Quarterfinals Stage 2: Matthew Nass (Temur Aetherworks) vs. Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 16, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

Neither Matthew Nass nor Carlos Romao are strangers to big matches, but while this was Nass' first Pro Tour Top 8 appearance and was his first time on the Sunday stage, it felt much more like a return home for Romao, the 2002 World Champion who has been on fire in 2016 with a pair of Grand Prix titles in the few months leading up to Pro Tour Kaladesh. Romao's hot streak continued here in Honolulu, and it showed no signs of cooling off, as he tore through the first stage of the quarterfinals on Sunday to advance to face Nass.

Nass is the measure of consistency—he has exactly one Grand Prix Top 8 appearance in each of the last seven years—but for this event he "embraced the variance," as he put it, living on the edge with his deck choice for the weekend.

The Decks

Matthew Nass was playing one of the breakout combo decks of the weekend: Aetherworks Marvel. The quirky artifact was possibly the biggest cause of head shakes on the weekend, as it allowed players to cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Emrakul, the Promised End as early as the fourth turn of the game. It was the most played deck in the Day 1 field at just under 18%.

As explosive as the deck was, it wasn't a surprise to many in the room. That included Romao, whose Jeskai Control deck was built with that in mind. Based primarily around the raw power of Torrential Gearhulk, a glut of counterspells and removal meant that Romao had the answers needed to address any deck in the field, including the one piloted by Nass. Of course, coming up empty just one time meant that Nass had the potential to end the game on the spot.

Matthew Nass was looking to make his breakthrough Top 8 a successful venture, while Carlos Romao was aiming at a second Pro Tour title.

The Games

For the first two games of the best-of-five match, players wouldn't be able to sideboard. That meant that Nass's deck retained its single-minded focus on resolving and activating Aetherworks Marvel through two games, while Romao had to work with two games of nearly useless creature removal alongside his relevant counterspells.

The opener began with a second-turn Glassblower's Puzzleknot for Nass, who had three energy but no Marvel on the fourth turn, settling for a Vessel of Nascency instead. When that failed to yield a Marvel, he tried to dig for one with Contingency Plan and Glint-Nest Crane, both of which failed to find the vital artifact.

Nass built up to 12 energy, but it wasn't the Aetherworks Marvel that forced Romao do anything other than play lands and pass the turn. Instead, it was Emrakul, the Promised End. Nass cast it from his hand and put the pressure on Romao to have an answer, which he did in Summary Dismissal.

Things heated up from there, with Nass finding a steady stream of threats.

Aetherworks Marvel? Void Shatter.

A second Emrakul? Torrential Gearhulk to cast Summary Dismissal again.

Second Marvel? Second Torrential Gearhulk for Summary Dismissal.

His threats thoroughly answered by Romao, Nass conceded the first game as the Gearhulks began attacking.

The second game went much like the first, as Attune with Aether into Contingency Plan for Nass built up his energy while he dug for Aetherworks Marvel. Glassblower's Puzzleknot followed, but again as the game wore on, Nass was closer to casting the Emrakul in his hand than finding the Marvel to try and cheat one into play.

Nass looks at all options at his disposal when his deck's namesake card fails to materialize.

Facing down so little pressure, Romao cast Torrential Gearhulk on the sixth turn just to cast an Anticipate and began the long process of whittling down Nass' life total, which was inflated thanks to Woodweaver's Puzzleknots.

While he couldn't find a way to win the game, Nass did find several ways to not lose it, using Aether Meltdown to slow the assault from the Gearhulk while continuously playing Puzzleknots to set up any future Aetherworks Marvels.

Needing to develop a clock after watching his Gearhulk melt down, Romao added Dovin Baan and Archangel Avacyn, though the latter was also nullified by Aether Meltdown.

At a record 30 energy, Nass finally found Aetherworks Marvel. Unfortunately for the American, it ran into Void Shatter. Romao then increased his clock by using Harnessed Lightning to kill his own Gearhulk, transforming Avacyn in the process. That allowed him to start chipping away at Nass' life total, though it would be a lengthy process considering all the life Nass had gained.

And Nass was finally ready to try and win the game. But when Emrakul, the Promised End met Summary Dismissal and a second Torrential Gearhulk arrived to bring back the Dismissal for the second Emrakul, Nass scooped up his cards and moved to the third game.

Now able to play with sideboarded cards, Nass had access to Dispel to try and protect his key cards, while Romao was able to tweak his own suite of counters.

Romao puts his opponent under some torrential pressure.

Again, Nass spent the early times building up his energy, but all he had on the fourth and fifth turn was Glimmer of Genius to dig deep into his deck while Romao sat back, playing lands and passing the turn.

The reason for Nass's patience was made apparent on the sixth turn, when he cast Aetherworks Marvel with two Dispel in hand and the mana to cast both. It was a solid wall of countermagic that aimed to ensure the Marvel would resolve.

But Dispel doesn't interact favorably with Spell Queller, which is what Romao had to keep the Marvel off the table. All Nass had to follow up was a Glint-Nest Crane, and when it came up empty, Romao felt confident enough to use Stasis Snare on the Crane to ensure that his Spell Queller and the freshly-cast Archangel Avacyn could attack. Nass fell to 10 on the next attack, but with his back against the wall, found another Aetherworks Marvel to try and claw back.

Nass tapped four mana and cast the Marvel, setting up for a showdown that would decide the game. Romao attempted to Negate it, which ran into Nass' Dispel. With the second Dispel ready to go, Nass was prepped to win this fight of countermagic.

But again, it was Spell Queller that came instead, exiling the Marvel and ending the fight. One more attack rolled in, and Nass was down to his last card: Vessel of Nascency. He cast the Vessel and cracked it, turning face up on the table each card in turn.

But none of those cards were Aetherworks Marvel, and as the last one hit the table, Nass hit the end of the road. He looked up and with a handshake congratulated Romao for earning a trip to the semifinals.

Carlos Romao defeats Matthew Nass 3-0 and advances to the semifinals!

Matthew Nass - Temur Aetherworks

Download Arena Decklist

Carlos Romao - Jeskai Control

Download Arena Decklist

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