Round 14: Jacob Wilson (Black-Green Delirium) vs. (15) Reid Duke (Red-Green Delirium Ramp)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 6, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

"How's this year going for you?" No. 15-ranked Reid Duke asked Jacob Wilson as they sat down and shuffled. It was possible a win here could mean a Top 8 for either player. The stakes were getting big.

"Really bad, till now," Wilson said. It was true that it hadn't been a stellar year for the two-time Pro Tour Top 8 finisher, but doing so well here had been a last-chance boon.

"If I Top 8 though, I'll be Platinum, probably qualify for Worlds, Canadian team captain..." Things were coming up Wilson.

"You'll pass [Alex] Hayne if you Top 8?" Duke asked.

"Yeah, and if I 11-5, Platinum exactly."

"Three win-and-ins for that at least," Duke said, always looking to highlight the positive.

"I could go for the triple draw..." Wilson joked.

"Seems unnecessarily risky?"

"Yeah, or foolish." The two smiled and finished shuffling up. Duke had been having a pretty darn good year for himself. On top of a Grand Prix win and two more Top 8s, he's in the running for Constructed Master for the World Championship, a slot that might just be within his grasp—although a rogue No. 2-ranked Owen Turtenwald seems the one to catch.

Duke is playing The Pantheon's Red-Green Ramp Delirium deck. It uses some slightly unconventional ramp cards, most notably Hedron Crawler, on its inexorable march to Emrakul, the Promised End. It's been outgunning a lot of the decks that are just slightly smaller than it—like, say, Wilson's Black-Green Delirium.

When asked how he felt about the matchup. Wilson just shook his head slightly. He didn't respond audibly at all. He wasn't hopeful. His best chance was to maximize damage where he could and race the Emrakul.

The Games

Jacob Wilson started early with a Grim Flayer into a Nissa, Vastwood Seer. This sequence was one of the better ways to attack in early with the deck while also setting up your midgame. But Duke was having none of that. He had two Kozilek's Returns in his opening grip and used them in succession to wipe out those first creatures, and a follow-up Grim Flayer from Wilson.

After Duke stopped Wilson's waves, Wilson returned the favor with Languish on Duke's own Nissa and a Hedron Crawler. Wilson did have two Hissing Quagmires though, and he used his turns to plink away with the creature land.

Meanwhile, Duke spent his turns crafting his graveyard and his land count. Vessel of Nascency tended to work wonders for the graveyard, while Traverse the Ulvenwald for Shrine of the Forsaken Gods helped the mana count.

Then, the crafting paid off. Duke started rattling off the card types in his graveyard out loud while counting on his hand.

He got up to six. He ran out of fingers.

Reid Duke's hand (left), with no extra fingers.

He then tapped seven mana for Emrakul, the Promised End. Wilson had worried about its arrival, and when it came he had expected it, waiting almost for the inevitable landing.

Duke used Wilson's turn to kill a Hissing Quagmire, and importantly, used Ruinous Path to do it. This was a card that could indeed target the great big Emrakul, so Duke got that sorcery stuff out of there.

Wilson drew a Sylvan Advocate for his actual turn, but it looked anemic across the board from Commander Squiggly. Dragonlord Atarka played clean-up on the Advocate, and Duke swung for 13.

Wilson drew his next card and the answer certainly wasn't there, so Duke took Game 1.

Between games Jacob Wilson sided out anything that wasn't damage—Liliana, the Last Hope? Outta there. Languish? Not today. Wilson was going to beat down as if his life depended on it. Quite frankly, his Platinum, World Championship, and World Magic Cup lives kinda did.

In the second game, Trangress the Mind from Wilson saw World Breaker, Tireless Tracker, Dragonlord Atarka, Ulvenwald Hydra, Greenwarden of Murasa, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and Nissa's Pilgrimage.

Wilson took the Pilgrimage, the one card that made all the others remotely castable.

"Well that makes this plan look a bit worse..." Duke said.

The Canadian had a third-turn Tireless Tracker and a fourth-turn Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. When he saw Duke's hand was devoid of anything threatening, Wilson went quickly to the mat.

Duke got his fifth turn back at 9 life, which is quite low given the midrange nature of Wilson's deck—but that's exactly what Wilson was drawing up.

Duke saw the writing on the wall and packed it in.

In the last game, Wilson went to Vancouver for a mulligan, keeping his six and scrying to the top.

His first-turn Caustic Caterpillar literally caused Duke to laugh out loud.

Jacob Wilson sets his plan in motion—death by a thousand tiny Caterpillar bites.

Though there was an initial reaction, he certainly understood Wilson's sideboarding method. If Duke would spend his early turns casting Vessel of Nascency (which he did this game), Wilson would use them attacking with a 1/1 Caterpillar. And it could still nab cards like Hedron Archive.

Along with a Grim Flayer, the insect mounted the long, small assault campaign against Duke. Ironically, one of the two Hedron Archives was in Duke's hand, and he had crafted his strategy around it. The meek Caterpillar was throwing a wrench into plans.

Meanwhile, Wilson was trying to get delirium for Grim Flayer, and he cast a post-combat Tireless Tracker. He was building quite a board for himself. Duke had a Fiery Impulse in his hand, and found the Game Trail to cast it thanks to Grapple with the Past.

But Wilson had more creatures, always more creatures. And with a Grasp of Darkness to achieve delirium—taking down Duke's Nissa, Vastwood Seer along the way—there was still damage being done.

Duke was quickly down to 6 life. Wilson had the win on board for the next turn. As the Canadian thought for his turn, Duke shook his head. Could this be it? Duke thought about how best to find what he needed.

Duke cast a Grapple with the Past at the end of Wilson's turn, finally getting the Kozilek's Return he had been hoping for. And with a couple extra card types in tow.

Duke began announcing: "Instant, sorcery, creature, land, artifact, enchantment—so it's going to cost me seven?" He cast a Traverse the Ulvenwald and grabbed the beast.

Duke takes over Wilson's board with a Promised End.

And that, as they say, was that. The last turns after Emrakul played out much as the first game had.

"18-6?" Duke double-checked before he swung in with the 13/13.

Wilson took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair. He's stoic, and can often be hard to read, but his signals here were never clearer. He knew he was done.

His only hope had been for the Caustic Caterpillar and co. to get him there. Once the One TruthTM showed up, what chance did he have?

Emrakul eviscerated what was left of Jacob Wilson's Black-Green Delirium deck, descending it into madness.

No. 15-ranked Reid Duke has all but locked the Top 8. Jacob Wilson is still in there, but he's got some more work to do.

Jacob Wilson's Black-Green Delirium

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Reid Duke's Red-Green Delirium Ramp

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