Selesnya's Courage

Posted in Event Coverage on May 19, 2013

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Makihito Mihara (Esper Control) vs. Matej Zatlkaj (Esper Control)

Josh Utter-Leyton (Boros Blitz) vs. Craig Wescoe (Selesnya Aggro)

Dusty Ochoa (Esper Control) vs. Craig Wescoe (Selesnya Aggro)

The Unflinching Courage of Craig Wescoe's Selesnya army led it to trample over Josh Utter-Leyton's Boros brigade, three games to one.

"I think your deck, after sideboarding, is the 60 I would play to beat mine," Utter-Leyton said presciently, before falling three times to the bevy of big bodies in Wescoe's deck.

"I knew post-sideboard I'd be a favorite because of life gain," Wescoe explained. He also went on to say that Utter-Leyton could come out quickly and steal a win before Wescoe develops his lands. It's not quite what happened in the third game, which Utter-Leyton won after Wescoe drew nothing but lands the entire way, but it was a real concern on Wescoe's mind.

"You have some real hands," Wescoe said, regarding the explosive starts that Boros Blitz could deliver.

"Yeah. Turn three: you're dead," Utter-Leyton confirmed. "I think on the play with the best draw I'm favored, but if you mulligan to five cards I'm only a slight favorite."

Josh Utter-Leyton's Boros Blitz deck was fast, but he knew that his red creatures would have a ton of problems against Wescoe's Selesnya Aggro deck, especially after sideboarding.

The first two games demonstrated how efficiently Wescoe's deck could hold back Utter-Leyton's. 3/3 Centaur tokens, and often an Experiment One quickly evolved to the same size, presented a wall Utter-Leyton couldn't attack through. Life-gaining auras allowed Wescoe attack successfully while simultaneously keeping his life out of Utter-Leyton's reach. Complicating things further for Utter-Leyton was his missing mana in the second game.

"Probably a different game if you got your second mana a turn earlier," Wescoe said.

"Or my third," Utter-Leyton shared, lamenting his missed first opportunity on the play.

Mana turned the tables on Wescoe in the third game, where drawing far too many finally allowed Utter-Leyton to overrun the board.

"That's one you can win," Wescoe said.

"Yeah, the all land hand," said Utter-Leyton.

"Lands for five draw steps," confirmed Wescoe, and they shuffled for the final battle where Wescoe's Unflinching Courage would carry Experiment One to victory for him.

Utter-Leyton received a breather when his opponent drew all lands in the third game.

Wescoe's last Pro Tour Top 8 appearance was Worlds 2011 in San Francisco, featuring a different aggressive white-based deck. In fact, he has made the Top 8 of 2010's Pro Tour San Diego before it, making today the third consecutive California-based Pro Tour Wescoe has done so. Known for favoring an aggressive route, it's no surprise to see Plains on his side of the battlefield.

Like some of his teammates, Utter-Leyton had chosen a hyper-aggressive deck for the tournament and it had served him well. Bringing opportunities to win a game before your opponent can do much of anything is a solid plan in any format, and it was Utter-Leyton's hope to do that against Wescoe.

Game 1's blistering pace set the tone for the match, with Wescoe's Judge's Familiar, Selesnya Charm for a 2/2 Knight, and Call of the Conclave for a 3/3 Centuar raced against Utter-Leyton's Rakdos Cackler and pair of Gore-House Chainwalkers. Though Utter-Leyton cast Mizzium Mortars twice, once for Loxodon Smiter and another for a 3/3 Centaur, his Battlefield Medic and Foundry Street Denizen couldn't hold off Wescoe's 5/5 token from Advent of the Wurm.

Wescoe's 3/3 creatures and 5/5 wurm tokens steamrolled past Utter-Leyton's 2/2 army.

Game 2 was a step slower, due to missing mana for both sides. With his second mana appearing a turn late, and the third never to be found, Utter-Leyton's explosive double Burning-Tree Emissary into Firefist Striker let him attack Wescoe down to 8 life. After an Experiment One from Wescoe blocked the Striker, he stabilized behind Voice of Resurgence and two 3/3 Centaur tokens from a pair of Call of the Conclaves.

Wescoe played Gift of Orzhova on one of the Centuars, allowing him recover a significant chunk of life before Utter-Leyton's Mizzium Mortars ended it. The follow up Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and combat trick-timed Advent of the Wurm put Wescoe's life well out of reach for Utter-Leyton, who fell to a 5/5 Wurm the following turn.

Through it all, both players stayed positive, and even traded a few jokes. "How many congratulations do you think Ochoa will get this week?" Wescoe asked, referring to Utter-Leyton's ChannelFireball teammate David Ochoa, who shares his last name with Dusty Ochoa...who Wescoe would go on the play in the Finals.

"A lot," Utter-Leyton laughed. "The real question is what's the percentage between serious and joking?"

"I'll try to remember to troll him," Wescoe said.

In the third game, Utter-Leyton's mana wasn't shorted as he exploded on the second turn thanks to two copies of Burning-Tree Emissary into Gore-House Chainwalker, and a third turn Battlefield Medic. Wescoe wasn't outdone himself, with Experiment One into Voice of Resurgence, Dryad Militant, and Call of the Conclave to give himself an equally sized army. Mizzium Morters for the Centaur gave Utter-Leyton a window to attack Wescoe down to 12.

With four mana open on Wescoe's side, Utter-Leyton took time to decide his next attack before adding Viashino Firstblade and sending everyone in. Utter-Leyton's were creatures indestructible again, thanks to Battlefield Medic, as Wescoe lost more life and another blocker. After falling from 12 to 6, and finally 2 life and losing all but his Experiment One, Wescoe conceded to show his hand of four lands, matching the five he already had in play.

The final game wasn't a close contest. With Wescoe leading off, Experiment One grew alongside Voice of Resurgence, then was granted Unflinching Courage. Thanks to the life gained from his enhanced Experiment, Wescoe never dropped below 20 life before Advent of the Wurm, and a populated token through Druid's Deliverance, finished trampling Utter-Leyton's life total.

"Good luck in the Finals," Utter-Leyton offered with a handshake.

"Congratulations on Player of the Year," Wescoe shared back.

Josh Utter-Leyton

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Craig Wescoe

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