For Gold-level pro and Magic globetrotter Christian Calcano, a win here ensures that trophy number three is still within reach. His Grixis Delver deck, with a teensy splash for the green ability on Deathrite Shaman, has been serving him well all weekend long.
For Seattle local Chase Hansen, this Top 8 was already unexpected, but his longtime deck of choice in Legacy—Reanimator—got the student through into the Top 8. Now, he was just two wins away from being a hometown hero.
Who would take it down?
Hansen led with Hapless Researcher, giving him the option of a brutal early start that Calcano was immediately able to see with 2 life and a Gitaxian Probe. Hansen's hand was revealed to contain two reanimation spells: Reanimate, Animate Dead, and three lands. Calcano, with a Delver of Secrets, Deathrite Shaman, and Stifle in hand, opted to go slow and safe, passing with a Flooded Strand available.
Hansen's top-decked Hapless Researcher gave him another option as he swung in for 1, passing with two potential discard outlets. However, as Calcano sculpted his mana base with fetch lands, Hansen had little to no action as a Deathrite Shaman was cast, resolved, and sat in play ready to exile any big creatures with an untapped Tropical Island.
Another Deathrite Shaman further complicated matters. With two Deathrites now, Calcano felt safe to deploy his threats: two Delver of Secrets and a Gurmag Angler. A revealed Stifle on top made the Delvers into Insectile Aberrations, and said Stifle stopped a Hapless Researcher's discard effect when Calcano sent in his team.
When Hansen sacrificed the other one, Calcano let it go. Misdirection from Hansen hit the bin after drawing his card, and Entomb dropped Griselbrand in there as well. Suddenly, Hansen's graveyard started getting stocked, as on his turn, Careful Study put Iona, Shield of Emeria in the graveyard. Animate Dead earned a Stifle once it came in, and when Hansen's Brainstorm showed nothing to stop that, Hansen let out a quiet, "We're dead..." as he picked up his cards for Game 2.
During sideboarding, Calcano brought in some necessary interaction with Hansen's reanimation spells in place of his Lightning Bolts and Gurmag Anglers. This included his copies of Cabal Therapy and some Surgical Extractions. Upon one further glance through, Calcano added a little pressure as well as disruption in Vendilion Clique from his board, siding out a Stifle.
Hansen led off the second game with Hapless Researcher, while Calcano had Deathrite Shaman. The two players traded some back-and-forth action, with Hansen's Abrupt Decay stopping Calcano's Shaman. Calcano replaced it with another, stopping the Shaman from dying to Izzet Charm with Daze, while Wastelands kept Hansen's land count contained. Once Deathrite was online with a Tropical Island, Calcano moved towards Delver of Secrets, which transformed with a Stifle reveal on the next turn.
With a hand of action and an active Deathrite Shaman, Calcano did not flinch at Hansen's Entomb for Iona, Shield of Emeria. Hapless Researcher put a Griselbrand in the graveyard, and Exhume presented a very interesting threat. Calcano responded with 2 life and a Surgical Extraction, exiling Griselbrand out of the game. Next, Deathrite Shaman exiled Iona, Shield of Emeria before Exhume finally resolved, netting Calcano another Deathrite Shaman and Hansen a Hapless Researcher.
Two turns later, and Hansen offered the handshake.
Christian Calcano defeats Chase Hansen 2-0 and advances to the finals!