With the exception of the Jund vs. 5-color matchup, the quarterfinals had been marked by blazingly fast decks doing their thing. Two of the three Blue-White Affinity decks, both tempo-based, won. The other winner was a red-white deck with three Goblin Fireslingers and a plethora of bloodthirsty creatures. It had been, to put it simply, a bloodbath.
Aggressive decks were clearly ruling this Top 8. Just Danny Goldsein's Jund-flavored list stood out as an exception. Could that be his pass to the finals? Or would it be his doom.
David Heineman (Blue-White Affinity) vs. Simon Kim (Red-White Aggro)
First, however, let's check in on the aggro-on-aggro pairing under the camera. Heineman's Affinity deck had run roughshod over what looked like a very good Spirits deck, while Kim had already bested another Affinity opponent in the quarterfinals.
Despite Kim being on the play, it was Heineman who hit the board first, curving Gust-Skimmer into Ethercast Knight and taking an early lead. Sunlance put him further ahead as Kim tried to keep up with a trio of Inner-Flame Igniters. But stuck on three lands and unable to muster much more than a few Grey Ogres, Kim simply couldn't keep up with the onslaught…even though that was totally his deck's job!
Spectral Procession all but sealed the deal and gave Heineman an efficient game one win.
In the second, Kim got off to a much fasters start, with a pair of two-drops backed by a Brute Force and an Arrest to put Heineman in an early hole. And when Heineman had Spectral Procession once more, Kim was ready with the Wrap in Flames to counter. And when Battlegrace Angel put the life totals at 23-1 in Kim's favor, it was on to a decider, something Kim was becoming very good at.
However, he kept another slow hand, and his multitude of three drops tripped over one another to enter the battlefield. That allowed Heineman to build things up a little before Kim could start attacking in in earnest.
But eventually he started drawing his efficient cards. Smash to Smithereens let him turn the corner on a Glasdusk Hulk.
But, once again, he was facing down Spectral Procession, this time without the Wrap in Flames to negate it. Combined with a Darksteel Axe, Blinkmoth Nexus and a Glint Hawk Idol, Kim could only shake his head as Heineman flew over for the win.
Scott Markeson (Blue-White Affinity) vs. Danny Goldstein (Jund)
Markeson, as his deck had proved capable in the quarterfinals, came out with a one drop and a two drop to kicks things off. Goldstein, meanwhile, was a litttttle slower.
“No fast start for me,” he quipped as he was forced to discard due to playing a Dimir Aqueduct on the draw. He was down to 16 life before he ever cast a spell. And even that was a miniscule Sickle Ripper. Forced to play a pair of bouncelands to do much of anything, Goldstein was at 10 life seemingly before the game had gotten underway.
Meanwhile, Goldstein didn't have any red mana. So…
“You got me.”
In the second, Goldstein got to start on the play, but it barely seemed to matter. Markeson absolutely flooded the board with creatures—five in total by turn four—and didn't let up.
Goldstein wasn't out of tricks, however, as Necroskitter and Kozilek's Predator started to turn the board around, providing imposing blockers for Markeson's parade of small creatures. Myr Enforcer gave Markeson some beef, but with enough mana and some new Eldrazi Spawn friends, for the first time in the round, Goldstein found himself not under pressure.
That breathing room—made roomier by a Bone Splinters—let Goldstein cast his Hellkite Charger and, well, charge in.
Things were looking gold for Goldstein, but even his Charger was halted by a Somber Hoverguard equipped with a Sickleslicer. The two fliers traded, leaving the board at just a Runed Servitor versus a few Eldrazi Spawn. That forced Goldstein to use his Banefire on the servitor to try and not die.
As a result, the board stalled briefly while both players plucked lands (mostly) and spells (some) from the tops of their decks. But it was Markeson who plucked better, finding a Gust-Skimmer to throw equipment on, flying over for the 2-0 victory.
That meant the finals was an all Affinity matchup to claim one of the most historic titles in all of Magic.