Round 8 Feature Match: Antonio Del Moral León (Jeskai Ascendancy Combo) vs. Bill Chronopoulos (Four-Color Rally)

Posted in Event Coverage on March 19, 2016

By Frank Karsten

This match pitted together two players who were no strangers to high-level play. Antonio Del Moral León won Pro Tour Fate Reforged, while Bill Chronopoulos had been part of the Greek 2014 World Magic Cup team and the Grand Prix London 2015 Top 8.

Both were playing four-color combo decks, but with completely different game plans. Chronopoulos had registered with Four-Color Rally, the consensus best deck in the format, while Del Moral León had opted for a rogue Jeskai Ascendancy brew. Given that this was his last chance to try a crazy Standard deck with cards from both Khans of Tarkir and Oath of the Gatewatch at a major event, he made the most of it by combining Jeskai Ascendancy with Expedite, Slip Through Space, and Elemental Uprising. It's always a pleasure to see an exciting brew endorsed by a well-known player.

Game 1

Del Moral León, on the draw, had Rattleclaw Mystic on turn two, but it was immediately bounced by Reflector Mage. Normally that's not a big problem because you can just play it face-down as a morph to get around Reflector Mage's ability, but there was a problem: Del Moral León didn't have a third land.

So he effectively had to skip his third turn, and one extra turn was all that Chronopoulos needed. He quickly chained Collected Company into Rally the Ancestors, which allowed him to set up lethal amount of Zulaport Cutthroat triggers before Antonio Del Moral León had a chance to set up his combo.

Antonio Del Moral León 0 - Bill Chronopoulos 1

Game 2

In the early turns of the game, it looked like Del Moral León was playing a textbook blue-red control deck featuring Magmatic Insight, Slip Through Space, Expedite, and Treasure Cruise as card draw spells and Fiery Impulse and Radiant Flames as removal spells.


Antonio Del Moral León vs. Bill Chronopoulos

Eventually, he found Jeskai Ascendancy, and the fun began for Del Moral León. After first casting Radiant Flames to sweep Chronopoulos's board (well, except for Nantuko Husk) while looting in the process, his next turn was a big one.

If, at that point, Del Moral León would have had a string of cantrip in hand, then he could have easily set up a lethal attack on that turn. But without additional card-draw spells, he merely ate an Eldrazi Scion token with his animated Mystic Monastery and passed the turn with Rattleclaw Mystic as his sole untapped permanent.


Antonio Del Moral León

When Chronopoulos, on his turn, cast Collected Company, Del Moral Leon tapped his Rattleclaw Mystic for Dispel and triggered Jeskai Ascendancy. The turn was passed before it was discovered that Rattleclaw Mystic didn't actually have haste on Chronopoulos' turn anymore, so it couldn't produce the mana for Dispel. After a lengthy ruling and appeal process, the head judge rolled back to the point where the Dispel was cast incorrectly. Collected Company resolved, and Chronopoulos increased his clock to the point where Del Moral León was forced to chump block with his Rattleclaw Mystic.

But eventually, Del Moral León found the tools he needed to win the game. He got out a second Jeskai Ascendancy and activated Wandering Fumarole. A Treasure Cruise got him two untap and two pump triggers. Magmatic Insight did the same. Soon enough, the Fumarole had grown to a 7/11 and was made unblockable by Slip Through Space. Two Elemental Uprising sent a Mystic Monastery and a Cinder Glade into the fray as well, and the resulting attack was more than lethal.

Antonio Del Moral León 1 - Bill Chronopoulos 1

Game 3

At the beginning of the third game, the two linear combo decks spent a surprising amount of time disrupting each other. Del Moral León had a Fiery Impulse for Chronopoulos' Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, while Chronopoulos in turn exiled Jeskai Ascendancy with Transgress the Mind.


Bill Chronopoulos

However, Del Moral León had another copy of the enchantment in hand, along with Expedite and Magmatic Insight to dig deeper into his deck. He quickly found a Treasure Cruise as well, while Chronopoulos merely added an Elvish Visionary and a Nantuko Husk to his board—not the most impressive clock.

Nevertheless, Del Moral León's deck fizzled and failed to cough up any additional action. Chronopoulos added Grim Haruspex and Zulaport Cutthroat to the battlefield, and Del Moral León life total dwindled down to zero shortly after.

Antonio Del Moral León 1 - Bill Chronopoulos 2

Del Moral León falls to 5-2-1 and has his work cut out for him. Chronopoulos is guaranteed a spot in Day 2 with his 6-1-1 record and is still in the running for Top 8.

Bill Chronopoulos' Four-color Rally – Grand Prix Paris 2016

Sideboard (15)
3 Murderous Cut 3 Arashin Cleriv 1 Minister of Pain 2 Duress 4 Dispel 2 Transgress the Mind

Antonio Del Moral León's Jeskai Ascendancy combo – Grand Prix Paris 2016

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