Semifinals: Steve Mann vs. Josh Taylor
It's Delver vs. Delver for the rest of the way. Will Steve Mann and Sultai Delver reach the finals or can Josh Taylor force a Grixis Delver mirror in the last round of the Invitational?
Steve is no stranger to Delver mirrors.
Steve opened things up by playing an Underground Sea and passing while Josh went looking for information with a Gitaxian Probe and decided to use a Wasteland on the Sea. Steve had a Polluted Delta to replace it with and Josh had another Probe and a second Wasteland. Steve found no action or play and shipped the turn, and Josh was in the same boat, discarding a Daze at the end of the turn.
Steve played a Ponder off a Tropical Island but Josh used Force of Will, pitching a Delver of Secrets to keep him from digging deeper into his deck. Steve returned his Tropical Island to his hand with Daze to prevent it from getting destroyed as Josh used the Wasteland to pay the one mana. Josh and Steve played draw-go for three turns with Steve finding another fetch land. Josh played his third Wasteland, however, and passed back.
Steve played his Tropical Island, but didn't make a move, passing the turn. Josh used a Wasteland on the Tropical Island on his turn, leading Steve to float a blue mana then fetched a Tropical Island and an Underground Sea to play Dig Through Time when Josh attempted to move to combat. Josh used his other Wasteland to hit the Tropical Island in his second main and discarded a Lightning Bolt at the end of the turn with no permanents on the battlefield.
Steve went to 17, fetching a replacement Tropical Island, and deployed a Tarmogoyf – the first threat for either player in the game. Josh drew for his turn and discarded another Bolt, leading Steve to fetch a third land and resolve Liliana of the Veil, making both players discard. Steve attacked for four and passed. Josh had no actions and took another hit from the Tarmogoyf as Steve upped Liliana. Josh looked at his next draw and had seen enough.
Steve 1, Josh 0
Josh kicked off the second game by fetching an Underground Sea, his first piece of colored mana in the match, and played a Deathrite Shaman. Steve went to 19 to find his own Underground Sea and pointed a Disfigure at the Shaman. Josh tried to Daze the Disfigure, but Steve burned a Force of Will, pitching Dig Through Time, to keep it off the table. Josh spent his next turn using a Wasteland to blow up Steve's Underground Sea and Steve didn't have a follow up land.
Josh landed a Delver of Secrets off his Underground Sea while Steve went for a Brainstorm off a fresh Tropical Island. Josh didn't flip his Delver, but he did have a Wasteland to hit the Tropical Island and used Thoughtseize to take a Deathrite Shaman from Steve before attacking for one. Steve, Brainstorm locked, whiffed on a play and took another point of damage when Josh's Delver remained a 1/1. Steve passed again and Josh's Delver flipped off a Ponder, which he played before attacking for three.
Steve found an Underground Sea on his new Brainstorm and chose to use a Thoughtseize of his own, taking a Brainstorm and leaving Josh with a Pyroblast and a Misty Rainforest. Josh knocked Steve to 8 and added Young Pyromancer to his board. Steve drew and passed but used a Darkblast to kill the Pyromancer on Josh's upkeep. Josh simply drew a card for his turn and turned the 3/2 flyer sideways. Steve tried to resolve a Ponder, but the known Pyroblast kept him from looking at three new cards. Josh attacked Steve down to 2 and pointed a Lightning Bolt at his opponent to even the series.
Steve 1, Josh 1
Josh is ready to go.
Steve led off with a Scalding Tarn while Josh opened with a Gitaxian Probe into a Volcanic Island with no other play. Steve was content playing a Wasteland and passing as Josh shipped after playing a Misty Rainforest. Steve added a Flooded Stand to his board and pointed his Wasteland at the Volcanic Island. Josh floated the mana, but Steve moved through phases and fetched a pair of Tropical Islands to play Life From the Loam. Josh fetched an Underground Sea in response and attempted to Spell Pierce the powerful dredge spell. Steve considered his options before allowing it to be countered.
Josh added a Wasteland to his board and played a Deathrite Shaman, but Steve tried to counter it with Force of Will, pitching another Force, but Josh had the Daze to stick the Shaman. Josh ended his turn by destroying a Tropical Island with the Wasteland. Steve went to 16 to get an Underground Sea and played a Tarmogoyf. Josh spent his next turn hitting the Underground Sea with another Wasteland and passed.
Steve attacked with his Tarmogoyf and played a Delver of Secrets. Josh used the Shaman to make mana and hit the Delver with a lightning Bolt at the end of the turn. Josh added an Underground Sea to his board and passed the turn. Steve attacked Josh to 10 with his Tarmogoyf and said "go" leading Josh to activate the Shaman to make mana and play Dig Through Time. Josh used the Shaman to help him play a Young Pyromancer and passed after adding a Scalding Tarn to his mana base. Steve kept attacking and dropped Josh to 6. Steve went for a post-combat Ponder, leading Josh to fetch a Volcanic Island in response to play Brainstorm, netting a 1/1 in the process. Josh opted to Daze the Ponder once his cantrip resolved.
Josh turned his team sideways to knock Steve to 11 and followed it up with a Gurmag Angler. Steve went to 3 to use Dismember to kill the zombie fish and attacked, but before blockers Josh sent a Lightning Bolt at Steve to take the game.
