Semifinals: Lauren Nolen (U/W Delver) vs. Ronnie Ritner (U/W Delver)
Ronnie Ritner, making Delver after Delver
A Delver of Secrets mirror in the Top 4 pitted Ronnie against Lauren for the right to advance to the Top 4. With similar maindecks, both players admitted that the matchup would likely come down to their sideboarding nuances—hardly unusual for the matchup.
Lauren mulliganed his starting hand while Ronnie kept, and he began with Gitaxian Probe to see Delver of Secrets, two Snapcaster Mages, Blade Splicer, Glacial Fortress, Plains, and Moorland Haunt. “It’s not bad,” Ronnie admitted. Lauren had just land, then Thought Scour on himself once Ronnie passed with Fortress.
Cavern of Souls on Spirit, and Lauren passed. Ronnie tried Delver of Secrets and played Plains. Lauren tapped out for Geist of Saint Traft, and Ronnie did the same for Blade Splicer. Vapor Snag bounced the Golem and Dismember ruined Ronnie’s double-block—not a bad turn for Lauren! He followed with Delver of Secrets and ended the turn.
Another Delver for Ronnie, but nothing else—he sent turn with Moorland Haunt mana untapped. Lauren didn’t flip his Delver on the next turn, and he swung with Geist. Ronnie decided to take the 6 damage and make a Spirit in the end step when Lauren passed, his own Haunt also online. Ronnie flipped Delver on Vapor Snag and cast a second copy, passing the turn.
Lauren made a Spirit and whiffed his Delver flip, then considered how best to attack. He decided on just the Geist, Ronnie not sure how best to block at first. He made a second Spirit, and put Aberration and both Spirits on the Geist, which Restoration Angel saved from death. On 5 life, Ronnie needed some help!
He drew his own Angel and passed the turn, Lauren continuing to whiff his Delver. He attacked with just the Angel and Geist, keeping his Delver and Spirit on defense. Snapcaster Mage on Vapor Snag took care of the Angel token, but Restoration Angel number two for Lauren kept his Geist alive to attack again. Ronnie drew and passed, Lauren’s Delver finally flipping on Probe.
Lauren 1, Ronnie 0
Starting with Delver of Secrets and Island for Ronnie, Lauren lagged behind after Pondering on turn 1 and keeping his three. No flip for Ronnie, and he cast Ponder to stack Probe for his Delver. Lauren vast Delver and revealed Snag, Thought Scour, Image, and Angel alongside Cavern of Souls and another land once Ronnie flipped and Probed him, flashbacking the Probe immediately after and playing Moorland Haunt.
Lauren chastised himself for not Scouring Ronnie during the upkeep, and made his own Aberration with Phantasmal Image before casting Vapor Snag on Ronnie’s. Ronnie swung 2 with his Snapcaster Mage but was stranded with just one blue mana, restricting him to a spell per turn despite having three lands. He tapped out for Blade Splicer, and prayed Lauren would miss Vapor Snag.
Flipping his Delver on Ponder, Lauren swung for 6 in the sky and hit four mana, putting him in Restoration Angel range. He decided to Cavern for Angel and then tapped out to cast it on his own turn, passing. Ronnie Pondered... and had to shuffle. “Are you going to not hit a blue source here and die?” Lauren asked.
Yes. That’s exactly what happened.
Lauren 2, Ronnie 0
Lauren Nolen attacks with his team
Seachrome Coast for Ronnie, while Lauren had Coast and Pondered on the first turn. Playing an Island, Ronnie passed once more. Lauren played Island and Pondered, shuffling the three cards this time. Ronnie play his third land, done, while Lauren had the land and Geist of Saint Traft.
Nodding, Ronnie had no Mana Leak! He flashed in Snapcaster Mage and attacked Lauren for 2 damage, passing after he laid his fourth land, no Caverns or Moorland Haunts in sight. “Seems obvious,” he admitted. “It is a little,” Lauren laughed, referring to Restoration Angel.
Ronnie had one when Lauren attacked, but Lauren had one to protect his Geist. Still, Ronnie’s oblivion Ring removed the flier and he passed, staying defensive after adding Delver of Secrets to the board—keeping on the offense might have been a better plan for him here, considering the Vapor Snag already in his hand.
Lauren didn’t mind the time, using Snapcaster Mage on Ponder to dig for more action against Ronnie’s wall of dudes. Gut Shot then Phantasmal Image, copying Restoration Angel to blink Snapcaster for Gut Shot, reduced Ronnie to just his Restoration Angel.
He untapped and Snagged while planting a Blade Splicer, but couldn’t attack. Lauren had no qualms about the red zone, tapping out for Sword of War and Peace on Geist of Saint Traft and attacking. Ronnie chose not to chump with his Golem, falling to 6 life, and Lauren ended the turn on 17.
Another Oblivion Ring removed the Sword, and Ronnie passed once again. He seemed intent on creating a stable board before he began making attacks, but that would likely cost him—he was giving Lauren a lot of time to cantrip through the deck and just jam in damage. When Lauren attacked again, the second Angel saved his Geist while its token put Ronnie to 2 life.
Gideon Jura off the top for Ronnie bought him much-needed time, but Lauren sent the Angel token at Ronnie to force a block from Restoration Angel, with Gideon falling to three loyalty. Unfortunately for Ronnie, another Restoration Angel saved Geist of Saint Traft to attack for another turn.
Ronnie animated and attacked, using Restoration Angel to buy another diverted combat step. He had to throw that Angel away blocking the Angel token once again, but his Golem token got Vapor Snagged—note that aiming the Snag at Restoration Angel was just lethal damage thanks to Geist’s Angel—but Ronnie was drawing plenty dead once the Snag resolved, his board emptied and Lauren’s filled with flying death.
Lauren 3, Ronnie 0