The 2010 StarCityGames.com Open Series had come down to one final Top 8, and what a doozy it was! At table three was none other than Open Player of the Year Alex Bertoncini squaring off against three-time Open Top 8er Adam Cai. Both had successfully navigated thirteen rounds of Swiss competition to find themselves playing in the single elimination rounds, but only one would continue on to the Semifinals. For the other, their 2010 StarCityGames.com Open Series life would come to a close.
Alex started off with a mulligan before play commenced with both players casting cantrips early on. For Adam it was Preordain and Halimar Depths while Alex had Explore. A second Explore from Bertoncini was countered with Mana Leak, and that left Alex too tapped out to interfere with Adam's next turn. The turn saw Cai cast Oracle of Mul Daya, Lotus Cobra, and Preordain to gain monstrous amounts of card advantage.
Bertoncini was close behind, casting a Lotus Cobra of his own when he had the turn back. That allowed him to generate a red mana by playing a Forest, and he used that to Lightning Bolt his opponent's Oracle. A second Cobra then joined Alex's team and he passed. Adam reloaded with a second Oracle of Mul Daya, and the 2/2 soon yielded up a Frost Titan for his RUG control deck. He put it to good use, tapping his opponent's Lotus Cobra, but Alex promptly ripped an Oracle of Mul Daya.
"In response," said his opponent, activating a fetch-land with Lotus Cobra on the battlefield.
"Is it a Leak?" Alex asked, motioning at the lone card remaining in his opponent's hand. Adam revealed that it was.
"Not good!" Alex moaned, conceding the first game.
Adam Cai 1, Alex Bertoncini 0
"Adam is the perfect example of a player who, if he played more, would have infinite results." Alex Bertoncini explained to the crowd as he shuffled for the second game of the match. Adam remained stoic, focusing on the game, but the comment definitely seemed accurate. After all, throughout the Open season Adam had had no problem making the Top 8 despite the fact he was working on a doctoral dissertation AND planning his own wedding next month!
Both players opened the second game off with Explore, accelerating their mana, but casting the sorcery on his second turn meant Adam didn't have any mana up with which to counterspell his opponent's Jace, the Mind Sculptor on the third turn. Alex used his planeswalker to fateseal himself, protecting Jace from Lightning Bolt. Adam cast a Tumble Magnet, then tried a Jace of his own to blow up Bertoncini's but found his effort blocked by Mana Leak.
With Cai tapped out, Alex pulled the trigger on Frost Titan, tapping his opponent's Magnet. Acidic Slime for Cai gave him a blocker to take the 6/6 out, but Alex had a second Titan to tap the 2/2 and begin attacking. That was all Adam needed to see, and he conceded sending the match to the third game.
Adam Cai 1, Alex Bertoncini 1
The StarCityGames.com Invitational run for Adam Cai and Alex Bertoncini depended on the outcome of just one final game. Alex started things off with Preordain and Explore, while his opponent cast the exact same spells over the early turns. Unfortunately for Adam, he was short on blue mana and Alex was able to freely cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor on turn four knowing his opponent couldn't Mana Leak it. After it resolved, he used it to fateseal Adam, sending a card to the bottom.
Cai didn't have Mana Leak, but he DID have Lightning Bolts, two of them which combined to directly remove the Jace from the battlefield. That set the game pace back to where it had been, neither player on non-land permanents, and with the turn back Adam activated a Raging Ravine and attacked with it. That made it a 4/4, safe from a single Lightning Bolt should it need to attack again with Alex having access to open mana.
A second Jace, the Mind Sculptor hit for Alex, and he immediately used it to Brainstorm, digging for the gas he needed to keep moving forward at full steam. Adam continued beating down with his creature-land, the now 5/5 Ravine a perfectly acceptable Plan B. When he drew an Oracle of Mul Daya, however, Adam opted to cast the 2/2 rather than use his mana attacking. That gave Alex the opportunity to successfully cast and resolve Avenger of Zendikar, picking up seven Plant tokens in the process. With a Misty Rainforest on the battlefield, Bertoncini could even turn them into 1/2s on a moment's notice thanks to some help from a Lotus Cobra he had resolved.
Adam switched back to the Raging Ravine plan, activating it and attacking for 7. Alex chumped with a Plant, then revealed two fetch-lands in his hand. Those were enough to make his Plants lethal and Adam extended his hand in defeat.
Alex Bertoncini 2, Adam Cai 1