Chris Woodall just started playing Magic competitively earlier this year, and didn't finish within the top 64 players in either of his two previous Grand Prix. At only his third Grand Prix, he found himself battling for a spot in the semifinals.
Shady Badran is the hometown hero, a local to Salt Lake City with a number of Grand Prix under his belt. Like Woodall, he has never made top 8 of a Grand Prix or Nationals tournament before today. With every other player left in the tournament boasting at least one top 8 finish, whoever won this match would have a rough ride ahead of them.
Both players were playing black-green decks, with Woodall adding a bit of red as well. Despite the overlap, Woodall said he didn't think they were fighting for cards too much due to being seated across the table from one another, but it seemed like a different player was cutting off his access to the best black cards.
Badran started out with a double mulligan, going down to five cards. Badran had a Carrion Crow, but Woodall equipped Haunted Plate Mail to a Witch's Familiar. Badran had to sacrifice the Crow to save himself 6 damage. Woodall followed up with Accursed Spirit, which was enough for Badran to concede the game.
Badran 0-1 Woodall
Badran took another mulligan to start game two. It seemed that luck was not on his side, but he had the first play of the game with a Carrion Crow on turn three. Paragon of Open Graves made the Bird a 3/3, shortening Woodall's life expectancy significantly.
Woodall soon followed up with an even larger creature, casting a Siege Wurm to dissuade Badran from attacking with his ground creatures. To deal with the flying Carrion Crow, Woodall cast his own Covenant of Blood. The string of removal spells continued as Badran killed Siege Wurm with Flesh to Dust.
Badran's 5/4 Shadowcloak Vampire presented a threat that would soon end the game if not dealt with. Woodall needed to find an answer again, and used Invasive Species to bounce and recast Shaman of Spring, drawing a card.
Shadowcloak Vampire attacked along with a Xathrid Slyblade to get in 8 damage. Woodall then went on the offensive, attacking for 5 before casting Gravedigger to return his Kird Chieftain, which also joined the fray.
Unable to prevent Shadowcloak Vampire from killing him the following turn, Woodall attacked with everything again, hoping to bluff Badran into a misplay. Badran didn't take the bait, blocking the Kird Chieftain with Xathrid Slyblade and activating its ability to kill it before it could deal any damage.
Badran 1-1 Woodall
Woodall started things off early with Typhoid Rats and Black Cat followed by Necromancer's Assistant. In sharp contrast, Badran's first play was a Verdant Haven on turn three. Woodall attacked for 5, then added a Haunted Plate Mail to the board.
A Shaman of Spring from Badran prevented Woodall from continuing to attack all-out, but Haunted Plate Mail on Black Cat made a creature large enough for Badran to use his blocker, saving himself 5 damage.
Badran cast Kalonian Twingrove a turn ahead of schedule thanks to Verdant Haven, but with only two Forests on the battlefield the creatures were less impressive than usual. Woodall diversified his threats by adding a +1/+1 counter to Typhoid Rats with Living Totem. He attacked with everything, dropping Badran to 7 life after he traded his Twingrove for Necromancer's Assistant.
Badran's Will-Forged Golem added a second blocker to the battlefield, but Woodall cast Covenant of Blood to kill the Kalonian Twingrove token before it grew too large. Badran responded with a Covenant of his own, allowing him to take the damage from the 5/5 Black Cat with 1 life remaining.
Badran used Verdant Haven to cast Blastfire Bolt on Black Cat, killing the creature as well as Haunted Plate Mail. It seemed he had used his sideboard to add a third color to his deck. Unfortunately the trigger from Black Cat made Badran discard his Charging Rhino, which may have been just the card he needed to stave off Woodall's growing army.
With three creatures to Badran's two, it seemed that an attack would win the game for Woodall. He wasn't taking any chances, however, and decided to cast Covenant of Blood for the win instead.
Chris Woodall defeated Shady Badran, 2-1.