Posted in NEWS on April 6, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

"It's my first everything. First Grand Prix Top 8. First Pro Tour qualification. I'm so excited and nervous." Will Levin said has he introduced himself, sliding into position across his opponent.

"It's my second," Robert Berni shared back. "My first was Kansas City last year." Both players met the mark for heading to Pro Tour Magic 2015 in Portland this year, and were pleased to be among the elite four for the weekend.

It was the continuation of things both players has seen throughout the Grand Prix so far. Mono-Black Devotion was among the most represented deck for the weekend, and Jund Monsters was a choice of many to slay the black nemesis with Dragons.

It was uphill battle the entire way for Levin.

Unlike his two games in the Quarterfinals, Levin started off going down to five cards on mulligans. "Five lands and Reaper of the Wilds isn't going to get me there." He said.

"I agree." Berni nodded along. It was a decision that Levin would later regret.

Thoughtseize from Berni plucked Sylvan Caryatid to start the first game. "You know what's coming next!" Levin played Courser of Kruphix and began to filter the lands from the top of his library into play. However, gaining life wasn't going to outrace the damage Desecration Demon was delivering for Berni. Dreadbore finally answered it, and Levin jammed damage back with a fresh Stormbreath Dragon after adding Domri Rade to his side.

Berni paused for a long time. "Sorry, just... thinking."

"Seems like an important match. Take your time." Levin offered.

Robert Berni was in his second Grand Prix Top 8, and his composure reflected the previous experience.

Whip of Erebos brought back Desecration Demon for a turn, but Levin sacrificed Courser of Kruphix to stop most of the damage Berni had aimed, taking just a Mutavault instead. Next turn, Berni's Gray Merchant of Asphodel drained 6 life, putting Levin down to just 7. When Levin tried to make the Merchant and Stormbreath Dragon fight, Devour Flesh removed the Dragon and returned Levin to 14 life.

Berni was looking for something in his deck, adding and using a second Underworld Connections to draw a third card on the turn. Levin attacked into the Merchant, and Berni obliged with a block, but there wasn't any follow up. When Berni cast Nightveil Specter then tried to bring Gray Merchant of Asphodel back, Levin used monstrosity to mitigate some of the life gain but it still left him at just 2 life.

After scrying away the top and trying a peek at his library with Domri Rade, Levin scooped up his cards.

"Going to game two I guess," he said.

Will Levin was as ecstatic to play in his semifinal match.

The second game was an affair built on trading removal and discard spells. Berni's Pack Rat was stripped by Thoughtseize. Levin's Elvish Mystic and Stormbreath Dragon met their ends to Devour Flesh and Thoughtseize. Duress whiffed for Berni as Levin followed up with his second Stormbreath Dragon. He made it monstrous in response to Berni's Hero's Downfall, leveling the life totals at Levin's 8 to Berni's 6.

Berni's Nightveil Specter was small, but keeping the much larger Desecration Demon at bay was the bigger problem for Levin. Nightveil Specter stole a third Stormbreath Dragon off the top of Levin's library, and dropping to just 2 life was too much for the Monsters players.

"That's game!" Levin said as he extended the hands. "Thanks again, Berni. Good luck on your travel plans."

"Thanks." Berni said. "You too."

Levin paused as he was packing up his deck. "I should have kept that hand," he said about his first game mulligan. "I had Mutavault, and the top card of my library was Sylvan Caryatid. It would have been fine."

"Nervousness gets the best of us." Berni offered. Levin just smiled and nodded in agreement.

Robert Berni defeated Will Levin, 2-0.