"Have you ever Top 8ed before?"
This was how Edward Nguyen and Andrew Brown started their banter as they sat down in the quarters. In Grand Prix Denver's super-stacked Top 8, this is admittedly the most amateur match-up, but both of these combatants are seasoned Magicians.
"Are you going to Omaha next weekend?"
"I am now."
They both laughed.
The matchup was going to be tough for Brown. His Blue-Black Control deck was an underdog from the get-go. Though it was well-positioned against all the midrange-y decks throughout the weekend. Aggressive strategies could kick the legs out from under it. There were a couple key cards Brown would need in his opening hand to take down the match ...
... or a couple mulligans from his opponent followed by a first-turn Thoughtseize from Andrew Brown.
Edward Nguyen was playing from behind the whole game. His mulliganing plus the discard spell severely hurt his ability to make proactive plays. He didn't have enough cards to overwhelm Brown's defenses. Thoughtseize, Hero's Downfall, and Negate stopped any real offense from Nguyen, at all.
But the burn, oh the burn. Little plinks were keeping the game very interesting. Even though there were few permanents to Nguyen's name, he was able to use Arc Lightning, Hushwing Gryff, Lighting Strike, and Crackling Doom to get Brown all the way down to 5 life.
But Brown was able to get both a Perilous Vault and a Pearl Lake Ancient online. It was all but decided by then. He had enough counters to make sure he would survive long enough for the giant lake beast to eat away at Nguyen. A few more turns sewed it up.
Andrew Brown 1 – 0 Edward Nguyen
"Um, judge, can I get an oracle wording on Jorubai Murk Lurker?" Not an uncommon question for Brown to overhear throughout his experience with the deck. The big-butt-having lifelinker could be a huge problem for aggressive strategies.
In the second game, Nguyen ran out Goblin Rabblemaster and a Butcher of the Horde as his opening assaults, along with a couple Thoughtseize to clear the way. The Butcher was gone it short order, but the Rabblemaster gained a couple tokens and kept attacking. This happened until Brown decided it was finally time to crack his Perilous Vault.
The scores were an even 10-10 when Brown got a clean board back to play with. This is exactly how Blue-Black Control likes it. Brown kept the board that way with a multi-targeting Silence the Believers, and slowly took command of the game.
When Pearl Lake Ancient final hit, that—as they say—was that.
Andrew Brown 2 – 0 Edward Nguyen
In Andrew Brown's first Top 8, he heads to the semi-finals!