Semifinals: Nate Anderson vs. Dustin Whelan
Nate started off down a game.
Nate and Dustin were both playing green decks, but who would have the advantage? Dustin’s white gave him Blade+Splicer and Restoration+Angel, but Nate had a bit more Burn and Wolfir+Avenger. Truthfully, the match would likely revolve around Bonfire+of+the+Damned.
Dustin had the play, and started off with Copperline+Gorge and Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Nate began similarly, with Forest and Birds+of+Paradise, while Dustin lacked turn 2 Birthing+Pod—he just used Borderland+Ranger to find a Mountain. Nate tapped out on turn 2 for something slightly more powerful: Sword+of+War+and+Peace!
Undaunted, Dustin attacked for 2 with the Ranger then cast Huntmaster+of+the+Fells. He couldn’t stop that Birds from picking up the Blade, but he could try to keep his life total high enough to weather the storm. Nate attacked for 6, gained 6, and played no land. That flipped Dustin’s Huntmaster and brought Nate down to 22.
Playing a land and casting Blade+Splicer, Dustin swung for 9 and put Nate on 13. He took 5 on the return swing from Birds+of+Paradise, and Nate had Llanowar+Elves to block after gaining 7 life. Dustin’s hand was filled with land—he couldn’t get rid of enough cards. He was on 11 life, so he had a couple turns, and an attack for 13 or so might not be enough.
Dropping land, Dustin played Mikaeus for four and ended the turn with two cards in his hand. Nate drew a land and instantly played it—whoops! He only got 6 life on his attack now, going to 13, and that left him dead to the board without a play here. “That’s bad,” he commented, examining his options, and passing turn with only one that kept him alive.
Considering an attack with Ravager, Wolf, Golem, and Borderland+Ranger, Dustin could play around Wolfir+Avenger and try to force Nate into a bad trade. Dustin cast Birds+of+Paradise before swinging with everyone except Mikaeus, and Nate did have the Wolfir+Avenger. Nate blocked Wolf and Golem, losing both of his creatures and taking 12 damage.
Nate had Garruk to kill the Birds+of+Paradise, but his own Birds could not gain enough life.
Dustin 1, Nate 0
Falling to six cards, Nate showed no worry of his semifinal slipping away. He buckled down, intent on forcing a third game. Birds for Nate and Avacyn’s Pilgrim for Dustin, but Galvanic Blast and Llanowar+Elves shifted the mana advantage into Nate’s favor. Dustin had no turn 2, and Huntmaster+of+the+Fells from Nate was big game.
Borderland+Ranger for Mountain wasn’t going to do a whole lot with Huntmaster’s flip imminent, but it was the most Dustin could muster. Nate predictable sent his Wolf token, and Dustin declined to block—Nate passed, killing the Ranger anyway. Dustin also had no plays, and Nate piled on the damage with Green Sun’s Zenith for five to get Wolfir+Silverheart, pairing with Ravager+of+the+Fells.
Dustin 1, Nate 1
Dustin's starts in games 2 and 3 were less powerful, however.
Each kept seven, and Dustin began with Razorverge+Thicket and Birds+of+Paradise. Llanowar+Elves for Nate, while Dustin continued to develop with Borderland+Ranger for Mountain. Rootbound+Crag and Daybreak+Ranger threatened to give Nate control of the board, however... could Dustin stop him?
Dropping Strangleroot Geist, Dustin attacked for 4 and then cast another Birds+of+Paradise. Nate shipped the turn right back after playing a land, flipping his Daybreak+Ranger into Nightfall+Predator. Not good for Dustin—he’d need a Birthing+Pod to make this work. Attacking into the Predator, Dustin lost his Borderland+Ranger in order to protect his Huntmaster+of+the+Fells when he cast it the next turn.
Nate fought that Huntmaster with the Predator then played his own Huntmaster—things appeared grim for Dustin. He attacked for 4 once more, putting Nate to 16 after the Wolf tokens traded. Then Dustin passed, losing his Birds to the Huntmaster trigger from Nate. Adding Sword+of+War+and+Peace to the board, Nate mistapped his mana so that he could no longer fight with Nightfall+Predator. Would it matter?
Thalia and Huntmaster+of+the+Fells for Dustin bought time, but Nate could pass the turn right back and eat his whole team easily. He did so, killing Dustin’s Huntmaster before it could trigger—but Dustin miracle Bonfire+of+the+Damned for 4! Nate killed Thalia in response with his Nightfall+Predator, and was reduced to a Sword-wielding Ravager+of+the+Fells. Wolfir+Avenger blocked Dustin’s attack, and he untapped...
... into Wolfir+Silverheart.
Dustin 1, Nate 2