Twenty-two year old Eli Aden of Knoxville, TN, is the only true "amateur" of this event's Top 8. Of course, his finish here will strip him of that status, and he'd like nothing better than to take first prize in both the amateur and regular standings. His quarterfinal win over Patrick Sullivan was a move in the right direction, and now he faces Shaun Doran.
Doran, 24, of Rochester, NY, is no longer an amateur because of his one lifetime PT point, which he earned by finishing 32nd--on tiebreakers--at GP Cleveland. So while he won't be getting any extra money today, he'll at least be earning his first PT invite so that the "professional" label is no longer simply nominal.
Aden drafted the quintessential black/white zombie/cleric deck, and although he doesn't have any over-the-top cards, he does have three Wretched Anurids which can make for explosive starts, plus three Profane Prayers for late-game punch.
Doran has a blue/white deck that sports Exalted Angel, Aven Fateshaper, and Riptide Replicator, and it is better that most decks drafted from the 1-seat usually are. His three Pacifisms could make life difficult for Aden.
Each player made a morph on turn three, and when Aden attacked with his, Doran blocked and was sad to see his creature die to what turned into a Thrashing Mudspawn. Doran made an Ascending Aven on his fourth turn to take the fight to the skies.
Aden swung in with the Mudspawn again and cast a couple small creatures. He was losing life quickly to the placated Anurid.
Doran's Aven swung in, then he gummed up the ground with a 4/5 Crude Rampart.
Aden managed to kill the Rampart with the Mudspawn combined with a Feeding Frenzy, but Doran drew a second Pacifism for the 4/4 on his next turn. With no way to stop the Aven, Aden died a few turns later from the combination of a 3-power flier and his own Pacified Anurid.
Doran 1 - Aden 0
Aden flipped through his sideboard looking for ways to deal with Pacifism, as his deck relied heavily on Wretched Anurids to win. He passed over Oblation, which seemed good to me, and didn't put it in his deck.
Aden had put out a Cabal Archon and a face-down creature of his own, but after being whacked once with the Angel he began to despair. He played his fifth land.
Aden: "I don't know what to do now."
Doran: "You have Second Thoughts mana up; just say 'go.'"
If it were only that easy.
Doran quickly gave his Angel a sparkly Crown of Awe to wear, and thusly decked out, there wasn't a card in Aden's deck that could stop it.
Final Result: Doran 2 - Aden 1
Doran will face Jeff Cunningham in the finals.
Besides the Oblation, which could have dealt with the Crowned Angel, Aden also had a Sandskin in his sideboard. When dealing with gamebreaking rares like Exalted Angel, it is sometimes worth sideboarding in suboptimal cards.