In this semifinal match, Simon Nielsen, champion of last year's World Magic Cup with the Danish team, met Italy's Antonio Castellani. Castellani was playing in his first premier event Top 8, but he had no intention of stopping yet. So far, he had already dispatched Bart van Etten, while Nielsen had triumphed over (16) Ondřej Stráský.
Castellani was playing Atarka Red while Nielsen and his colleagues on Team Eureka all brought a version of Rally the Ancestors which had put three of them into this Top 8 and two of them into the semifinals.
Castellani led with Monastery Swiftspear, but immediately found his offense halted by Sidisi's Faithful. He tried to go wide instead, with Dragon Fodder followed by Hordeling Outburst, but Nielsen almost matched Castellani's creature output. A pair of Catacomb Sifters left no opening for a sensible attack.
Another Hordeling Outburst changed that, however, and after Nielsen had summoned a Nantuko Husk, Castellani came in with his team. Three tokens went unblocked unblocked and Atarka's Command turned that into 9 points of damage.
But Nielsen was left with four creatures, including one Nantuko Husk. On his turn he cast two more creatures, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Zulaport Cutthroat, and simply attacked for the win, taking Castellani's 17 remaining life points and the game. Castellani didn't see that coming!
Simon Nielsen 1-0 Antonio Castellani
Castellani began with Dragon Fodder this time, followed by Abbot of Keral Keep and Monastery Swiftspear on turn three. Nielsen fought back as well as he could, with Elvish Visionary and Catacomb Sifter but still saw his life total dwindling.
Another Monastery Swiftspear and an attack involving Atarka's Command cost Nielsen all of his creatures except for one Scion token and brought him to 7. Flooded Strand made that 6 when Castellani attacked with his remaining three creatures. Collected Company did come up with some blockers though, in Nantuko Husk and Zulaport Cutthroat. Nielsen blocked all of Castellani's creatures, killing all but one Monastery Swiftspear, and even went back to 7 in the process.
On his turn, Arashin Cleric made that 10 and things were looking grim for Castellani. Nielsen never again went into the single digits, until a huge Rally the Ancestors wrapped things up several turns later.
Simon Nielsen 2-0 Antonio Castellani