Australian Brandon Lau is heavily favored in the Black-White / Red-White matchup. America’s Michael Jacob played an energetic counterpoint to his opponent, Australia’s Brandon Lau. They were fighting it out in Standard: Jacob with the tournament’s second most popular deck (and worst kept secret,) Black-White Heights. Lau was playing a midrange / control build of Red-White Heights that his teammate and newly crowned Rookie of the Year Aaron Nicastri had played to a 6-0 record in the Individual portion. According to Nicastri, the matchup was firmly in Lau’s favor.
Jacob won the die roll and went first. He led with Reflecting Pool and answered Lau’s Figure of Destiny with Tidehollow Sculler, taking pain from Caves of Koilos. Lau passed his hand over for Jacob to pick from.
Jacob put on a tone of mock outrage. “This hand is rancid. How could you possibly keep this?”
“He kept a bad one?” asked teammate Paul Cheon.
“Terrible. Lands, spells, the perfect curve...” He shook his head, and tucked Kitchen Finks away under the 2/2, leaving Lau with Ajani Vengeant, Mogg Fanatic, Windbrisk Heights, Plains, and Rugged Prairie. Lau hit with his Figure and upgraded it to 2/2. He played Mogg Fanatic and passed it back.
Jacob wouldn’t let the Fanatic get in the way of his plans. He dropped Glorious Anthem and hit for 3. Lau played a third land and hit back with both creatures, spending three to bring his Figure to Phase 3. Jacob was down to 11. Jacob hit for 3, then put another Sculler on the board, stealing Ajani and leaving Lau with just lands in hand.
“I think you drew either Reveillark or Siege-Gang, and I’m willing to take three to find out,” said Jacob. He took a pain from the Caves and played Thoughtseize, but Lau held only lands. Lau untapped, played a second Windbrisk Heights (this time for Spectral Procession), and braced himself.
Michael Jacob of the U.S. is as upbeat as ever. True to Jacob’s prediction, Siege-Gang Commander was waiting from Lau. He put it out. Jacob considered his options, and decided to attack again with his team. All three were blocked, and the Commander and token took down one of the Scullers. This freed up Ajani Vengeant, and with seven mana on board, Lau was able to play him and the Finks after killing the second Sculler.
Jacob played Marsh Flitter, then watched as Lau pulled up Ranger of Eos, fetching and playing two Figures of Destiny. Ajani locked down Jacob’s Mutavault for the turn, and Lau passed it back. Jacob swung the Flitter at Ajani and sent him to the graveyard, then played Ajani Goldmane for his side of the board. He gained 2 life.
Unfortunately for Jacob, Lau had all the support he needed waiting in his hideaway lands. He swung all out and revealed Murderous Redcap to kill a blocker and take the game.
Brandon Lau 1, Michael Jacob 0
Jacob boarded extensively, taking out 4 Terror, 4 Tidehollow Sculler and 1 Knight of the White Orchid to bring in 2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant, 2 Head Games, 3 Stillmoon Cavalier, and 2 Thoughtseize. Lau was even more thorough, taking out 2 Ranger of Eos, 4 Figure of Destiny, 4 Kitchen Finks, 1 Mind Stone, and 1 Burrenton Forge-Tender. He brought in 4 Wrath of God, 3 Wispmare, 4 Vithian Stinger, and 2 Stillmoon Cavalier.
Jacob kept his opening hand, but Lau shipped his back. Then he did the same with his six, and his five. His four had one land, and he sighed and kept.
Jacob got out a turn-two Knight of Meadowgrain and started hitting while Lau sat with just Windbrisk Heights in play. Jacob Thoughtseized and got rid of Mind Stone. He had kept a two-lander, but didn’t need another. The lowly Knight worked Lau over while he drew spell after spell. Eventually, the farce was over.
Brandon Lau 1, Michael Jacob 1
Now it was Jacob’s turn to mulligan—first to six, then stopping at five. Then, however, the match was paused to wait on the result of their teammates’ Legacy match. If Australia won that match, Jacob and Lau would be the decider.
All eyes turned toward the Legacy matchup, which was shaping up to be a real grind ....