There's no room left for error for these two players. Already saddled with two lossses each, another would put the Top 8 out of reach.
Azorius Food Justicar and moustache enthusiast David Ochoa last saw glory with his Top 8 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. The spiritual center of Team Channel Fireball, his mild demeanor at the table betrays nothing of his fiery inner world. He drafted Jeskai, but didn't seem too happy with the result.
Equally soft-spoken (though less flamboyantly styled) is Seth Manfield, a two-time Grand Prix Champion. He had what is sometimes called "The Mardu," packed with powerful toys.
Manfield was first on the board with a Mardu Hateblade. Ochoa rolled out perfect Jeskai mana with the help of Flooded Strand and made a morph. Manfield took care of it with Debilitating Injury. Ochoa took to the skies with Mistfire Weaver.
Manfield one-upped him with Butcher of the Horde. Ochoa swung into it with his Weaver. Manfield wasn't willing to risk his Butcher against Ochoa's open mana. Ochoa dropped a Jeskai student and passed with two mana open, still searching for his fifth land. Mansfield hit back, trading his Hateblade for the Student, then summoned Alabaster Kirin. Ochoa hit land five and promptly took out the Butcher with Burn Away.
However, it was soon replaced by Ponyback Brigade, who brought friends. Ochoa tried to shore up his board with Abzan Falconer and a morph, but Ride of the Serpent helped clear the way. Unable to get back on the right side of the race, Ochoa was soon picking up his cards.
Manfield 1 - Ochoa 0
The game started at a sedate pace. They traded off their first morphs, and Debilitating Injury killed Ochoa's second. He passed his fifth turn with five mana open. Manfield brought out Alabaster Kirin and passed. Ochoa made no play, simply untapped, then cleared out the flier with Arc Lightning. Manfield replaced it with Abzan Battle Priest.
Ochoa summoned Jeskai Student, then played Crippling Chill on the Priest during Manfield's upkeep, clearly short on action. Manfield played a morph and passed. Ochoa could do little to capitalize on the time he'd bought himself, just summoning Mardu Warshrieker. Manfield took to the skies with Sultai Scavenger, and when Ochoa swung in with the Warshrieker, Manfield flipped up his morph, the Ruthless Ripper.
Ochoa brought out an Alabaster Kirin and they traded hits in the air. He was able to catch the Priest with take up Arms, but didn't have the creatures to keep up with Manfield's army.
Then, a big draw: Treasure Cruise. Thanks to a big delve, Ochoa would still have six mana left to work with. He cast it and drew three, but still could not develop his board. He stopped the Scavenger with Kill Shot, but was completely out-muscled on the board. An all-out attack from Manfield finished it.
Manfield 2 - Ochoa 0
Manfield had a question about the first game.
"Did you have Ride Down?"
"When I was attacking with the 3/1? No. I mean it could've been Feat of Resistance too, but I didn't have that either."
"You just figured I wouldn't risk it?"
"Yeah. I mean I had Trumpet Blast, but at that point, I don't want to make that trade, but I'm fine with making it if you force it.
Manfield asked how Ochoa's draft had gone. "Not as well as yours. I think you were the only Mardu drafter at the table. My seat wound up better suited for Mardu than Jeskai. Everyone went into blue after pack one. Did you get that Ankle Shanker?"
"Yeah. I got it eighth or something."
Ochoa could only shake his head. "I took some mediocre card over it."