Semifinals: Tom Hertfelder vs. Charles Johnson
Tom and Charles have made it to the semifinals with a couple of Standard’s stalwarts: Jund and Junk Aristocrats. Brewport Games’ Charles has brought the Doomed Traveler special. Can the hometown hero defeat the format boogeyman?
This matchup is fairly close, as the Brad Nelson versus Reid Duke semifinal match at Grand Prix Miami showed. As always, Jund’s matchup depends greatly on the sideboards. A pair of sideboarded Golgari Charms and Pillar of Flames will go a long way to aiding Tom’s cause… not to mention the playset of Bonfire of the Damned!
Tom had the play by virtue of the higher seed and led things off as Jund often does (after a “snap keep”), with turn two Farseek. Doomed Traveler and Voice of Resurgence were the Aristocrats player’s first two turns, putting a pair of value creatures onto the field. Tom did not have a turn three four-drop, and after Charles dropped Tom to 16 Charles passed as well. Garruk, Primal Hunter made a Gyrados token (Pokemon tokens are very popular this weekend) representing a 3/3 Beast on Tom’s turn, and Charles parried back with actual Spirit tokens off of Lingering Souls.
Tom tapped out for Thragtusk before drawing five cards with his M13 planeswalker. Apparently all nine of his cards were lands, and he had to discard Rakdos Keyrune and Farseek at end of turn. Spirit tokens dealt a total of two damage, killing Garruk and dropping Tom to 20 (thanks to the Thragtusk’s life gain).
“How many cards you got there?”
“I have four.”
Rakdos’s Return for three removed all but one of them… and all three were lands! Not a terrible turn of events for Charles, who simply swung for two with his flyers for his turn. Bonfire of the Damned for two left Charles with a 1/1 Spirit off Doomed Traveler, 2/2 Elemental off Voice, and Lingering Souls in the graveyard. Tragic Slip knocked out the Thragtusk in combat, and the remaining 3/3 Beast (that was attacking) dropped Charles to 10. Flashback of the Dark Ascension uncommon and Blood Artist made Voice a 5/5, and it entered the red zone with the 1/1 Spirit to drop Tom to 12. Tragic Slip on the Artist made life totals 11 all, and Tom attacked. Charles did not block and Charles fell to 5. Abrupt Decay took down the Elemental post combat, and Farseek also was cast before the turn was done.
Unfortunately for Charles, it looked like there no spell on top to save him from the predicament. Then Tom decided to ask his deck nicely for a favor…
His deck responded, like so many Jund topdecks, with Bonfire of the Damned. It’s a miracle!
Tom 1, Charles 0.
Both players mulliganed to six to start the game.
“Why is it called the Paris mulligan?”
“Pro Tour Paris was the first time it was used. They tested it out, and everyone liked it so they kept it.”
After they had their history lesson and both players kept, Charles began with Duress, seeing three lands, Dreadbore, Bonfire of the Damned, and Scavenging Ooze, then snagging Tom’s Bonfire. Tom led off with Stomping Ground. Cartel Aristocrat came down for Charles, which was quickly parried by Scavenging Ooze. Charles attacked with his Cartel Aristocrat without playing a creature, to which Tom thought for a moment before deciding to take the damage (deciding Ooze was too valuable to trade). Putrefy took down the Ooze after combat instead. Tom did not have a third turn play other than his land drop.
Life totals went to 16 apiece after attacks, and then Lingering Souls resolved. Rakdos’s Return for two took Voice and a second Aristocrat from Charles, who then went on the offensive with his four power, dropping Tom to 12, and then flashing back Lingering Souls. Tom was in a sticky situation now, after Dreadbore targeting Aristocrat was countered upon resolution by the protection trigger. Tom fell to 7 on attacks, but had Olivia Voldaren with two mana available as his play to possibly keep alive.
Charles sacrificed a creature to give Aristocrat pro-black before attacking with just the 2/2. Tom fell to 5, and Obzedat, Ghost Council resolved.
Then both players inexplicably called it ‘Dirty Mike and the Boys.’ I don’t get it either. In any case, it exiled itself at end of turn.
Olivia shot at the Aristocrat, to which the last Spirit hit the bin. Pillar of Flame took down the 2/2, but Obzedat dropped Tom to 1… and then exiling Dat & Sons. Not finding the lifegain he needed on top to remain alive, Tom used Rakdos’s Return to see the last card in Charles’ hand (Tragic Slip) before scooping.
Tom 1, Charles 1
Charles decided to mulligan to five, but wasn’t too down about that.
“The one game I mulled to five yesterday I won. In fact, every tournament I’ve won I won a game on a mull to five.”
Neither player had their ideal start, with no turn one play for Charles and no Farseek for Tom. Cartel Aristocrat was the first play of the game, which quickly got Pillar of Flame’d by Tom. Charles went to 18 to cast Lifebane Zombie, and Huntmaster of the Fells got exiled and revealed Tom’s hand of Bonfiore of the Damned, Dreadbore, and two lands. Tom elected to simply play a land and pass for his turn rather than kill the 3/1 intimidate Zombie, and Voice of Resurgence quickly followed. Tom played his fifth land and asked how many cards were in hand. Charles responded, “three.” Is there a Rakdos’s Return in Charles’ future? Nope, Underworld Connections instead. Tom fell to 16 to draw a card and pass.
Tom fell to 11 off the attack step, and a second Voice of Resurgence joined the fray as well. Bonfire of the Damned for two made two Elementals (currently 2/2s) before a land drop was made. The Elementals dropped Tom to 7, then Abrupt Decay took out the troublesome aura. Tom cast Scavenging Ooze on his turn before thinking long and hard about if he wanted a follow up play. He just passed, and another Abrupt Decay took out the Ooze (Tom gained two life in response).
The pair of Voice tokens took Tom to 5, and Tom had to use Dreadbore on one of them to drop the second to a 1/1. But Lingering Souls off the top (and a million lands from Tom) meant that Charles emerged victorious.
Charles 2, Tom 1.
Mull to five on the draw… and win! This might be Charles’ tournament after all.