Quarterfinal: Tom Ross vs. Lam Phan

Posted in Event Coverage on November 16, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Tom Ross is “The Boss” of Infect. The Community Cup hero and Grand Prix Houston 2013 Top 8 contender Ross is known for playing with Legacy poison to great results: The deck helped earn him both of this two StarCityGames Invitational victories, and it had spread its illness throughout both days of Grand Prix New Jersey. In fact, it was so contagious that it put Ross into the top seed for the Top 8.

That’s exactly where an aggressive deck like Ross’s wants to be. Attacking early and often with Glistener Elf, Blighted Agent, or Inkmoth Nexus, cards like Invigorate and Khans of Tarkir’s Become Immense could turn any of Ross’s small fries into an instantly deadly dose.

Lam Phan earned his first Grand Prix Top 8 almost a decade ago at Grand Prix Philadelphia in 2005. There, Werebear was his weapon of choice. While it was still a legal choice here, his deck for this weekend was a Lands twist packing Standstill. Using “man lands” uch as Mishra’s Factory, Phan wanted to keep the battlefield in his favor before setting up Standstill to punish any opponent trying to fight their way out.

Of course, Ross had lands of his own. The Wastelands Phan played beside it all would need to be ready.

The Games

Ross came out swinging in game one, using Daze to protect early and force through five poison counters from Inkmoth Nexus and Glistener Elf. However, Phan spent his countermagic and removal to stabilize from there, tearing back into Ross with Mishra’s Factory.

Out of infectious creatures, Ross could only hold out so long without any reinforcements until the Factory built Phan a game win.

The second game was paced more favorably for Ross. Despite Ross’s best effort with Daze, Phan cleared an early Glistener Elf but Ross wasn’t done: Become Immense let Ross take Phan up to eight poison counters off Inkmoth Nexus. Gitaxian Probe revealed three copies of Lightning Bolt in Phans hand, but there was just a lonely Volcanic Island for him to cast them from.

Inkmoth Nexus with Berserk, protected by Force of Will, let Ross quickly even the score.

The final game of their match started with Ross taking a mulligan and keeping a hand without any creatures to infect with. When Phan cast a third turn Standstill, Ross used Crop Rotation in response to grab Inkmoth Nexus. Using his own Wasteland against Phan’s tapped on to protect it, Inkmoth Nexus began to chip away as Phan passed back turn after turn behind the blue enchantment.

Finally, Phan broke his own Standstill at the end of Ross’s turn to try and kill the Nexus with Lightning Bolt but Invigorate beefed it up for Ross, who was overloaded with cards in hand. Noble Hierarch pumped the Nexus next turn to put Phan at eight poison counters. Ross extended his position with a Blighted Agent. Again Phan tried to kill the Nexus with Lightning Bolt but again Invigorate saved it.

Pyroclasm reset the rest of the battlefield, and Phan bought himself another turn. Sudden Shock was Phan’s definitive answer to the Nexus, though Krosan Grip from Ross returned to favor to Mishra’s Factory.

Reduced to just two Noble Hierarchs in play Ross began to attack the non-poison way, whittling away Phan in 2 damage, then 3 damage chunks when a third Heirarch appeared in play. Sylvan Library massaged Ross’s hand over several turns to set up a 13 damage turn off Become Immense and Vines of Vastwood. It left Phan at just 1 life, which wasn’t enough to survive another turn.

Tom Ross defeated Lam Phan, 2-1, and advanced to the semifinals of Grand Prix New Jersey.

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