It was a showdown of two top pros, each with Grand Prix titles already under their belts this season. No. 14 Jacob Wilson took down the Team Limited title in Nashville last fall alongside teammates Matt Nass and Jesse Hampton. He followed that up with a Top 8 at Pro Tour Fate Reforged—at age 20, already the second of his career—and is looking to add yet another trophy to his rapidly overflowing mantle here in Atlantic City.
His opponent, No. 24 Alexander Hayne, is going for his second Grand Prix title in the last month alone. After making what he described as a poor deck choice at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, he bounced back, switching to the breakout deck of that tournament—Esper Dragons—and took down Grand Prix Krakow the following weekend. A win here would clinch Platinum status for the Pro Tour Avacyn Restored champ.
Wilson's mana development sputtered in the first game. Stuck on two lands, he found himself with a lone Sidisi's Faithful to hold off Hayne's early Dromoka Warrior and Summit Prowler. An Encase in Ice was able to slow Hayne's aggression, but it wouldn't be enough if Wilson couldn't draw a third source of mana.
Hayne sought to pounce on Wilson's mana troubles in Game 1.
Hayne was determined not to allow his opponent the time to find it, adding first an Abzan Skycaptain to the board, then a Shockmaw Dragon, while Wilson was forced to discard first once, then twice. With Hayne soaring over with fliers and—still—no third land anywhere to be found, Wilson scooped them up.
Hayne 1 – Wilson 0
On the draw, Hayne kept a hand with a healthy mix of land and mana for Game 2. He started with Lightning Berserker, Kolaghan Forerunners, Bathe in Dragonfire, Abzan Skycaptain, Enduring Victory, Mountain and Plains. No such luck for Wilson, who found himself mulliganing, first to six, then to five. He kept two Islands, Swamp, Sibsig Icebreakers and Ukud Cobra.
Those two creatures managed a reasonable-enough defense for Wilson in the early turns, as Hayne could only manage to chip in for a single damage at a time with his Territorial Roc. Wilson found some removal, in the form of Vial of Dragonfire, but was forced to expend it taking out an Abzan Skycaptain, which simply bolstered Hayne's Lightning Berserker to a 3/3.
Hayne continued to take to the skies, keeping well clear of Wilson's deathtouch Cobra, with first an Aven Sunstriker and then an Aven Tactician. Wilson found a Silumgar Butcher, exploiting his Youthful Scholar and killing the flying, double-striking 2/2 and recoupoing some of the cards he had lost to his mulligans.
However, Hayne used Sarkhan's Rage to burn away the Ukud Cobra, allowing his ground troops to finally attack and drop Wilson to a precarious 5. Berserkers' Onslaught followed for Hayne, and while Wilson had Reach of Shadows to take care of Aven Tactician, one answer wouldn't prove enough to handle the army of double-strikers that soon came crashing in courtesy of the rare enchantment.
Hayne 2 – Wilson 0