Posted in Event Coverage on November 7, 2013

By Marc Calderaro

Esper’s best matchup is any other control deck that doesn’t play Thoughtseize. If this holds true, Nicolas De Nicola has a big edge in this matchup. The addition of black, though taking away consistency with lands, provides additional power and options. The one-mana black Sorcery Thoughtseize was just the type of spell that added extra value to an already-value-laden Esper deck. Luis A Salvatto and his Azorius Master deck have great matchups against much of the field, but this one is a bit tough. It was going to be an uphill battle.

Game 1

The first game showed itself to be exactly that—an uphill battle. And like the Battle of Little Big Horn, the army on the bottom didn’t so much win. Two early Thoughtseize came from Nicolas De Nicola, helping him dominate the early game, and sculpt a solid position for the mid-to-late game. Both Master of Waves and Sphinx’s Revelation were ripped from Salvatto’s hand, and he sat despondently in his chair, trying not to let the Esper deck command the game.

Nicolas De Nicola

After watching De Nicola take over the board state, the two Detention Spheres De Nicola left in Salvatto’s hand came down nabbing two Planeswalkers (Jace, Archtiect of Thought and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion). But De Nicola still had complete control. He was able to stick another Jace, Architect of Thought and protect it with Dissolve and Detention Sphere. Salvatto could never amount enough of an offense to knock the Esper deck off balance. Its center of gravity was low and secure, and it moved forward despite Salvatto’s best efforts.

The Planeswalker created endless card advantage for De Nicola, allowing him to easily take the first game.

Nicolas De Nicola 1 – 0 Luis A Salvatto

Game 2

The second game was not much better for Salvatto, who had to mulligan to five cards. Against another control deck, each card would be vitally important. And De Nicola showed his opponent exactly why that was the case in the turns that followed.

An early Gainsay blunted Nightveil Specter, Salvatto’s only gas, save an Omenspeaker. Seemingly out of nowhere, all Salvatto had in his hand was a Sphinx’s Revelation. If he could resolve that for a decent amount, he could completely negate the mulligans and start over from scratch, but De Nicola still had a large hand.

Luis A Salvatto

There was another problem. Not only did De Nicola not mulligan, his hand was also awesome. He had two Negates, two Jace, Architect of Thought, and another Gainsay to stop anything Salvatto would try to do. With three counterspells left in his hand, it was quite unlikely that the Sphinx’s Revelation from Salvatto would do much of anything at all. De Nicola would have to play pretty loosely for that to happen.

Unsurprisingly at this level, he didn’t, and De Nicola was able to cruise to a second victory. He waited patiently to resolve two card-drawing spells of his own with mana to spare. Salvatto called it quits when De Nicola cast a second Sphinx’s Revelation for four cards and was still able to counter Salvatto’s own big instant at the same time.

Nicolas De Nicola 2 – 0 Luis A Salvatto

Congratulations to Nicolas De Nicola who advances to the semifinals!

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