If the name Jared Boettcher sounds just a little bit familiar, if it tickles the back of your mind and makes you think "I know that name," that just because you absolutely should know him. Boettcher finished 9th at Pro Tour Born of the Gods with Ad Nauseam, and now he's following that up with a Top 8 in a 1,734-person GP. So it's safe to say he's good.
It's pretty safe to say the same thing about his opponent Jacob Maynard, who already has a Grand Prix title to his name and is eager to produce a second today.
Maynard, on the other hand, was one of just two holdouts in the Top 8 not playing black, instead opting for the blazing speed of Naya Hexproof. His creatures were naturally resistant to the removal at the core of Bottcher's deck, and a card like Witchstalker could be devastating.
Speaking of which...
"I'm going to be taking the Witchstalker. I don't think that's a surprise."
Boettcher had opened on Thoughtseize and quickly seized on grabbing the Hexproof 3/3. He followed that up with a Pack Rat, but quickly found it chained to some rocks and harassed by a Knight token that quickly became a 6/6 thanks to Ajani and Ethereal Armor.
A second Rat gave Boettcher some defense, but Ajani could very quickly send the Knight up and over and defenses for a quick win. The Naya Hexproof deck could be devastatingly fast, and Maynard was threatening to end the game quite quickly. He got in one hit and sent Boettcher's life tumbling to seven, and then a pair of Boros Charms did the rest.
"You drew insane in that game," Boettcher said, sounding like he wasn't really mad, just impressed.
But this was a sideboard game, so Boettcher wasn't without options. Revoke Existence freed the Rat and allowed him to start making more rats. A few discard spells even made Witchstalker less imposing, especially when Unflinching Courage went straight to the graveyard.
Boettcher kept making rats and emptying Maynard's hand, but a Madcap Skills put him down to just two life on the Witchstalker. He had rats aplenty, but any number of spells could make blocking poorly end his tournament.
Or, ya know, Pack Rats could do their thing.
Maynard attacked all in, but it proved to be a costly attack. Boettcher made another rat, activated Mutavault, and was able to trade off just one 5/5 rat in exchange for Maynard's entire board. Now with no creatures and no hand, Maynard could do nothing but watch as a horde of Pack Rats ran over to eat his life total.
The beats, unfortunately, didn't stop coming for Maynard, as his sometimes temperamental deck sent him down to just five cards to start.
But he still started strong, even with only two lands. Gladecover Scout and a Knight token started getting in there, but they were eventually stymied by a certain rack and the pack he brought with him.
For the rest of the game, Boettcher did little more than make Pack Rat and gum up the board. A few turns and many activations later and a horde of 7/7s sent Boettcher to the semifinals.