He's only 16, but Dominic Penton has quietly been amassing an absurdly good Nationals record. In his third event, his Limited record is 6-0, 6-0, 5-1. For those that can't count, that's 17-1. The top 8, however, is Constructed, and it's mono-red that Dominic will need to fuel the fire of his Worlds ambitions. Across the table sits Eduardo Sajgalik, a man who has already played at Worlds, as a member of the Canadian National Team! Sajgalik also has a top 8 from Great Britain Nationals, making him arguably the favorite coming into the top 8 - although Grand Prix London Champion Daniel Royde might have something to say about that.
Sajgalik got us under way with Celestial Colonnade and a Squadron Hawk, a nice start against a mulligan to six and no turn one play from Penton. Or turn two, for that matter. A second Squadron Hawk followed, and it was all Sajgalik in the early running. Grim Lavamancer was Penton's first play, but that isn't what you want on turn three. When Sajgalik cast his third Squadron Hawk, we understood just how pernicious the card advantage is, Penton using Lightning Bolt to deal with just one Hawk, at the price of an entire card. Penton added a second Grim Lavamancer, and then Chandra's Phoenix, which met Into the Roil with kicker.
Life totals - Caw-Blade: 20. Mono-red: 13. Yeah, really.
Chandra's Phoenix was replayed, but this was all one way traffic. When Penton attempted to combine his Phoenix with a Grim Lavamancer activation, Sajgalik was ready with Into the Roil with kicker to save his Emeria Angel. Shrine of Burning Rage found Mana Leak waiting, and the torture was soon over for Penton, who had been given as comprehensive a beating as it was possible to imagine in the opening game of the top 8.
Dominic Penton 0 - 1 Eduardo Sajgalik
There was a substantial delay before the start of game two, with multiple mulligans. Penton stuck at six, while Sajgalik went all the way to four. Grim Lavamancer opened for Penton, not the Goblin Guide which might have brought Sajgalik back into the game. Still, he managed three lands and Timely Reinforcements, forcing Penton to Staggershock himself in repsonse. Arc Trail dealt with the Reinforcement soldiers, and the Grim Lavamancer put Sajgalik to 17.
Sword of War and Peace was next for the red mage, which equipped the Lavamancer, which then attacked. Sajgalik, off a mulligan to four remember, laid a sixth land, slammed it down, cast Sun Titan, returned Spellskite, and cast Consecrated Sphinx next turn. Ridiculous. Fast forward two turns, Sajgalik added Gideon Jura to the board, forcing Penton's team to attack the Planeswalker. That team was now the Grim Lavamancer, plus Chandra's Phoenix. Eduardo was down to 7, with Dominic at 13. The Phoenix duly died at the hands/wings of Consecrated Sphinx, Sajgalik activated Gideon as a 6/6, and he had completed a remarkable escape act, and now held a comfortable lead in the best of five match.
Dominic Penton 0 - 2 Eduardo Sajgalik
Although both players kept their opening hands, Penton was once again without an explosive start, beginning game three with Chandra's Phoenix, playing straight into Timely Reinforcements. Penton cast a second Phoenix, and pushed Sajgalik back down to 20. On the plus side, Penton had drawn into Manabarbs, which could seriously hurt Sajgalik if it resolved.
It didn't. Spell Pierce dealt with that particular threat.
Out came Gideon Jura, who forced Penton's team to attack him. With a Lightning Bolt and a third Chandra's Phoenix, Gideon bit the dust. For four mana Sajgalik cast Day of judgment, and followed it up with Spellskite. That died to Dismember at the cost of four life for Penton, who was now down to 8, while Sajgalik was up at 16. Sajgalik activated his Celestial Colonnade to drop Penton to 4, and repeated the dose one turn later to complete a thoroughly one-sided demolition.
Dominic Penton 0 - 3 Eduardo Sajgalik