1998 World Championships
Quarterfinal Results and Semifinal Brackets
Quarterfinal reports follow the brackets.
(#) indicates number of games won in the best-of-five match.
Quarters Semis Finals Champion 1--Finkel-(3)-| |-Finkel---| 8--Comer--(0)-| | |----------| 5--Rubin--(3)-| | | |-Rubin----| | 4--Johns--(2)-| | |---------- 3--Selden-(3)-| | |-Selden---| | 6--Pikula-(1)-| | | |----------| 7--Hacker-(2)-| | |-Levy-----| 2--Levy---(3)-|
Jon Finkel vs. Alan Comer
In a typical Sligh draw, Jon Finkel put down some early creatures forcing Comer to lay out a Spike Feeder as a blocker, sacking it after Finkel's next attack and then using Living Death to get it back, along with a Nekrataal and Shard Phoenix. After Finkel made a slight comeback, Comer was forced to Living Death once again (after clearing the board with his Shard Phoenix). Once again, Finkel came back strong, getting burn to go along with some drawn creatures. Alan's Volrath's Stronghold was Wastelanded on a key turn sequence, so he used it in an attempt to get a Spike Feeder back on top of his deck. Jon burned him out in response.
Comer had early mana problems to start the second (due to two Finkel Wastelands), while Finkel started off strong. The game was never in doubt as Jon's Mogg Fanatic and Jackal Pup took Alan down to within burn range.
By turn three, Finkel had two Jackal Pups, a Fireslinger, and a Phyrexian Furnace in play. A Wasteland of Comer's Gemstone pretty much ended the match, as Alan never had the mana or cards in hand to stop the bleeding.
Finkel 3 Comer 0
Scott Johns vs Ben Rubin
North and South California met in this match-up, as Los Angeles resident Scott Johns faced Ben Rubin of San Francisco. Johns is playing a Living Death/Survival of the Fittest deck while Rubin is playing Sligh. Rubin's Sligh deck is more aggressive than that of Pikula or Finkel - it includes several Mogg Flunkies and Viashino Sandstalkers. Besides battling Rubin, Johns had to also overcome a curse which, he believes, has prevented him from placing higher than top 8. Johns, who is the only pro player to make top 8 of a Pro Tour three consecutive times in a row, has been unable to make top 4 as of yet.
The match began well for Johns. Although his life total would be dangerously low in each game, he was able to come back and gain enough life with Spike Feeder to prevent getting burned out by Rubin. Johns was able to win two games straight, bringing large creatures out of the graveyard with Living Death.
Rubin's sideboard cards have played a crucial role in the next three games. Dwarven Miner is devastating against Johns' deck which includes a large percentage of non-basic lands. Dwarven Thaumatologist, a very original sideboard choice, was very powerful against Johns' Wall of Blossoms. After five close matches, Rubin emerged victorious, giving Johns yet another top 8 finish.
Rubin 3 - Johns 2
Brian Selden vs. Chris Pikula
Though Selden was able to get an early Survival of the Fittest, he was always behind during the course of the game. Using the Survival to put a Wall of Blossoms in his hand and a Verdant Force in the graveyard, he took a huge gamble, refusing to block a Pikula attack of one Ball Lightning, one Jackal Pup, and two Ironclaw Orcs, taking him down to five life. The gambit was an attempt to cast Recurring Nightmare, sacrifice his Wall of Blossoms (his one creature in play), and bring out of the graveyard the Verdant Force. Though he does this next turn, one of Pikula's attackers gets through and deals two points of damage, allowing Chris to Hammer Brian for the last three points.
Pikula got off to a fantastic Sligh draw in game two, but Selden was able to use an early Survival of the Fittest to set up a defense and counteract Sligh burn (Spike Feeders). The game turned into a beating, with Feeders and Ukatabi Orangutans taking away Pikula's life.
After taking two Ball Lightnings and damage from other Pikula creatures, Selden brought out a Wall of Blossoms/Spike Feeder denfense in the nick of time. On the last turn of the game (with both players at five life), Selden took a gamble that Chris didn't have an Incinerate in hand, tapping a damage land to go down to four in order to play a Nekrataal to kill Pikula's Fireslinger. Pikula didn't have the burn and Selden was able to attack for exactly five points of damage.
Brian took Chris' early Jackal Pup, but once again cast an early Survival of the Fittest to fetch up the creatures he needed (Spike Feeder, Staunch Defenders, Wall of Blossoms) for the victory. Selden's playing of a Recurring Nightmare allowed him to gain life each turn, putting him out of burn range.
Selden 3 Pikula 1
Raphael Levy vs Brian Hacker
French national Raphael Levy of The Legion faced Brian Hacker of team Hitmen from California. Hacker, playing a mono-white weenie deck, needed to get enough shadow damage through before Levy set up his strategy. Levy, who is one of the four people in the top 8 playing a Living Death deck, needed to draw his Spike Weavers, Feeders and Living Deaths to stop the shadows.
The first two games were played at almost exactly the same pace. Hacker would Tithe for more land on turn one, cast a Soltari Monk on turn two (which Levy cannot remove with a Nekrataal) and slap an Empyrial Armor on it. With Levy not drawing either Living Death or Spike Weaver, Hacker is able to win both games.
In the third game Levy's "tech" card - the Coffin Queen - made an appearance. Hacker had no way to stop Levy from infinitely recurring a Spike Weaver that game and eventually fell to a growing number of Levy's creatures.
Hacker had to mulligan in game four and drew only one Plains out of his six cards. Although Levy's draw was far from optimal, Hacker's temporary lack of land gave him enough time not only to recover from a poor draw but also to achieve an overwhelming advantage in the game. With two Hermit Druids in play, Hacker could not effectively hurt Levy by casting Armageddon or Cataclysm and Levy was able to simply deal damage with his Spike Weaver. Levy got up to eight mana and was ready to cast a Spirit of the Night on the next turn (pretty impressive considering the Spirit is only there to be brought into play from the graveyard) but Hacker, faced with a position where he could not win, conceded the game.
Spirit of the Night did make its appearance in game five. Brought out early on, Levy was able to use the Spirit to simply race Hacker, who did not draw an Empyrial Armor. When Levy cast a Spike Weaver on the next turn, Hacker conceded the game.
Levy 3 - Hacker 2