There are only two rounds left in the Standard Open, and wins are getting harder and harder to come by. Both of these players were on the brink of Top 8 glory with 6-1 records, but a victory here would be required to cinch it. Jonas Sinacola hails originally from Massachusetts but is currently a resident of Quantico. Pierson Geyer, on the other hand, is from a mere three blocks away. Both are playing B/R Vampires, the breakout deck of the tournament.
Jonas won the play from the die roll, and the players began a festival of shuffling before drawing their hands . . . and getting deck-checked. A few minutes later, we were off. Jonas took a mulligan, but Pierson quickly kept a hand featuring a Vampire curve but a land or two too many. Jonas kept his next hand, and a Duress snagged Pierson's Blade of the Bloodchief, leaving him with just a Viscera Seer and a Gatekeeper of Malakir to go with those lands.
A Dragonskull Summit and a Pulse Tracker from Jonas revealed this to be at least a pseudo-mirror, and that was bad news for Pierson—he failed to draw a replacement two-drop, passing turn with no plays other than a land. Jonas had some misfortune of his own, missing his third land drop but landing the first points of damage with his Tracker.
The Gatekeeper's kicker took care of the Tracker, but Jonas had a Burst Lightning for Viscera Seer in response. His own Viscera Seer landed on the next turn, but he was still land-shy. Kalastria Highborn looked good for Pierson, but a Bolt on his Gatekeeper followed by a land and a Gatekeeper from Jonas left him behind again. Jonas lost his fresh Viscera Seer to a Lightning Bolt on his own turn, keeping the card.
Pierson played another Viscera Seer and passed turn, binning it when Jonas kicked his second Gatekeeper. Of course, then he drew his own second Gatekeeper, trading with both of Jonas's eventually. Jonas tried another Duress, but Pierson kicked his only spell—a Burst Lightning—into his opponent's face in response, dropping life totals to 14 to 16 in Pierson's favor. Pierson drew and played an unkicked Gatekeeper on the next turn—all Jonas had in response was a Pulse Tracker on his own turn.
Pierson drew and added a Vampire Lacerator to his board, warding off the Pulse Tracker and the Lavaclaw Reaches that Jonas was itching to attack with. Jonas passed the turn, and Pierson dropped to 15 on his upkeep. Everyone swung, but a Burst Lightning from Jonas took care of the Gatekeeper. Pierson reveled he had drawn a land—Verdant Catacombs—and cracked it for a Swamp before passing turn.
Jonas went aggro now, turning on the Reaches and attacking to put both players on exactly ten life. A Viscera Seer for Jonas followed, and he passed. Pierson drew and played a Vampire Lacerator, sending is other Lacerator into the red zone. Jonas declined to block, and began thinking on his own turn. He decided to attack with everything, getting in five damage and losing his Seer to a block from Pierson. He sent the top card of his deck to the bottom and passed the turn.
Jonas 1, Pierson 0
Pierson mentioned he had played several mirrors so far, but Jonas had not. “Just a whole lot of R/U/G,” he said. “Would you have kept the opening hand I kept?” Pierson asked, but Jonas wasn't sure. “It was a risky keep for me,” he admitted. “Three spells and four lands.”
Both players kept their openers for the second game, but Pierson had the dangerous turn 1 Vampire Lacerator. He was a bit surprised to see a Guul Draz Assassin from Jonas, but he pressed on with a Pulse Tracker to accompany his Lacerator. The odds seemed slim that the Assassin would stem this bleeding fast enough—leveling early would open him up to Gatekeeper, while not leveling would make the creature irrelevant.
Jonas eventually decided to play Bloodghast and not attack, playing around the Gatekeeper but also threatening to trade with Pierson's Tracker—straddling the fence, as it were. A Bloodghast of his own came down for Pierson, and Jonas dropped to 14 after making the trade with the Tracker, and Pierson had no third land. Bloodghast's attack put Jonas into a racing position, and Kalastria Highborn looked even better—except that Jonas again lacked a third land.
Pierson didn't have one either, but he did have a Burst Lightning and a Viscera Seer, removing the Highborn and drawing a sigh from Jonas. He played an unkicked Gatekeeper in a desperate attempt to survive, but a Bolt and another attack put the writing on the wall.
Jonas 1, Pierson 1
Jonas took the play for the third game, and both players again kept their hands. A turn 1 Pulse Tracker got even better for Jonas when Pierson played a Lavaclaw Reaches. A second Tracker and the Guul Draz Assassin followed. Pierson dropped a real awkward Bloodghast on turn 2, and now things had gotten really ugly. Pierson dropped to 13 during the attacks on Jonas's turn, and a Kalastria Highborn added significant sting to that board.
Pierson had a Highborn of his own on the third turn, but he was still really far behind. After attacking with the Bloodghast, he passed turn with just a Dragonskull Summit at the ready. A second Highborn for Jonas made his alpha strike even better. Even blocking a Pulse Tracker and playing a Burst Lightning for the first Highborn dropped Pierson to 5 and pumped to Jonas to 22.
A second Burst took out the other Highborn, but he had a long way to go. Pierson played a second Bloodghast and an awkward Verdant Catacombs before passing the turn. Jonas went to level 2 on his Assassin to kill the Highborn, forcing Pierson to crack his Catacombs for her trigger and also to take the Pulse Tracker's attack, going to 4.
Pierson began to inch ahead as his double Bloodghasts knocked Jonas down to 14, but he had no other plays. When Jonas tried to send Guul Draz to level 4, a Lightning Bolt dispensed with the Vampire. A Lightning Bolt from Jonas made the conclusion elementary.