Semifinals: (18) Oliver Tiu (Turbo Emrakul) vs. Márcio Carvalho (Bant Company)

Posted in 2016 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP on September 4, 2016

By Chapman Sim

After fourteen rounds of intense competition, the field of 24 has boiled down to just four. After watching Brian Braun-Duin demolish Shota Yasooka in the first semifinals, all the attention has shifted to this match, a showdown between the Draft Master and the Constructed Master. The victor will advance to the finals and battle against Braun-Duin for the immortal title of 2016 Magic World Champion.

Márcio Carvalho (left) and Oliver Tiu had fought long and hard to advance to the Top 4 from a field of the best 24 players in the world.

Now that the Draft rounds were over, it would seem like Tiu had the upper hand—being the Constructed Master and all. The matchup leaned in his favor, not only because of his staggering statistics but also because Turbo Emrakul could go over the top against Bant Company.

Tiu's machine is centered around casting Emrakul, the Promised End as quickly as possible, and its late game is incredibly powerful. A long-drawn game will often benefit Tiu, but since his intricate machine relies on several non-overlapping spinning parts, he will appreciate all the time he can get to gather them.

What spinning parts, you may ask?

Firstly, Primal Druids are great roadblocks against Bant Company's early forces, and it will go a long way in preserving Tiu's life total. Ishkanah, Grafwidow serves a similar function, to clog up ground while also keeping opposing fliers at bay.

Next, in order for Emrakul and Ishkanah to be effective, Tiu will also need one of his many graveyard enablers, such as Gather the Pack, Grapple with the Past, and Vessel of Nascency. With these cards, he will not only to be able to find a desired threat but also bin Kozilek's Return.

Now, Kozilek's Return is the one card any Bant Company player has to be extremely wary of. Since Tiu has eight Eldrazi in his main deck and the potential to search for them very consistently with Traverse the Ulvenwald, having Kozilek's Return in the graveyard simply means that Carvalho could lose his entire army in a blink of an eye.

To cast some of these expensive Eldrazi, Tiu will also need to find a small creature such as Primal Druid or Pilgrim's Eye as sacrificial fodder since Wretched Gryff and Elder Deep-Fiend have emerge. Lastly, to get sufficient mana for all the endgame bombs and to keep the gears oiled, there is also Nissa's Pilgrimage for mana acceleration and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy for additional card selection.

What does this entail for Carvalho?

Carvalho's goal is to quickly summon some creatures to apply early pressure and hope to overload Tiu with Collected Company. He'll also need to use Reflector Mage aggressively on Primal Druid or Pilgrim's Eye to prevent oversized Eldrazi from emerging too early. He has two copies of Elder Deep-Fiend of his own to tap down Tiu's lands during the crucial "Emrakul turn" and also to entangle Ishkanah, Grafwidow and her babies, which can also be elegantly exiled with Declaration in Stone.

Most importantly, Carvalho has Spell Queller—the best card against Tiu's deck. If he finds multiple copies to counter some of Tiu's key spells and protects his board with Selfless Spirit or Archangel Avacyn, he will be in good shape. After sideboarding, Carvalho's trump against Emrakul and her accompanying trigger is the pair of Dismissal Summarys. Also, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is near impossible for Tiu to remove once it hits the board.

It's difficult to say who will emerge victorious at this point, so let us get on with the games!

The Games

Carvalho was on the play, but Tiu had the first spell of this game in the form of Vessel of Nascency He decided against cracking it open because Carvalho summoned Duskwatch Recruiter on his second turn, and Tiu certainly didn't want the Recruiter to transform. He opted for Primal Druid instead, but it was promptly sent home by Reflector Mage. Unable to recast the Druid, Tiu opted for Nissa's Pilgrimage instead.

The lack of blockers was a golden window of opportunity for Carvalho to fully take advantage of Tamiyo, Field Researcher. Not only did he successfully connect with two attackers, he drew two cards in process. Tiu Gather the Packed and summoned Nissa, Vastwood Seer, hoping that she would stick around. She didn't, because Carvalho was ready with Dromoka's Command, killing Nissa while turning Duskwatch Recruiter into a 3/3. Both creatures crashed in for 5 more damage and Carvalho helped himself to another two cards as the fruits of Tamiyo's research.

