Erik Peters, the Nebraska native rising as one of the last local heroes vying for a win, had defeated a dominant Blue-Red Delver deck in the quarterfinals and was now facing another aggressive deck. This time, it was Jonathan Paton with a slippery Merfolk deck. Paton had overcome the beasts and burn of a Four-Color Zoo deck, though that was nothing like the Birthing Pod deck Peters was packing.
Would it be the hometown hero with the public enemy number one, or the surprising stroke of a favorite tribe? This was the match to settle it.
Paton’s early plays were defensive, getting Aether Vial online and slowing down Peters’ assault. Paton even used Phantasmal Image to copy Peters’ Kicthen Finks. Peters used his removal to keep Paton on the defense, and set up an impressive array of creatures including two copies of Birds of Paradise, Wall of Roots, and Scavenging Ooze.
However, Peters’ hand was emptied out.
“That was a top deck-and-a-half,” Paton said.
“I attacked and thought ‘Oh. Wait.’ I shouldn’t have done that,” Paton said. “I should not have done that.”
From there, Peters marched virtually uncontested to complete control of the game.
“Let’s just go to Game 2,” Paton said as me gathered up his cards in play when he was left without any defenses.
Then Peters played the indomitable Siege Rhino.
“When in doubt, just play Siege Rhino,” he said.
Paton fought back, copying the Rhino with Phantasmal Image and locking Peters’ down with Tidebinder Mage. It let Paton take the initiative to attack, but Restoration Angel “untapped” Peters’ Rhino to block. It also let Peters pile back an attack that dropped Paton to 7 life.
Despite playing a few more creatures, Paton didn’t quite have the opportunity to attack for lethal: Peters sat at 22 life and enough blockers. Getting in with Merrow Reejerey, Paton had to leave back the team to soak up all the damage Peters would be throwing his way.
After falling to 1 life, the crack back was enough for Paton to strike through for lethal: Peters had miscalculated his padding against Paton’s potential attacks, and the games were now tied at one a piece.
“That’s why you kept that hand!” Paton said as he set aside his locked-away lands.
“What to use my two mana for?” Paton pondered aloud.
“I wasn’t joking when I said I’d rather be lucky than good,” Peters said. While both were in fair spirits, joking all the while, Peters deck didn’t slowing down in the least. Siege Rhino and more attacks followed. It was much more than Paton could recover from.
“Choke!” Paton said in a dramatic flourish and laugh-pierced groan, after shaking Peters’ hand.
“I know man! That’s why it’s there!” Peters said. Sideboard cards can do some incredible things.
Erik Peters defeated Jonathan Paton, 2-1, to advance to the finals.