Semifinals: Meru Bhanot vs. Daniel Duterte
Two different Unburial+Rites decks faced off in this semifinal—Daniel’s conventional Junk Reanimator, while Meru’s deck went into red for Faithless+Looting and the Boros+Reckoner + Blasphemous+Act combination, with some other minor adjustments. The big differences? Daniel’s early mana advantage vs. Meru’s better late game.
Daniel leaned on Acidic+Slime in this matchup.
After a mulligan, Meru opened on Stomping+Ground while Daniel got the jump with Forest and Arbor+Elf. Faithless+Looting on turn 2 demonstrated why Meru had chosen this Reanimator variant over the others, offering him some potent card quality as Angel+of+Serenity and a spare land went into the graveyard.
Daniel Mulched after playing Sunpetal+Grove for two lands, followed by playing Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Meru slew the Pilgrim with an Abrupt+Decay and played another shockland, going slow and steady. Daniel sent in 1 damage and played another shockland, passing with Grisly+Salvage mana up. Meru simply went about his business, flashbacking Faithless+Looting to discard a land and Boros+Battleshaper.
Acidic+Slime pushed Meru back down to three lands, destroying his only black source, but he replaced it on the next turn before using Sever+the+Bloodline to exile Acidic+Slime. He couldn’t risk an Angel taking him out of the game! Daniel attacked for 1 damage again, and passed the turn after playing a land.
Meru summoned a beatdown crew of his own via Lingering+Souls, flashbacking the spell for four tokens total. Daniel made Restoration+Angel during the end step and attacked with the Angel an Arbor+Elf—Mere killed the Elf and took 3 damage. Lingering+Souls swung back at Daniel for 3, one of the tokens now dead, and Daniel fell to 17.
After that, Meru simply ended the turn. Daniel drew and played Grisly+Salvage for Thragtusk, taking a shockland hit to cast the 5/3 after swinging in with Restoration+Angel. He went back to 17 on Meru’s turn, and Blasphemous+Act followed to buy Meru some more time, leaving just a Beast token on the field and Meru with no cards in his hand. Another Thragtusk threatened to end the game in a couple swings, but Meru drew Boros+Reckoner to hold down the fort.
Fiend+Hunter struck down Reckoner, and Meru fell to 1 life from the attack for 8. Drawing one more card, he conceded the game.
Meru sideboards after a tough first game.
Daniel 1, Meru 0
It was Daniel’s turn to mulligan in game 2, while Meru evaluated his hand more carefully before deciding to keep. Deathrite+Shaman from Daniel met an immediate Pillar+of+Flame from Meru on turn 2, and Daniel hoped Avacyn’s Pilgrim would survive. Meru made no plays except for another shockland, and Daniel untapped.
Grisly+Salvage found him a land, binning an Unburial+Rites, and he attacked for 1 damage. Meru’s own Salvage found Boros+Reckoner and put Purify+the+Grave into the bin—an excellent counter to Daniel’s own action. Meru cast Faithless+Looting on his next turn, followed by Pillar+of+Flame on Avacyn’s Pilgrim. While he had discarded Gisela and Angel+of+Serenity, he lacked a fourth land and had to pass after that.
Daniel played his fourth land and passed turn right back, hoping to hit Acidic+Slime on turn 5. Meru pointed Slaughter+Games at him, and Daniel took a deep breath—but Angel+of+Serenity missed his hand of two Restoration+Angels, an Acidic+Slime, and Thragtusk. Would Meru be able to stop the onslaught of Slimes that was to come? He’d need a third removal spell to do it...
Getting a clock started with one Angel in the end step, Daniel drew the fifth land he needed and blew up Godless+Shrine with Acidic+Slime. Stuck on three, Meru had to cast Rolling+Temblor to take out the Slime, buying himself more time. He fell to 13 as the Angel attacked, but Thragtusk quickened the clock.
Finding a fourth land, Meru landed Boros+Reckoner to buy time and keep Thragtusk off his life total, but Daniel drew Unburial+Rites—that would let him go right back to work with Acidic+Slime. After an attack for 3 put Meru to 10, that’s exactly what he did. Meru had to go to 8 for a shockland to sever the Slime’s Bloodline, but that left him vulnerable to a flashbacked Rites on Fiend+Hunter, clearing Boros+Reckoner from the path of Thragtusk while Restoration+Angel flew overhead.
Daniel 2, Meru 0