Javier Dominguez vs Bernhard Lehner
Bernhard Lehner's turn three Siren of the Silent Song met a little sigh and a Voyage's End from Javier Dominguez. He used the time to cast Caller of the Tides, which traded with it only to see a Sealock Monster come along next. Against a board with plenty of Islands, the monster represented quite the clock, and a follow up Sigiled Starfish was a neat bit of filtering action.
Dominguez needed a way to fight back, and found it in Supply-Line Cranes, who were soon enchanted with Hopeful Eidolon. That would redress some of the life balance, but with the giant octopus soon becoming monstrous, it remained a losing race.
Dominguez had the air force, and in spite of a Voyage's End to set back his cranes, was able to chip away gradually at Lehner's life too. Akroan Skyguard joined the team, and it didn't take many heroic triggers to make it a credible threat. The challenge for Lehner was figuring out just how big a threat. He had a Sphinx's Disciple, and the opportunity to block. Without a trick, he would be safe, and able to attack back for potentially lethal. He took a risk, letting the attack through. The trick was there though, and it was on to game two.
Javier Dominguez 1 - 0 Bernhard Lehner
Game two saw a lack of early lands for Dominguez, who cast a desperation Crystalline Nautilus and tried to get stuck in with it. Voyage's End killed it off, leaving Lehner with most of the early action. Fortunately for Dominguez, by action, we mean Sigiled Starfish activations. Lehner's deck had three, and he wasn't shy about using them.
Dominguez got up to four lands, and plopped a Chorus of the Tides into play. By this point Lehner's only real threat was Forlorn Pseudamma. The life totals were actually marginally in Dominguez' favour, though his board was not likely to fill as quickly as his opponent's.
When Dominguez finally found a Plains, he was able to use it for his get out of jail free card - Hopeful Eidolon. When played on a flier, he was able to win back some of the life he'd lost, and present a clock in the air. He had a Breaching Hippocamp, but it was stuck unable to do much attacking through Lehner's creatures on the ground.
Javier Dominguez wins 2-0
Ben Yu vs Fabrizio Anteri
Ben Yu's black white deck had nickel and dimed its way through the quarterfinals with little chips of damage from a variety of sources. While he had a Scholar of Athreos in game one of the semi-finals, along with a Keepsake Gorgon, this time his opponent, Fabrizio Anteri of Italy, had a tougher collection of threats, in Pheres-Band Trompers, Snake of the Golden Grove and Chorus of the Tides.
Fabrizio Anteri's blue green deck created a potentially game ending threat in a Boon Satyr bestow on Chorus of the Tides. Yu's answer? Weight of the Underworld. Now there was an honest to goodness race on, and one of the two players had a Scholar of Athreos and nine lands.
Armaments of Nyx form Yu took one of Anteri's creatures out of the equation, and that was enough to put Yu ahead in the race. Shortly thereafter Anteri scooped up his cards - it was on to game two.
Ben Yu 1 - 0 Fabrizio Anteri
The second game started with a Nyx-Fleece Ram, signalling a potentially long uphill struggle for Fabrizio Anteri. Yu was able to fight off early inspire creatures with a pair of copies of Excoriate, and to gain enough life off the ram not to be afraid of those attachers that did make it through. He had drawn the first of his three copies of Grim Guardian, and that represented the only early damage he'd achieved. It would not be the last.
Pheres-Band Thunderhoof was enchanted with a Boon Satyr. That was enough to first kill off a blocking Nyx-Fleece Ram, and next to knock chunks off Yu's life total. Yu looked pretty safe at 19 life. Anteri knew differently though. He took a swing from Yu, and then had a 5/5 Mistcutter Hydra to add to his forces. That was enough to power out a swing for exactly lethal. This match would be going to a game three.
Ben Yu 1 - 1 Fabrizio Anteri
The third game saw an early Swordwise Centaur from Anteri, which didn't quite match up how he might have liked against a Scholar of Athreos. He attacked in regardless, and Yu was quick to block without being punished for it. Yu had been taking careful note of the cards he'd seen from Anteri, and consulted them before attacking with the 1/4, and casting Cavern Lampad.
The Lampad got one hit in before being dealt with by Unravel the Æther. This left Yu with a lackluster board of just lands and a scholar, while Anteri was gradually gaining traction casting ever more threats, including the flyer Chorus of the Tides, who would be unperturbed by scholarly blockers.
Doomwake Giant changed the face of the board. the 4/6 effectively shut down ground attacks, and Yu had a fair read that there would not be combat tricks forthcoming from Anteri to deal with it. Anteri didn't need combat tricks though. Banishing Light exiled the powerful rare, again allowing the Italian to swing in with his squad.
Yu took his lumps, before casting Weight of the Underworld to kill off Chorus of the Tides, and Archetype of Courage to make a stab at holding the ground. Anteri's board wasn't big enough to tangle with much first strike, so he made a move to improve it, with a 7/7 Mistcutter Hydra. Yu, at 8 life, elected to go to 1 life rather than block. Anteri had three creatures, so he'd need something special the following turn to stay in things.
Aerial Formation from Anteri was the hammer-blow. While he couldn't make his Hydra fly, he didn't need to. Any creature would do, so he gave Kiora's Follower the honour of flying him into the finals.
Fabrizio Anteri wins 2-1 over Ben Yu