QUARTERFINALS ROUND UP

Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for DailyMTG.com, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.
 

There's a lot of quarterfinals action to get to, so why are you even bothering with this introduction? Read the recaps already!


 

(25) William Jensen vs. Frank Skarren

Another draft, another blue-white heroic-style deck for William Jensen. Just like his last draft, Jensen was unimpressed with what he cobbled together—likely because he was one of three WU drafters, all of whom weren't happy with their decks. However, Jensen just happened to 3-0 with his last mediocre WU deck, so there really was no telling before the cards were played out.

Frank Skarren, he of the impressive limited win percentage on the Pro Tour, was, contrary to Huey, pretty happy with his Simic-flavored deck. He said he was missing a few cards he would have liked—particularly Time to Feed (which would also have been excellent against Jensen)—but overall felt like it worked out well.

So...did it?

Depends on who you ask. Jensen had trouble getting anything going in the first game while Skarren had an assortment of efficient creatures, bounce, and just enough tricks to prevent the Hall of Famer from ever really getting his footing. Skarren's fliers and unblockable creatures made it nearly impossible for Jensen's aggressive-minded deck to accomplish much once it stumbled out of the gate.

The second game wasn't much better, as Jensen kept a land-light hand and missed his third land drop for a while. Forced to play Chosen by Heliod on one of Skarren's creatures, Jensen had to scramble just to stay in the match at all. Setessan Oathsworn received an Aspect of Hydra and, just like that, Jensen was the first to fall in the quarterfinals.


 

Adam Mancuso vs. Danny Goldstein

The second of our matches involving a blue-white deck featured Danny Goldstein batting for the Azorius team while Adam Mancuso was battling, in every sense of the word, with a white-green deck that hit hard and early.

And hit hard and early he did. Curving efficient beaters into Reap What is Sown put Goldstein in an early hole from which he just could not recover. Evangel of Heliod gave Goldstein a way to stem the tide, but his 1/1s were no match for Mancuso's larger creatures. In just a matter of turns, Mancuso's initial wave of attackers punched through for a first game win.

The second deck looked a lot different, however, as Goldstein suited up an "unblockable Scrying bear"—Oreskos Sun Guide—with Aqueous form and started gaining two life per turn while Scrying and hitting for two damage. Eventually a Setessan Starbreaker took care of the Aqueous Form, but the table was at least set for a longer and less brutal second game.

In fact, Goldstein actually started to take over with Aerie Worshippers and an Ornitharch. His ground forces were overmatched, but they were at least up to the task of holding the fort just long enough for a 5/5 flier to end the game in just a few short turns.

That left Mancuso and Goldstein facing the all-important third game. Both had already qualified for the Pro Tour based on their finish, but neither was quite satisfied with "merely" getting to the Top 8.

"This deck is not that good," Goldstein mused as they kicked off the second game. "But I've got that bear again."

But Mancuso quickly one-upped him with a parade of larger creatures, pump spells, and even the occasional removal in the form of Time to Feed and Shredding Winds. Eventually Mancuso went really big with a Nemesis of Mortals. Reap What is Sown provided another significant push. When that Shredding Winds felled a Wingsteed Rider after an attempt to give it lifelink, that was more than enough for Mancuso's monsters to take over.


 

(2) Reid Duke vs. Pierre-Christoph Mondon

No. 2-ranked Reid Duke read the draft perfectly. Starting in blue-green, Duke deftly switched to black when it became apparent it was wide open. We're talking Grand Canyon wide open. We're talking only drafter at the table, 8th-pick Grey Merchant wide open. He had a few green and blue cards he could swap in and out as he saw fit, but Duke had definitely discovered the correct color for this draft.

Pierre-Christoph Mondon had likewise taking an under drafted niche and run with it hard. He wasn't the only red drafter at the table, but he sure was close. His blue-red deck was packed with ways to deliver damage in large chunks—which either made him set up well to attack Duke's slower deck, or put him at a disadvantage due to Duke's lifegain.

It looked to be the latter in the first game, as Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix set a pretty hard defensive line right away. Duke was in full control of the game pretty much from the get-go, using a slew of removal, discard, and a touch of lifegain to harass Mondon's aggressive plans. It took a few turns for Duke to take down game one, but the result was never really in doubt.

The second game, however, was in doubt right from the start. Duke had a mediocre hand that was on the other side of slow while Mondon got in some damage.

Mondon, however, was missing blue mana and found himself unable to do as much damage as he would have liked. That gave Duke enough time to land a very intimidating Nessian Asp.

By the time the snake went Monstrous, Duke was using it to charge into the red zone and drop Mondon to just eight life. That made any hit from the Asp lethal, leaving Mondon in a bit of a precarious position, even as he found ways to drop Duke to just seven life. And he did it all still lacking blue mana.

But as Mondon drew more and more air, he could no longer keep up while having to sacrifice a creature per turn to the 8/9. When Lash the Whip blew out Mondon's last block, he extended the hand and wished Duke good luck in the semifinals.