Quarterfinals: (15) Reid Duke (Red-Green Delirium Ramp) Vs. (5) Luis Scott-Vargas (Bant Company)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 7, 2016

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Coming into his third Pro Tour Top 8 in a row, No. 5-ranked Luis Scott-Vargas is clearly a man with his head screwed on right. He's a man who knows what he's doing and knows how to play Magic better than most. I asked him to go into detail about his game plan for this match with his Bant Company deck:

"I'm gonna Bant him."

Across the table from Scott-Vargas is teen heartthrob No. 15-ranked Reid Duke. A man who also knows his way away around the Magic table and likes long walks on the beach. Duke strikes me as an elegant and well-spoken man, now in his second Pro Tour Top 8 and playing a Red-Green Ramp deck that makes the most of Grapple with the Past and Emrakul, the Promised End. I'm sure he has more to say on this matchup:

"I'm going to win. I'm going to take control of his turns, and beat him." Both players laughed. I assume at my expense.

The Games

Scott-Vargas began festivities with a Duskwatch Recruiter while Duke played a Vessel of Nascency. Reid cracked the Vessel on turn two, taking a Hedron Archive over a couple of lands. Unfortunately for Duke, his failure to play a spell meant he was suddenly facing down a Krallenhorde Howler, which was quickly joined by a Selfless Spirit. Duke played a third land but could only pass back the turn. Scott-Vargas also played a third land without play, but at least attacked Duke down to 12.

Duke tried to Traverse the Ulvenwald, but Scott-Vargas had a Spell Queller for it. Duke then played Kozilek's Return to kill the Selfless Spirit, but it wasn't enough to take out the 2/3 flier or 3/3 Werewolf. Scott-Vargas attacked Duke to 7 and passed the turn back, this time with four mana open.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow entered the battlefield for Duke, joined by a trio of Spider tokens, but Scott-Vargas played Dromoka's Command on his Spell Queller to take down one of the Spiders, then untapped and played a Reflector Mage on Ishkanah. He attacked with his 3/3 and 3/4, and Duke's remaining Spiders dutifully soaked up the attack.

Duke played Ulvenwald Hydra, but Scott-Vargas showed him a second Reflector Mage and they were off to Game 2.

Luis Scott-Vargas is here to make puns and Bant people, and he's all out of puns.

As they waited to start Game 2, Duke reflected on Game 1. "Thinking about that hand, knowing you had Recruiter I wonder if it would have been better to play the Vessel on turn two instead of turn one, but I guess if you'd had Sylvan Advocate I would rather have played it the way I did."

Scott-Vargas again led with Duskwatch Recruiter, but this time Duke had a Fiery Impulse for it. When Scott-Vargas passed back his third turn without play, Duke was not in the least bit surprised to have his Nissa's Pilgrimage encounter a Spell Queller. Scott-Vargas followed it up with a Tireless Tracker and a fourth land, before attacking Duke to 18.

Duke played Hedron Archive and passed, falling to 13 when Scott-Vargas attacked with the Tracker and Queller. Scott-Vargas considered his follow-up for a moment, before dropping a Sylvan Advocate and a Selfless Spirit into play. Duke was now facing a sizeable army and would need to do something promptly, lest he get Banted.

Duke untapped and immediately played and cashed in a Vessel of Nascency, finding a Dragonlord Atarka over three lands. He chased it up with Nissa's Pilgrimage and passed back the turn.

Scott-Vargas drew and played his sixth land. Between his Tireless Tracker, Selfless Spirit, Spell Queller, a Lumbering Falls, and his now 4/5 Sylvan Advocate, he had lethal.

Both players now had access to their sideboards, so they tucked in to tailor their strategies.

In Game 3, Scott Vargas played an early Sylvan Advocate and a Duskwatch Recruiter, but this time Duke met them with a Tireless Tracker of his own. Duke followed up with a land to get a Clue, and a Hedron Archive, which allowed him to both develop mana and cash in his Clue. Scott-Vargas simply passed through his turn, allowing his Recruiter to transform.

Okay, what I said about Scott-Vargas being out of puns is clearly a lie.

Duke played his fifth land to give himself seven mana, and played Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Scott-Vargas tapped his four lands to counter the Spider with a Clash of Wills for three. Duke then played Traverse the Ulvenwald for Emrakul, the Promised End. At this point, he had five different card types in his graveyard.

Scott-Vargas played land number five and immediately played a Collected Company, finding Spell Queller and a Reflector Mage to bounce Duke's Tracker. Scott-Vargas attacked Duke down to 14.

Duke untapped and again played Traverse the Ulvenwald, this time for Dragonlord Atarka. He then played a Forest and the Dragonlord bathed the Sylvan Advocate and the Duskwatch Recruiter in flame, leaving the Spell Queller and Reflector Mage to fight on.

Scott-Vargas exhaled loudly as he began his turn, and again slammed a main-phase Collected Company, this time turning over Sylvan Advocate and a second Reflector Mage, sending Atarka back from whence it came. Scott-Vargas continued his attack, dropping Duke to 10.

Emrakul descended upon the battlefield. Scott-Vargas's eyes glazed over as he fanned his hand out on the table. Clearly out of his mind, Scott-Vargas sent his Sylvan Advocate head-first into the towering Eldrazi, and then played his third Collected Company of the game, somehow failing to find any of the creatures that were so clearly there to anyone watching. He then left the remaining cards in his hand face-up on the table: Archangel Avacyn, Spell Queller, and Reflector Mage.

Scott-Vargas shook his head as if trying to dislodge a fly and untapped for a turn of his own. He played the Reflector Mage on Emrakul and attacked for 6, dropping Duke to 4 before passing back the turn with three mana open and a Spell Queller openly in hand.

Reid Duke puts on a brave face as he gets Banted.

Duke considered his turn carefully. He cracked his Clue and replayed his Tireless Tracker. Scott-Vargas accepted the bait and Quelled the Spell. Duke played Fiery Impulse on the Queller to get back his Tracker, but it appeared the writing was on the wall.

"I'm at 4, right?" he asked, before extending his hand, "good games."

Luis Scott-Vargas defeats Reid Duke 3–0 and will move on to the semifinals, where he'll face either Owen Turtenwald or Yuta Takahashi.

Reid Duke's Red-Green Delirium Ramp

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Luis Scott-Vargas's Bant Company

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