Jonathan Melamed and Matias Soler are studies in contrasting styles. Melamed, a Brazilian with fans among the Pro Tour elite (Martin Juza Tweeted at him to win the whole thing), was playing Mono Blue Devotion, a deck that put three copies in the Top 8 with a plethora of tiny creatures.
Standing in his way was Soler, an Argentinian with no previous high-level experience and an aggressive Green Red Monsters deck full of the biggest, baddest creatures in Standard today.
Interestingly enough, both players had some maindeck hate for their opponent. Soler was playing Witchstalker while Melamed had access to four Tidebinder Mages to tap down almost all of Soler’s creatures…the Witchstalker the lone exception.
Soler came out about as fast as you possibly can, with two Elvish Mystics giving way to a third-turn Stormbreath Dragon. Not only was the start punishing under normal circumstances, but Melamed was stuck on one land for multiple turns, unable to summon much resistance for a few turns.
Eventually, he was able to evolve his Cloudfin Raptors up to 3/4s and turn the tide with an appropriately named Tidebinder Mage. That gave him enough room to get in a few hits, but eventually Polukranos showed up to fully punish Melamed’s land-light draw.
Now with plenty of mana and the play, Melamed seized the early initiative, tapping down an Elvish Mystic with Tidebinder Mage and following up with Nightveil Specter and a Nykthos, Shrine of Nyx. That, in turn, let Melamed zip ahead and out-mana the otherwise explosive Green Red deck.
Soler put up a fight—literally—with Domri Rade, but more mana, a Bident of Thassa and a Master of Waves (all of this happened by Melamed’s fifth turn, by the way), let him storm far into the lead.
Far enough that, after looking at his next card, Soler scooped up his cards without much resistance.
For the final game, Melamed once again found himself short on land in the early turns, almost immediately facing Witchstalker, Domri Rade, and a very angry Strombreath Dragon with only two lands to work with. Even when he found a third land, a second Stormbreath Dragon immediately after sealed Melamed’s fate and sent Soler onto the semifinals.