Brian Demars was no stranger to the Grand Prix Top 8 spotlight. With repeated success over the years, including a title in Boston a few years back, Demars was a constant force among the top tables. Squeezing into the Top 8 playing out the last round, Demars turned a late corner against his quarterfinal opponent in the final third game to win from just 1 life.
Jarvis Yu, however, handily marched through his quarterfinal opponent in his first Grand Prix Top 8. With years of bubbling just beneath the final Sunday tables, Yu found his breakthrough in a format he thoroughly enjoyed. Last weekend, his friends rallied around him at Grand Prix Indianapolis, each dressed in Yu's typical Darmouth green polos. Now, they cheered him on from home.
Demars wielded one of the more popular choices for the weekend, Jeskai Miracles. The powerful combination of Counterbalance, Sensei's Divining Top, miracle makers with Terminus and Entreat the Angels, and a bevy of Legacy staples from Brainstorm, Force of Will, and Monastery Mentor formed a pillar of the Legacy format. With ways to stymie fast and slow opponents, Miracles could set up a situation where a massive Entreat the Angels or double Sensei's Divining Top with Monastery Mentor could take down a game in just a turn or two.
Yu similarly brought a powerful deck exclusive to Legacy: Lands. With Life from the Loam and Exploration together, the synergies Lands could bring varied widely. One angle was that Grove of the Burnwillows with Punishing Fire could keep most aggressive strategies in check and even whittle away an opponent's life total given enough time. The flashier side features Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage together, letting Lands create a 20/20 Marit Lage token in a flash and force opponents to answer immediately. Life from the Loam ensured either combo could happen as often as it needed to for victory.
"I beat Miracles one in this Grand Prix in three games, but it's a matchup I'd prefer not to see," Yu said, shuffling up after taking a look at Demar's list. "These Blood Moons. You shouldn't bring them in against me."
"I'd be okay with that," Yu said.
"Everyone says that Miracles is better but when I played it out it felt like 60-40 for Lands," Demars shared. "Blood Moon seems to even that up."
"Reid [Duke] says it's in Miracles favor," Yu said. While Duke and Yu had tested Legacy together many times, Duke was among the elite Miracles players around.
"Reid is the best there is," Demars agreed.
"He has like nine basic lands in his deck. I think he's right," Yu added before asking his own question. "How has Monastery Mentor been for you?"
"It's been insane. I think two is the right number," Demars said.
"Vintage-playable bomb?" Yu took his turn to have some fun with Demars, known for enjoying Vintage in addition to Legacy.
"Yeah. I think so."
While Yu went first in the first game, Demars landed an Island into first turn Sensei's Divining Top. While Rishadan Port came down on Yu's side, Demars managed his upkeep to maximize his mana before Yu could use his lands to tap it down.
However, one Island was all Demars saw.
Brian Demars needed more than just an Island to fight a indestructible flying 20/20 token from Jarvis Yu.
It was among the fastest game either deck had found all weekend.
The second game was a blink-and-miss-it repeat with a quick Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage for Yu, thanks to Exploration, while Demars had just two Islands in play. Digging with Brainstorm and Ponder, Demars played a Plains to represent the Swords to Plowshares needed to fight Marit Lage.
Jarvis Yu took the bold decision to use his Marit Lage combo against Brian Demars's apparent Swords to Plowshares. It paid off.
Yu checked the cards in Demars's hand—a helthy five—before he decided to push his combo through. Demars had no response up until Yu attacked with his 20/20 Marit Lage yet again.
Demars dug in with one last Brainstorm but was left to just extend the hand.
"I had a lot of looks," Demars said, admitted his deck simply let him down.
"Yeah. I had to gamble. Waiting didn't really make sense." Yu said.
"Take it down man." Demars said, shaking Yu's hand again.
Jarvis Yu defeated Brian Demars in two games.