Semifinals: (19) Lukas Blohon (White-Black Control) vs. Samuel Pardee (Black-Green Delirium)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 7, 2016

By Chapman Sim

For nine-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor (and two-time Champion) Samuel Pardee, making the Top 8 at a Pro Tour was an achievement for which he had been yearning for the longest time. Despite his stellar showings on the Grand Prix circuit, he's never made it through this far on the Pro Tour, until today. It is also unbelievable that he was the only one in this weekend's Top 8 who hasn't had prior Sunday appearances. Others will even go on to say this was "long overdue," because of Pardee's reputation as an excellent player and visionary deck builder rolled into one.

Right now, he was two matches away from a Pro Tour title.

On the opposite side of the table sat No. 19-ranked Lukas Blohon, who was on his second trip to the Top 8. Not only did he secure the title of Czech National Champion, he also locked up a seat in the prestigious World Championship that was to take place at PAX West a month later.

Both black decks shared overlapping elements such as Liliana, the Last Hope, Languish and Grasp of Darkness. However, Blohon chose white as his secondary color to support Anguished Unmaking and Archangel Avacyn, in addition to the full playset of Gideon, Ally of Zendikars out of the sideboard. On the other hand, Pardee had access to "grindier" cards such as Grim Flayer, Tireless Tracker, and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Thanks to Traverse the Ulvenwald, Pardee was able to include Emrakul, the Promised End as a potential trump.

Well, I heard that card was pretty good.

The Games

Grim Flayer was Pardee's first offering and Blohon was quick to recognize the crucial role it played. Not wanting Pardee to fill his graveyard, he dispatched the Flayer with Grasp of Darkness, before plucking Ishkanah, Grafwidow away with Transgress the Mind.

In the meantime, Blohon's turn-three Liliana, the Last Hope had ticked up all the way to 7 loyalty, and he used Languish to clear away an opposing Den Protector that would endanger the ultimate. Not having found Ruinous Path, Pardee could only sit and watch Blohon reach for the feared emblem—as well as two accompanying Zombie tokens.

Sam Pardee looked to get off to a quick start to avoid being run over by Zombies.

Ob Nixilis Reignited was the follow-up, then Blohon reached for four more Zombie tokens.

Languish from Pardee bought him a momentary respite, only to have Blohon cement his position with yet another Liliana, the Last Hope emblem, as well as Linvala, the Preserver.

Emrakul, the Promised End as Pardee's last-ditch effort confirmed he had no way to turn it around, and he eventually crumbled under the endless ranks of undead.

Without sideboarding—since it was only Game 2—Pardee opened with Grim Flayer and Tireless Tracker, grabbing a couple of Clues with Evolving Wilds before Blohon reset the board with Languish. Liliana, the Last Hope had joined the battlefield prior to that, meaning it was going to pose a problem in just a couple more turns.

A second Grim Flayer was a futile attempt to pressure Liliana, because her +1 ability simply shut down the 2/2. Blohon forged ahead with Read the Bones and Sorin, Grim Nemesis, drawing additional cards while Pardee had to invest his entire turn animating Hissing Quagmire just to prevent incoming emblems. When Pardee tried it again, Archangel Avacyn came to the rescue.

Facing Ob Nixilis Reignited, Sorin, Grim Nemesis, and Liliana, the Last Hope, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Pardee. There was simply no elegant method to get a trio of planeswalkers off the table. With this second loss, Pardee found himself deep in the rut.

"Well, that wasn't really how I had expected both games to go. In our playtesting we thought it was a pretty good matchup," Pardee lamented as he reached for his sideboard.

"Yes, I think I am slightly unfavored here, but if you don't get any action and I keep having planeswalkers, then things get really bad for you." Hopefully, some additional discard spells will help against the "superfriends." Then again, Blohon was bringing in all four Gideon, Ally of Zendikars.

Lukas Blohon was not content to play just a few superfriends—he needed them all.

As logic would dictate, Pardee's first Duress went for Gideon, while Transgress the Mind took out Ob Nixilis Reignited. Blohon returned the favor with Transgress the Mind, only to have it miss.

Pardee recouped some card economy with Tireless Trackers and Evolving Wilds, and Blohon needed to stop the unending wave of Clues. In combination with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and double Grasp of Darkness, he managed to send both to the gallows while getting a pair of Zombies. Archangel Avacyn exited Blohon's hand as his final card and Blohon turned all of his creatures sideways. Even with Languish, Blohon still presented lethal damage with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Shambling Vent.

Pardee went down to 4 life, flipped over his next card, and extended his hand in gracious defeat.

Lukas Blohon defeated Samuel Pardee 3–0 to advance to the finals!

With that, Pardee exited the stage with his head up high, rejoicing in the fact that he just made Platinum while qualifying for the World Championships over this fateful weekend. Despite the crushing defeat, Pardee maintained high spirits and wished his opponent good luck in the finals.

Blohon's would need it, because the "end boss" was none other than Owen Turtenwald.

Lukas Blohon's White-Black Control

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Samuel Pardee's Black-Green Delirium

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