After many tries, Shaheen Soorani finally managed to break through to the StarCityGames.com Open Series Top 8 stage in Richmond. Prior to the match he pointed out he has managed to Day 2 Pro Tours, Top 16 Worlds, but the spotlight of the Open had failed him. Until this weekend, of course. His opponent, Eric Williams, was superbly dressed for the event with a bowtie topping off a sharp looking Ralph Lauren sweater. He pointed out he was ecstatic to be playing in the Top 8 after only having come back to the game for approximately a year. "I used to play during Apocalypse, but I got deployed to Iraq and quit for awhile."
Williams attempted a Lotus Cobra on his second turn, but Shaheen was ready with a Mana Leak. A Wall of Omens hit for Soorani, who was representing blue-white control, while Eric's black-green deck accelerated with Explore, trying to dig up a source of blue mana so he could cast the spells remaining in his three color deck's grip. Things slowed after that, with Eric missing land drops while watching his opponent's slow control deck fail to put any type of early pressure on. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor for Shaheen changed that, setting its sights on the top of Eric's deck to keep him from drawing a fifth mana source.
The Jace went to town on Eric's library, keeping him from his mana and eventually forcing him to begin discarding. The repeated process was good enough to allow Shaheen to steal the first game, Eric ham strung by missed mana and slowly destroyed by turn after turn of fateseals from the Jace, conceding before it could go ultimate.
Shaheen Soorani 1, Eric Williams 0
Eric left his mana troubles from the first game behind for the second, opening on Preordain. He attempted to cast an Explore on the second turn, but Shaheen was ready to counter with Spell Pierce. Williams fired back with Lotus Cobra, which resolved, and when Soorani attempted to use Journey to Nowhere to take out the 2/1 Eric responded with Mana Leak to counter. Shaheen paid no mind, casting his own copy of the blue instant and successfully exiling his opponent's Snake.
Duress from Eric revealed his opponent to be holding Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Elspeth Tirel, Baneslayer Angel, and Gideon Jura. It was a powerful grip to be certain, and the Jace was sent to the graveyard. Shaheen found it to be his turn in missing his fifth land drop, failing to topdeck a mana source and passing back to his opponent with access to only four mana. That meant he couldn't cast the cards in his hand, and put tempo firmly in Eric's court.
Memoricide was how Eric opted to take advantage, exiling his opponent's copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor for good but leaving Soorani with all the cards in his hand. A Jace Beleren from Shaheen was countered with Mana Leak, then a Duress out of Williams nabbed Venser, the Sojourner. Finally finding a fifth source of mana, Shaheen was able to cast Elspeth Tirel, using the powerful planeswalker to begin pumping out 1/1 Soldier tokens.
It was now Eric's turn to feel under the gun, his handkill spells not having done enough to handicap his opponent. That left Williams with few cards in hand facing down his opponent's Elspeth, which was soon joined by Gideon Jura. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor for the BUG player allowed him to Brainstorm, hoping to come up with more solutions, but Khalni Garden for a chump blocker is all he could manage. Shaheen seemed pleased, sending his team but had to accept his Gideon Jura's untimely death at the hands of a Doom Blade. Post-combat, however, the control player had Baneslayer further developing his lead on the battlefield and leaving Eric continuing to scramble for a solution.
Eric used his Jace to Brainstorm for some help and came up with Consume the Meek to wipe out his opponent's Soldier tokens. He fell to 9, however, from Shaheen's next attack and Soorani also had Luminarch Ascension to continue applying pressure. Eric had a single draw left, finding a second Jace, the Mind Sculptor. That allowed him to Unsummon Baneslayer Angel, then cast the second Jace and Brainstorm.
Eric was down, but not out. He lost his second copy of Jace to an attack from his opponent, but managed to come up with Avenger of Zendikar and a fetch-land a turn later to help him stabilize. The powerful mythic, backed by nine Plant tokens that threatened to become 2/3s, turned the tides a bit. Shaheen seemed to be waiting on his Ascension to mature, but if he didn't hurry he might find himself dead to his opponent's army of green creatures. A second fetch-land from Eric threatened to make his team of Plants into 4/5s, and he attacked with four of them. Shaheen chump blocked with four Soldier tokens, then hastily untapped, activated Celestial Colonnade and sent the creature-land and Baneslayer Angel to the red zone. Eric checked his life total and on a meager 9 had to concede.
Shaheen Soorani 2, Eric Williams 0