Semifinals: Mitchell Anderson vs. Bert Purvis
Mitchell sideboards after taking the first game.
A match with plenty of Mountains, this semifinal placed Mitchell Anderson’s Mono Red list against the new and improved Wolf Run Ramp, featuring Huntmaster of the Fells. Ramp has traditionally been a strong matchup for the Shrine-powered burn deck, but has Huntmaster switched the matchup into Bert’s favor?
Winning the die roll, Bert was glad to earn the play against his aggressive opponent. He kept his opening hand on the strength of its spells, despite holding only a couple lands, while Mitchell dropped to six cards in search of a stronger hand. Copperline Gorge for Bert began that game, while Mitchell led Mountain and Stromkirk Noble. Another Gorge and a pass, Bert whiffing on ramp, and he took a damage from the Noble on turn 2. A second Noble soon joined the first.
Turn 3 gave Bert Sphere of the Suns but no third land—would it be enough? He took 3 damage when the Vampires attacked, and a third land meant that Mitchell could deploy Shrine of Burning Rage with a mana back. Slagstorm cleared the board, Bert very happy that Volt Charge had not been involved in his opponent’s plans, and he played Rootbound Crag. Mitchell, stymied, played a fourth land and passed.
Solemn Simulacrum searched for Forest as the Sphere ticked down to one counter, and Bert passed the turn quickly after that. Volt Charge did land now, along with Galvanic Blast, putting Bert to 11 life and the Shrine to five counters. Mitchell drew, and passed, all-in on burn.
With just five mana, Bert couldn’t make one of his biggest men. He did have Huntmaster of the Fells to gain some life, an integral aspect of the matchup, and passed turn afterward, leaving Solemn on defense. Another Volt Charge put him to 10, and Shrine moved to eight on Mitchell’s turn.
He drew, lacking the Galvanic Blast to finish the job, and passed—Huntmaster became Ravager. Attacking for 6 damage, Bert played a new Solemn Simulacrum, finding another Forest and crossing his fingers. Would Mitchell find the game-winning red spell? Did he already have one? Ticking Shrine to 9, Mitchell drew and sagged his shoulders—not quite what he wanted. On 12 life, he’d be dead to a myriad of outs from Bert, so he used Arc Trail to remove a Wolf and then played Stormblood Berserker, tapping out.
That flipped Bert back into Huntmaster of the Fells, going to 12 life but facing a Shrine on eleven counters. He could swing in for 4 damage, but it would take way more than that to get Mitchell. Sending his Solemns, Mitchell declined to block and fell to 8 life, leaving Bert dead on the board with bricks in his hand.
Mitchell 1, Bert 0
Bert's struggles against Mono Red proved insurmountable.
On the play again, Bert needed a win here to keep his trophy hopes alive. Mulliganing a hand with way too much mana, he’d be fighting for it on six cards. Mountain and Galvanic Blast were able to take down Stromkirk Noble this time around, and Bert’s plans continued without a hitch when he cast Rampant Growth on turn 2. Still reeling from the loss of his one-drop, Mitchell spent his own turn… on nothing, lacking threats.
Sphere of the Suns times two for Bert, threatening Titan mana on the fourth turn. Mitchell dropped Grim Lavamancer and hoped for the best—he was rewarded when Burt played Rootbund Crag and passed, one card in hand and seven mana. Galvanic Blast hit Bert for 2 damage, and Mitchell cast Stromkirk Noble on his own turn, still stuck on two mana and no doubt planning to Lavamancer.
Another land for Bert, and Mitchell found a land of his own—Chandra’s Phoenix came in with the other creatures to drop Bert to 12. Drawing, he passed for turn, and Mitchell lost his Noble to Galvanic Blast as an attack for 3 damage landed. He passed on three lands.
Huntmaster of the Fells changed the game a bit, putting Bert to 11 and giving him a creature. Galvanic Blast removed the four-drop, although the Wolf remained, for now. Chandra’s Phoenix came in alone this time, Grim Lavamancer on guard duty. Bert passed, and went to 7 life during his end step from Lavamancer.
Hero of Oxid Ridge jammed 5 damage in, leaving Bert on 2 life after trading with a Wolf token. One more draw step, and Bert was dead.
Mitchell 2, Bert 0