Round 14: Austin Bursavich (Infect) vs. Nathan Smith (Burn)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 7, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

If Austin Bursavich has eluded your radar until this point, let this be the time he makes his first blip. Two-time Grand Prix Top 8 finisher Bursavich is a name that many players in the community believe is a next big finisher, and he's just been waiting for that push. This weekend could be that push. Bursavich is on Infect, and has been rofl-stomping people out of nowhere with ten poison counters all weekend.

But first he has to get through Nathan Smith. A Houston native, and a recent convert to the Magic ranks, Smith was playing the most unrepentant deck in the format. The deck that can send shudders through your soul if you forget of its existence; the deck that people just throw up their hands for Game 1, and hope they can sideboard to win the next two. Nathan Smith was playing Burn.

These two decks are trying to race past each other, but the targeted creature removal inherent in Burn's main-deck can give it a slight edge. Though it's often a trap to go after the creatures in a deck full of pump spells, if you're behind a half turn, depending on your hand, you can wreck Infect's day.


Both Austin Bursavich and Nathan Smith brought two of the format's hyper-aggressive decks to the Pro Tour: Infect and Burn, respectively.

It could also be variable depending on who goes first. Bursavich had played Burn three times this weekend, and was pretty sure he didn't drop a game where he went first.

The Games

Austin Bursavich won the die roll and did a mental fist pump in the opening game. He made a big statement to Nathan Smith just by laying a land. Because that land was Inkmoth Nexus. Immediately Smith knew what he was up against, and the race was on.

Smith's first turn was Monastery Swiftspear. The second was Lava Spike, Lava Spike attack for three. By the end of Bursavich's third turn, he was at 8 life, and Smith was at 3 Poison. Bursavich wouldn't see his next untap step.

Like a well-oiled machine, Smith went Lightning Bolt, Shard Volley, swing for three again.

Nathan Smith lived the burn dream and killed Austin Bursavich on turn three. He had broke Bursavich's serve.

"You often get a turn-three kill?" Bursavich asked while shuffling his sideboard into his deck.


Nothing like the casual second-turn 'take 9' play.

Smith tried to keep his stone face. "Sometimes," he said, and shrugged his shoulders.

In the second game, it was Bursavich who not only went first, but also set the pace. His turn two Spellskite threatened to blank half the damage spells in Smith's hand. Then he went on the attack with an Inkmoth Nexus, getting pumped each time by a Noble Hierarch. Smith opted not to play any spells in the opening two turns, looking for the right window. Though he tried to kill the Nexus with a Smash to Smithereens, Bursavich had Vines of the Vastwood ready to stop the spell.

The game wasn't looking good for Burn. It was turn three and Bursavich was still at 20. This was a very different game than the first. Smith saw the writing on the wall, but he wasn't ready to quit yet. Maybe he should have been.

Bursavich activated Inkmoth Nexus, attacked and tried to resolve a Mutagenic Growth. But this free pump spell was only bait. The bait spell resolving was gravy—the Inkmoth Nexus became 4/4. Once this happened, Bursavich decided the coast was clear.

He removed his graveyard and went for the kill. He used two mana to cast a Become Immense, and score some sweet poison overkill.

"Man you didn't even need the Mutagenic Growth," Smith said, as he shuffled up for the rubber game. His stone face broken for the first time in the match.

In the last game, Smith was on the play for the first time in the match. It was his turn to serve. He took the mantel and ran with it, casting two Goblin Guides and a Monastery Swiftspear, and taking Bursavich to 10 life before he untapped for his second turn.


Bursavich braces for the Burn deck going first.

Bursavich had a sideboard Dispel in his hand, but he had to use his mana very carefully. Though Dispel is great against burn from the hand, it's not so good against already-resolved, attacking creatures. And as Bursavich soon found out, it's even worse against an Eidolon of the Great Revel when you're at 5 life.

Yeah, it didn't take too much after that.

Never discount Burn, guys and gals. The first game Nathan Smith won on the back of burn spells, and the next time was thanks to a bunch of little creatures. Fighting one or the other can spell disaster if you answer the wrong thing. As Bursavich shook his head, he said, "Man, it's hard with all those dudes."

Austin Bursovich - Pro Tour Fate Reforged

Download Arena Decklist

Nathan Smith - Pro Tour Fate Reforged

Download Arena Decklist

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