Things were certainly looking good for Carvalho, and it looked like things were spiraling out of control for Tiu. With Tiu down to 9 life and facing a 4/3 Tireless Tracker, 3/3 Duskwatch Recruiter, and 2/3 Reflector Mage, all Carvalho had to do was tap down Primal Druid with Tamiyo's -2 ability and clinch the first pre-sideboarded game.

Carvalho held off Oliver's Tiu to claim victory in Game 1.

Things did not work out very well for Tiu in Game 1, but the outlook seemed a little better now that he was on the play. Kicking off with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Nissa's Pilgrimage, he found himself under pressure from Noose Constrictor and Tireless Tracker. Carvalho did not have white mana, so it appeared he was behind, but he also didn't know that Tiu's hand contained only lands and two awkward Emrakuls he couldn't cast.

To sum it up, Tiu was pretty much trying to maintain his Empty City Ruse with a straight face.

Lowering Tiu down to 13 life after attacking, Carvalho summoned Sylvan Advocate and passed, missing his fourth land drop. When Carvalho turned all his creatures sideways next turn, Tiu blocked Tireless Tracker with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and activated it before damage to jump the planeswalker out of harm's way. The severely land-flooded Tiu topdecked Kozilek's Return, which he cast at the end of Carvalho's turn. Untapping and summoning Emrakul, the Promised End triggered Kozilek's Return again to clean out Carvalho's board.

Thereafter, Tiu popped Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past, receiving two copies of Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Suddenly, there were seven Spiders on the board! Then, Tiu used Jace, Telepath Unbound to recast Traverse the Ulvenwald for Elder-Deep Fiend, safeguarding himself against any potential slip-ups.

Topdecking another Traverse the Ulvenwald thereafter, Tiu searched up his final copy of Emrakul, the Promised End and whittled Carvalho's board down with a suicidal attack. Carvalho now had two creatures against Tiu's nine. After confirming that no card in his deck could save him, Carvalho scooped up his cards and reached for the sideboard.

Tiu equalized the match with a Game 2 win.

Being land-light at the start of Game 3, Tiu popped Traverse the Ulvenwald for an Island. He soon faced Krallenhorde Howler because Carvalho passed his third turn, representing Spell Queller. Tiu played around it, declining to cast Pilgrim's Eye. To keep up the pressure, Carvalho flashed in Spell Queller anyway and the attacks brought Tiu down to 13.

Carvalho's next creature was Sylvan Advocate, and you'll notice that all three creatures he controlled had 3 toughness. This was relevant against the Kozilek's Return in Tiu's hand. In order to get it into the graveyard where he wanted it to be, he burnt through it by casting it despite not affecting the board at all. Pilgrim's Eye was the next play, and it was the perfect creature to sacrifice to any emerge creature. Carvalho wasn't going to let that happen and bounced the flier with Reflector Mage. After Carvalho attacked for 7 more damage, Tiu was down to 5 life and saw no way to get out of this mess.

On to Game 4!

Tiu got to work, filling out his graveyard with Vessel of Nascency (oh, delirium!) and ramping ahead with Nissa's Pilgrimage, temporarily ignoring Sylvan Advocate. With Carvalho only at three lands, Tiu knew that Ishkanah, Grafwidow would resolve for sure and things were in great shape when it did. The follow up was a 3/3 Gnarlwood Dryad, and Tiu looked like he had a great defense. All he needed to do was buy himself more time so that he could cast Emrakul, the Promised End with Dispel backup. His next two plays of Vessel of Nascency and Gather the Pack didn't resolve, which impeded his progress. Spell Quellers had chomped them up.

Then, Carvalho's next series of plays turned the tides entirely, using Declaration in Stone to kill all Spider tokens and Reflector Mage to bounce Ishkanah. Tiu pondered for a moment before sacrificing Ishkanah to Elder Deep-Fiend in response, buying himself a turn of respite. However, now that the skies were totally clear, Carvalho was able to soar through with the pair of Spell Quellers.

Three combat steps later, Carvalho put himself through to face Brian Braun-Duin for the title of 2016 Magic World Champion.

Márcio Carvalho defeated Oliver Tiu 3–1 to advance to the finals!

Márcio Carvalho basks in euphoria, having survived past Oliver Tiu to reach the final match.

Márcio Carvalho's Bant Company

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Oliver Tiu's Turbo Emrakul

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