Semifinals: Reid Duke vs. Rob ‘Cooc’ Cucunato
Reid Duke finished second at this summer’s Magic Player’s Championship, has two Grand Prix wins under his belt, won an Invitational a few months back in Los Angeles, finished ninth at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze and also finished in the money at Pro Tour Theros. His opponent, Rob Cucunato, is less decorated but the cards don’t care how many wins you amassed or how much prestige you have. the cards in Reid’s Blue Maverick and Cooc’s Reanimator decks have no memories.
Reid had the play in game one since Cooc, “backed in,” to the top 8 in eighth. The Reidfather led things off with Windswept Heath, while Cooc had a more ideal draw: Polluted Delta for Island, and then Ponder. He kept his Ponder before passing, and Reid searched out Dryad Arbor at end of turn. On his second turn he fetched out Tropical Island and then cast Noble Hierarch before attacking for two with Dryad Arbor. Cooc dropped two Lotus Petals before casting Entomb for Griselbrand, then used Reanimate to bring the big fat fatty into play.
Now that’s an explosive draw!
Reid used Tundra and the other mana sources in play to cast Green Sun’s Zenith for three, but Cooc countered the searcher with Force of Will. Griselbrand swung in and Cooc refilled his hand with Griselbrand’s Necropotence ability while simultaneously ripping a huge chunk out of Reid’s life total. Thoughtseize snagged Reid’s Knight of the Reliquary (the likely target for the earlier Zenith, to try to fetch out Karakas) before Braisntorm further sculpted Cooc’s hand and the turn ended.
Knight of the Reliquary off the top was a possible out, and the 2/2 Dryad Arbor dropped Cooc to 3… but that was only a façade since Griselbrand altered the math dramatically at all points. The 7/7 set life totals at Reid 4, Cooc 10 before the Reanimator pilot decided to use a fetchland to grab Underground Sea, which allowed him to Careful Study away Iona, Shield of Emeria and Tidespout Tyrant. Reid untapped with Knight active though, so there’s a chance. Jace, the Mind Sculptor made an appearance out of Reid’s nearly Maverick-like deck, but Force of Will countered the planeswalker.
But he found a way: after Force dropped Cooc to 8, Reid used a fetchland and a Wasteland activation, plus Noble Hierarch’s Exalted trigger, to make Knight an 8/8. Just enough to take out Cooc.
Victory from the very jaws of defeat.
It's Halloween, and Rob Cucunato is on Reanimator. How thematic!
Reid 1, Cooc 0.
Cooc had an, “easy mull,” while Reid kept his seven card hand. Cooc led off with Thoughtseize, revealing Reid’s Karakas (“uh oh”), pair of Savannah, Relic of Progenitus, Scavenging Ooze, Ponder, and Daze. Cooc chose the Relic before passing to Reid, who found Noble Hierarch on top.
“That’s a pretty good draw,” admitted Reid.
“A case of the ‘seems goods’ over here!”
Brainstorm fixed Cooc’s hand before Verdant Catacombs joined the battlefield. Reid cast Scavenging Ooze with Noble Hierarch up, and Cooc searched for a land at the end of his turn. Facing the so-called ‘hate bear,’ it seriously hampered his game plan. Careful Study couldn’t even really discard creatures effectively, which was unfortunate because one of the discarded cards was Griselbrand. Reid made his Ooze 3/3 before untapping, Brainstorming, fetching, Pondering, and attacking for four (Exalted!). Reid led 20-13 when he passed to Cooc.
Brainstorm needed to fins something quick to stop the ever-growing Ooze, but led off by snagging Reid’s Force of Will with Thoughtseize. Ooze remained unimpeded, this time aided by Noble Hierarch number two to drop Cooc to 6. He fell to 5 with a fetchland and a Ponder, but didn’t find any answers so he extended his hand.
Reid 2, Cooc 0.
“Wait, Reid beat Reanimator?!” said a surprised Chris VanMeter from across the table.
“He’s a very powerful mage,” admitted Cooc.