Do I really need to introduce No. 11 Alexander Hayne again?
Look, I know he's in the feature match area again. As his native Canadians would say—"sorry."
Except I'm not, really. Insane Hayne, as he's come to be known, lives up to his moniker, especially when it comes to Standard, and especially when it comes to playing Sphinx's Revelation control decks. Like, multiple Grand Prix wins. Not Top 8s. Wins. A win this weekend would be his fourth Grand Prix win in the last year. Really, the only negative thing you can say is that it's been a while since he won a Pro Tour. Which he's also done.
Jeffrey Pyka didn't have Hayne's resume by a long shot, but he was quickly getting used to the feature match area. The reason?
He and Hayne are the last two undefeated players. At 11-0, they were closing in on clinching Top 8 berths and immortality. But, first, they had to get through each other.
They might have shared a mana base, but their philosophy was quite different. Hayne was sporting a Sphinx's Revelation-based control deck that liked to beat up on aggressive strategies, pretty similar to the one he won his last Grand Prix with.
Pyka, on the other hand, had in hand the newest evolution of Blue Devotion, splashing white for Detention Sphere, Ephara, God of the Polis, and a few sideboard cards. Though Mono Blue had been faring poorly this weekend, Pyka was doing quite well by joining the Azorius Guild.
Game one tended to favor the Supreme Verdict player, but Pyka gained a lot of tools for the second and third games, including more Planeswalkers, counterspells and disruptive elements.
The match started slowly, just like Hayne liked it. He casually Syncopated a Thassa, God of the Sea on turn three, then dug a little deeper with Azorius Charm before dispatching of the sea god's Bident with Detention Sphere. A slow pace was just fine with him.
But things picked up considerably when a Nightveil Specter was able to break through and pluck a Jace, Architect of Thought from the top of Hayne's library. Hayne dispatched it with a Mutavault the following turn, but quite a bit of damage was already done. Despite the slow start and Hayne's removal, Pyka still had a hand full of gas and plenty of land to play them out.
Alexander Hayne might be on an insane streak, but in game one he was revealed as human and, apparently, actually beatable.
So play them out he did. After Nightveil Specter was hit with Azorius Charm, Pyka unloaded some of those excess cards with Cloudfin Raptor and Master of Waves. That prompted a Supreme Verdict, but Pyka simply started getting in with Mutavaults while playing out just one threat at a time. In this case, the Nightveil Specter returned.
But Hayne wasn't without his own recourse, in this case, an Elspeth, Sun's Champion.
Hayne could only smirk as the Sphere removed his Planeswalker, and a second Sphere (from Pyka's own hand) took out the tokens guarding the replacement. With no Sphinx's Revelation showing up to save him, Hayne quickly succumbed to Pyka's growing army.
Once again, Pyka was careful in the second game not to expose too many threats at once to Hayne's removal. Frostburn Weird got in for a shot of four damage before giving way to Master of Waves with just a single token. Pyka wouldn't even cast anything in to open mana after Hayne telegraphed Dissolve by playing a Hallowed Fountain untapped.
Jeffrey Pyka just defeated Alexander Hayne on Day 2 of a Standard Grand Prxi vying to be the final person undefeated. What the heck is the difficultly level on that?
The problem for Hayne wasn't Pyka's deliberate play, however, it was the lack of a fourth land at any reasonable point in the game. Forced to tap down to deal with Master of Waves, Hayne was simply ill-equipped to fight back against pretty much anything, including the pair of Bident of Thassa's that turned Mutavault into an Ophidian.
Hayne gamely made a show of it, removing one or two things, but he ended up having to make a risky play just to have a shot at winning—casting Archangel of Thune when he finally drew lands—but lost to, you guessed it, Detention Sphere.
That left Jeffrey Pyka as the last man standing at 12-0.