“I've only lost five games so far this weekend,” Noah Walker shared as he shuffled up his cards for his semifinals match at Grand Prix Columbus.
“Yeah, but two of those were to me!” Joe Lossett cracked back from across the table.
Friendly throughout the match and familiar with each other from their time on the regional circuit, Lossett and Walker had sparred in Legacy plenty of times before. Both specialists in the format, their match would prove to be a test of wills between two veterans, all with a spot in the finals of Grand Prix Columbus on the line.
Lossett made a name for himself piloting Miracles, the same deck that brought him to the Top 8 in Ohio. The evolution of the age-old Sensei's Divining Top-Counterbalance combo, Miracles could change the game in an instant with a simple spin of the Top, turning over Terminus or Entreat the Angels to control the board whenever needed. And once the deck had control over the field it commandeered all control of the stack thanks to the CounterTop combo. Once assembled, resolving spells becomes practically impossible for an opponent, and the Miracles player will eventually close out the game after assembling the lock.
On the other side sat Walker and the deck he affectionately termed “his baby” — Grixis Delver. One of the most popular decks of the weekend, the Delver variant packed punch that some of the other builds did not, namely thanks to Young Pyromancer and Lightning Bolt. Red mana also allowed access to Pyroblast out of the sideboard, a key card against the litany of blue decks littering the room.
Walker started off on the back foot with a mulligan to five, but a first turn Delver of Secrets that transformed on Turn 2 helped to make up for that. Facing down the Delver and planning out his next turns, Lossett cast Counterbalance on the third turn, playing around the Daze he expected in Walker's hand. Counterbalance resolved but the follow-up Ponder was indeed met with Daze, though it was countered thanks to the second copy of Counterbalance sitting on top of the deck.
Falling behind in the counterspell war, Walker nonetheless kept up the pressure on board, knocking Lossett to 7 life and using a pair of Wasteland to constrict his mana. Sensei's Divining Top landed for Lossett, but the lock would be useless if he couldn't also find an answer to the Delver.
Fortunately for Lossett, he did just that, finding Swords to Plowshares to send the Delver farming and finally clear the board with the lock in place. A few turns of futility for Walker followed, and Lossett's Vendilion Clique cleaned up from there.
Game 2 was an entirely different story. While Lossett was able to clear the board early thanks to a “Miracle” Terminus, he had no answer to Young Pyromancer churning out an army of tokens. As he dug into his deck for an answer, Lossett found himself tapped low and completely unprepared for the follow-up Winter Orb that locked him out of most of his lands. Falling perilously low and trying to lean on a Vendilion Clique to hold the fort, Lossett couldn't answer the Deathrite Shaman that arrived to finish the game.
That sent the pair into a decider, and it was a master class in Miracles. Delver of Secrets went down immediately for Walker, and though his Young Pyromancer follow-up looked good when he blunted Lossett's attempt to remove it, it was soon revealed that the Miracles player was playing for a much different game.
The fight over the Young Pyromancer cleared the way for Lossett to land the enchantment, and from there Walker's options became nearly non-existent. With the board under control Lossett soon assembled the lock, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor was the final blow to send Lossett to the finals of Grand Prix Columbus.