Semifinals - Lucas Siow (Abzan Midrange) vs. (17) Brad Nelson (Abzan Aggro)

Posted in Event Coverage on May 4, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

Though Lucas Siow started his Magic career while living in the states, he’s a Canadian through and through—from right here in Toronto. He’s revered as one of the top Canadian Magic players around. Fellow Top 8 finisher Dan Fournier called Siow the biggest influence on him as a player (and played the same deck he did this weekend).

But this influence had an uphill battle. At the table, Siow handed a “I Have Played a Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame Member” pin to No. 17­–ranked Brad Nelson. Siow said, “You should probably start giving this out to people preemptively.” Siow was just voicing what a lot of people already think. Former Player of the Year and Standard Mastermind Brad Nelson’s career has been on fire as of late. He’s been racking up the Grand Prix finishes like he’s from the city. This is his twelfth.

“Me? Nah. I’m in walking in Martin’s shoes,” was Nelson’s reply. He was referring to (24) Martin Juza’s stellar 22 Grand Prix Top 8 finishes, but cannot seem to convert them to the Pro Tour.

Siow has two other Grand Prix finals appearances; he was trying to make it a third.

The Games

Siow started with a Thoughtseize. He saw Rakshasa Deathdealer, two Abzan Charm, Thoughtseize, Siege Rhino, and two land. He took Deathdealer.

“Oooo ballsy.” Siow said to Brad Nelson’s splayed hand; Nelson was a color short on land. “Oh wait, did you keep that scry on the top?”

“Yup.”

“Crap.” Siow slumped back in his chair. A return Thoughtseize from Nelson revealed two Courser of Kruphix, Hero's Downfall, Siege Rhino, Abzan Charm, and no land. Nelson took the charm.

“Ballsy from you too,” Nelson retorted. The two smiled.

This Thoughtseize battle continued, as did the banter. But one thing stopped coming—Lucas Siow’s lands.

Once the midgame happened, it was the gumption of Brad Nelson’s keep that was rewarded, not Siow’s. The Torontonian got stuck, and his only threats were his two Courser of Kruphix. While Nelson had things like Anafenza, the Foremost and Siege Rhino, etc. You know, the type of threats that 2/4s don’t stop.

Siow’s life total dwindled. On Nelson’s final attack step, Siow announced his blockers and said, “Well, I’m dead to anything.”

Nelson had anything.

(17) Brad Nelson 1 – 0 Lucas Siow

In the second game, both players kept less-suspect opening hands, but Siow still played out a turn-two Den Protector, because he knew the Abzan Aggro deck was fast, and a 2/1 would be better than no turn-two play.

Here, Nelson started with a one-two-three punch of Rakshasa Deathdealer into a Fleecemane Lion and Thoughtseize. He took Siow’s second Den Protector and tried to stop his opponent’s momentum. With all the life loss from pain lands (Caves of Koilos and Llanowar Wastes) for Nelson, and a Siege Rhino from Siow adding to the troubles, Nelson was finding himself in a hole. He took the Den Protector, because there was little other threats in Siow’s hand. Perhaps he could deal with the one Rhino.

Of course Siow immediately drew and played a second Siege Rhino. Nelson went to 6 life, then 4, thanks to pain-lands. But Nelson’s three Fleecemane Lions were now holding down the fort—and one was monstrous.

It looked like a wall, but Siow had the right answers. He cast Bile Blight to kill two lions; then with his last mana, he pointed a Murderous Cut on the Deathdealer. This left too few blockers for Siow’s attack.

The hometown hero had the hits at 1-1.

(17) Brad Nelson 1 – 1 Lucas Siow

The last game was the slowest of all three. Multiple Hero's Downfalls from Siow took out the threats Nelson deployed. And without proactive threats coming back, both Siow and Nelson failed to create a strong presence on the battlefield.

The former player of the year had two Sorin, Solemn Visitor, but when he all three Downfall, along with mass removal and an instant-speed fight card (Dromoka's Command), Nelson realized staying aggressive would be complicated.

Siow then unmorphed a Den Protector, returning the Courser of Kruphix Thoughtseize had taken, and all bets were off. The big-butted creature then revealed a second 2/4 on the top of Siow’s deck. Nelson sighed. He spun a pen around his fingered and contemplated where to go from here.

He had two Rakshasa Deathdealer on the board, but he was getting despondent. When the Siow’s revealed library showed yet another Courser, Nelson shook his head. He knew what removal Siow had left; he saw all the life gain Siow had; he knew Siow’s life total was too high. What could he do?

Would this be the end for the Standard Master?

Soon “Gain three life” became a common phrase from Siow. His three Coursers were locking down the game. When each land drop is a Healing Salve—and you can Salve from the top of your library—it gets tough to race against it.

And in this case, impossible. Lucas Siow saw his correct lines to win, and took them with aplomb. He successfully took the third game from Brad Nelson, and scored himself yet another Grand Prix finals. Perhaps this time he would finally convert.

Lucas Siow 2 – 1 (17) Brad Nelson

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