Semifinals: Michael Swailes vs. Neil Henley
Neil Henley was the lone representative of Delver+of+Secrets in this top eight, bringing U/W/R Delver to the table. His opponent Michael Swailes was playing the new bogeyman of Legacy, U/W/R Miracles.
Neil considers his options.
The first play of the game was a turn 2 Sensei’s Divining Top from Michael. Neil fought over it with a Force+of+Will pitching Daze, but Michael countered back with a Spell+Pierce, and the Top stuck. Neil had a Delver+of+Secrets and a fetchland on his turn, and after Michael simply played his land and passed, Neil revealed a Swords+to+Plowshares to flip up Insectile+Aberration, but shuffled it away with his fetchland during his upkeep. The flier smacked Michael for 3, and Neil had an Umezawa’s Jitte to follow up.
Michael flipped up a Terminus on his turn to deal with the 3/2 flier, and passed. Neil attempted another threat in the form of True-Name+Nemesis, but Michael had Force+of+Will pitching Counterspell to shut things down. Neil was out of gas, and Michael went to work spinning his top and developing his mana advantage.
A few turns later, Michael cast a draw-step Vendilion+Clique, seeing a hand of two Lightning+Bolts and a Delver+of+Secrets. He sent one Bolt to the bottom, and it was Replaced by a Wasteland, which destroyed his Mystic+Gate. Neil bolted away the Vendilion+Clique and cast his Delver, passing the turn. Michael, seeing that the coast was clear, tapped out for Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor. He used the +2 to send a card to the bottom of Neil’s deck, but it didn’t stop the Delver from flipping over as it revealed a Daze. The Insectile+Aberration picked up the Jitte and attacked Jace down to 2 loyalty.
Michael bounced the Delver with his Jace, and Neil untapped and doubled down, replaying both the bounced Delver and a freshly drawn copy. They flipped revealing a Force+of+Will on Neil’s next turn, and Michael got in one last Jace Brainstorm before the 3/2 fliers sent it to the graveyard.
Michael spun his top looking for an answer, and came up short. Within two turns, the pair of Insectile+Aberrations had closed out game one.
Neil Henley 1, Michael Swailes 0
Michael in the tank during sideboarding.
Neil got onto the board immediately with a turn 1 Delver+of+Secrets, but Michael sent it farming with Swords+to+Plowshares. Michael added a Sensei’s Divining Top to the board, and Neil used his next turn Pondering and casting a Grim+Lavamancer. Michael untapped and had a big play in the form of Counterbalance. It resolved, and Michael passed the turn with the lock in place.
Neil used Wasteland on Michael’s untapped Tundra, forcing him to spin his Sensei’s Divining Top in response. Neil followed up with a Meddling+Mage, and Michael, who had not left a 2-drop on top, could do nothing to stop it. The Meddling+Mage shut off Swords+to+Plowshares.
Michael had no play over the next two turns, and Neil’s Meddling+Mage and Grim+Lavamancer whittled away at his life total. After three turns of attacking and Lavamancing, Michael pulled the trigger on a Terminus. With the Sensei’s Divining Top activation on the stack, Neil fired off a Lightning+Bolt, dropping Michael to 6, then a Grim+Lavamancer activation dropped him to 4. Terminus cleared the board, however, and Neil was in a tough spot with no pressure against the CounterTop combo.
Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor came down for Michael, and began the slow process of locking the game up. Neil went for the hail mary play of Batterskull, a converted mana cost that snuck around Counterbalance, but Michael had Council’s Judgment to exile it. When Neil attempted a Brainstorm, Michael revealed Wear/Tear on top of his deck, effectively shutting out both one and two mana spells for the rest of the game. Neil could find no way out of the lock, and within a few turns Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s -12 ability put the game away.
Michael Swailes 1, Neil Henley 1
Delver+of+Secrets was again the turn 1 play of choice for Neil, but this time he had Daze at the ready when Michael attempted a Swords+to+Plowshares. He immediately revealed Daze on top to flip his Delver, and swung across for 3. When Michael tried for a Sensei’s Divining Top next, Neil had Spell+Pierce. The Insectile+Aberration swung again, but Neil didn’t have a second land. He missed land again on his next turn, and Michael Brainstormed and found a second copy of Swords+to+Plowshares, but Flusterstorm kept the flier in play, and Michael fell to 9.
When the Insectile+Aberration attacked again, Michael flashed in Vendilion+Clique, looking to trade off. Neil cast a Brainstorm in response. He then Dazed the Clique, which Michael could pay for, but he bounced his Volcanic+Island in the process, virtually gaining a mana. The Cliqe resolved, seeing a hand of Daze, True Name Nemesis, Meddling+Mage, Sword of feast and Famine, Volcanic+Island, and Wasteland. Michael allowed him to keep the hand, and then shoved his flier in front of Neil’s.
Neil had hidden a Delver+of+Secrets on top of his deck with the Brainstorm, and a Wear/Tear to flip it directly beneath. He got them into play and came swinging again, but Michael had a second Vendilion+Clique to trade off again. Neil still had no land and no play, and couldn’t stop Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor from entering play on Michael’s side.
The Jace went to work fatesealing Neil, and made its way up to 7 loyalty before Neil found a Ponder. He used it to find his third land, another Volcanic+Island, and passed back, looking to resolve a True-Name+Nemesis on his next turn. Michael Brainstormed with Jace, played a Counterbalance, and passed back. Neil had to suspect a three-drop had been placed on top with the Jace, so he went for Sword+of+Feast+and+Famine rather than True-Name+Nemesis. It resolved!
When Michael simply Brainstormed with his Jace%2C+the+Mind+Sculptor again and passed, Neil took action. He cast Brainstorm, finally finding some much needed land, including a fetchland that could find a white source. He passed the turn, holding up Wear/Tear rather than playing his True-Name+Nemesis into what he had to suspect was a three-drop on top. Michael untapped, Brainstormed again, then cast Sensei’s Divining Top. Neil responded with Wear/Tear on the Counterbalance, clearing it away.
Neil untapped and slammed True-Name+Nemesis, which stuck. He used his remaining two mana to equip Sword+of+Feast+and+Famine and pass. Michael flipped over Terminus, but Neil used his last two cards, Force+of+Will and Daze, to counter it. Unfazed, Michael cast Supreme+Verdict, leaving Neil with no creature in play and cards in hand. He spun his top, fetched, and spun again before passing.
Neil found no means of making headway, and within a turn, Michael resumed using Jace’s +2 ability. In a few short turns, Neil saw the writing on the wall and conceded the game and match.
Michael Swailes 2, Neil Henley 1