Seth Manfield is aiming for a repeat of Grand Prix Toronto. Last weekend, the Grand Prix Kansas City 2013 Champion also finished Day One with an undefeated record, and it was his solid record that propelled him into the Top 8. This weekend, he is playing Blue-White Control, a deck that only plays the black mana scry lands from Theros for their ability to smooth draws.
His opponent for the first round of Day Two is Haibing Hu, one of the two Mono-Black Devotion players to go 9-0 in Day One.
When asked about his thoughts on the matchup, Manfield was straight-forward about his chances. “I think it's a coin flip. I have to be able to stabilize the board, and if I do, then normally I'm in good shape,” he said.
Unfortunately for Manfield, stabilizing the board was not an option, as a first-turn Thoughtseize robbed him of Supreme Verdict, and a second-turn Pack Rat from Hu was able to come down before Manfield's Essence Scatters were online. Manfield's draws also did not cooperate, as he took a chance on finding another blue source to turn on his two Dissolves, which he failed to find.
“I kept a hand where I had to hit a blue or white source. I didn't really hit it, so I was in a tough situation given that he had a Pack Rat,” he said after the match.
The Pack Rats ultimately did their thing, and sent Manfield packing up his board for a second game.
However, the second game was more of the same. Duress on the first turn robbed Manfield of his Essence Scatter, which cleared the path for the second-turn Pack Rat once again. While Manfield had Detention Sphere, he held onto it for a turn in order to keep mana open for Dissolve for two turns. As a result, he took 7 damage over the course of two turns, first from the 1/1 rat, and then from two 3/3 rats when Hu played and activated a Mutavault.
Manfield pulled the trigger on his Detention Sphere on the next turn. Hu, without a board, led with Thoughtseize, seeing a hand of Dissolve, Last Breath, Aetherling, and Sphinx's Revelation. Hu discarded the Revelation, clearing the way for Desecration Demon while Manfield was tapped low.
The Demon attacked in for 6 on the next turn, and Thoughtseize met Dissolve, Manfield putting a card on the bottom. Erebos, God of the Dead from Hu followed, and Manfield found himself having to tap out for Aetherling. A Nightveil Specter off the top enabled Erebos to become a creature, and when Mutavault joined the attack, Manfield offered the handshake.
Hu 2 – Manfield 0
After the match, I asked Manfield about his choice of plays in the second game. “I had a chance where I could have simply used Detention Sphere on his Pack Rat on turn three, but I wanted to hold up Dissolve for Underworld Connections or Nightveil Specter,” Manfield said. However, his draws ended up coming a turn too late in every situation, with Last Breath coming a turn too late to answer the Pack Rat, and then Aetherling coming too early when Manfield really needed some more answers to Hu's threats.