After a hectic quarterfinal round that saw all the matches end in 2-0 sweeps, these two semifinalists wasted no time getting down to business. No sense taking a break when you're ready to battle.
Quebec's Martin-Eric Gauthier has been making the Canadian GP and PTQ circuit for over a decade and used to be fixture on Magic Online. Sadly, his days as an MTGO maven are behind him. "I haven't been playing so much lately. These were actually my first drafts with this set. I opened a great sealed and did my best." He showed no signs of rust this weekend. Maybe the hiatus agreed with him. In the Top 8 he returned to the color combination that had served him well all weekend: Blue-Black Exploit.
He would square off against American treasure Mike Sigrist. Sigrist came to this event hoping to lock up Platinum Pro Status, and wound up going the extra mile to make it a Top 8 performance. The rail behind his win-and-in match was a Who's Who of North American Magic. In the Top 8 he assembled a no-nonsense Red-White Aggro deck that added lategame power with Outpost Siege, Descent of the Dragons and a splashed Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury.
Gauthier's finish in the swiss earned him the right to play first, and he made the most of it, opening with a curve of Kolaghan Skirmisher, Dutiful Attendant and Mistfire Adept. Sigrist had no play on two and took some early damage before setting up Dragon Bell Monk and Kolaghan Aspirant. Gauthier sent in his Adept and Skirmisher and Sigrist traded off his Aspirant for the 2/2. A postcombat Silumgar Butcher exploited away the Attendant to try to take down the Monk and get back the Skirmisher in the process, but Artful Maneuver let Sigrist keep his creature in play.
Sigrist rebounded his spell and hit for a quick five, then added a morph to his board. Gauthier swung in with both Butcher and Adept. Sigrist doubled up on the Adept, and Gauthier was happy to trade it away for the morph. Sigrist was down to ten. Gauthier replayed his Skirmisher and passed with four mana open.
Sigrist tapped five and went for Aven Tactician, but Gauthier had a response: Silumgar Sorcerer. He exploited away the Skirmisher and countered the Tactician, then traded off the Sorcerer for the incoming Monk. Gauthier's Butcher was the only creature in play. He hit for three and added a morph. Sigrist was on the back foot and could only manage an Outpost Siege, no real help. Worse, Gauthier's morph turned out to be Gudul Lurker, and the incoming five damage left him at three and needing a quick answer to the unblockable 2/2. Gauthier had Sibsig Muckdraggers getting back his Sorcerer as insurance, but it wasn't necessary.
Gauthier 1 - Sigrist 0
Sigrist led with Dromoka Warrior and got three damage when Gauthier refused to trade away his Marang River Skeleton. Sigrist spent Bathe in Dragonfire to remove it, and Gauthier returned the favor with Douse in Gloom. Sigrist summoned a replacement Kolaghan Forerunners. Gauthier played a vanilla Vulturous Aven. Aven Tactician upsized the Forerunners and got them through for three, but again Gauthier had the answer. This time it was Silumgar's Command, bouncing the Forerunners and killing the Tactician.
That was fine by Sigrist, he had bigger plans. Six mana brought out Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. Gauthier played his sixth land and held back. Sigrist swung in and Gauthier gambled on a block with his Aven and Flatten on the dragon. Sigrist made him pay with a Sarkhan's Rage for a tidy two-for-one.
Gauthier worked to rebuild with Dutiful Attendant and three mana conspicuously open. Sigrist was happy to walk his Forerunners into the Silumgar's Sorcerer. His dragon hit for five and he invited Territorial Roc along to the party. Gauthier was down to eleven and still didn't have a way to handle the dragon. He tapped out to Write into Being and summon Marang River Prowler. Sigrist's two fliers charged in and Gauthier let them by, falling to just four life. After another draw step, Gauthier decided he'd seen enough.
Gauthier 1 – Sigrist 1
In the decider, Gauthier led out with a 1/1 Gudul Lurker but had no turn-two follow-up. Sigrist dropped Dromoka Warrior into play. Gauthier played Write into Being and held his Lurker back on defence. Sigrist added a Screamreach Brawler to his side. Gauthier played his fourth land and passed.
Here Sigrist took a moment to consider things. If you've never seen Mike Sigrist mull things over, you have missed out on a thing of beauty. He cycles through three main expressions: A small pout, a wide-eyed stare over the rims of his glasses, and pursed-lips concentration. To each of these he adds involuntary flourishes, creating a sort of facial ballet.
Sigrist emerged from the tank with a plan: Outpost Siege and the long game. Gauthier removed the Warrior with Douse in Gloom at end of turn, then untapped and expoited away his Lurker to Silumgar Butcher, killing off the Brawlers. Sigrist's Siege offered him an Aven Tactician and he was happy to put it into play.
Gauthier made no play, which was music to Sigrist's ears. Outpost Siege gave him a Misthoof Kirin, countered by Silumgar Sorcerer, but his Dragon Bell Monk hit play unhindered. Gauthier couldn't find a way in, and the Siege was getting Sigrist farther and farther ahead. He went for Jeskai Sage, and after another morph from Sigrist, tried Sibsig Muckdraggers, getting back Gudul Lurker.
Sigrist pounced. Valorous Stance took out the Muckdraggers, then he untapped, hit for three, and tapped six for Descent of the Dragons, converting his team into a trio of 4/4 fliers. A sigh from Gauthier let Sigrist know just how bad it was for him. Gauthier fought on for a turn, stealing a dragon with Shifting Loyalties, but he was simply too far behind. Rather than play it out, he extended the hand, saying "You got it, man. Good luck."
Mike Sigrist defeats Martin-Eric Gauthier 2-1