With 24 of the world's best players packed into a single tournament, we saw top-level Magic in every single match. Let's dive into some highlights of today's Twitch stream.
Round 8: Kelvin Chew pumps his opponent's creature…for a good reason
Down to 4 life, with an empty board, and facing a lethal attack on the next turn, Kelvin Chew had his back against the wall against Seth Manfield. His hand wasn't of much use either. He had a Vampire's Zeal without any creature to pump on his side of the table, and a Legion's Judgment without any legal targets. At least, that's what it looked like.
Chew's solution could certainly be called clever. He pumped his opponent's creature and two-for-one'd himself, but it kept him alive for another turn.
Round 9: Welcome to Combat Math class
With 12 creatures on both sides of the board, alpha strikes tend to be…complicated. When you factor in combat tricks and trample creatures, it becomes nearly impossible to figure out. Yet, Samuel Black put Brad Nelson to the test. "Looks like Brad can't possibly survive here," commentator Luis Scott-Vargas said, but his first impression was off, as Nelson did find a way.
If you want to get better at combat or just like puzzles in general, put yourself into Nelson's shoes and try to figure out the optimal blocks. Note: You only get five minutes to do so, and you're not allowed to use any spreadsheet software.
Round 10: Another ridiculous board state, this time with Bellowing Aegisaur
Samuel Black really signed up for the combat math class today, as he got himself into one built-up board state after another. Here, he uses Atzocan Archer to fight his own Bellowing Aegisaur, dishing out a +1/+1 counter to each of his ten other creatures. They nearly ran out of dice in the feature match area.
I also loved how William Jensen was completely unfazed. "Bring it," he said with the confidence of a master who was dominating this event like no other. And guess what? Black couldn't even figure out a profitable attack and just passed the turn.
Several turns later, the board state got even bigger, as Jensen stole the Bellowing Aegisaur via Hostage Taker and triggered it twice via Fiery Cannonade. The +1/+1 counters were literally everywhere, but Jensen was able to take the match and stay undefeated.
Round 11: RIP The Scarab God
The Scarab God has been called "the best card in Standard" by several World Championship competitors. Vraska's Contempt or Essence Scatter are good answers to it, but usually it's pretty difficult for a Temur Energy deck to permanently deal with. You can deal 5 damage to it with Harnessed Lightning, but it always returns from the graveyard.
Unless you combine the removal spell with a Deathgorge Scavenger trigger. Seth Manfield showed everyone the power of this new Standard interaction during his Round 11 match against Gerry Thompson.
Round 12: For control players, it's only the last point of damage that matters
The first 19 life points are merely resources that you can play around with, as Kelvin Chew showed us. When he was at 6 life and Owen Turtenwald attacked him with Torrential Gearhulk, he didn't even consider the notion of blocking.
And on the next turn, while he was facing two lethal attackers at that previous 1 life, he didn't think twice about attacking with The Scarab God. This man truly knows no fear. His confident play carried him to a Top 4 finish.
Round 13: Does he have the read?
In a potential win-and-in match between Javier Dominguez and Josh Utter-Leyton, with the score even at one game apiece and the final game nearing its end, Utter-Leyton had a very tough choice to make.
At 9 life, he faced Chandra, Torch of Defiance on 6 loyalty and a tapped Glorybringer. Utter-Leyton, whose board consisted of The Scarab God and four untapped lands, had two options. The first was to eternalize a Bomat Courier, attack, and take down Chandra. The second was to hold back a blocker in case Dominguez’s hand was exactly Hazoret the Fervent and a land. Here's what happened.
To be fair, if Chandra had stayed in play, then there was no guarantee that Utter-Leyton could beat Dominguez's hand even if he tried, but the suspense felt by both players was real. It was the win that Dominguez needed to eventually make it to the Top 4.
Round 14: That final +1/+1 counter was hotly contested
In another potential win-and-in match between Owen Turtenwald and Josh Utter-Leyton, the last point of life was again of pivotal importance. With Utter-Leyton at 6 life, Turtenwald attacked with a 5/5 Longtusk Cub and used his final two energy two turn it into a lethal attacker.
Utter-Leyton would have none of it, as he Disallowed the trigger. He would've preferred a removal spell, but at least it kept him alive. Well, except that Turtenwald was able to Harness the Lightning and grow his creature after all.
Utter-Leyton may have lost that game to a sweet play, but he clawed back to win the next two games. After the dust settled, he found himself in the Top 4 alongside the aforementioned William Jensen, Kelvin Chew, and Javier Dominguez.