“We're back on track now” Gerry declared. “No more losing in Top 8 always making the finals.” Gerry had taken an unceremonious exit last week in Memphis but he now sat poised to overtake Alex Bertoncini in the Player of the Year race once again. He was facing what he believed to be his worst matchup Mono Red but he'd actually beaten it three times in the Open before now—could he pull off the 4-0 upset? Kyle Kilhefner seemed to think so as his player profile marked Gerry among his most dangerous opponents.
Kyle won the die roll and Gerry mulliganed behind before the first turn as he fell to five cards. A Goblin Guide right off the bat failed to reveal a land and Gerry dropped Seachrome Coast with a shrug. Teetering Peaks and a second attack revealed Gerry's second Inquisition but he lacked black mana and simply took 4 falling to 14. Squadron Hawk searched up some friends as the Guide attacked to reveal a Preordain and Goblin Wardriver followed. Stoneforge for Gerry found Sword of Feast and Famine with a Preordain revealing the Swamp and Tar Pit he needed as he kept both cards.
“Chieftain!” Gerry called as the Goblin lord landed and Gerry struggled to find a reasonable block. He was forced to take 7 as he traded his Mystic and Hawk for the Chieftain in a double block dropping to 5 life with Kyle on four cards. Inquisition showed Gerry a pair of Lightning Bolts and an Ember Hauler revealing that he was about as dead as they come. Another Hawk did nothing to stop it and a Goblin Buswhacker off the top finished the job. “Battle cry man” Gerry lamented. “Killed all my guys.”
Kyle 1 Gerry 0
After a fast and furious first game Gerry turned to the sideboard for help. He'd respected the red deck by overloading on spot removal and eschewing weaker cards like Day of Judgment preferring to play a tempo game that took advantage of his disruption. He boarded out his more reactive spells Mana Leak in particular in an effort to preserve his life total while matching his opponent's board pressure. The Sword engine would eventually let him overtake the late game but he needed to get there in healthy shape for that to even matter.
Gerry had the play and a playable hand for the second game while Kyle made a more pensive keep. Gerry started with a Seachrome Coast holding his Preordain and Condemning Kyle's Goblin Guide on the first turn. Squadron Hawk searched up the trio and Kyle played Ratchet Bomb on the second turn. “I liked it better when you had Mark of Mutiny” Gerry said referring to their previous match and Kyle laughed. Gerry drew the Gideon Jura he'd revealed and cast Preordain keeping both cards and playing a second Hawk as the first one attacked.
Spikeshot Elder for Kyle and no third land weren't big concerns for Gerry and he cast a second Preordain to find a third one. Doom blade eliminated the Elder and a tapped Glacial Fortress followed. The Ratchet Bomb removed the Hawks and a second Ratchet Bomb landed on Kyle's side of the board He wasn't well-equipped to play the control game but Gerry was happy to let him continue doing so—he dropped two Hawks out the Bomb ticking to 1. Goblin Chieftain for Kyle didn't swing and Gerry attacked for 2 before casting Gideon Jura.
The Bomb didn't tick up and the Chieftain swung into Gideon as Kyle passed the turn. Another Preordain kept a Flashfreeze and Gerry attacked with Gideon and both Hawks. Staggershock targeting Gerry met a Flashfreeze and Kyle took 8 damage falling to 9. The Bomb went to 2 counters now Kyle attacking Gerry with his Chieftain. Gideon looked good even with those Hawks about to die so Gerry shrugged and battled for 6 damage dropping Kyle to 3 life while sitting pretty on 18 himself. Stoneforge dug up Sword of Feast and Famine and Gerry cast the Sword with an attempt to equip to the Mystic. Kyle responded with a Burst Lightning and Gerry passed.
A pair of Lightning Bolts couldn't remove Gideon so they domed Gerry and knocked him to 12. Kyle was forced to hold back as a chump blocker speed-bumping Gideon as he flung a Bolt into Gerry's face before drawing and dying.
Kyle 1 Gerry 1
Kyle had the play again in the third game keeping as Gerry mulliganed. His next hand was much stronger although he did manage to draw a second Squadron Hawk with his very first draw. Creeping Tar Pit followed Kyle's plain ol' Mountain and no dude on turn 2 was good for Gerry as well. Hawk Searched up a pair the presence of the third masked by Gerry being on the draw. Goblin Chieftain attacked and Gerry used Preordain to dig.
He attacked with his Hawk dropping Darkslick Shores and prepared to Doom Blade the Chieftain. A Goblin Guide gave Kyle additional beats but Gerry destroyed the Chieftain and took just 2 after revealing a Swamp. Tectonic Edge for Kyle and a pass of the turn. Gerry would need to weigh his choices carefully against the land deciding to drop out two Hawks and pass. Kyle declined to activate during the end step drawing a card and reevaluating.
He'd likely earn a trade if his Guide attacked but he didn't particularly want one. There was no value in burning the Hawks down if they ganged up on his Guide but that was the only way he could squeeze in damage. He decided to attack revealing a second Swamp for Gerry as the trio jumped into the Guide's path trading for two Hawks. Kyle had a fifth land appearing flooded with Gerry still safe on 16 life. Tectonic Edge zapped the Creeping Tar Pit and Kyle passed. Gerry played Preordain and a tapped land alongside a second Hawk continuing to play defensively. He knew that he could probably dominate this game with the Gideon in his hand and when Kyle passed on the sixth turn it looked good. Gideon dropped and Kyle aimed a kicked Burst Lightning at Gerry's dome declining to redirect.
Kyle drew and examined the board. “I don't think I can win from here” he admitted. “Yay” Gerry said with a smile waiting patiently for Kyle to make a play. Another kicked Burst put Gerry to 5 but Gerry untapped and cast Jace the Mind Sculptor. He fatesealed up a Goblin Chieftain—acceptable. “This is how I lost to you last time” Kyle said. “This exact situation against Jace and Gideon.” Gideon attacked while the Hawks sat back Kyle dropping to 11. The Chieftain deployed trading with the Hawks on Gerry's side.
Another Gideon attack put Kyle to 5 and Gerry peeked at a Spikeshot Elder with Jace. He eventually decided to let Kyle keep it knowing he could bounce and attack on the next turn and that the Spikeshot would not kill him with any other card Kyle could be holding. The card he was holding turned out to be a Mountain and the match was over once Gerry pointed at Jace one more time.
Kyle 1 Gerry 2