Coming into the final round, No. 15-ranked Reid Duke was already on 36 points, and although it was assumed that some number of players would make the Top 8 on 36 points, there was an outside chance that it might not be Duke. Ken Yukuhiro was on only 34 points, and therefore needed a win to make the cut. Both were playing Red-Green Ramp decks, and while they would each take quite different routes to the late game, their late games would be much the same. Haymakers upon haymakers.
After a mulligan each, the players set to growing their real estate portfolios. It was Duke who first presented threats with Nissa, Vastwood Seer followed by Ishkanah, Grafwidow and crew. Yukuhiro dispatched Nissa and dug five cards deeper into his deck with a Collective Defiance, but Duke closed out Game 1 with a Traverse the Ulvenwald for Emrakul, the Promised End.
Duke mulliganed again in Game 2 and both players spent their early turns ramping. This time however, it was much later before Duke could put up a fight, playing and transforming Nissa, Vastwood Seer on the same turn. Yukuhiro again had the Collective Defiance for it.
Traverse the Ulvenwald found Duke an Ulvenwald Hydra, which was on theme, at least. The Hydra fetched a Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, which was less so. Yukuhiro also Traversed the Ulvenwald, but he came back with a World Breaker before playing Emrakul.
Emrakul reached into Duke's mind and left it in tatters, forcing his 10/10 Hydra to crash headlong into the Eldrazi, exhausting some minor resources and leaving Duke with only an Emrakul of his own in hand. Once he regained control, Duke responded in kind with his own Emrakul.
Duke's Emrakul took hold of Yukuhiro, allowing Duke to play a pair of Hangarback Walkers for 0, World Breaker one of Yukuhiro's lands, and exile a Kozilek's Return from his graveyard. Duke declined to send Yukuhiro's Emrakul into his own.
Reid Duke and Ken Yukuhiro each manage to summon Emrakul to their side of the battle.
Yukuhiro resumed control and drew and played a Goblin Dark-Dwellers, which replayed a Traverse the Ulvenwald for a second Dark Dwellers. Yukuhiro attacked with Emrakul and Duke elected to take 13 to fall to 7.
Duke played Gather the Pack for Greenwarden of Murasa and Dragonlord Atarka, the Dragonlord coming down to take out the Dark-Dwellers. Yukuhiro played his second Dark-Dwellers on Collective Defiance, dealing 4 damage to Emrakul and 3 to Duke. He then attacked with Emrakul and the World Breaker. Duke could block the World Breaker with Atarka, but with his Emrakul already damaged, Yukuhiro's Emrakul trampled over for lethal.
Cut ahead to the middle of Game 3. With the initial ramping out of the way, Duke was again first on the board with a Dragonlord Atarka to take out Yukuhiro's Goblin Dark-Dweller. Atarka attacked Yukuhiro to 12, but Yukuhiro recovered with Emrakul, the Promised End.
Yukuhiro took control of Duke, forcing him to play a World Breaker on himself to stunt his own mana, as well as trigger a Kozilek's Return from the graveyard to clear out Duke's Shaman of Forgotten Ways and Hedron Crawler. Atarka stayed at home, though, as the Return would have meant Emrakul would have traded.
Duke untapped for his own turn and found himself down to just five mana. He had a pair of large creatures, but there was an even larger one across the table. He passed back the turn. Yukuhiro sent Emrakul into combat. Duke blocked with both to kill Emrakul, and Yukuhiro followed up with a Chandra, Flamecaller to finish off Duke's Atarka. He then played a Hangarback Walker for 2, and time in the round was called.
The game went to final turns, meaning both players had very little time left to lock their bid for the Top 8.
Additional Turn 1: Duke could only draw and play a land for the turn.
Additional Turn 3: Duke's hand contained a bunch of high-end beaters, and Yukuhiro sacrificed one of Duke's lands to add a World Breaker to the mix from Duke's graveyard.
Additional Turn 4: Duke drew, played, and sacrificed a Vessel of Nascency for a Mountain, which he also played.
"Good games," Duke said with a smile.
Ken Yukuhiro defeats Reid Duke 2–1.
With his win, Yukuhiro was now through to the Top 8. Would Duke's tiebreakers hold strong enough for him to join Yukuhiro there?