Round 14 Feature Match: Bob Maher vs. Ben Stark

Posted in Event Coverage

By Josh Bennett

Bob Maher vs. Ben Stark is going on somewhere in there

Player of the Year Bob Maher's deck was the talk of the final rounds. William Jensen had fed him what many considered a monster of a red/black deck. However, he refused to show confidence, having dropped his first match to double-mana-flood.

Ben Stark was unafraid. He was one win away from the Top 8 and his excitement was apparent. He thought his green/white deck was fast enough to outrace Maher's more mana-hungry build.

Maher was slow out of the gates despite playing first. He was staring down a Sunscape Apprentice and Nomadic Elf before his first creature, an unkicked Urborg Emissary, entered play. He lost it to Stark's Explosive Growth when he blocked the Elf. Maher upped the ante, playing out Urborg Shambler. Stark had no fear and sent the Elf again. Maher let it pass. Stark upgraded to Horned Kavu. This forced Maher to keep his Shambler on the defensive. A Star Compass brought him to six mana.

Stark's Apprentice made sure that his Kavu could break through the Shambler. He added an unkicked Lancer to his army. Maher untapped and played a Swamp, then tapped out for Soul Burn on the Kavu, gaining four life in the process. The tide seemed to be turning. He swung with the Shambler. Stark replayed his Nomadic Elf to keep the pressure on, attacking for three with his other creautres. Maher returned with the Shambler, but had no play on his eight mana sources. Stark's counterattack dropped him to eight.

Bob Maher

Maher attacked with the Shambler again. Stark had Gerrard's Command to take care of it. However, Maher seemed delighted at this turn of events, letting out an emphatic "Thank God!". The way was now clear for his Pyre Zombie. He played out a Mire Kavu to help hold the fort, but Stark was prepared. His Flametongue Kavu eliminated the Mire Kavu, which let him swing with his whole team. The Zombie traded with the Elf. Maher brought it back to hand on his next upkeep and Soul Burned the Flametongue for 2, the lifegain putting him at seven. Unfortunately for him, Stark's Serpentine Kavu came down with haste and finished him off.

Game 2 saw Maher under significantly less pressure. The first play of the game was his turn-three Plauge Spitter. Stark answered with an unkicked Lancer and the two traded. Maher boosted is mana with Star Compass. Stark brought out a second Lancer, commenting that Maher's deck was "Anti-Pyre Zombie". Maher seconded that opinion, summoning the Shambler.

Stark dropped Nomadic Elf, and Obsidian Acolyte to stop the Shambler in its tracks. Maher untapped and played Do or Die, pushing the Acolyte away in the direction of the graveyard. Stark put it back in the middle, throwing away his other creatures. Maher took to the air with Phyrexian Slayer, a mere 1/1. However, Stark had plenty of dudes in reserve. On his next turn, he summoned another Lancer and Nomadic Elf. This left him out of white mana, so Maher was free to Reckless Spite them both. Two turns passed with neither player able to move.

Stark dropped his seventh land and played Halam Djinn with a Plains open. Maher forced him to tap it by chumping with his Shambler. He untapped and Terminated.

"I just drew that bad boy." -Bob Maher, Jr.

Stark cycled his Aggressive Urge and played out Thornscape Familiar. Maher answered with Mire Kavu, and used it to block the Familiar's next attack. Stark had a kicked Explosive Growth to take it down. Maher didn't have a play and took two more from its next attack. He untapped and kicked up a Magma Burst to take out Stark's whole board. Stark had a Serpentine Kavu, but Maher was ready with Slay. Out of steam, he succumbed to Maher's forces in short order.

Ben Stark

The third game unfolded at lightning speed. Maher had a Scorching Lava for Stark's Nomadic Elf. He answered a Benalish Lancer with Urborg Emissary. He lost it in combat to Stark's Gerrard's Command, and replaced it with a Slayer.Stark made a Sunscape Apprentice and passed the turn. Maher made a Rogue Kavu. They traded pairs of damage, but Stark couldn't develop his army. He played Aggressive Urge at end of turn to look for answers, but made the mistake of targetting one of his own creatures. Maher made him pay with Reckless Spite.

Now Maher was in full control. Stark had a Singe for the Rogue Kavu, but Maher had a Caldera Kavu ready to replace it. He smashed next turn for six damage. Stark drew and turned over a pair of lands that went well with the eight he had on table.

Final Result: Bob Maher, Jr. defeats Ben Stark 2-1

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