by Gary Wise
With $2500 in scholarship money under their belts already, Jeff Schalk of Alabama and Justin Bryant of Colorado had to be pretty satisfied with what they'd already accomplished. This said, before the match it was apparent that they were both hungry for a little more.
Thanks to Schalk's pre-tournament decision to play a highly aggressive Stompy deck, the match went quickly. Game one saw Jeff take advantage of Justin's mulligan with three green creatures in the first two turns. While his two Jaguars didn't survive Justin's fire, a Llanowar Elf did and started attacking as Jeff played a Rishadan Port, further limiting Justin's mana supply.
Next, Jeff played a Ticking Gnome who died to a Pillage, but then, after having his Port Targeted by Sewing Salt, removing all other Ports from the deck, Jeff played Gaea's Cradle and a Masticore. Justin still thought he had a hope when he cast his second Pillage on the 'core, but another one emerged from Jeff's hand and the game was over in four turns.
Game two was just as lopsided. With Jeff taking the mulligan this time, Justin was able to outnumber Jeff's lands with Rishadan Ports the entire game, even killing an Albino Troll with an Avalanche Rider, depriving Jeff the mana required to pay echo. Not surprisingly, the game ended soon thereafter, with Masticore dealing the lethal damage.
Unfortunately for Jeff, the randomness of mana screw determined that this was just not his match. Game three saw him take another mulligan, this time allowing him to cast four quick creatures, two Jaguars, 2 Llanowar Elves. Unfortunately, what he didn't see coming was the Cave-In in Justin's opening hand, which left Jeff with three cards in hand and just two lands as his only permanents. Justin then destroyed a Treetop Village with an Avalanche Rider and pinned down the other with a Rishadan Port as he cast Lightning Dragon, and that along with a Second Port was enough to win him the match, solidifying his spot under tomorrow's spotlight.