Semifinals: Max Brown vs. Andrew Shrout
Max is here with the bugaboo of the format, Mono-Black Devotion, while Andrew is staying true to his nature with a G/W Aggro deck that truly fits his style. Which of these consummate pros will add ‘Invitational finalist’ to their resume?
Max led things off with turn two Pack Rat, a creature that spells trouble for Mr. Shrout. Max cast Thoughtseize just to be sure the coast was clear, and after Skylasher entered the battle zone he selected Boon Satyr from a hand that also included a bunch of land and Mistcutter Hydra. Max added a second copy of the card Pack Rat as well, since he had two mana available. Skylasher got in a couple of damage before Andrew dropped a third land and passed, but the pack of rats was too much. Pharika’s Cure was able to knock out Boon Satyr at end of turn, just for the rub-ins.
“You only have one of those in the maindeck too. Man!”
Mistcutter Hydra came down as a 3/3 and Max swung for five, but Hero’s Downfall killed the Hydra before it could do too much more. The pair of Rats (pumped by Mutavault) dropped Andrew to 6, while Banisher Priest delayed a little bit of damage from Max’s mouse-based army. Another Hero’s Downfall immediately retrieved the Pack Rat, and Andrew was on defensive duty at such a low life total. Andrew kept up the pressure of his own, dropping Max to 9 thanks to deft blocking duty of Voice of Resurgence and a little offense from the */* token it created when it died, but the green and white deck has a lot of issues with Pack Rat and the ever-growing army of vermin.
Andrew was left with pretty much nothing but lands and an Elemental token after stopping the onslaught for a turn, but it was over soon after.
Max 1, Andrew 0.
Both players elected to mulligan their opening sevens and went down to a gentlemens’ six. Andrew led with Elvish Mystic, while Max Thoughtseized Andrew’s Advent of the Wurm. Andrew still had both Banisher Priest and Boon Satyr in hand that Max knew of, so it was no surprise when the 4/2 entered the battlefield… and was instantly Pharika’s Cured. One more land and an attack for one was all Andrew mustered before passing, and the reason being that Andrew only had one spell left that a second Thoughtseize took away. Max dropped Pack Rat, and Andrew had one draw step…
Last Breath. “Easy game!”
But the Max found Desecration Demon.
No kill spell this time. Not so easy of a game.
Second verse, same as the first, except a little bit more Demon-like. Mutavault and Desecration Demon outclassed Andrew’s late game topdecked Experiment One and Witchstalker (though the ‘Stalker is certainly a bothersome card once it gets going with an aura). Andrew continued to only draw early game spells, finding Elvish Mystic to feed to the Demon. Meanwhile, Gray Merchant of Asphodel drained for four to drop Max to 6 while the Voice of Resurgence that Andrew had kept the Desecration Demon at bay for a couple of turns.
Pharika’s Cure was effectively countered by a flashed in Skylasher to make the Elemental a 3/3, but Andrew was in not much better of a position. Mutavault and Gray Merchant of Asphodel both attacked, dropping Andrew to 4 and killing the land. Andrew, living on a prayer and off the top of his deck, only found Selesnya Guildgate on top. Desecration Demon grew to 12/12 and stayed tapped, but it was The Abyss for most of this game which was just good enough. Lifebane Zombie off the top left Andrew with no outs, and they quickly shuffled up for game three.
Andrew once more had the play to try to hop on Max, but had to mulligan to five while Max kept seven. Once he kept, he was able to piece together a one-lander that was immediately Thoughtseized. Max snagged Andrew’s Voice of Resurgence, leaving him with Scavenging Ooze, Last Breath, and Advent of the Wurm. Sadly for Andrew, his first two lands were Plains so he could only play Last Breath on Nightveil Specter until turn four, where Forest and Scavenging Ooze made appearances. Lifebane Zombie came down for Max… but a pair of Advent of the Wurm stared him back in the face. Oh, the irony!
Andrew’s Scavenging Ooze, now a 3/3, set life at 21-19 in Andrew’s favor, and Nightveil Specter joined Lifebane Zombie on the mono-Black side of things. Three more damage and another pass of the turn for Andrew meant an attack for five plus stealing Andrew’s Temple Garden. He played it untapped, played Thoughtseize to go to twelve and pick Witchstalker, and then drain for seven with Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Scavenging Ooze did become a 4/4 and gain one life, but that was all Andrew could get together on his mulligan to five.
A valiant effort, but the card disadvantage was too strong. Max Brown moves on to the finals!
Max 3, Andrew 0.