Both players had succesfully navigated their quarterfinals against quite heavy opposition. Aleksa Telarov had defeated Pro Tour champion Antonio Del Moral León, while Ashraf Abou Omar had beaten the until-then unbeatable Fabrizio Anteri.
Both had drafted Green, with Abou Omar adding White and Telarov's deck sporting Blue.
Progress was slow at first. Telarov's Pharika's Disciple met Celestial Flare, while Cleric of the Forward Order gave Abou Omar a two-pronged lead in the life totals. Then both players flooded the board with further ground creatures: Knight of the Pilgrim's Road for Abou Omar, Screeching Skaab and Elvish Visionary for Telarov.
When Abou Omar summoned Archangel of Tithes and Telarov summoned Skaab Goliath, however, things really got moving. But another bunch of creatures, Aspiring Aeronaut plus Ringwarden Owl for Telarov, War Oracle plus Akroan Jailer for Abou Omar, clogged up the board once again.
More and more creatures entered the battlefield and it wasn't really clear who was ahead. Telarov led on total creatures while Abou Omar, after Patron of the Valiant and Aven Battle Priest, had more flyers.
When Abou Omar summoned a second Aven Battle Priest, Telarov announced: "Right. Real quality decks here," meaning both his own as well Abou Omar's. Telarov did in fact cast a quality card, a 4/4 Hangarback Walker, but it was reliably tapped down by Abou Omar's Akroan Jailer.
Abou Omar himself had a couple of rarer cards up his sleeves too. First, Nissa, Vastwood Seer turned into Nissa, Sage Animist, then Gideon's Phalanx finally gave him enough creatures to overwhelm Telarov's defenses.
Ashraf Abou Omar
Ashraf Abou Omar 1-0 Aleksa Telarov
This time, Abou Omar led with a pair of Blessed Spirits one of which died to Aerial Volley. The other blocked Pharika's Disciple and received Enshrouding Mist to win the fight. Telarov, with Titanic Growth, saved his creature as well.
Abou Omar took to the air with Stalwart Aven and Vryn Wingmare, whereas Telarov went big with Vastwood Gorger. Pharika's Disciple also went a little bigger and the two were joined by Hangarback Walker, again as a 4/4 creature. Meanwhile, Abou Omar was stuck on five lands with Gideon's Phalanx and Aven Battle Priest stuck in his hand.
When Abou Omar found his sixth land he already had to use his Akroan Jailer instead of developing his board. He might have still pulled out of his predicament if he had drawn another land right away to cast Gideon's Phalanx with spell mastery, but he didn't.
Ashraf Abou Omar 1-1 Aleksa Telarov
"Did you have Gideon's Phalanx?" Telarov asked while they were shuffling for game three. "That would have been good."
"Yeah, I guess I would have triple-blocked the Vastwood Gorger, and then you only were on 11 life too ... Yeah, that would have been good," Abou Omar mused. "But well, I was one mana short."
On turn three, Abou Omar was faced with the difficult decision of either playing a Forest plus Vryn Wingmare or waiting until next turn to cast Knight of the White Orchid to find a third Plains for the Archangel of Tithes in his hand.
He chose Vryn Wingmare, but was able to use Knight of the White Orchid on turn four. At this point Telarov already had Aspiring Aeronaut plus Ringwarden Owl, but Vryn Wingmare equipped with Veteran's Sidearm held the smaller flyers at bay and took down the larger by blocking. Vryn Wingmare even survived thanks to Enshrouding Mist!
Abou Omar's deck was firing on all cylinders now, with Akroan Jailer plus War Oracle, follwed by Nissa, Vastwood Seer. Telarov fought valiantly, and even managed to take out Archangel of Tithes with a combination of Titanic Growth and Aerial Volley. But when Nissa's spark ignited it really was looking grim for Telarov.
However, then Telarov cast Joraga Invocation! The ensuing attack took out all of Abou Omar's creatures as well as Nissa, Sage Animist, while Telarov just lost one Leaf Gilder. Now only Gideon's Phalanx could still save Abou Omar; in fact, it probably would have won the game on the spot. Alas, Abou Omar didn't draw it.
Ashraf Abou Omar 1-2 Aleksa Telarov