Kyle Stoll is making his Top-8 debut. Though he competed at Pro Tour—San Juan thanks to a great Scapeshift deck winning him the Minneapolis PTQ. His inaugural Top-8 draft was a bit shaky, but there's some fun inside. Fifth-picking a Furnace Celebration after seeing mediocre packs he forced himself into the coolest archetype yet discovered in the Scars of Mirrodin draft format. He picked the best cards he could, and waited until deep into the packs to pick the less-than-stellar creatures that make up the archetype. Dross Hoppers come around fourteenth quite often. Though he wished for one more of the deck's namesake, a second Celebration never came around, the deck has some surprises up his sleeve.
A man who needs little introduction is Jersey-native, Gerard Fabiano. GFab has a fan club, writes for a Magic website, won the heck out of Grand Prix—Philadelphia and finished Top 8 in US Nationals this year. His deck is a top-heavy, red-white deck full of some bombs in the five and six slots. Kuldotha Phoenix, Golem Artisan, Precuror Golem, Hoard-Smelter Dragon and some Barrage Ogres all help control the game once he gets up there. But without a mana Myr, he has to hope for Myrsmith, Perilous Myr and Kemba's Skyguard to transition him into the mid- and late-game.
They talked about getting to the next Pro Tour before the match and Gerard told the new-comer to talk to him after about setting up travel plans. But pretenses dropped when the match got underway.
They both shuffled up and kept their opening seven. Fabiano opened with is 23rd card, Oxidda Daredevil and a Kemba's Skyguard soon followed. Stoll started with his only Furnace Celebration right on time – turn three. A Contagion Clasp on the Daredevil and a Dross Hopper came close behind. "Wait, that's the worst card in the world, right?" Not in this deck, Gerard; not in this deck. Watch out, you may eat your words.
GFab hit a turn-five Kuldotha Phoenix that made Stoll think. Like I said, five is the Magic number in Fabiano's deck. Fabiano attacked with Skyguard, an Auriok Replica and Kuldotha Phoenix. After Stoll Celebrated to and fro, it was 12-20. And now with an fairly empty board Stoll failed to follow up with a winner. He passed the turn back to Fabiano who attacked then cast a Barrage Ogre. Stoll sacrificed a Spellbomb and targeted the Phoenix with the Celebration in hopes of finding a second card to throw into the furnace. A Flesh Allergy might be useful in the future, but not yet. Stoll hoped to find it on his next turn, but Gerard dashed those hopes. He laid a Golem Artisan, tapped the two to give it haste and swung with his five-casting-cost team.
Kyle Stoll 0 – 1 Gerard Fabiano
They again kept and threw cards back and forth furiously. Nihil Spellbomb and Dross Hopper for Stoll and Fabiano used his early Necropede to take out the Hopper. Fab's Auriok Replica was sent in with a +2/0 from Vulshok Heartstoker, while Stoll refueled his board with a Necrotic Ooze (currently with the power to hop) and Moriok Reaver. Stoll giddily Shattered the Artisan to turn on his Ooze in an amateur Artisan himself.
Fabiano wanted to find a board-swinging like Precursor Golem, but Stoll found it for him. Revealing it off a Cerebral Eruption wiped the rest of Fabiano's board and brought him to 11. He sunk to 4 soon after.
"Am I dead?" he asked.
"Not quite yet. You at 4?"
"Well, then now you're dead."
Stoll sacrificed his Reaver to the Ooze's Hopper-granted ability and it flew over the replicated Golems to take Game 2.
Kyle Stoll 1 – 1 Gerard Fabiano
Again, fast keeps from both and a Furnace Celebration joined Nihil Spellbomb and Copper Myr on Stoll's third turn. Fabiano had a Culling Dais an a friendless Vulshok Heartstoker, adding Kemba's Skyguard soon after, taking him back up to 21. Gerard had keep a two-Mountain hand, and like the baller he is, immediately drew the double Plains for the 2/2 flyer. It ain't easy, folks.
Stoll threatened further developments with a Sylvok Replica, then used it perfectly: He sacrificed it to destroy the Dais and used the trigger to toss Skyguard into the Celebration Furnace. Fabiano hit five mana (uh oh) and cast a Barage Ogre. He then attacked Stoll down to 11 the following turn before casting a Hoard-Smelter Dragon (uh-oh).
Contagion Clasp, Grasp of Darkness and a Moriok Replica were all in Stoll's hand and he considered how best to take advantage of them along with the Nihil Spellbomb trigger to take care of Gerard's big dudes. Clasp and Grasp was his method of choice and he emptied his hand with the Replica. The Ogre tossed an Accorder's Shield at the Replica before Stoll could use it for cards and to stoke his fire. Adding insult to injury, a Kuldotha Phoenix followed, because with GFab, the hits just keep on coming. A Dross Hopper seemed tame in comparison, but Stoll used its activated ability to sacrifice his Copper Myr then cycled his Spellbomb to take out the fiery flyer.
But what did I say about those hits and them coming and stuff? Fabiano untapped, cast Golem Artisan, paid for his haste and swung in for the win. Again.
Kyle Stoll should be proud to get here, but the boy from Jersey just took him out.
Kyle Stoll 1 – 2 Gerard Fabiano
Gerard Fabiano advances to the semi-finals!