by Sideboard Staff
The four players who made it to the top four of the Masters are now competing for some serious money. Even the losers will $10,000 for making it this far, and those who win this round will take away a cool $35,000 between them. Each player has tested again and again the matchup that they will face, and they know their opponent's deck inside out (all of the top eight competitors were given the decklists for all of the top eight decks).
Trey Van Cleave (Countersliver) vs. William Jensen (Survival/Tradewind)
Background: Trey Van Cleave is playing the same deck that he played at Seattle and throughout the Extended Season: Countersliver. His deck might be called "Maximized Hate": he is playing lots of cards that are especially good against the combo decks that have dominated Extended recently. Aura of Silence, Annul, and Daze are all especially good against Illusions-Donate, which depends upon getting a Necropotence on the board as quickly as possible. They also work well in Countersliver, which depends upon getting a few cost-efficient creatures on the board (and slivers are among the most cost-efficient creatures ever) and then using counterspells to stop the opponent from making any comeback. Jensen is playing the familiar blue/green Tradewind/Survival deck, which uses counterspells both to put a Survival of the Fittest into play and then to protect it.
Prognostication: To win this matchup, Jensen needs to get a Survival on the board and keep it there. Unfortunately for him, Van Cleave has a lot of hate to keep it off of the board, including 4 Aura of Silence and 3 Annul (the Dazes will be suboptimal because Jensen, with his Birds of Paradise and Walls of Roots, will have plenty of mana). Once Van Cleave gets a Winged Sliver on the board, Jensen has few ways of blocking them. After sideboarding, Van Cleave can bring in four Pyroblasts to counter Jensen's Back to Basics, and the additional Swords to Plowshares will be useful to kill Jensen's Tradewinds. This will be a close game, but Van Cleave should be able to pull it out in the end.
Prediction: Van Cleave 2, Jensen 1.
Sigurd Eskeland (Tradewind/Survival) vs. Jason Zila (5-color blue)
Background: Sigurd Eskeland's deck is very similar to Jensen's deck, although it has two Annuls instead of Jensen's Mana Leaks. Zila's deck, as has been mentioned before, is an archetype that hasn't been seen since 1998, when it was known as "5 color blue." (It was originally invented by Mike Donais.) It Wraths away or counters threats, and then uses Morphling or its "Man-lands" to kill their opponents.
Prognostication. Zila played a nearly identical deck last round, and managed to beat it 2-0. In the first game, he can counter or disenchant Eskeland's Survival, and Wrath away Eskeland's creature threats (and Eskeland's mana birds along with them). In addition, Eskeland does not have Back to Basics to bring out of the sideboard, whereas Zila can bring in Pyroblasts to stop Eskeland's creatures and counters (he also has a Seal of Cleansing and 2 Phyrexian Furnaces to stop Survival abuse. The success of Zila's deck just proves that eventually the Magic environment will shift back to the way it was in the past.
Prediction: Zila 2, Eskeland 0.