Semifinals: Kenny Dungar vs. Mike McKay
Jund vs. Goblins wasn’t an everyday semifinal matchup on the Open Series, but it promised to be an interesting one. Both decks were capable of grinding midrange tactics, with lots of card advantage available.
Mike's Jund list struggled to keep up with Goblin Ringleader.
A mulligan from Mike while Kenny kept started the match. Mike had the advantage of the play, but the match would likely come to a grindfest that centered on Goblin Ringleader overwhelming his Punishing Fires or failing to do so. Turn 1 fetching Bayou and casting Deathrite Shaman threatened to let Mike outpace Kenny while invalidating his Goblin Lackey.
No turn 1 beyond a fetchland for Kenny, and Mike untapped with free reign. Mike fetched Badlands and cast Hymn to Tourach, discarding Mogg War Marshal and Goblin Matron. An attack from the Shaman ended Mike’s turn, Kenny fetching Mountain and moving to his own turn.
He’d just lost his two best spells, but a fetch for Plateau let him play a freshly-drawn Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Lightning Bolt slew the legend on Mike’s turn before he fetched up another Badlands and cast Dark Confidant. Kenny dropped Rishadan Port and bounced the Confidant with Stingscourger, Gempalm Incinerator in his hand to let him zap Bob during his next upkeep.
Mike replayed the Bob and added Sylvan Library, but lost the 2/1 to Incinerator as Kenny let the Stingscourger die, replacing it with Goblin Lackey. Mike put his Sylvan Library to use on the next turn, digging his way to a second Dark Confidant and ending the turn. Cavern of Souls for Goblins preceded Goblin Ringleader, finding another Ringleader and Goblin Warchief atop the deck before the 2/2 ran into the red zone.
The Shaman gained 2 life in the end step, and Mike was on 17. Revealing Deathrite Shaman to Bob, he went back in with Sylvan afterward. Casting just the Deathrite Shaman, he passed the turn. Another Ringleader grabbed Incinerator and Goblin Matron before the two Ringleaders attacked, and now Mike would need to actually do something—Kenny was keeping up!
Tarmogoyf left Mike on 12 during his upkeep to Bob before the Sylvan started digging. Even the mighty Goyf wouldn’t block Kenny’s attacks much longer—but then Mike played a Grove of the Burnwillows. That might mean a Punishing Fire was in the works, which could help him keep the Goyf around while slowly decimating Kenny’s army.
Kenny played a third Ringleader, revealing the fourth with Goblin Lackey and Piledriver. Tarfire slew the Dark Confidant, but no attacks from Kenny meant that Mike’s Deathrite Shamans could help out a bit more—Mike decided to send 2 at Kenny in the end step. Untapping, he used Sylvan and then attacked with Tarmogoyf. Kenny tossed his Goblin Lackey under the bus and that was that.
Goblin Warchief for Kenny and then two Goblin Piledrivers threatened to become very, very dangerous... except that an Abrupt Decay on the Warchief kept them summoning sick. Kenny attacked for 6 and dropped Mike to 6, with Deathrite Shaman healing him up to 9 following a cracked fetchland. That Decay meant that Mike didn’t have Punishing Fire—but he did have a turn to find it before the Goblin pressure would be lethal.
He found it in the top three and aimed it at both Goblin Piledrivers immediately, wary of both Gempalm Incinerator and the troublesome Rishadan Port. Mogg War Marshal and another Goblin Lackey made the Incinerator big enough to toast Tarmogoyf, and Kenny attacked for 6 again—the Punishing Fire might be too slow even now. Mike blocked with two Deathrite Shamans, losing one to go to just 7 life.
Another Grove gave him another Punishing Fire, and he ended the turn. Ringleader from Kenny grabbed Chieftain and War Marshal, and Kenny attacked with three Ringleaders, losing two to Punishing Fire and dropping Mike to 5 life, though he jumped back to 7 with Deathrite Shaman in the end step.
Goblin Matron from Kenny on the following turn searched up Gempalm Incinerator, the line he should’ve taken last turn to maximize his other in-play Goblins. Removing Mike’s only blocker, he now had three more attackers in his 1/1s to throw into the mix. Mike gained 2 life in response, and killed Lackey and Ringleader with Punishing Fires. He still took 2, going to 7 life.
Mike drew and passed again, with Kenny going to his sixth mana. That opened up a few more doors to his plays, starting with Thalia. Mike declined to Punishing Fire in response, which meant he’d only get one zap this turn unless he aimed the first at Thalia. Goblin Warchief and Mogg War Marshal followed. When Kenny moved to combat, Thalia and then the Warchief died, Kenny only forcing in three damage.
Still, Mike was now down to 4 with five creatures in play and his mana pretty tied up. Kenny declined the echo, removing one attacker from the field for the turn, but that let him cast two Goblin Chieftains, the first dying in response to the second... but the four remaining legal attackers closed it out.
Kenny had opted to try and jam the board here rather than lean on Rishadan Port to keep Mike to just one Punishing Fires per turn, a line made possible by his plethora of Ringleaders—it had managed to deliver victory.
Kenny's army was massive in game 2.
Kenny 1, Mike 0
Mike kicked off with a mulligan to five while Kenny kept a no-creature six with five lands and a Wear // Tear, leaning heavily on the pair of Wastelands he had. Turn 1 Forest from Mike ruined that plan, and Kenny could only play Cavern on Goblins and pass back. Mike lacked a second land, and down came Goblin Piledriver.
Verdant Catacombs for Mike and a pass of the turn; if he grabbed Swamp, Kenny would still be stuck off Wasteland. He played one of them, and Mike fetched up Bayou anyway before slaying the Piledriver with Abrupt Decay, losing his Bayou to Wasteland. Goblin Lackey landed alongside an Aether Vial afterward.
Mike played Bayou and Tarmogoyf, passing with a 3/4 at the ready. That slowed Kenny down, but Wasteland zapped the Bayou again and Kenny passed. No land for Mike left him with just a Forest, but Kenny had no action of his own. Vial ticked to three when Mike passed again, and Kenny declined to tap out for Krenko with a Vial on three and Warchief in hand. He went the slow route, putting in the Warchief during the end step and then using Vial on four to get in Krenko.
Wasteland let Mike cast Life from the Loam, recovering his lands but also putting him into the cleanup step. Kenny fetched and made three Goblins first, then six more on his own turn before attacking for 10 damage and losing his Lackey, leaving Mike on 10.
Anything less than Engineered Plague or Maelstrom Pulse would not be enough to solve this situation... and they were both temporary measures, though Mike might not know it. Going to 9 and fetching Badlands, he cast Ancient Grudge. “Like eight turns too late,” he admitted, and the Goblin army did him in immediately after.
Kenny 2, Mike 0