Posted in NEWS on April 7, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Brandon Bercovich and Nathan Holiday sat down for what has been a classic Standard match-up between the two popular Devotion strategies of the Constructed format: black versus blue. Oftentimes the match-up has a lot of weight placed on who can be on the play, favoring who can get their spells online first.

Holiday, who entered today undefeated and sat at the second seed, had the luxury to choosing this preferred option of being on the play.

The Games

Holiday had a back-breaking start with Tidebinder Mage, Thassa, God of the Sea, and his one main-deck copy of Domesication for Bercovich's Nightveil Specter on the second through fourth turns, prompting Bercovich to burn a Hero's Downfall on his stolen creature to prevent himself from an early demise.

Brandon Bercovich

However, it was to little avail. Despite a Desecration racing to take our Holiday, it was Holiday who was in the driver's seat, and in control of whether the Demon could block. A few key turns where Holiday could tap the Demon left Bercovich needing to draw into a removal spell and Gray Merchant of Asphodel in sequence in order to steal the game, falling to 1 on Holiday's attack going into his last turn. When the Merchant was not waiting for him, Bercovich moved to the second game.

Holiday fought through a first-turn Thoughtseize in the second game, building his board early with Judge's Familiar and Nightveil Specter. However, both creatures paled in comparison to Bercovich's fourth-turn Desecration Demon, which threatened to go the distance as Holiday struggled to find a fourth land or any relevant action. Despite the 6/6 flying creature staring him down, the Nighveil Specter did a good job of keeping the Demon back, as Bercovich instead held the demon on defense.

Nathan Holiday

Holiday however was content to feed the demon in order to get a few attacks in with the Nightveil Specter, digging for lands to cast the Hero's Downfall he previously exiled with his creature's attack, all the while whittling Holiday down all the way to 7. When Holiday went for an attack with both Mutavaults though, after a series of attacks with his team, a Bile Blight was waiting for him. Pack Rat came next for Bercovich and suddenly the tides turned.

Despite the set-back of a drawn Bile Blight, Holiday was still able to buy time, and his Specter was still alive and well. When Bercovich did not draw a way to stop the Specter, Holiday's blue-black hybrid creature did its work, finding two black sources for Holiday to play, along with a Gray Merchant of Asphodel on the final turn to finish off Bercovich in what became a tight race.

Nathan Holiday defeats Brandon Bercovich 2-0 and advances to the Semifinals!