Posted in Event Coverage on November 23, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Neal Oliver is armed with a Secret Plans deck while his opponent, Xavier Allegrucci, had an aggressive Temur tempo strategy.

In the first game, both players developed their boards, but Allegrucci was far ahead with Pine Walker and Longshot Squad to Oliver's pair of morphs. When Allegrucci tried to use Awaken the Bear to run over Oliver, who was stuck on three lands, Oliver had Force Away to stay in the tempo game. Eventually, Oliver started drawing lands and Allegrucci found himself in a situation where his opponent had a lot more cards to work with.

Neal Oliver

But Allegrucci kept coming, and he had the fat he needed to power through Oliver's side of the table. Oliver tried to play out his hand fast enough to stay in the game, but he was quickly falling behind and found himself forced to make chump blocks until he had nothing left and they were on to a second game.

Xavier Allegrucci 1 - 0 Neal Oliver

Oliver had more lands in the second game and was able to curve out as expected on the play. Allegrucci tried to keep up, but force away and a strong curve were enough for Oliver to take the game before Allegrucci could establish any footing.

Xavier Allegrucci 1 - 1 Neal Oliver

Allegrucci came out swinging in the third game, curving Smoke Teller into a morph. Oliver traded Jeskai Windscout for the Smoke Teller, but the pressure kept coming from the other end. Snowhorn Rider got unmorphed and Oliver found his life total dwindling fast.

Dragon's Eye Savants unmorphed and gave Oliver full knowledge of Allegrucci's hand. The board looked to be stabilized, but Allegrucci still had the advantage.

The board was a stalemate, but Oliver found Secret Plans and it looked like he'd be able to outcard Allegrucci in the long game. Allegrucci had a secret of his own, though, and Surrak Dragonclaw came down on Oliver's end step. Set Adrift gave Allegrucci knowledge of Oliver's Thousand Winds that was morphed face down and both players settled in for a long game.

Allegrucci sent Surrak Dragonclaw as an attacker and Oliver blocked it with five creatures. Allegrucci ordered his blockers and Oliver blew him out when he revealed Monastery Flock and was able to trade no cards for Allegrucci's Mythic rare.

Even after this big swing of events, neither player could make a move and the game continued to progress as a stalemate.

Xavier Allegrucci

The board grew bigger and bigger to the point of absurdity. Allegrucci didn't dare make the first move, with Thousand Winds on the other side of the table, but Oliver couldn't break through the massize size of Allegrucci's creatures.

Oliver entually found Mystic of the Hidden Way and started taking chunks out of Allegrucci's life total. The next turn, Oliver set off a flurry of spells on Allegrucci's endstep and attacked for lethal with Become Immense.

Neal Oliver defeats Xavier Allegrucci in three games to advance to the finals.

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