Semifinals: Nick Slind vs. Adam Jansen

Posted in Event Coverage on February 1, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Adam Jansen, the Team Captain of Hot Sauce Games, came prepared. He had packed his brand-new Hot Sauce Games shirt that was ready to premiere at the Pro Tour. It's got his name on the back, and everything. This morning he said “is it too presumptuous to bring it?” It wasn't. Once he clinched Top 8, he said, “Well, I guess I should break this out.” He smiled.

Jansen has been to the last 11 Pro Tours and though he's always on the verge of falling off qualification, has never failed to re-qualify himself–either through a good finish at the Pro Tour, a Grand Prix Top 8, or even a few PTQ wins. This finish adds to his Grand Prix Detroit Top 8 finish, and a Pro Tour Junior Circuit Top 8 (where he lost to a young Patrick Chapin).

The laid-back Jansen may not seem imposing, but he gets through when he needs to. This draft was no exception. After first-picking a Fall of the Titans, probably the best surge card in the set, he got a third-pick Jori En, Ruin Diver. It was all gravy after that. Jansen got what some would consider the dream Blue-Red Surge deck.

“He's got it,” was what his opponent Nick Slind said when he looked at Jansen's picks. “And I passed him that Jori En too,” he sighed. He studied the list intently, looking for holes.

Slind is a Spokane, Washington native and today he capitalized on his 9-0 finish from Saturday to get under the Top 8 lights. He's had an Eastern Washington fan club all weekend. A friend had said earlier, “We don't get a lot of rep out there, but he's our limited master!”

Slind had drafted a powerful, three-color deck with a healthy colorless bent. It was full of stompers like Reality Smasher, but it was definitely not as quick as Jansen's deck. “I'm going to have to try to survive the first five turns. If I can do that, I think I can turn the corner,” Slind said. We'll see how it plays out.

The Games

Nick Slind knew he needed have the right hand crafted to stop the Blue-Red onslaught, and his first two were not that. He aggressively mulliganed to five cards. After he kept, an early Scion Summoner and Warden of Geometries came down to block. Not bad.

However, Adam Jansen had early plays and plays after that—Umara Entangler, Zada's Commando, and a Goblin Freerunner in the first four turns. He was curving out. But he was held at bay by those blockers on Slind's side. Jansen's creatures are not overly big.

It seemed that Slind might be able to stop that early damage.

But then the game exploded, brutally.

“Bounce, damage, prowess ... attack for eight?” Jansen cast a Brutal Expulsion, bouncing the Warden, dealing two damage to Scion Summoner, and giving the Entangler +1/+1.

And just like that Slind went from 17 to 9. Slind had not turned the corner as he hoped.

Slind's follow-up looked great on the surface—a Reality Smasher back to block could stop things, but Jansen was unphased. He cast Press into Service (discarding a card for the Smasher), then stole Slind's last creature and used it against him. It all happened in an instant. Jansen went up 1-0.

In the second game, Jansen's start was much slower—only a turn-three Valakut Invoker to his name. This gave Slind some time to set up his defenses. He had a Scion Summoner and a Kozilek's Translator, then Oran-Rief Hydra. This was a great set-up. Slind's deck could definitely do some work when it doesn't start on five cards.

Jansen slowly tried to kill off Slind's creatures, and plinked in the air with an Eldrazi Skyspawner, but Slind had more creatures, and more creatures. His Translator had already taken Jansen to 14, and once a Havoc Sower got in there, Jansen was falling behind quickly. His creatures were just too small. A 3/5 and a “5/4” getting in there every turn was a lot to handle. Jansen sunk to 6.

Jansen tried to find a way out of it—he had finally hit his eighth land to ignite Valakut Invoker. But Slind still had a handful of cards. Once Slind turned everything sideways, Jansen packed it in.

Slind's deck did exactly what he said it needed to do. It survived, then turned the corner. Just one more time.

In the third game, Jansen was back on the play—a scary thought for Slind. But again Jansen lacked a play until the third turn with an Eldrazi Skyspawner. However, Slind was yet to show a flyer, so perhaps the Skyspawner would do some work.

Slind attempted to build his wall—Loam Larva, Warden of Geometries and Lifespring Druid. But on the fourth turn, Jansen sprung into action, circumventing the traditional red-zone ground assault. Jansen cast Jori En, Ruin Diver into an Outnumber, drawing a card and killing the Druid (thanks to the Eldrazi Scion made from the flier).

Now we'd see what Jansen's deck could do with the legendary creature. If Slind stopped him from attacking, he'd just load up the board, drawing cards each time, and waiting for his moment.

The next turn he drew another card, playing both Goblin Freerunner and Zada's Commando. And that Eldrazi Skyspawner got in there again. There was no way to stop the flyer in sight.

Then Jansen's moment came. He used a Brutal Expulsion and a Zada's Commando trigger to sneak Slind into single-digit life points. Then he added a second and third flyer in Cyclone Sire and another Skyspawner, drawing more cards. Slind's creatures just looked better, but they weren't getting the job done.

An attack later and Slind was at 1. After his draw step, 1 life was as good as no life. Nick Slind shook Adam Jansen's hand and wished him luck in the finals.

Adam Jansen is into the finals!

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