Alex Bertoncini entered the third round of competition at the Legacy Open in St. Louis the leader in the StarCityGames.com Open Player of the Year race. Tied headed into the weekend with Luis Scott-Vargas, Alex pulled ahead by two points just from showing up on Saturday and Sunday. His opponent was a young Iowan named Andy Hanson who had driven to the event (and tested with) Iowa standout Brandon Scheel. Playing Merfolk, Alex won the die roll and opened on a Snow-Covered Island.
Hanson, who had opted to run Reanimator before it lost Mystical Tutor to a recent banning, opened on Thoughtseize and forced his opponent to discard Daze. A second-turn Silvergill Adept for Alex drew him a card but it was Sower of Temptation, not a counterspell of some type for a potential second turn combo out of his opponent. But Andy didn't have it, instead using Brainstorm to help mold his hand. The draw spell failed to find him a second land, however, and he passed the turn back with no other plays.
Bertoncini cast Lord of Atlantis, stuck himself on two lands, and attacked for 3 with the Adept. With the turn back, Andy cast Entomb on his upkeep to fetch a Platinum Angel which he put into his graveyard. Alex commented on the unusualness of the 4/4, which wasn't in most versions of Reanimator, but Hanson missed land yet again and passed with just an Underground Sea fueling his game.
Merfolk Sovereign hit the battlefield for Alex who attacked Andy for enough to put the Iowan to 7. Dead in a turn, the Reanimator player had to resolve Exhume or Reanimate on his turn to not die. He did exactly that, missing land again but using Reanimate to bring back Platinum Angel. The play put him to exactly 0, but thanks to Platy he couldn't die. The game transitioned from the two players jockeying for position to Alex needing to find a means of dealing with Angel. He did have Sower of Temptation in his hand, but needed some countermagic to help push it through.
Looking for a blocker for the Angel, Alex Bertoncini cast Coralhelm Commander. The leveler could be pumped into a 4/4 flyer, enough to take down the Angel, and Andy was forced to sit back in order to block. The game was significantly stalemated, with Alex continuing to cast Merfolk and occasionally level Coralhelm Commanders while Andy tried to dig up a second combo for reanimating a threat with which he could attack.
Back-to-back Mystical Tutors allowed Hanson to find Entomb, then Reanimate and those two allowed him to stick Inkwell Leviathan. Alex had no choice: he had to pull the trigger on his Sower of Temptation targeting Platinum Angel for the win or die himself to the 7/11 Leviathan. He tapped four mana, leaving one Island untapped, and plopped the 2/2 onto the table. Andy cast Force of Will exiling a Daze but Alex checked with a judge on whether the play was legal.
"Can you pay 1 life when you're on -16?"
When the judge confirmed you could not, Hanson simply scooped up his side of the table.
Alex Bertoncini 1, Andy Hanson 0
On the play in the second, Andy Hanson opened on Brainstorm. He then cast Inquisition of Kozilek only to see it meet a Spell Pierce. Bouncing an Underground Sea to his hand, Andy Dazed and the handkill spell resolved. Alex Bertoncini revealed a hand of no lands, two Force of Will, Daze, Sower of Temptation, and double Silvergill Adept. It was a spicy meatball and Hanson forced one of the Adepts to the graveyard.
The players slowed to a game of draw, go as Alex missed land drops and Andy worked on coming up with enough disruption to prevent his opponent from countering his attempts to Reanimate fatties. Bertoncini still didn't have a second land, but pulled the trigger on Cursecatcher. Hanson responded with Mystical Tutor for Reanimate but allowed the 1/1 to the table.
A turn later Alex was again discarding for lack of lands while his opponent used Entomb to fetch up a Terastodon. They then fought over a Thoughtseize from Andy, who let it be countered by way of a Daze despite having Misty Rainforest available on the table. It was all a setup; the next turn Hanson cast a Reanimate targeting his Terastodon which was Force of Willed by Alex. A second Reanimate netted Alex's second Force of Will, but Hanson had a copy of the blue spell himself to force the black sorcery through. That netted him his 9/9 and he opted to blow up two of his own lands and a Pithing Needle he had cast on Faerie Macabre.
Facing down an army of Elephants Bertoncini tried to soldier through, finally drawing a second land in the form of Silvergill Adept, but the fatties proved to be too much and the players headed to the third game with 15 minutes on the clock.
Alex Bertoncini 1, Andy Hanson 1
The decider on the line, Alex Bertoncini had quite an opening for game 3. He started by dropping an Island, then used it to cast Cursecatcher. When the 1/1 resolved successfully Alex cast a Tormod's Crypt as well, and the graveyard-hating artifact landed too. When Alex tried to cast an Aether Vial the following turn, however, Hanson pulled the trigger on a Daze to counter. It was a smart move as Bertoncini skipped a second land drop stuck on a singleton Island for the second game in a row.
The Cursecatcher worked on getting its beat on as Andy tried to maneuver around the Tormod's Crypt on the table. He tried for a Pithing Needle but had it countered by Force of Will from Alex. The Merfolk player then successfully resolved a second Aether Vial as well as playing a second Island; things were looking good for the Open Points leader.
Digging for help Hanson cast Brainstorm. He was stuck on just an Underground Sea but came up with Verdant Catacombs to help out. The 1/1 Cursecatcher didn't represent much of a clock so the Reanimator player had some time but he needed to stop the Tormod's Crypt and combo around his opponent's Cursecatcher and presumed countermagic in hand. Back to Basics came down for Alex but was met with Daze from Andy.
Silvergill Adept off of Aether Vial increased Alex's clock significantly and he soon whittled his opponent to 6 before playing a Mutavault. Hanson simply played lands and passed, and before long the creature-land and two Merfolk plus disruption proved too much for his Reanimator strategy to overcome.
Alex Bertoncini 2, Alex Hanson 1