Semifinals: Bushwhacked

Posted in Event Coverage on November 22, 2009

By Tim Willoughby

André Coimbra (Naya) vs. Bram Snepvangers (Boros Bushwhacker)

Bram Snepvangers and André Coimbra settle in for a Jundless Semifinal. In a sea of Jund, both André Coimbra of Portugal and Bram Snepvangers of the Netherlands chose different, aggressive options. Snepvangers, in his fourth Pro Tour Top 8, elected to go with Boros Bushwhacker, the hugely aggressive red-white deck that makes great use of landfall attackers and fetch lands. Coimbra was playing Naya—a deck championed by Mike Flores as being the best choice for Standard. Coimbra had to be happy that Bram had won his Quarterfinals, as he posited that white weenie is likely a much worse match-up for him.

Game 1

Bram was on the play and led with a Teetering Peaks. He had to look on as a turn-one Wild Nacatl came from Coimbra, only getting his first creature on turn two in a Plated Geopede.

A Mountain from Coimbra powered up the Nacatl, and Coimbra got stuck in. He had a Lightning Bolt to kill Plated Geopede before it could get too crazy from an Arid Mesa entering the battlefield, leaving Bram to crack his fetch land for a second Plains and put two copies of Steppe Lynx onto the battlefield.

An Arid Mesa from Coimbra allowed him to amp up Wild Nacatl to a 3/3. Coimbra played a Woolly Thoctar and passed, with his two creatures back to block. A Lightning Bolt from Snepvangers consigned Wild Nacatl to the grumper, but not being able to profitably attack, Bram just cast a third Steppe Lynx.

That third Lynx came from Bram, while Coimbra had a second Woolly Thoctar. When all three Steppe Lynx’s came in for 12 thanks to a fetch land, it looked like Bram might take it. Coimbra had other ideas though. Even though Snepvangers had a Ranger of Eos to follow up with, Coimbra had a land, which would allow a Lightning Bolt on the Ranger, followed by Ajani Vengeant, which in combination with 10 points of attacking Woolly Thoctar goodness was enough to send things on to Game 2.

Coimbra 1, Snepvangers 0

Game 2

Coimbra reaches for victory. On the draw in Game 2, Coimbra took not one but two mulligans. He was let off slightly on them, though, when a turn-one Goblin Guide from Bram gifted him a Plains. A second one came the next turn, giving André a land and revealing a Ranger of Eos on top of André’s deck. On turn two a Steppe Lynx also joined the team for Bram.

Not so bad on cards, but already at 14 at the start of his second turn, André played Forest an a pair of copies of Ranger of Eos. He looked less than impressed when a Teetering Peaks enabled a massive attack from Bram. A Noble Hierarch threw itself in the way of a 4/2 Goblin Guide, and Coimbra dropped to 10 when he let the rest through. Bram played out a Plated Geopede and passed.

All that Coimbra had for his third turn was a third Noble Hierarch. Bram had a land and some swings. A Celestial Purge took out Plated Geopede, but Coimbra took the rest, and went to 4. His plan to fight back was a Baneslayer Angel. Journey to Nowhere showed where that plan was going. Bram swung with his team, and the last Noble Hierarch left back to block did just that, before tapping to play Path to Exile on a Goblin Guide. Coimbra dropped to 2.

A Ranger of Eos found two copies of Wild Nacatl, and Noble Hierarch allowed one of them to be cast. Given the amount of damage he needed to deal, Bram had a lot of live draws to end the game on his very next turn. He had a fetch land that allowed an attack to leave only Steppe Lynx and Noble Hierarch on the board he then played Kor Skyfisher to get Teetering Peaks back in his hand. A Path to Exile stopped the Skyfisher, while Noble Hierarch jumped in the way of Steppe Lynx.

In an aggressive move, Coimbra attacked with Wild Nacatl to take Bram to 16, before playing a Woolly Thoctar. Both players were a little low on gas at this point, but with a far higher life total, it was Bram who seemed likely to get there. When he eventually drew a Path to Exile to remove Woolly Thoctar, that presented just the window Bram needed to end the second game with one more attacker than Coimbra could block.

