"This is exciting," said Alix Hatfield to his opponent as they sat down for their Round 8 match. "I think one of us is going to Top 8!"
"Yeah, provided nothing wild happens to that player," Jon Daily replied. At 6-1, both Alix and Jon were likely going to be able to draw into the Top 8 if they were able to win their match in the eighth round. Of course, if either was paired down in the final round or paired against a player not willing to draw, they'd have to play even if they won the match they were seated for. Of course, considering how much winning they'd both been doing up until their Feature Match, that didn't seem like it would be such a problem for them!
Hatfield earned the start, and opened on Taiga. That was a sign he was a Zoo player, but he passed without casting any creatures indicating he might be any of a dozen other types of decks. When he dropped a Treetop Village and cast a Wild Nacatl the following turn, however, the jig was up; he was playing Zoo. Jon Daily had started on Island, Aether Vial, a sign he was likely playing Merfolk or Nogoyf. On his second turn, however, he dropped Ancient Tomb and used it to power out a Chalice of the Void for one counter.
That made his deck choice a bit less apparent, but Alix Hatfield simply played through. He attacked with his Wild Nacatl for 3, then cast a Tarmogoyf. The power rare from Future Sight was a bit anemic, sitting on the field as a 0/1 with no cards in either player's graveyard. Daily cast a Lodestone Golem, taking 2 from his Tomb to do it and revealing himself to be a Stax player. He fell to 10 when Alix attacked him with Wild Nacatl, and had to stare down a second copy of Tarmogoyf.
Hatfield got his 'Goyfs to 1/2 when his Treetop Village was Wastelanded, then made them 2/3 by casting a Chain Lightning he intentionally had countered by his opponent's Chalice of the Void. He sent his team to the red zone, but Jon was ready with a few surprises. He Aether Vialed a Chromozoa to the battlefield, putting the 4/3 in front of one of his opponent's Tarmogoyfs. He chumped Wild Nacatl with an Etherium Sculptor he had cast a turn before, and prepared to take 2 damage.
But Alix Hatfield had a trick of his own. Using the one mana he had left over, he cast Fireblast sacrificing two Mountains and blowing up Lodestone Golem. That made the Tarmgoyfs massive, putting an artifact, creature, and instant into the graveyard to go alongside sorcery and land. At the end of combat Jon was at 3 life with no creatures staring down two gigantic Tarmogoyfs and a Wild Nacatl. He drew a card for his turn, but didn't find any sort of help and conceded the game.
Alix Hatfield 1, Jon Daily 0
As Alix and Jon shuffled for the second game of their match, a spectator pointed out that the last time the two players had played against one another the match had resulted in a draw. That wouldn't do for either of them today; to guarantee a spot in the Top 8 they needed at least one more win. Down a game, Jon had the luxury of going first and opened on a Chalice of the Void for one counter by way of City of Traitors.
That locked Alix Hatfield out of any action for his first turn, and he simply dropped a land and passed. Jon cast a Trinket Mage, fetching up a Seat of the Synod to join the copy he played on his second turn. At two mana, Alix Hatfield had a powerful Qasali Pridemage, then a second copy the following turn. The 2/2s were absolute monsters against Daily's Stax deck, which tried to "accelerate" by casting an Etherium Sculptor. That allowed Jon to cast a Tangle Wire and a Sigil of Distinction all in the same turn. The Tangle Wire was a possible problem for Alix's aggressive Zoo deck, but rather than blow it up he opted to use a Pridemage to destroy his opponent's Chalice of the Void instead.
Hatfield had to tap out for the Tangle Wire, and his development was slowed. Daily began beating down with a Trinket Mage he equipped his Sigil to, then tried for an Esperzoa. The 4/3 was quickly fried by Lightning Bolt, and the Tangle Wire had finally faded down low enough to allow Alix Hatfield to begin building his board back up. He did so by casting a 3/3 Wild Nacatl, but because his opponent's Trinket Mage was 4/4 when equipped with Sigil of Distinction, didn't have any profitable attacks.
A turn later, the Tangle Wire on just one counter, Alix was able to cast both Grim Lavamancer and Wild Nacatl. That allowed him to sneak an attack in for 4, and put the totals at 12-8 in Jon's favor. Daily spent his turn casting Etherium Sculptor and a Sword of Fire and Ice, but fell to 8 from a second Wild Nacatl attack. Trying to stay in the game, Daily cast an Esperzoa and a Chalice of the Void for one. It didn't look like enough to stop Alix Hatfield, who was sandbagging a Krosan Grip and still had an active Grim Lavamancer and Qasali Pridemage on the battlefield.
At the end of Jon's turn, Alix pulled the trigger. He activated his Lavamancer to take out an Etherium Sculptor, then used Krosan Grip to take out the Esperzoa. On his own turn, he sent both of his Wild Nacatls into the red zone, eating a Trinket Mage and dropping his opponent to 5. Post-combat he cast yet another Qasali Pridemage, and with Jon Daily on a single card in the grip, it seemed almost assuredly over. A turn later, Jon made it official, extending his hand.
Alix Hatfield 2, Jon Daily 0