We could easily be at the Top 8 of a Pro Tour Qualifier in New York City as these two city slickers sat down for one of the highest profile matches of their careers. Both were playing Infect and both had fought long and hard to make it to the Top 8. Wesley Hovanec came to this event with zero byes; his only loss all tournament was in Round 10--meaning that he had 9 natural wins on Saturday. Phillip Napoli, on the other hand, had a single bye and mentioned that he had defeated four opponents this tournament via normal damage.
The two decks differed slightly. Napoli opted for straight Blue/Green infect while Hovanec decided to splash Black for Plague Stinger in the maindeck and Inquisition of Kozilek in the sideboard. Without access to more two mana infectors, Napoli was forced to play three copies of Viridian Corrupter in his maindeck.
Having the information advantage, Hovanec felt comfortable using Might of Old Krosa on his Plague Stinger and attacking with both of his infect creatures. This put Napoli in an interesting position; unclear what was left in Hovanec's hand, he knew that he had access to lethal poison damage on the following turn if his Noble Hierarch stayed alive. Hovanec was threatening six points of poison, but could have more pump spells in his hand. If Napoli blocked Hovanec's Glistener Elf, he would only have 9 Poison on the following turn.
Napoli thought through his options and opted to not block. Hovanec didn't have any additional pump spells and passed the turn back to Napoli with two mana up.
Napoli started to go for it. He played a Pendelhaven and used it to make his Blighted Agent a 2/3. He then used Might of Old Krosa. In response, Hovanec used Vines of Vastwood in order to fizzle the pump spell on Blighted Agent. In response to that, Napoli used a pair of Mutagenic Growths. Might of Old Krosa fizzled and Napoli attacked in for eight Poison.
Hovanec attacked with his two Poison creatures and an Inkmoth Nexus. Without a pump spell to finish things off, Napoli chump blocked, untapped and attacked in for lethal with his unblockable infector.
Phillip Napoli 1 - 0 Wesley Hovanec
Wesley Hovanec and Phillip Napoli
"That was pretty intense." Napoli quipped after the match. "How good was the black for you all weekend?" he asked his opponent.
"Pretty insane," Hovanec replied, "The best defense is a good offense."
Hovanec started Game 2 with a turn one Noble Hierarch while Napoli started with a Glistener Elf. On his second turn, Hovanec caught a peek at Napoli's hand with an Inquisition of Kozilek. Napoli represented near lethal damage with a pair of Might of Old Krosas and a Mutagenic Growth. Hovanec got rid of one of the Mights and then, while Napoli was tapped out, used Dismember to rid him of an infect creature.
Napoli was unable to produce a second infect creature, and, on his third turn, Hovanec was able to deal ten poison with Inkmoth Nexus pumped with the Exalted of Noble Hierarch along with a pair of powered-up Groundswells.
Phillip Napoli 1 - 1 Wesley Hovanec
"This is a silly match," Hovanec mentioned as the two had played barely thirteen turns together.
Napoli was on the play, however, so he was the first one to draw blood, dealing just three points of poison with his Blighted Agent.
On Hovanec's third turn he attempted to pump up his Agent with Might of Old Krosa. Napoli pulled the same trick that Hovanec used in the first game and responded with a Vines of Vastwood. Hovanec had a second Might of Old Krosa putting Napoli at six poison.
Napoli attacked Hovanec for three more poison a placed down a Spellskite. Knowing that pump spells would get redirected, Hovanec just attacked for two poison before playing a Plague Stinger and an Inkmoth Nexus.
Phillip Napoli takes the quarterfinals 2-1 over Wesley Hovanec!