had drawn Justin, discarding Inferno Titan to leave his opponent on Huntmaster of the Fells, Slagstorm, and two lands. He played Diregraf Ghoul, and passed the turn.
Just another land of the top for Justin, who went to 10 thanks to Huntmaster but remained in dire shape. Geth’s Verdict removed a blocker, and he fell to 2 life as Josh crashed in with everyone, forcing a chump block on the Messenger.
Drawing to a miracle, Justin missed and graciously extended the hand.
Josh 2, Justin 1