By David Price
John Stevens, from Cookeville, TN, and Brian Dudley, from Milford, MA, squared off in this semifinal match. Brian Dudley was playing a Black Control deck based on the one designed by Mike Flores and he'd beaten a red/green Angry Hermit deck in the previous match. John, on the other hand, was playing a fairly unique deck of his own design, based loosely on the Angry Hermit archetype. While it bears some resemblance to that popular deck with its color combination and its land destruction capabilities, it doesn't include any Skyshroud Poachers or Deranged Hermits, instead using Blastoderms to kill the opponent.
John Stevens won the die roll and chose to play first. He began with a Forest and a Bird of Paradise and Brian responded with a Swamp and a Duress, taking John's Tangle Wire. John then played a Mountain and a second Bird of Paradise, trying to reach the critical four mana level. Brian Dudley played a second Swamp and cast a Vicious Hunger to kill a Bird of Paradise, causing John to stall for a turn. Brian then Vampiric Tutored and cast a Dark Ritual and a Persecute on his turn, naming the "green", knocking a Blastoderm out of John Stevens' hand. John drew a fourth mana on the next turn and cast a Masticore. Over the course of the next several turns, John was a able to knock Brian's life total down to 2, after Brian cast Yawgmoth's Will and attempted to Persecute the remaining two cards in John's hand (he was only able to get one of them). Brian finally found the Stupor that he needed to empty John's hand and kill the Masticore and the mana to cast it, but he was in a precarious position at 2 life. Brian cast a Stromgald Cabal and began attacking, but a few turns later, he died to John's Arc Lightning.
Brian chose to play first this game, but he didn't get off to a quick start. John Stevens quickly cast a Thran Lens on the second turn to prevent future Perishes and a Tangle Wire on the third turn. Brian cast Vampiric Tutor to search for a Powder Keg, presumably, to kill the Lens and make the Perish in his hand and deck useful, but his mana was tapped by the Wire and he was unable to cast it. John followed up the Tangle Wire with a Bird of Paradise and then two consecutive Avalanche Riders, knocking Brian's life total down to 12 and preventing him from casting any key spells. Following that, John dropped a Blastoderm. Brian responded with a Yawgmoth's Will, casting a Skittering Skirge and a Vampiric Tutor, followed by a Powder Keg on the next turn. Despite chump blocking the Blastoderm, Brian failed to get enough counters on the Powder Keg to destroy the lens and cast Perish and he died to the Blastoderm's final attack.
John Stevens defeats Brian Dudley 2-0