Round 8: (23) Josh Utter-Leyton (Blue-Black Control) vs. (9) Samuel Black (Red-Green Bees)

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 10, 2015

By Tobi Henke

Meeting in the feature match area this round, the last of the day, were two of the Top 25-ranked players in the world. On one side was No. 9 Samuel Black, deck builder extraordinaire, veteran of ten Grand Prix and two Pro Tour Top 8s. Across from him sat No. 23 Josh Utter-Leyton, with eight Top 8s at the Grand Prix level and five at the Pro Tour. Both were obviously looking to bolster their career stats further this weekend. Still, each had already accumulated two losses throughout the seven rounds so far.

Utter-Leyton was playing an old favorite with some new tricks up its sleeves, Blue-Black Control with a tiny splash of white for Dragonlord Ojutai. Black, on the other hand, had done some major innovating and had come up with a deck dubbed "Red-Green Bees." Running many of the staples of other red-green strategies of the format, the deck also featured Chord of Calling and Hornet Nest which combines with Roast to generate five deathtouch fliers which, in turn, combine well with Setessan Tactics.

It was a battle of Top 25 players in the last round of Day One at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir.

Things were definitely going to be interesting here.

The Games

Utter-Leyton played first, but it was Black who made the first play of the match (Elvish Mystic), the second (Sylvan Caryatid), and the third (Courser of Kruphix).

Utter-Leyton, who had just played tapped land after tapped land so far, finally sprang into action. Courser met Silumgar's Scorn. Black's next threat of Chandra, Pyromaster met Hero's Downfall, and Stormbreath Dragon met another Silumgar's Scorn.

More Elvish Mystics and a Hornet Nest didn't exactly get Black anywhere. He had already seen Utter-Leyton's Dragonlord Ojutai, which now entered the battlefield and threatened to take over the game. Roast on Hornet Nest gave Black some reprieve and actually even some offense of his own. As the Insects began to swarm the red zone, Utter-Leyton cast Dig Through Time at the end of Black's turn.

Samuel Black's deck turned heads all day, and even piqued the interest of his opponent.

"Crux of Fate, choosing non-Dragons," Utter-Leyton announced. Black tapped a bunch of creatures and lands in response and ambushed Utter-Leyton with Chord of Calling. "That … resolves," said Utter-Leyton glumly. Black searched up Whisperwood Elemental, and then got to manifest five creatures. On his turn, Black attacked with all of them. Utter-Leyton rolled a die to determine which one to block and put Dragonlord Ojutai exactly in front of what turned out to be an otherwise unlikely attacker: Hornet Nest! "That was a bad block," he said.

Utter-Leyton had Hero's Downfall for one of the manifests and fell to 7, then cleared away the Insect tokens with the help of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Another attack and another block later, he fell to 1, as one of the face-down creatures revealed itself to be Whisperwood Elemental.

Black kept up the pressure with Xenagos, the Reveler, made a token, and attacked with three creatures yet again. Ultimate Price, Hero's Downfall, and Dragonlord Ojutai, which hadn't got in any attacks yet but was still doing a good job as a blocker, took care of all of them. Black was left without creatures for the first time since turn one, facing Dragonlord Atarka and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon with eleven counters.

Black's creatureless board didn't last long. "Dragonlord Atarka," he announced.



As Utter-Leyton moved to untap, Black realized his mistake. "Wait, this trigger is a must," he said and wanted to deal 5 damage to Ugin. At that point, a judge became involved and it was determined that Black had missed his trigger and couldn't go back. Next turn, Ugin's ultimate ability took Utter-Leyton from the brink of defeat back to 8 life, 9 with Dismal Backwater, and finally 13 thanks to Foul-Tongue Invocation. There was no coming back from that.

"Wow," said Black. "That was a pretty big punt." Utter-Leyton assured him it wasn't quite as big a deal. "I drew Dig Through Time, so things would probably have been fine anyway."

Black again led the charge, but it was quite a meager charge with Sylvan Caryatid, Courser of Kruphix, Courser of Kruphix, and Sylvan Caryatid cast on turns two through four. By turn five, he had only brought Utter-Leyton who had simply played tapped lands so far down to 15.

Josh Utter-Leyton's Blue-Black Control deck sported a little white for Ojutai goodness as well.

Though he passed his fifth turn without play, Black had committed quite a lot of cards to the battlefield and, Stormbreath Dragon in hand, was only baiting Utter-Leyton to cast Crux of Fate. Utter-Leyton cast Dragonlord Ojutai instead, going to 14 in the process. At the end of the turn, Black bestowed Boon Satyr to create a 6/6 Courser of Kruphix, then cast Stormbreath Dragon, and attacked for 10. Utter-Leyton took it all and went to 4.

Dragonlord Silumgar took over Stormbreath Dragon. Black redoubled with Xenagos, the Reveler and attacked with everything: 2/4 Courser of Kruphix, 6/6 Courser, a Satyr token provided by the Planeswalker, and Elvish Mystic. Utter-Leyton blocked the first with Silumgar, chumped the second with Ojutai, and fell to 1.

Next, Crux of Fate took out all of Black's creatures. However, Black had the perfect replacement in Scuttling Doom Engine. When that attacked for the first time, Utter-Leyton used Black's own Stormbreath Dragon to chump-block, and the second time around he blocked with Dragonlord Silumgar and killed his deathtouch creature with Hero's Downfall. Then…he was out of answers.

"Your deck is awesome," he stated matter-of-factly. "I really want to see your decklist."

Utter-Leyton led with two copies of Temple of Enlightenment, while Black had a turn two Boon Satyr off of Elvish Mystic. He followed that with Chandra, Pyromaster on turn three. But even though Utter-Leyton had started this game without black mana and had earlier revealed himself to be playing an impressive number of lands entering the battlefield tapped, he smoothly played Swamp to cast Ultimate Price on turn three and then played Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to cast both Thoughtseize as well as Hero's Downfall on turn four.

Black emptied his hand by casting a pair of Sylvan Caryatids, and then lost all to Crux of Fate. Black was drawing off the top now, while Utter-Leyton, well, also drew from the top of his deck, but was digging much deeper with Anticipate and Dig Through Time. Black couldn't keep up with Utter-Leyton's card flow, which was soon improved further with Dragonlord Ojutai. When Utter-Leyton revealed a bunch of counters from his hand, the latter simply nodded and picked up his cards in concession.

"I'm still interested in seeing your decklist," Utter-Leyton reiterated.

Black 1 – Utter-Leyton 2

Samuel Black's Red-Green Bees

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Josh Utter-Leyton's Blue-Black Control

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