Posted in NEWS on June 29, 2014

By Hunter R. Slaton

After losing in the first round of Day 2 at Grand Prix D.C., effectively eliminating him from top 8 contention, David Ochoa's star power drew him into the feature-match orbit in round 11, for a set of games against David Reed. Between games, the players discussed whether or not they had played before. Reed was sure they had. "It was a long time ago, in Atlantic City," he said. Ochoa nodded, smiled, and said in his soft-spoken way that it was good to play Reed again.

Reed won the die roll and chose to play. Ochoa shuffled up, presented his ChannelFireball-sleeved deck, and drew a keeper of Fall of the Hammer, Sigiled Skink, Wavecrash Triton, and four lands, in a mix of Islands and Mountains. After two turns and two land drops, it was revealed that Reed was on blue-green.

Ochoa got out to a quick start with Ordeal of Purphoros on Satyr Hoplite and a Satyr Nyx-Smith, but a Feral Invocation on Reed's Setessan Oathsworn—in response to Ochoa's popped-Ordeal trigger—threatened to undo his plans. But Ochoa had the trump card, in the form of Fall of the Hammer, which not only killed Oathsworn in response, but ticked Hoplite up to five, dropping Reed to 12 life.

On the following turns, Ochoa combined creature damage with burn to eliminate a Sealock Monster and keep up the beats, while a Nyxborn Rollicker on Wavecrash Triton kept Reed's freshly cast Nemesis of Mortals safely tapped down, allowing Ochoa to finish off his opponent with another creature damage plus burn combo, this time Searing Blood for the win. Ochoa finished the game at 20 life.

Between games, Ochoa took time to write down the tricks and notable cards he'd seen, including Feral Invocation and big, tough-to-deal with monsters including Nemesis of Mortals and Ravenous Leucrocota. Cleverly, Ochoa took out his Minotaur Skullcleaver and Bronze Sable for the pair of five-power Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass, in addition to two Mountains and an Island, which he promptly replaced with ... two Mountains and an Island.

After the match, Ochoa commented on the tricksy play. "It gives your opponent something to think about," Ochoa said. "It's much better than just shuffling your deck up and not sideboarding anything, as then they know exactly what you are doing."

With Reed on the play again for game two, Ochoa kept a seven-card hand of two Nyxborn Rollickers, Fall of the Hammer, Bolt of Keranos, and three lands. A doubled-up Rollicker bestow stack and a Satyr Nyx-Smith gave Ochoa some pressure, but Reed was able to put up his shields with a stream of ever-bigger green creatures: Nessian Courser, Snake of the Golden Grove, and Pheres-Band Raiders.

It was time for Ochoa's first pick to come to the rescue: Hour of Need. Ochoa drew the "mythic uncommon," played a land, and passed the turn calmly with five mana up—aka the perfect amount for Hour of Need plus one strive payment, for Ochoa's two creatures. At Reed's next end step, when he was at 16 life, he was suddenly faced with a two-turn clock in the form of two 4/4 Sphinxes.

The big fliers got in for one hit, halving Reed's life total, before Reed's own first pick came out to save the day—or at least prevent the inevitable. When Ochoa swung in again, Reed cast Setessan Tactics on his two creatures, allowing him to fight (and kill) Ochoa's air force. Yet one of Reed's creatures, a Nessian Courser, traded in the process, and a Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass plus a Fall of the Hammer reduced Reed's board to a lonely Snake. Reed marveled, "You just have everything."

On the following turn, Reed's draw step wasn't able to save him again, and Ochoa was able to close it out with Akroan Conscriptor plus Ordeal of Purphoros, stealing Reed's only blocker and eliciting a handshake of concession; he revealed his last card to be an Island. With the win, Ochoa improved to a record of 8-3, keeping his dream of additional Pro Points still alive.