Zac Elsik lit up the Magic world with his Lantern Control deck in Charlotte a few months back, and the Dallas native arrived in Oklahoma City determined to prove that the deck centered around Lantern of Insight wasn’t a fluke.
He proved that with his Top 8 appearance, and now he was out for more. After squeaking past his Burn opponents in the quarterfinals, the only thing that stood between him and the finals was Andrew Sullano.
The problem? Sullano was a friend. In fact, the two drove together to the event, and mutually decided they would need two dinners to celebrate their dual Top 8 appearances.
The other problem? Sullano’s Elves deck had the tools to get in under Elsik’s desired lock. Not only was the tribe fast enough to overrun Elsik’s early defenses, Sullano had access to Fracturing Gust after sideboarding.
On the play, things looked up for Sullano when Elsik took a mulligan and his elf deck began with the ideal start of Elvish Mystic. A Heritage Druid followed, but Sullano lacked the third Elf to “combo out,” as he described it. Instead he settled for a third-turn Collected Company, enough with his Ezuri, Renegade Leader to threaten a lethal overrun on the next turn.
Elsik, meanwhile, did his best to get the defenses up. A pair of Ghoulcaller's Bell got him on the mill plan early, but he still needed a way to actually stop the advancing army. Tapping out for Ensnaring Bridge provided that, but with one card left in his hand Sullano still had the ability to attack with his 1/1 elves before activating Ezuri’s ability to pump his team and crash in for lethal.
Andrew Sullano frets over how to defeat his friend and roadtrip buddy’s resolved Ensnaring Bridge in the first game.
Fortunately for Elsik, his final card turned out to be Surgical Extraction, removing the Collected Company from Sullano’s graveyard and deck. More importantly, thanks to Elsik’s mulligan, it removed the last card from his hand kept the Elves from attacking through the bridge. With that, Sullano knew he didn’t have any remaining ways to defeat the bridge.
“We’re good here,” he said as he picked up his cards. “I’ve already thought about this.”
Fracturing Gust was the most important card in the sideboarded games, and Sullano’s opener contained exactly that, along with a Nettle Sentinel and Elvish Visionary to begin the beatdown. Elsik, well aware of the danger he faced, was ecstatic to see a hand of two Thoughtseize.
Zac Elsik had proven his deck’s worth by piloting it to the Top 8. Now he was looking for a trip to the finals.
The Visionary was the first to go, falling into the bin from Thoughtseize. Fracturing Gust soon joined it, just as Welding Jar hit the battlefield for Elsik. The Jar meant that the follow-up Ensnaring Bridge Elsik played was safe from the next removal spell, and given that Sullano had exactly one removal spell left in his deck, he knew what that meant.
“Good luck in the finals,” he said as he shook his friend’s hand.
As the pair began to pick up their decks, Sullano couldn’t resist one last barb at his travel companion.
“How much do you think it will cost you to Uber back to Dallas?”