Ross Schafer's previous finish was 12th at Grand Prix Auckland 2012 and was hoping to bring that up a notch with a Top 8 appearance this weekend. In that very same year, Ben Fleming also attained one of his two Nationals Top 8 appearances. Schafer was happy to bring Esper Control to the table, while Fleming was ready with Blue White Devotion.
He relieved himself of some pressure by using Detention Sphere but Fleming reinforced with Frostburn Weird. In conjunction with Mutavault, Fleming was able to get rid of two successive Jace, Architect of Thought.
However, Schafer was simply buying time to build up a huge Sphinx's Revelation while baiting for more threats but Fleming was not about to overextend. Eventually, Supreme Verdict reset the board but Fleming quickly bounced back with Thassa, God of the Sea and Nightveil Specter.
Schafer reloaded with Sphinx's Revelation for four new cards, hoping that Fleming would be one devotion short of awakening the Sea God. That was not to be as Fleming revealed Tidebinder Mage off the top, attacking for 9 damage and reducing Schafer to just 2 life. To make matters worse, Fleming had flipped over Dissolve from Nightveil Specter, ensuring that victory would be his.
Schafer falls behind in Game One, unable generate much advantage from his Jaces.
Schafer's early Thoughtseize showed him Fleming's grip containing Glare of Heresy and double Gainsay, a trio great sideboard cards against him. He eventually decided to discard Bident of Thassa instead. Having only reactive cards in his hand, Fleming could only activate Mutavault and hit for three damage together with Judge's Familiar.
With the knowledge that Fleming was light on threats, Schafer felt comfortable enough to use one of his two Doom Blades to kill the opposing owl mid-combat, giving Schafer the chance to resolve a topdecked Bident of Thassa.
Upon reaching six mana, Schafer recruited Elspeth, Sun's Champion on successive turns, which was answered by two copies of Glare of Heresy. Fleming then started to pick off the opposing soldier tokens, forcing them to attack into his Tidebinder Mage using Bident of Thassa.
Using the first of his two Gainsays to protect against Schafer's Dissolve, Fleming successfully resolved Thassa, God of the Sea and things began to go downhill for Schafer. Fleming's final card was the second copy of Gainsay that Schafer had already seen, so he used Jace, Architect of Thought to bait it out with success. This allowed Detention Sphere resolve unopposed, exiling Thassa, God of the Sea.
The Gods were not with him though (but rather with his opponent), as Fleming plopped Ephara, God of the Polis and a replacement Thassa, God of the Sea onto the board. Even though Schafer did have Gainsay to stop Master of Waves later on, he soon succumbed to the the power of the Gods.
The Gods were literally on Fleming's side.