Semifinals: Robert Rusch vs. Tyler Phelps
Bant Hexproof and Jund faced off in the Standard Open semifinals for the second weekend in a row! Would history repeat itself, or would Geist of Saint Traft come out on top this time around?
Robert sideboards after a tough first game.
Robert had the play and took a mulligan to six, while Tyler decided on his own hand. It was a little slow, but with Robert dropping to six cards he was tempted to keep it—and decided to do so. Robert’s six drew a wince, but he declared that he would be keeping.
Hallowed Fountain and pass for Robert, with Tyler on Overgrown Tomb. Breeding Pool brought down Fencing Ace, and Tyler played just a land—no Farseek. Robert attacked for 2 damage and followed with Voice of Resurgence, missing his third land drop.
Tyler had a third land but no spell, and when Robert attacked with both creatures he decided to Putrefy, giving Robert an Elemental token and taking 2 damage as he killed the Fencing Ace. After combat, Robert played Invisible Stalker—a more suitable target for auras than he’d had before, but with just two mana he wouldn’t be getting gigantic.
No miracle Bonfire of the Damned for Tyler—he just cast Huntmaster of the Fells, tapping out on 16 life. Spectral Flight on Voice of Resurgence gave Robert a strong alpha attack, making all of his creatures bad blocks. Tyler doubled up on the Elemental, losing his Huntmaster and taking 5 damage.
On 13, Tyler started turn 5 with Liliana of the Veil. The edict offered Robert a choice, and he tossed his flying Voice in order to keep his Invisible Stalker and get a token. Robert started his turn with Avacyn’s Pilgrim before attacking Liliana with Stalker and Tyler with Elemental. The Wolf blocked the 3/3 Elemental, and Abrupt Decay sized it down.
Tapping out after playing a shockland, Tyler cast Sire of Insanity. That dumped each player’s hand, and gave Tyler a Craw Wurm with which to race Invisible Stalker. Robert played a land and attacked Tyler, but Tyler had hot fire on top of the deck—Thragtusk into Olivia created a dominating field that Robert couldn’t hope to race from here.
Tyler's hoping to remain in control of the match.
Tyler 1, Robert 0
Robert had the play once more, and kept his starting seven. Tyler did the same, and Robert immediately came out of the gates with Breeding Pool and Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Tyler had Overgrown Tomb and Tragic Slip to slow him down, but Sunpetal Grove for Strangleroot Geist began the beatings.
Rootbound Crag and Farseek wrapped up Tyler’s turn 2, searching up a second black source on his side of the board. Robert attacked him to 14 life and then cast Voice of Resurgence before playing a tapped Hallowed Fountain—this board was edict-proof! Tyler wasn’t casting Liliana, however—he had Vampire Nighthawk and a tapped shockland to try and stabilize with.
Loathe to buff up one of these creatures with an aura, Robert decided to play Geist of Saint Traft and enchant it with Ethereal Armor. Tyler had a few choices—he could cast Thragtusk, Huntmaster of the Fells, or Abrupt Decay on the Ehtereal Armor. Playing Rootbound Crag, he landed on the 5/3 that put him up to 19 life.
Drawing for turn, Robert would need an aura or a trick to avoid losing his Geist to a double block—assuming Tyler had the gumption to try it. When he began to think and came out of the tank with a pass, it indicated he likely didn’t have what he needed—with two cards in hand, his holdings were a mystery.
Tyler went to 21 for Huntmaster of the Fells, and debated swinging with Vampire Nighthawk before ending the turn. Another Voice of Resurgence ensured Robert’s board would not be messed with on his own turn, but Tyler had a stable position without it. He sent Thragtusk into combat, earning a double block from Strangleroot Geist and Voice of Resurgence. Each player lost nothing in combat—Robert’s board improved thanks to undying and the Elemental token.
Huntmaster triggered to kill the other Voice, and Robert was now lacking protection from Tyler’s Abrupt Decay on the board. If he had a Simic Charm then he might be able to concoct a favorable combat step anyway, but in the end Robert decided to attack with just his two 4/4 Elementals.
Blocking one with a Beast token, Tyler Tragic Slipped the other and traded off. Abrupt Decay on Ethereal Armor gave him a second spell, and during his upkeep Huntmaster flipped beck and generated 2 life with a 2/2 Wolf. Vampire Nighthawk and the Wolf attacked for 4 damage, and Tyler passed to flip back into Ravager of the Fells.
That left Robert with only Geist of Saint Traft on the battlefield, though he did play an Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Tyler swung with everything on the next turn, following with a Liliana to clear Robert out after the Pilgrim chumped on defense. Robert drew his last card, and conceded the game.
Tyler 2, Robert 0