Semifinals: Nick Malatesta vs. Joan Anton Mateo
Joan Anton Mateo came to the US on holiday from Barcelona, and he brought with him a unique spin on Temur Delver. Now he sat in the Semifinals, and it would be Nick Malatesta with the Combo Elf menace looking to keep him from advancing further.
Joan Anton Mateo builds his Elemental army.
Nick kicked things off with Green Sun’s Zenith, fetching up Dryad Arbor, while Joan simply played a Polluted Delta and passed the turn. Sensing some mischief, Nick was content to attack for 1 with his Dryad Arbor, play a Wooded Foothills, and pass the turn. Joan played his land and passed right back, but was ready with a Stifle when Nick attempted to crack the Foothills at his end step, as well as a Lightning Bolt for Nick’s Dryad Arbor.
A turn later, Joan tapped out for a Tarmogoyf, and Nick made the most of the opportunity. With Joan tapped out, Nick was free to cast Glimpse of Nature, then Birchlore Rangers, Heritage Druid, and Quirion Ranger, netting 3 more cards. He passed back to Joan, who cracked in for 4 with his Tarmogoyf then used Forked Bolt to leave Nick with only a Birchlore Rangers in play.
Nick was able to reload to some extent, casting another Heritage Druid and playing a second Dryad Arbor, but he was out of action after that. He took two more hits from the 4/5 Tarmogoyf over the next two turns, then Joan showed him a pair of Lightning Bolts to finish the job.
Joan Anton Mateo 1, Nick Malatesta 0
Nick Malatesta looks for a way to break the stalemate.
Zenith into Dryad Arbor was the opener of choice for Nick once again, and Joan led off with a turn 1 Ponder. Nick had an explosive turn 2, first casting Glimpse of Nature then Quirion Ranger, allowing him to bounce his tapped Forest to untap his Dryad Arbor. He tapped the Dryad Arbor for Heritage Druid, then replaced his Forest and cast Nettle Sentinel. This gave him the third untapped Elf he’d need to start using Heritage Druid, and soon Deathrite Shaman, Elvish Visionary, a second Heritage Druid joined the party.
Joan faced a scary board when he untapped for his second turn, and decided his best shot at shutting Nick down was a Forked Bolt, taking out both of the Heritage Druids. Nick untapped and attempted a Natural Order. Joan said “No” with a Spell Pierce. Nick couldn’t pay, and shipped back to Joan, who was happy to play his third land and cast Young Pyromancer. Nick developed his board a little further, casting a second Quirion Ranger and another Deathrite Shaman to his board.
An end-step Brainstorm from Joan set him up to untap, Lightning Bolt away Deathrite Shaman, then empty his graveyard for a Treasure Cruise. He sent the turn back with a trio of elemental tokens back on defense. Nick played his fourth land and began counting up his mana, getting to 8 mana for a potentially lethal Craterhoof Behemoth, but Joan was ready with a Force of Will pitching Treasure Cruise. He untapped and fired off a second Forked Bolt to thin Nick’s ranks, then cast a 4/5 Tarmogoyf.
Nick was facing down a growing army of Elementals and a burly Lurghoyf, but he found a means of making headway in the form of Glimpse of Nature, which searched up Wirewood Symbiote and allowed him to begin looping his Elvish Visionary. He found another Elvish Visionary with the first, and successfully drew 4 fresh cards before Joan used a Lightning Bolt to kill off the Symbiote.
A prolonged staredown ensued, as Tarmogoyf, Young Pyromancer, and seven 1/1 Elementals couldn’t make a profitable attack against Nick’s board, which now totaled 2 Nettle Sentinels, 2 Quirion Rangers, Deathrite Shaman, and an Elvish Visionary. Nick drew another Wirewood Symbiote, played it, and began the card-drawing process again. He bounced and recast Elvish Visionary, which found him a Glimpse of Nature. His follow-up Heritage Druid found him a second Visionary, which found him a second Wirewood Symbiote, which opened the floodgates. Soon, Nick was tapping Gaea’s Cradle for 19 mana, sinking it into Green Sun’s Zenith, and plopping Craterhoof Behemoth into play for the win.
Nick Malatesta 1, Joan Anton Mateo 1
A turn 1 Nettle Sentinel from Nick went unanswered by Joan, who tapped out on his second turn for Young Pyromancer. Nick played a Gaea’s Cradle next and attempted a Heritage Druid. Joan used Daze in response, which forced Nick to tap his Cradle and pass it back. Joan wasted no time Wastelanding away the Gaea’s Cradle, but the floodgates were already open, as a Deathrite Shaman made the third elf for Nick, who quickly emptied his hand, playing Nettle Sentinel #2, Quirion Ranger, and an Elvish Visionary.
Joan tapped out for Tarmogoyf to his board on his next turn, giving Nick the green light. Nick started off with Glimpse of Nature, then followed up with Wirewood Symbiote, allowing him to bounce and replay his Elvish Visionary. From here the floodgates opened, as Nick drew through his deck before finding Natural Order into Craterhoof Behemoth.
Nick Malatesta 2, Joan Anton Mateo 1