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.
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