Corey Baumeister rumbled into the finals after defeating Naya and Abzan Whip opponents in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. In both rounds the combination of Whisperwood Elemental and Mastery of the Unseen had overwhelmed his opponents with their ability to flood the board with armies of 2/2s.
Daniel Cecchetti, with a similar Green-White Devotion list, had taken down two far faster decks in Mono-Red Burn and Abzan Aggro en route to this finals. He was likely to have a much longer match in front of him.
During the Swiss rounds the Green-White Devotion deck had led to drawn match after drawn match—including some mirror matches that never made it out of Game 1—thanks to the archetype's ability to gain massive amounts of life and create massive board stalls. A draw was off the table for the untimed finals, and as they shuffled up both players speculated about how likely it would be that the games to come would end not thanks to damage, but thanks to an empty library.
Both players started with early mana accelerants. Baumeister with a Sylvan Caryatid and Voyaging Satyr, Cecchetti with a trio of Elvish Mystics. That means Cecchetti played the first Whisperwood Elemental of the game, and got an early lead in the race to see who would make the most 2/2 colorless creatures over the course of the match. Baumeister, however, was right behind with his own.
Cecchetti tries to find a way to break the mirror with his lone copy of Temur Sabertooth.
On his sixth turn, the board teeming with 2/2s, Cecchetti landed a Temur Sabertooth, and began returning non-creature manifest tokens to his hand. First up: Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Baumeister, with no access to the Limited all-star in his decklist, had to settle for a second Whisperwood Elemental and simply keep churning out tokens.
Cecchetti began flipping up Sylvan Caryatids, with his Mastery of the Unseen pushing his life total skyward on Baumeister's end-step. On his own turn he brought forth a Polukranos, World Eater and immediately made it monstrous with Nykthos. He added twelve counters to the Hydra and attempt to fight Baumeister's manifest tokens, many of which were flipped up in response and—with Mastery of the Unseen in play—the life totals continued to climb.
The creatures piled up and piled up. Each player found a second copy of Mastery of the Unseen. Life totals hit 50, then 100, then All-But-Meaningless.
One of the less-complicated board states in Game 1.
Cecchetti took his best shot at breaking the stalemate. He began using Temur Sabertooth to repeatedly return Polukranos to his hand, and Nykthos to repeatedly re-cast it and have it fight Baumeister's creatures. Would he be able to whittle them away faster than his opponent's copies of the Mastery of the Unseens would be able to spit them out?
“Polukranos monstrous for...twenty-six?” Cecchetti asked in disbelief as much as said. He managed to clear away all but one of Baumeister's tokens. With that, despite sitting at well over 100 life, Baumeister conceded and they moved on to Game 2.
Cecchetti 1 – Baumeister 0
“So, post-sideboard games are faster?” kidded head judge Toby Elliott.
“Nobody's ever made it to the post-sideboard,” Cecchetti deadpanned, since the mirror has always ended in an unfinished Game 1.
Baumeister started off with a pair of Sylvan Caryatids, Cecchetti with a Voyaging Satyr and Courser. Baumeister landed the first legitimate threat of the match with a turn-three Polukranos that went monstrous and killed a Voyaging Satyr, while Cecchetti responded with two copies of Mastery.
Baumeister applied early aggression with Polukranos, World Eater in Game 2.
The Courser had revealed an Elvish Mystic atop Cecchetti's library, so we was able to cast Genesis Hydra for one to play it for free and rebuild his mana. Cecchetti then found a threat of his own—a Nissa, Worldwaker—and began trying to assemble a defense against the 7/7 World Eater that kept crashing in for Baumeister, dropping him as low as 9 life.
Meanwhile Baumeister continued to apply pressure with a copy of High Sentinels of Arashin—a two-of in his sideboard—and tried to fly past Cecchetti's ground blockers to get in the last few points of damage before his opponent's Masteries could put an end to that plan. But it was not to be as Cecchetti was able to survive an attack, activate Mastery and put himself up to 14. Still somewhat low—at least when compared to Game 1—but safe enough for now.
A top-decked Nykthos, allowed Cecchetti to monstrous Polukranos, killing the Bird Soldier, and putting himself in a suddenly very favorable board position. Now it was Baumeister who found himself on the back foot, with the 7/7 Hydra, and a handful of manifest tokens holding off his opponent's Nissa, Polukranos and Genesis Hydra.
Then Nissa went ultimate, searching five 4/4 Forests out of Cecchetti's library. “Oh, and gaining 10 life,” he said, pointing to his two copies of Courser of Kruphix. “First time I've ever done that.”
Baumeister kept pace as best he could. Adding another two manifest tokens to his board on Cecchetti's end step. Ceccehtti did the same, only as he did so, he was able to smooth his draw steps thank to Courser revealing the top of his library, enabling him to manifest away any card he didn't like during his upkeep.
The board stood at the following—if only momentarily, with yet another manifest trigger on the stack.
A massive Genesis Hydra allowed Cecchetti to tutor through the entirety of his remaining library for a Reclamation Sage. The Sage gunned down Baumeister's lone copy of Mastery and Temur Sabertooth reloaded it back into Cecchetti's hand.
On his next turn Cecchetti looked to end the game in much the same fashion as the first, making his Polukranos monstrous, piling 15 counters on it and whittling a hefty chunk out of Baumeister's board. At last, an attack: a 19/19 Genesis Hydra earned a chump block from a lone Caryatid. But by the next turn Cecchetti's army of Hydras, Forests and tokens had sprung into action, swarming Baumeister's board and earning an extension of the hand.