One of the key moments of Conley Woods' run through Worlds was his seventh round matchup with then also-undefeated Craig Wescoe. That win helped catapult him to a 6-0 Day Two and a 13-0 start.
It was a pretty key moment for Wescoe as well. The long-time pro sneaked in as one of only two players among 11 with 39 points. Not only was the loss one of the few he received on the weekend, but having Wood up his tiebreakers was likely important for him sneaking in as the eighth seed.
During one of the breaks, Woods revealed he needed to make the semifinals to reach level 6 for next year.
"It's been a rough year," he said.
Though, so far, it has been anything but a rough tournament for Woods, who won every match he actually played in, conceding to two of his teammates without playing.
Woods started on a mulligan to five, but his five was about as spicy as it could get. By the end of turn-two he was already on the board with Vault Skirge, Signal Pest, Inkmoth Nexuas and a Glint Hawk off a Mox Opal. He then emptied his hand the following turn with an Etched Champion.
Woods started attacking with his two fliers as Wescoe was building his board with a Leonin Relic-Warder, removing Signal Pest, a Mirran Crusader followed by Hero of Bladehold ready to crash in for roughly a million damage when boosted by Wescoe's follow-up Honor of the Pure.
And attack he did. If unblocked, he was clocking in at a whopping 19 damage. And with his fliers squarely on attacking duty, Woods had only Etched Champion, a Myr token and Inkmoth Nexus for blockers.
When the dust finally settled from Wescoe's massive attack, Woods was down a Nexus and life totals were squared at 10 apiece.
But Woods, still short on resources, expertly managed his blockers.
Wescoe chose to attack with everything except the Relic Warder for fear of unleashing the Signal Pest. Woods used Inkmoth Nexus to chump block the Mirran Crusader and his Etched Champion to kill a Soldier Token. Once again the life totals are equal at 7.
Now Wescoe attacked with everything, with Woods down to two blockers. Woods opted to block with only Etched Champion, but that only dropped Woods to 2.
Wescoe indeed had nothing in his hand of value, and Woods's return swing was lethal.
Wescoe 0, Woods 1
Memnite, Memnite, Glint Hawk, he's Conley Woods. And he was off to a quick start in game two. So quick that Wescoe was already down to 12 life on turn three facing down a 3/3 Memnite, thanks to Tempered Steel.
But Wescoe fought back with duel Leonin Relic-Warders, removing a Glint Hawk Idol and the offending Tempered Steel. The two Cat Clerics faced down the same Etched Champion that had been so problematic in game one, but they were quickly outclassed when Dismember removed the cat warding away the Tempered Steel. The resulting attack with the Champion and a Glint Hawk Idol quickly dropped Wescoe to 2 life.
And when Wescoe couldn't find an answer to the protection-from-all-colors robot, Woods was quickly up two games to none.
Wescoe 0, Woods 2
All of that quickly changed in the third game. As Woods watched his teammates each begin to lose their quarterfinals matchups, his also began to slip from his grasp.
Wescoe began to show why his deck had gone undefeated in Standard. He Dismembered a Signal Pest, removed a Glint Hawk Idol with Oblivion Ring, and looked to go on the offensive with a pair of Heroes of Bladehold.
This whole time Woods had been attacking with an Etched Champion that was again giving his opponent fits. As a result, Wescoe was behind on both life...and creatures.
Timely Reinforcements showed up just in, um, time (that is approximately the 87,362nd time that pun has been made to date). Not only did the tokens show up, but they became 2/2s thanks to Honor of the Pure.
Woods, not to be outdone, found a Tempered Steel to turn the tide and put Wescoe within range of a lethal Etched Champion. However, Moorland Haunt made a token that screwed up Woods' math. He hadn't considered that it became a 2/2 with Honor of the Pure, and Wescoe was able to attack for exactly lethal.
Wescoe 1, Woods 2
Pretty much all you need to know about this game is that Woods, playing Tempered Steel, likely the fastest deck in Standard (see, Memnite, Memnite, Glint Hawk in game two for reference), cast his first spell of the game on turn four. That Glint Hawk Idol was made into a Divine Offering.
That forced Woods to play an unprotected Etched Champion. Wescoe used Fiend Hunter to remove the robot, but when he went to attack with two Gideon's Lawkeepers, Dismember freed the Champion, only to have Wescoe Dismember it right back.
A few more turns of that, and we were on to the decider.
"It was not the most robust of draws," Woods said.
Wescoe 2, Woods 2
Woods would need a robust draw to keep team Channel Fireball from going 0-4 in the quarterfinals after all of his teammates had already lost.
Instead, it was another game, and another turn-one with no plays for Woods. He did at least jump on the board with Glint Hawk Idol once he hit two mana.
It looked to be all over for Channel Fireball after one of the most dominant team performances in history. And Woods's last 2 life was all the room for error that stood between them and an historic collapse.
And that's when things turned around again.
Woods activated an Inkmoth Nexus to give him metalcraft, allowing Dispatch to bring back Hero of Bladehold. He then attacked for three with Etched Champion and Signal Pest, putting Wescoe to 11. He followed it up with a Glint Hawk untapping his Nexus.
Still, Woods attacked with everything. All three of the tokens died, and Wescoe took 9, evening life totals at 2.
At this point all of Woods' creatures were tapped and he had one card in hand. How could he possibly handle the Geist?
The answer was Glint Hawk. The little 2/2 that could returned Signal Pest to Woods' hand and let him replay it. When he was able to successfully block both the Geist of Saint Traft and the Angel, Wescoe turned over two lands in his hand and the room erupted.
Wood's had completed an epic and unlikely comeback to move on to the semifinals.
As Woods walked away, I told him it was a great game.
He paused, took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Yeah," he said, seemingly relieved. "Yeah, yeah it was."
Wescoe 2, Woods 3