Posted in Event Coverage on November 7, 2013

By Marc Calderaro

One of the most painful aspects of Matias M Soler’s deck against Nicolas De Nicola and his Esper deck are the three maindeck Witchstalker. Though not as powerful as the Great Sable Stag of yore, it confined what the Esper deck could do and when it could act with its answers. It titled the field just enough in the Gruul deck of Soler’s favor such that it could take advantage a strike again.

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But De Nicola’s Esper deck had a decent game against just about everything in the field. If it got the right mix of discard, removal, and card draw, it would be easily able to take the match. Nicolas De Nicola cruised through the quarterfinals on his way here and he wasn’t afraid to do it again.

Nicolas de Nicola

Game 1

However, it wasn’t meant to be in the first game. Soler’s maindeck Witchstalker proved to be exactly what it is meant to—an unstoppable killing machine. An early Thoughtseize from De Nicola revealed Witchstalker, Witchstalker, Flesh & Blood, and Stormbreath Dragon—every single one of these cards is a big threat in this match up. De Nicola took the first Witchstalker, but without a second discard spell, the second 3/3 came down right on time.

The Witchstalker hit over and over again, taking De Nicola down to 11, then down to 5 thanks to the Flesh & Blood . De Nicola was scrambling to pull together anything he could to stay in the match and get something to wipe the board and start the game state over again.

De Nicola thought he would be safe for a turn, gaining two life and going up to 7 with a Sphinx’s Revelation, but a second Stormbreath Dragon off the top played cleanup and wiped the table with De Nicola’s corpse. It was on to game two.

Matias M Soler 1 – 0 Nicolas De Nicola

Game 2

Though in the second game Soler did not come out the gates close to as quickly as he had in the first outing, he still resolved an early Domri Rade. It relentless ticked up each turn, though Soler’s other spells seemed barely effective. If this went unanswered, every single spell in Soler’s deck would become a true must-answer threat. And on the Planeswalker’s march up in loyalty, it drew two extra cards for Soler—helping to maintain a high threat count. This is extremely important as one thing that De Nicola’s deck could do was consistently remove threats.

When De Nicola resolved a Thoughtseize on his fifth turn, Soler first responded by casting a Boon Satyr (drawn off the Domri Rade earlier), then splayed this hand: Xenagos, the Reveler, two Ghor-Clan Ravager, Domri Rade, Pithing Needle and two Forest. It looked pretty darn scary. And De Nicola already had a problem, as there was nothing he could do about the Domri Rade already on the board. Kept moving up and up in loyalty, and there was no Detention Sphere in sight.

Matias M Soler

The Domri built up to the eight-counter threshold then killed himself so all of Soler’s monsters could truly live. De Nicola still had a decent life total, but any threat from Soler would do at least seven damage immediately. The most giant monsters imaginable flow forth, as Soler seemed like a walking, talking Akroma’s Memorial.

It took a very short time before a Stormbreath Dragon hit for the game.

Matias M Soler 2 – 0 Nicolas De Nicola

Matias M Soler advances to the finals!

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