Coimbra 1, Snepvangers 1

Game 3

For Game 3, it was Bram who had to take a mulligan, though not the double Mulligan that Coimbra had suffered in the game before. Coimbra just played lands for the first couple of turns, while Bram started on Steppe Lynx. The Lynx died to a Lightning Bolt before Bram could make the Cat too big, and for a number of turns each player seemed content to play lands and pass, Bram building up fetch lands that he did not crack. Bram’s draws weren’t quite ideal, as once up to three lands, his turns were just to draw and pass.

Snepvangers lays it all out. When Ranger of Eos cam out to play, it fetched a pair of copies of Wild Nacatl. Bram finally drew something to play, in Steppe Lynx. A Bloodbraid Elf from Coimbra hit a Path to Exile to kill the creature, but at least help Bram’s mana. Subsequent attacks took Bram to 14.

All in one turn, Bram cracked three fetch lands in order to be able to cast a Ranger of Eos, in order to find a pair of copies of Elite Vanguard, playing one of them.

With just 11 points left to deal, André offed Ranger of Eos with a Lightning Bolt before swinging. Elite Vanguard traded with Bloodbraid Elf, but Bram was still on 5 from the attack, and could only look on as Wild Nacatl #2 came down, and gained a +1/+1 counter from Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.

This fresh Nacatl was hit by an Oblivion Ring, and Bram played his second Elite Vanguard before passing. Coimbra tried a big swing with Ranger of Eos, coupled with a fresh Noble Hierarch for exalted, but was thwarted by a Path to Exile. Coimbra consoled himself with a land and a Woolly Thoctar, possibly not the sort of consolation Bram was looking for.

Baneslayer Angel from Bram looked set to help turn things around for Bram. A second Woolly Thoctar and a Baneslayer from Coimbra said no. With Noble Hierarch around, Coimbras Angel would have been bigger when attacking. Snepvangers didn’t go for this idea at all, quickly sending Coimbra’s Angel on a Journey to Nowhere. Ranger of Eos came next, finding a Steppe Lynx and Elite Vanguard.

The once aggressive Coimbra had been cowed by the power of Baneslayer Angel. Bram attacked with his, then followed it up with a second. When both started swinging, all it took was one burn spell to finish thins.

Snepvangers 2, Coimbra 1

Game 4

Both players kept their openers for Game 4, and each led off with an Arid Mesa. On the draw, Snepvangers used his to fetch a Plains for a Steppe Lynx. André found a Mountain with his, to complement a Rootbound Crag that allowed both a Wild Nacatl and a Lightning Bolt on Snepvangers’s creature.

Down a game, André focuses himself. A second Steppe Lynx came from Bram, who looked on carefully as André merely played a land for his turn. A fetch land meant that Steppe Lynx would be big enough to tussle with Wild Nacatl, but Coimbra had other plans, using a Path to Exile to get rid of the cat for good. Never one to led a good deed go unrewarded, Bram used a Lightning Bolt on Wild Nacatl, before casting a Kor Skyfisher, bouncing a land.

André cast Ajani Vengeant, and used the planeswalker’s second ability to kill Kor Skyfisher. He watched on as Ranger of Eos found Elite Vanguard and Goblin Bushwhacker for Bram. Ajani stopped a Mountain of Bram’s from untapping, before Ranger of Eos fetched Wild Nacatl and Scute Mob. The mob is a one-of in Coimbra’s deck, but can quickly become a massive threat, and being fetchable with Ranger of Eos makes running just one plenty.

Ajani Vengeant was offed by attacks from Bram, but that at least helped André keep at a healthy life total. Coimbra played out the two creatures fetched by Ranger of Eos, but was just one land short of getting it going. Bram used Teetering Peaks to set up an attack which might force some trades. Scute Mob traded with a 3/1 Goblin Bushwhacker, and the very next turn André had to use a pair of burn spells to get a Baneslayer Angel off the table.

