“Ok. We can start? Am I dead?” Were the first words Andrew Elenbogen said to his opponent when the matchup started. It was an understandable question. Stephen Speck was on the Amulet Bloom combo deck, which was an unlikely Top 8 candidate for sure, but now it was here, and it was a menace. With the right combination of draws, you could power out a very early Primeval Titan, or possibly scarier, a first-turn Hive Mind plus Summoner's Pact for the on-opponent’s-first-upkeep win.
Stephen Speck had already killed someone with that combo on turn one this weekend. It was scary.
But I guess the same could be said for Elenbogen’s deck. Nobody expected Red-Green Tron to be a thing, and it was capable of some nutso plays itself. The turn-three Karn Liberated was among them.
No turn-one kill this game. Rats. Well anyway, turn-two Summer Bloom from Speck dropped a lot of land into play, but there was no Primeval Titan or Hive Mind yet for the windmill slam. This was disappointing for Speck, but great news for Elenbogen.
He took advantage of the opportunity and cast a Karn Liberated right on time (you know, turn three) thanks to completing the full suite of Urza lands—Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Urza's Power Plant. This was more disappointed for Speck.
The big-daddy Planeswalker immediately started by stealing a land from play, then started nabbing cards from the hand of Elenbogen. Speck was hoping he could draw off the top well enough to just win out of nowhere, but he couldn’t over come the Karn Father.
Andrew Elenbogen 1 – 0 Stephen Speck
The second game started and finished in very short order. Andrew Elenbogen tried to slow down Speck with a Ghost Quarter on one of the many non-basic lands in Speck’s deck, but it was like a single blip on radar screen. Speck didn’t care at all. On the fourth turn, he cast a Hive Mind with the Summoner’s Pact sitting waiting in his hand.
Speck cast the Summoner’s Pact, which Elenbogen mandatorily copied thanks to Hive Mind, and on the Red-Green Tron’s player’s upkeep, he died to the upkeep bill he couldn’t afford to pay.
Andrew Elenbogen 1 – 1 Stephen Speck
“Urza’s Power Plant, Chromatic Sphere, Chalice of the Void on zero, go.” That’s how Elenbogen started the last game. Chalice could be extremely powerful in the match-up because it could shut off Speck’s ability to win by casting Summoner’s Pact. Elenbogen just had to hope that Speck’s other way to win, a big Primeval Titan, was nowhere in sight.
The two played “land-go” for a turn or two. Elenbogen sculpted his hand as he watched Speck just drop lands. But the problem with Amulet Bloom for an opponent lives and dies on lands and lands alone. Just because it’s not doing anything, doesn’t mean it’s not about to win the game.
As it happened Speck, had the Primeval Titan in his opening hand—Elenbogen’s nightmare. And thanks to an untap trigger from an Amulet of Vigor and Simian Spirit Guide, on turn four a giant 6/6 entered the battlefield. Vesuva copied Slayers' Stronghold to make some, hasty, pumpy shenanigans, and it was over in a flurry. Attacking until death.
The early Chalice for zero that Elenbogen was hoping would shut off the all-powerful Summoner's Pact was irrelevant. Stephen Speck had taken the last two games to advance to the semifinals!
Stephen Speck 2 – 1 Andrew Elenbogen