Jessie Butler from Chattanooga, Tennessee, made it all the way to the Invitational Top 8 with a completely rogue deck, Mono-Black Control, an archetype
that largely fell out of favor after Odyssey block. Check out
the deck tech
to learn more about it. Butler also won a SCG Legacy Open in Nashville with G/W Survival. His opponent, Andrew Steckley was playing the most prevalent deck this weekend, Valakut Ramp. He looked confident in this matchup.
Butler won the roll and mulliganed away his first seven into a better six. Steckley started out dropping two Khalni Heart Expeditions, both on one by turn 3. Butler could perhaps deal with one of them with a Vampire Hexmage. When Steckley went to cast Cultivate, Butler went ahead and reset a Khalni Heart Expedition. However, the other was immediately active.
Butler tapped five on his turn for a Mind Sludge, wiping away Steckley's entire hand. Steckley had nothing but basics out, and now he had nothing to do but hope he drew something relevant, hopefully Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Steckley went ahead and filtered his deck of Forests by cracking one Khalni Heart Expedition. He drew and tapped for a third Khalni Heart Expedition.
They played draw-go for a turn or two until Steckley found his Valakut. It came down, and he had one Heart active. He missed a trigger on his second Khalni Heart Expedition when Valakut entered the battlefield. Now Butler was facing a real clock from the Valakut player for every Mountain drawn. Would he find a Tectonic Edge?
Steckley started tearing three-damage chunks out of Butler's life total, taking him down to 14 with the help of fetches.
At the end of Butler's turn, Steckley ventured a Summoning Trap, which obviously resolved. He found Inferno Titan, but it was taken out by double Grasp of Darkness from Butler, who had little better to do with them. Stackley then cracked one Khalni Heart Expedition for Mountains, taking Butler down to 5. A Terramorphic Expanse was still on the board and so was a Khalni Heart Expedition. As Steckley looked for Mountains previously, he must have counted that he didn't quite have enough there to deal the last points of damage. Butler noticed that Steckley had stopped searching up Mountains, perhaps guessing there were no more left in the deck. Although, there certainly could've been just one left, meaning he was saving the last Mountain until he found a second Valakut or a burn spell. However, Butler had to take a chance at some point before he lost every possibility of winning.
Steckley found something from the top of his deck, and soon Terastodon pounced on Steckley's own lands, exchanging them for Elephants.
To stave off the Elephant army, Butler Skinrendered a token and cast Consuming Vapors targeting his opponent. Steckley then sacrificed another token, leaving him with two creatures. Butler pushed himself up to eight. Unfortunately, Steckley had the Mountain to remove Skinrender from the battlefield and swing in for more than lethal.
"I drew like no guys," said Butler.
"Well you drew one guy," Steckley responded. Unfortunately it couldn't survive a Valakut activation. "I've been playing good," said Steckley, sarcastically. He had missed a few triggers and perhaps fetched for too many Mountains without Valakut out. However, in the end, it didn't matter.
Andrew Steckley 1, Jessie Butler 0
Butler mulliganed again for game two and cast a turn 1 Inquisition of Kozilek. Steckley revealed five lands, a Lightning Bolt, and Acidic Slime. The only target of Lightning Bolt was shipped to the yard. Steckley then started out with a turn 1 Valakut.
Butler found Tectonic Edge for the pesky Valakut, but he couldn't blow it up yet, as Steckley wasn't at four lands. Steckley cracked his Terramorphic Expanse at end of turn, untapped, and dropped an Obstinate Baloth. Butler kicked his Gatekeeper on his turn to get rid of the giant Beast and swung in for two.
While Butler didn't have the mana, Steckley used his opportunity to Acidic Slime away the threatening Tectonic Edge from his opponent, saving his Valakut. Acidic Slime then chumped Hexmage on the back swing.
Butler then Memoricided for all the Primeval Titans in Steckley's deck. None were in his hand. Instead, his hand contained: Avenger of Zendikar, Acidic Slime, and a Mountain. Steckley Harrowed, taking him up to seven lands, while keeping Butler's own land count low by using an Acidic Slime on one of Butler's Swamps.
Hexmage continued to chip away at Steckley's life total. Steckley didn't mind so much because he just cast Avenger of Zendikar next turn, swinging with the Acidic Slime. Of course, Butler had the Doom Blade at the appropriate moment for Avenger's token trigger. Steckley was left with a bunch of naked Plants.
Butler than cast a second Hexmage.
Butler kept up the aggression and swung out with two Vampire Hexmages, putting Steckley to 10 life. It didn't look like they'd be getting through forever, however, as Steckley had a lot of Plant chumpers at his disposal. Steckley dropped an Obstinate Baloth and a Khalni Heart Expedition and passed the turn.
Butler held back his Vampires on the next turn. He double-blocked Obstinate Baloth, but the trick was obvious, and he got blown out by a Lightning Bolt on one of the Hexmages. Butler was running out of gas and ground quickly.
After another turn or so, he'd had enough.
Andrew Steckley 2, Jessie Butler 0