"So much Magic," remarked Michael Stanfar, a solid PTQ player from Virginia.
"I know, it's like you win nine rounds and you have another eight to go," replied Joshua Wagener, former 2003 U.S. National Champion. Both players escaped the grueling seventeen Swiss rounds of Grand Prix-Washington D.C. with two losses and a draw, having to win fourteen rounds a piece. Joshua's Jund deck with Royal Assassin caused both the judges and Michael to turn heads. Michael's maindeck Luminarch Ascension prompted a similar response from Joshua.
Joshua won the roll and began on the play and got things going with a turn two Putrid Leech. Michael countered Joshua's start by cracking an Arid Mesa and playing a Wall of Omens. Joshua got in there for 4 with his Putrid Leech, and played a second Leech. After land-go from Michael, Joshua got in with both Leeches dropping Michael to 7 and casted a Sprouting Thrinax before passing the turn. Elspeth, Knight-Errant came down for Michael making a Soldier token, but Michael was not long for this world with a Blightning and attack from Joshua sealing game 1.
Joshua Wagener 1, Michael Stanfar 0
Michael began game two on the play but was forced to mulligan his seven card hand. Michael began things with a turn three Sea Gate Oracle, which prompted Joshua to play a Goblin Ruinblaster unkicked before passing things back. Joshua attempted to play a Pithing Needle but Michael negated it. After land-Wall of Omens-go from Michael, Joshua played a Bloodbraid Elf, cascading into Terminate, which was Flashfrozen by Michael. Joshua finally forced through an important Malakir Bloodwitch, but that and the rest of Joshua's creatures were dealt with by Michael's timely Day of Judgment. Joshua played Putrid Leech, allowing him, after Michael played a second Wall of Omens, to attack for 4.
Michael dug himself out by playing a Jace, the Mind Sculptor but Joshua had a Pithing Needle to deal with it. Joshua's Needle got Negated by Michael but Joshua had a Maelstrom Pulse to deal with the pesky planeswalker anyway.
Michael attempted to pull back in the game with a Sphinx of Jwar Isle, but Joshua's Lavaclaw Reaches forced Michael to trade with his Sphinx leaving him at 11 life. Michael dropped an Elspeth, made a token, prompting Joshua to Maelstrom Pulse the Knight-Errant. Michael untapped, cast Martial Coup for six and left Joshua wishing he had saved his second Pulse to deal with Michael's army of Soldiers.
After a blank off the top from Joshua, Michael played a second Jace, the Mind Sculptor, brainstorming into a Wall of Omens. Looking for something good, Joshua drew a Malakir Bloodwitch putting both players at 9. Michael used Jace's -1 ability to bounce the Bloodwitch, activated his Celestial Colonnade and attempted to attack for the kill, but a timely Terminate from Joshua allowed him to live for one more turn. Joshua drew another land and conceded.
Joshua Wagener 1, Michael Stanfar 1
"Drew all my hate cards and it still wasn't enough," muttered Joshua.
Both players began the final game with full grips with Michael starting things off with an Arid Mesa into Wall of Omens. A turn three Blightning knocked Spreading Seas and Path to Exile out of Michael's full grip. With the absence of a third land from Michael, Joshua got some creatures on the table with a Bloodbraid Elf into Putrid Leech. Hurting for lands, Michael cast a Path to Exile on his own Wall at end of turn allowing him to cast a Sea Gate Oracle to find his fourth land.
An attack the following turn from Joshua got Michael to Path to Exile his own Oracle. A Blightning post-combat knocked a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Day of Judgment from Michael's hand, but Michael was able to Day of Judgment away Joshua's board. Joshua slammed down his Malakir Bloodwitch hoping that Michael did not have another Wrath of God effect. Michael did not and Joshua attacked in with his Bloodwitch dropping Michael to 5.
Joshua Wagener 2, Michael Stanfar 1