With so much action going on in the Top 8, we don't want you to miss anything. Here are some highlights of the four Quarterfinals!
Quarterfinal 1: Carlos Ballester (White-Green Tokens) vs. Takaya Saito (White-Black Humans)
Ballester quickly found himself falling behind when Saito opened with a pair of Thraben Inspectors and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gryff's Boon was the perfect to kill Nissa, Voice of Zendikar with, forcing Ballester to make another replacement.
With so much pressure on the board, it was difficult for Ballester to stick a Planeswalker on the board. In the end, even a single Archangel Avacyn was insufficient to hold of the army of little white men.
After dropping Sylvan Advocate and Lambholt Pacifist, Ballester chose to cash in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar for his Emblem. This enabled both creatures to attack, putting him ahead. However, Saito had Declaration in Stone and a splashed Anguished Unmaking to undo it all.
That paved the way for Thalia's Lieutenant and Thraben Inspector to crash in, both boosted by Always Watching. Thankfully, Ballester's Archangel Avacyn arrived to save the day, not only eating up a creatures, but also cruised the skies to victory.
The opening of Town Gossipmonger and triple Thraben Inspector looked impressive, especially Saito had the Always Watching that would double his team's power. Ballester offered Lambholt Pacifist and Sylvan Advocate to block, while eliminating the opposing enchantment with Dromoka's Command.
Archangel Avacyn jumped out at an opportune moment, and Ballester wisely summoned Hangarback Walker for 0. This allowed the Angel to transform, purifying Saito's board in its entirety. Winning that that point was merely as formality, since Saito did not have a removal spell to kill the 6/5 Angel.
Carlos Ballester 2 – Takaya Saito 1
Quarterfinal 2: Eng Chu Heng (4-Color Company) vs. Takuma Morofuji (White-Green Tokens)
Eng steamrolled into the Top 8, going 13-0 in Swiss and will attempt to assemble his combo of Eldrazi Displacer and Brood Monitor. Morofuji is armed with White-Green, and has Deathmist Raptors by his side.
Eng's combo-licious deck required some time to setup and Morofuji wasn't about to allow that. Kicking off with double Lambholt Pacifist, Hangarback Walker and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, it wasn't long before Eng was forced to shove his Catacomb Sift and Eldrazi Displacer in harm''s way.
A timely Dromoka's Command threw off the combat math, and enabled Hangarback Walker to hit the bin in order to create three Thopter tokens in the process. Despite being able to rebuild the board and gum things up on the ground, the three fliers eventually did Eng in.
Eng returned the favor, punishing Morofuji's slow start. By the time a turn 4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar landed, Eng's board consisted of Reflector Mage, Eldrazi Displacer, Zulaport Cutthroat, Catacomb Sifter and the accompanying Eldrazi Scion. That's exactly five creatures on the board with five mana open, and Westvale Abbey was looking very ominous indeed.
In the rubber game, Eng quickly assembled a board of double Catacomb Sifter, while using Reflector Mage to slow down Morofuji. However, the clock wasn't quite as quick and this enabled Morofuji to find time to resolve Deathmist Raptor and Dragonlord Dromoka.
Seeing this as a window of opportunity, Eng decided to transform Westvale Abbey to present a two-turn clock. However, lady luck was not on Eng's side as Morofuji revealed the singleton Stasis Snare from his hand. Adding a second Deathmist Raptor on the board, it was soon over from that point.
Eng Chu Heng 1 – Takuma Morofuji 2
Quarterfinal 3: Kensuke Kato (Grixis Control) vs. Riku Kumagai (Naya Midrange)
Kato was armed with Grixis Control featuring a plethora of removal, and will need to find a way to outlast Kumagai's extremely grindy Naya Midrange deck laden with Planeswalkers.
Kato's first Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was stymied with Silkwrap, but thankfully he had another. Kumgai put up a myriad of threats, such as Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Tireless Tracker, Linvala, the Preserver and even Chandra, Flamecaller. However, Kato the Grixis Control player was able to deftly deflect all of that, using his impressive removal suite consisting Grasp of Darkness, Ultimate Price, Ruinous Path to keep everything in check. Goblin Dark-Dwellers and a second copy of Jace, Vryn's prodigy rebought some of those spells and the final nail in the coffin was Dragonlord Silumgar stealing an opposing Archangel Avacyn.
Or was it? A single Dragonlord Atarka turned it around and Kumagai regained possession of his Angel, transforming into Avacyn, the Purifier since Dragonlord Silumgar had died. Despite having a replacement Dragonlord Silumgar, Stasis Snare was about to put it away.
Kato led with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy before using Duress to take a look at Kumagai's hand. It was interesting, so to speak, since it revealed two Oath of Nissa, two Tireless Tracker and two Nahiri, the Harbinger. It wasn't an easy choice, but he went for the “Green Ponder” in the end.
Kumagai option to put some threats (Tireless Tracker and Sylvan Advocate) on the board first, but those were successfully answered with Ultimate Price and Goblin Dark-Dwellers flashing it back. When it was time to drop Nahiri, the Harbinger, Silumgar's Command was the blowout.
Things went downhill thereafter. When Kato used Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to flashback Duress. Revealing a hand of nothing, Kumagai conceded.
Grixis Control is rather good at killing everything in its way. Tireless Tracker? Die. A second Tireless Tracker? Die. All this taking place while Jace, Telepath Unbound was ticking up and down.
However, when the audience thought all was lost, things went out of control when Kato tapped out low for Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. This paved the way for Archangel Avacyn to enter the battlefield at the end of turn, which charged at Jace, Telepath Unbound, killing it. Nahiri, the Harbinger proceeded to resolve, and suddenly Kumagai had the superior board.
Ruinous Path got rid of the Angel, generating a token to feed Kalitas with. Still Kumagai put up a good fight, eventually assembling a board of three 4/5 Sylvan Advocates. To make things worse, Kato's final two cards in hand were his second and third copy of Kalitas.
Dragonlord Atarka entered the fray, while Kato “topdecked” Wandering Fumarole. That was no good against an 8/8 flier, and he extended his hand in gracious defeat.
Kensuke Kato 1 – Riku Kumagai 2
Quarterfinal 4: Kazuki Yada (Black-Green Aristocrats) vs. Kazushige Suzuki (Grixis Control)
Yada's plan was to flood the board and hopefully transform Westvale Abbey, while Suzuki will have to fend off the horde of threats.
Game 1 was pretty quick because it involved a Turn 6 Ormendahl, Profane Prince. Grixis Control isn't the type of deck that can deal with Indestructible creatures, so that was it.
In Game 2, both players led with Transgress the Mind. For Yada, it plucked away Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet that was a major hindrance to his combo deck. On the other side, Suzuki removed Nantuko Husk, preventing the Black-Green Aristocrats player from any sacrificial shenanigans.
However, he was quickly on the back foot, facing a pair of Catacomb Sifters. Thankfully, Suzuki's Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was able to find him a second copy of Kalitas, temporarily stabilizing the board. Without a good way to deal with the Legendary Vampire, Yada could only attempt to transform Westvale Abbey by sacrificing his entire team, but that was undone with a single Silumgar's Command.
The final game was rather anti-climatic, because Yada was most unfortunately stuck on two Swamps and a single Westvale Abbey when Suzuki had already arrived at nine lands. Not even having access to Green mana, he could only watch Suzuki dismantle him with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Goblin Dark-Dwellers.
When Yada extended his hand, Suzuki still had Kolaghan's Command, Fiery Impulse, Radiant Flames, Silumgar's Command and Grasp of Darkness in his hand. The Forest lying on the top of his deck had arrived to late.