After 15 rounds of Swiss, 8 players had come out on top. I staked out the feature math area to witness all of the quarterfinal matches.
Nicholas Merrien [Abzan Midrange] vs Alexandre Habert [Sidisi-Whip]
Game 1 started out with a lot of one-for-one trades as black removal spells flying left and right. Eventually, cards started to stick on board, with Courser of Kruphix and Sorin, Solemn Visitor on Merrien's side and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant on Habert's side. The game got long and grindy. If one of the players would draw Whip of Erebos, then that would probably give them enough of an advantage to pull ahead. Surprisingly enough, despite playing only a single copy as opposed to Habert's three, Merrien was the first one to find the legendary enchantment. Reanimating Siege Rhinos trumped anything that Habert could do, and the first game went tot Merrien.
Game 2 went by a lot faster. Merrien curved Fleecemane Lion into Anafenza, the Foremost; Siege Rhino; and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. He then followed it up by two copies of Hero's Downfall. "Whoa, you got everything," Habert remarked before extending his hand in defeat.
Nicholas Merrien 2 - Alexandre Habert 0
(19) Martin Juza [Jeskai] vs Pierre Sommen [Abzan Aggro]
In Game 1, Juza had a pair of mulligans and was on the back foot from the get-go. He tried his best, with Valorous Stance trading for Siege Rhino at an efficient mana point and Treasure Cruise compensating for his mulligans, but at that point it was already too late. As it turned out, Siege Rhino came out ahead on Mantis Rider.
In Game 2, Sommen had Thoughtseize and Hero's Downfall to deal with Juza's early creatures. Juza then transitioned into a late-game plan as he pointed his burn spells at Sommen's creatures rather than his opponent's life total. However, despite having Treasure Cruise to refill his hand, Juza lacked the right answers to the questions Pierre was asking. Two copies of Rakshasa Deathdealer turned out to be particularly hard to deal with, and Glare of Heresy was exceptionally useless. Without the right answers, Juza tried to go for a damage race with Goblin Rabblemaster. However, it was not to be. Sommen showed the power of Rakshasa Deathdealer in the late game and won the damage race.
(19) Martin Juza 0 - Pierre Sommen 2
Marcos Cordero Valle [Blue/White Heroic] vs Carlos Ballester Garcia [Green/red Devotion]
Game 1 started with both players keeping relatively risky hands because both knew that their opponent was not playing Hero's Downfall or Bile Blight. Ballester Garcia kept a one-lander with Elvish Mystic, while Cordero Valle kept a creature-light draw with lots of heroic enablers. After setting up in the early turns, the game played out as a rather close damage race between Stormbreath Dragon and a huge, unblockable Battlewise Hoplite. Mainly thanks to Aqeous Form, the first game went to Cordero Valle.
Game 2 featured another risky keep, but this time it was not to be. Cordero Valle kept a one-lander with Mana Confluence, Favored Hoplite, and Aqueous Form, but Ballester Garcia had the perfect card in Lightning Strike to stop it. Ballester Garcia then proceeded to pummel his land-light opponent with Whisperwood Elemental.
Game 3 started with a stare-down. Cordero Valle had a bunch of heroic creatures in hand, but declined to play them into Ballester Garcia's open mana because he was unwilling to give his opponent a good opportunity to play Wild Slash or Lightning Strike. Eventually he had to go for it, and he indeed lost his Favored Hoplite to a burn spell. Afterwards, a Lagonna-Band Trailblazer stuck around and started to grow bigger. However, Cordero Valle was missing Aqueous Form, and this become pivotal when Ballester Garcia cast Hornet queen. The heroic creatures were no match for the swarm of bees, and Ballester Garcia was through to the semis.
Marcos Cordero Valle 1 - Carlos Ballester Garcia 2
Immanuel Gerschenson [Blue/Black Control] vs Marco Carvalho [Green Devotion]
In Game 1, Carvalho had to mulligan down to five cards: 4 lands and Elvish Mystic. He made a real game out of it with Genesis Hydra, but Gerschenson had enough creature removal and counterspells to keep up. Eventually, Gerschenson chained Dig Through Time into Perilous Vault and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and the game was over.
In Game 2, Carvalho got to be on the play and was able to ramp into Polukranos, World Eater and Genesis Hydra. Meanwhile, Gerschenson had mulliganed down to a slow five-card hand and was unable to mount a defense.
In Game 3, Gerschenson had turn-3 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. It went up to five loyalty, then seven, and then there was a Hornet Queen on the blue-black player's side of the board. Carvalho was quickly defeated by his own card.
Immanuel Gerschenson 2 - Marco Carvalho 1