Manuel Mayer vs. (12) Owen Turtenwald
No. 12 Owen Turtenwald was sporting a solid blue and black tempo deck that packed a big, can-be-tempo surprise—Death Cloud. He was going up against Manuel Mayer's strong White-Green deck with some Meloku, the Clouded Mirror.
Both Games 2 and 3 were broadcast on the Magic Twitch channel. Make sure to check it out to see these two battle it out in video form. I will admit, of the four matches, these drag-out, knock-down games are best seen in video.
Mayer's deck was just fast enough to stop the quick, tempo-based threats of Turtenwald's deck—but not over-the-top enough to finish out the game in short order. There were many calculated attacks and blocks and lots of thinking that went on during the three-set match.
The first game was elementary enough for Mayer. He started with turn-one and turn-two suspended Durkwood Baloth and when they resolved, Turtenwald just couldn't get out from under the ten power of creatures. But the second and third were tough.
The third match-up was amazing. The big turn came after Turtenwald discarded his first Take Possession. Mayer said this was what made him overextended his Meloku, the Clouded Mirror. "I thought, 'He can't possibly have two Take Possession.'"
Then Turtenwald held out his second Take Possession for the Meloku, the Clouded Mirror, whenever it was to come. Turtenwald knew there was little chance for him to beat that if it resolved on a stalled board state. The split second card completely changed the game when it came down, and the tenor of the match was never the same.
"And I sided out my maindeck Krosan Grip!" Mayer lamented.
Mayer was running on empty. He had no cards left in his hand, and he was hiding his left arm under the table, because it was slightly shaking. The twelfth-ranked player in the world was showing his characteristic prowess. Turtenwald took the match.
(12) Owen Turtenwald 2 – 1 Manuel Mayer
Chi Hoi Yim vs. Andrew Robdrup
I would call Alabama native, Chi Hoi Yim's deck "Five(?)-ish, maybe?" It's got power for sure—some big giants, a Sword of Light and Shadow—but it certainly didn't look like a tuned masterpiece. While Canadian was playing an Affinity-Sunburst contraption starring Oona, Queen of the Fae. When I asked him about the deck, he said, "I just tried to draft what Alex Hayne told me to force. It looks weird; we'll see how it works."
The first game was a long, drawn-out slug fest. Robdrup started strong with a Bonesplitter, Errant Ephemeron, Myr Enforcer and Etherium Sculptor. Once it looked like he was ahead, Yim was able to scrap back with the Sword of Light and Shadow—gaining just enough life to keep himself in it.
Then, the tables shifted when Yim was able to muster and Thundercloud Giant for more than enough to wipe the smile off Robdrup's face. He had previously joked, "No more creatures?" In the hopes that his previously creature-starved opponent would quit drawing late-game gas, but it was in vein. Robdrup tried to muster a comeback, but he lost the first one.
In the second game, Robdrup again got off to a pretty fast start, and Yim just watched as Arcbound Stinger, Sanctum Gargoyle and Errant Ephemeron came in and beat face. Yim, still on the back foot, threw out Thundering Giant, Durkwood Baloth, Electrolyze, and Rift Bolt to stabilize the best he could. He sunk to two life very quickly, but held for a turn or two.
Once Robdrup played a 3/3 Skyreach Manta and then another flier after that, Yim had to fold them up.
The third game, Yim kept the big threats off the table the best he could. Executioner's Capsule took out the Myr Enforcer before it could get started. Though the Alabama player was still taking plinks from a Myr Retriever and an Arcbound Stinger, it wasn't the gigantic beatstick the 4/5 was. But it was the 5/5 Skyreach Manta that couldn't be answered.
The Lightning Helix in his hand could answer many threats, but not the Fifth Dawn standout.
After three good games, Andrew Robdrup advances to the semifinals over Chi Hoi Yim.
Andrew Robdrup 2 – 1 Cho Hoi Yim
Javier Luna vs. (13) Makihito Mihara
Unlike many other players here, Argentine Javier Luna was pretty happy with his deck. A solid white and blue Faeries-based deck featuring Cloudgoat Ranger. Contrasted to that, most people were able to see the streamed mediocre draft deck Makihito Mihara was playing. There were four green drafters at the table, and Mihara mostly got the table scraps. But these games taught us, as we are often reminded—consistency is king.
In the first game, Luna kept a hand that was missing one of his colors. Mihara cast some dorks, expecting them to be parried. Oddly enough, they never were. Luna never drew what he needed and went to the second game.
And then sadly for Luna, as went the second. At least this time, Mihara dramatically smashed his Argentine opponent with a Rude Awakening for the win. A sweeping, grand gesture that was at least an appropriate ending to a match. Luna extended his hand and exited the Top 8.
I told him many players would kill to be mana-screwed in the Top 8 against Makihito Mihara. Javier Luna smiled and agreed.
(13) Makihito Mihara 2 – 0 Javier Luna
Tan Gao vs. Klaas Grüber
Klaas Grüber had aggression on his side. His deck was sporting three Brute Force. I'll repeat that: THREE BRUTE FORCE! It was a red and white Giant onslaught. He wasn't a big fan of it, giving he head shakes when I talked to him; but when he was turning his creatures sideways in the first game, it seemed quite fine to me.
Granted, his opponent, Tan Gao, was not very happy with his deck either. He had a concoction that was trying to be Rebels, but ended up with some overly influential green cards. And in the first game, he was stuck on four lands. Grüber must have remembered there is a great value in drafting a deck that doesn't allow your opponents to stumble.
The first game saw Grüber go Kithkin Greatheart into Stinkdrinker Daredevil, into Hillcomber Giant and War-Spike Changeling. He started suiciding his team in every turn after that, and when a Pardic Dragon came down and a Bound in Silence nabbed the only blocker for the Dragon, Giant Dustwasp, Gao had to pack it in for the second game.
Then in the second game, the German player again went with the same turn one and turn two play. "Yeah, that's my deck," Grüber said in response to Gao's sigh. This game, much to the Chinese player's chagrin, was all too similar to the first. Grüber just mashed his palm onto the battlefield, turning all his dudes sideways, turn after turn after turn, and ripped his opponent to shreds.