The life totals were 14 to 15 in Coimbra’s favour. Ranger of Eos on both sides, the difference was that Coimbra had Wild Nacatl over Elite Vanguard, while Bram had plenty more lands. This soon became plenty more lands and Elspeth, Knight Errant. The second ability on Elspeth threatened to end the game fast, and Coimbra looked for a way to kill the difficult planeswalker. He had a Bloodbraid Elf that found Noble Hierarch on top of Coimbra’s deck. All his creatures that could teamed up and successfully took down Elspeth. This did leave Coimbra largely open to attacks though. Noble Hierarch chump-blocked Ranger of Eos, while Elite Vanguard got through to make the life totals 14 to 7 in Bram’s favour. He had another Ranger of Eos, this time fetching two copies of Steppe Lynx, which were cast immediately.

Bram had just one card left in hand, and looked on passively as Ranger of Eos from Coimbra found a pair of copies of Noble Hierarch, one of which was played without delay.

Bram drew for his turn and thought. He eventually elected to hold back, giving Coimbra a chance to play yet more creatures to gum the board; in this case a Bloodbraid Elf into Woolly Thoctar. He also more Noble Hierarchs, and swung with a 6/5 Bloodbraid Elf without incident.

A Teetering Peeks pumped a Steppe Lynx, who attacked, and was chump blocked by one of the Three Noble Hierarch on the battlefield. After a little thought, Coimbra dramatically pushed a two copies of Bloodbraid Elf, a two copies of Ranger of Eos, and a Wild Nacatl into the red zone. Bram blocked enough to survive that turn, but was cold to the Baneslayer Angel that followed.

Snepvangers 2, Coimbra 2

As the players shuffled up their hands for the deciding game, André asked his opponent if he was nervous. Bram’s stoic response was a simple no. Snepvangers was here to play.

Game 5

Bram led off with a Goblin Guide, and proceeded beating in with it. A Harm’s Way redirected 2 points of a Lightning Bolt back at Coimbra in order to keep the little Goblin alive, and soon it was joined by a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker. A Celestial Purge finally offed Goblin Guide, and André followed up with Woolly Thoctar, which would make a fine blocker.

Bram raises the stakes.Ranger of Eos from Bram fetched a pair of copies of Goblin Guide. As a means of sneaking through for damage, this was a plan that wouldn’t rely on any landfall or kicker for consistent 2-power attacks. Coimbra cast Ajani Vengeant and killed Ranger of Eos with him.

Coimbra had Ajani Vengeant to kill Ranger of Eos and gain some much-needed life. Goblin Bushwhacker finished off Ajani for Bram, while those two Goblin Guides hit André for 2 each, while each gave him a land. André was on 10 and played a Bloodbraid Elf, which found Celestial Purge to kill a Goblin Guide. A Noble Hierarch followed and Coimbra passed.

Goblin Guide revealed a Baneslayer Angel on top of Coimbra’s deck before trading with Bloodbraid Elf. Bram then played yet another Ranger of Eos. This Ranger found an Elite Vanguard and Goblin Bushwhacker.

André drew and pondered his situation. He was on 10, and would likely be facing at least 4 creatures coming at him the next turn. He played a Ranger of Eos for a pair of Wild Nacatl, and cast each, preparing for the assault the following turn.

In the face of the new blockers in front of him, Snepvangers elected to hold back his big turn, casting another Ranger of Eos, this time for two Steppe Lynx.

It was time for that Baneslayer Angel, and after attacking Bram down to 13 with a double Exalted Ranger of Eos, Coimbra unleashed the 5/5 that does it all. Bram played a pair of Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede. He had been stuck on four land for a very long time, but finally got up to five this turn. He passed it across. Ranger of Eos from Coimbra meant that Baneslayer Angel could attack as a 9/9, making the life totals 4 to 19 in Coimbra’s favour, and giving him quite a lot of blockers for the following turn. When Oran-Rief, the Vastwood made those Hierarchs a little bigger, it only compounded Bram’s problem.

Now was the time for Bram to pull the trigger. He played a Scalding Tarn and used it to fetch a Mountain. Elite Vanguard joined the team, as did a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker. It was an impressive strike force, but ultimately Coimbra had too many blockers.

Bram sent in the team. It was not enough though, and Anjo, Exterminador do Mal (the Portuguese for Bramslayer Angel) finished things off.

André Coimbra defeats Bram Snepvangers 3–2 and advances to the World Championship Finals!

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