In his fifth Pro Tour Top 8, Jelger Wiegersma looked the same as he always did. As a member of the Hall of Fame with a team Pro Tour win notched on his belt already, Wiegersma was looking to become the third member to win again after induction by adding his first individual Pro Tour win to his resume. Confident in his deck after choosing it by deviating from the choice of his testing team, Wiegersma was ready.
Across from him sat Antonio Del Moral León, carrying essentially the same deck but playing in his first Top 8. The Magic Online Championship Series season winner and member of Spain's 2014 World Magic Cup team had found his first breakthrough at the Pro Tour level, and looked to capitalize on it well. After facing down a four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor, Lee Shi Tian, in his quarterfinal match how much was an additional Top 8 and win for an opponent worth?
Both players were prepared to find out fighting for the second finals seat.
Jelger Wiegersma's team, the Pantheon, weren't the only spectators cheering for one of this match's competitors. Antonio Del Moral León had a crowd of the Spanish Magic community also roaring for him to press on.
Splinter Twin decks, as seen on both of the quarterfinal match results leading to this semifinal, can be both explosive and controlling. Setting up Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite into Splinter Twin is the ever-looming threat, but cards like Remand, Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage, and Lightning Bolt give it angles to hold control over the battlefield.
And in rare circumstances, it will simply attack you to death slowly with its small fries. Like many combo decks, getting physical as a desperate Plan B can work: It's how Del Moral León made his way by Lee Shi Tian.
Del Moral León and Wiegersma used their early turns to sculpt their hands and mana, though when Wiegersma missed his third land drop Del Moral León took the advantage: Wiegersma used Mana Leak on the first Deceiver Exarch, but had a second on Wiegersma's next upkeep to tap down his Steam Vents.
Adding his third land, an Island, Wiegersma passed to Del Moral León who just attacked. Sleight of Hand ensured Wiegersma hit his fourth mana, and Bloom Moon joined the fray. At the end of the turn Del Moral León filtered away an unwanted Lightning Bolt. With Wiegersma tapped, Splinter Twin onto Deceiver Exarch ended the game in flash.
[sf_delmoralleon.jpg cap=”Del Moral León wins the land battle, and with a mana advantage, the first game.”]
Del Moral León wins the land battle, and with a mana advantage, the first game
The second game was similar to the first, with Del Moral León using Serum Visions to adjust his hand and both sides of the battlefield filled with lands. Wiegersma was stuck on just two as Del Moral León cast Deceiver Exarch during Wiegersma's upkeep to slow him down down. Wiegersma responded with Remand.
The jockeying for position had begun.
The extra draw didn't find a land for Wiegersma, who discarded Snapcaster Mage at the end of his turn. Del Moral León cast his copy to flash back Serum Visions. Wiegersma hit his third land on the next turn and opted to keep his mana available for Vendilion Clique at the end of Del Moral León's turn: three Deceiver Exarchs, two copies of Spall Snare, Dispel, and Ancient Grudge were in Del Moral León's hand.
The many faces of Wiegersma
Wiegersma chose to leave everything there and Del Moral León pressed his advantage. Casting Deceiever Exarch at the beginning of Wiegersma's next upkeep, it took Mana Leak and Spell Pierce (for Del Moral León's Spell Snare) to stop the creature from resolving. Del Moral León just waiting until the next turn to try again with a second.
Attacking with his creatures, Del Moral León put Wiegersma down to 9 life, and defending his 12 life lead by casting his third Exarch to tap Wiegersma's Clique again.
Dispel from Del Moral León countered a Cryptic Commander from Wiegersma, meant to tap all of Del Moral León's creatures, and the Hall of Fame player fell to 5 life on the attack. Wiegersma used Snapcaster Mage and Lighting Bolt twice over to clear away one of the Deceiver Exarchs, but he fell to 3 life on the next attack anyway. Vedalken Shackles was one way to try and pull back ahead, and they fought over that: Del Moral León cast Remand, Wiegersma Dispelled back, but Del Moral León had another Snapcaster Mage to win the counter battle.
It was also enough to win the war.
With Wiegersma tapped out, Del Moral León quickly moved to attack on his turn.
Wiegersma extended his hand. "Good luck in the finals."
Del Moral León shook the hand and breathed a heavy sigh as the Spanish contingent of the viewing gallery roared. It was time to take the fight to the finals.
Antonio Del Moral León defeats Jelger Wiegersma 2-0 and advances to the finals!