Josh 2, Steve 1
Steve started things off with a Thoughtseize after Josh took a mulligan to five and was able to leave him with four cards after taking a Pyroblast. Josh used a Gitaxian Probe to see three more lands, a Deathrite Shaman, and a Darkblast in Steve's grip. Steve found another Thoughtseize and fired it off, but Josh found a Brainstorm to play in response. Steve saw some new cards and took Dismember, leaving Josh with Ponder, Daze, and an Underground Sea.
Josh played his Underground Sea and a hidden Deathrite Shaman before passing. Steve played his own Shaman and a Misty Rainforest before using his Dismember on the opposing 1/2. Josh dug deeper with a Ponder, but opted to shuffle away the top three for a fresh card off the top. After the draw, Josh shipped the turn. Steve went to work his Shaman, draining Josh for two after removing a Brainstorm from his graveyard. Josh could only play a Wasteland and pass again.
Steve used his Shaman to eat the Pyroblast and was content passing back. Josh had no plays on his turn other than a Scalding Tarn and Steve chose to remove the Gitaxian Probe next and passed after adding a Tropical Island to his board. Josh fetched a Volcanic Island and found a Deathrite Shaman off the top. Steve used his Darkblast on the Shaman in his upkeep, dredged it back, and played it again after adding another Underground Sea to his board to take care of the Shaman. Steve used his Shaman to drain for two more, getting the Dismember from Josh's yard.
Josh used his next turn to play a pair of Young Pyromancers, but Steve was able to Daze the second copy. Steve also dredged back Darkblast and killed the other 2/1 before using his Shaman to drop Josh to 7. Josh played Ponder and kept his findings before paying mana for a Gitaxian Probe to see a couple of lands in Steve's hand. Josh ended his turn by hitting Steve's Tropical Island with a Wasteland.
Steve managed to find a Dig Through Time off the top and looked at seven cards. Steve found another Shaman and added it to his board. Josh, however, found his own threats in the form of Gurmag Angler and Delver of Secrets. Steve had a Delver of his own and another Shaman. Steve wasted no time, using the active Shaman to drain Josh to 5, removing a Ponder.
Josh attacked with the zombie fish and Steve took it, falling to 7. Steve dredged back his Darkblast to kill the opposing Delver and attacked for one before using both Shamans to take the game.
Josh 2, Steve 2
The deciding game had no mulligans and each player led with a fetch land, Steve opting find an Underground Sea to play Thoughtseize. Josh responded by fetching a Volcanic Island to prevent the discard spell with a Spell Pierce. Josh added an Underground Sea of his own and played a Deathrite Shaman and shipped the turn after its resolution. Steve started his second turn with a Ponder, keeping the cards on top and passed after playing a Misty Rainforest.
Josh had a Wasteland for the Underground Sea and sat back with his Shaman, leading Steve to fetch a replacement Underground Sea. Still in the end step, Josh used Shaman to remove a Ponder and Steve pointed a Dismember at the Shaman. Josh responded to the removal spell with a Brainstorm and eventually let the Shaman die. Steve untapped and Pondered before playing a Polluted Delta and saying "go."
Josh played a Misty Rainforest and a cantrip of his own, a Brainstorm, but had no play and ended his turn. Steve went to 11 to fetch a Tropical Island and attempted to resolve a Tarmogoyf. Josh said, "ok" and fetched a Volcanic Sea when Steve passed. Josh fired off a Thoughtseize to take another Tarmogoyf from Steve's grip. Josh sent two Lightning Bolts at the Tarmogoyf and Steve attempted to save it by using Force of Will, pitching Brainstorm, but Josh had Pyroblast to win the fight and leave the board empty.
Josh had no cards in hand and Steve found a Ponder off the top, keeping the three. Josh also ripped a Ponder but opted to shuffle the three away. Josh sweat the draw and ended his turn. Steve drew and played the Dig Through Time he kept on the top of his deck and got to look at seven. Steve decided on two cards he liked and passed. Josh resolved a Deathrite Shaman on his turn and passed back.
Steve found his own Shaman and went to 9, fetching another Underground Sea, to kill the opposing Shaman with Abrupt Decay. Josh pointed a Wasteland at Steve's Tropical Island and shipped the turn. Steve did the same, but on Josh's only black source then drained him for two with his Shaman. Josh used another Wasteland on an Underground and passed, leaving Steve with only an Underground Sea.
Steve kept using the Shaman, knocking Josh to 11, and passed. Josh found a Shaman of his own passed. Steve took a draw and played Brainstorm before using the Shaman on going to 5 to kill the other Shaman with a Dismember. Josh played a freshly drawn Dig Through Time, but Steve went to 4 to counter it with Force of Will. Steve passed his next turn and used the Shaman at the end step to eat a Dig Through Time and Josh responded by killing it with a Dismember.
Steve played a Tropical Island and passed as Josh found a Shaman of his own. Steve looked over his options and finally decided on playing True-Name Nemesis. When it resolved, Steve named Josh Taylor and passed. Josh took a draw and passed, looking to close the game on the Shaman. Steve used his Wasteland on the only Underground of Josh's and he responded, dropping Steve to 2 with it. Steve attacked with the 3/1 and passed.
Josh played Ponder and after thinking, shuffled the deck. Josh attacked with the Shaman and Steve tried to turn the Darkblast in his hand into a Fog. Darkblast resolved and Josh played a Tropical Island and passed. Steve attacked Josh down to 1 and passed, looking to fade a draw step. Josh took a rip and looked over his options he passed. Steve turned his True-Name Nemesis sideways and Josh could only extend the hand.
Steve 3, Josh 2