Round 15: Tyler Hill (Black-Green Delirium) vs. Jun Ishihara (Temur Emerge)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 15, 2016

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Neither Jun Ishihara nor Tyler Hill had found their breakout moment, but their match at 11-3 could tip either's career into the spotlight. For Hill, his recent string of Pro Tour appearances starting at Pro Tour Fate Reforged has finally led to his phenomenal performance this weekend. For Ishihara, his on-and-off again qualifications started all the way back at Pro Tour Houston in 2002.

Winning again and taking control of their Top 8 destiny was exactly what they wanted.

The Decks

Hill's Black-Green Delirium had a plan: Grind out value with creatures such as Grim Flayer and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, as well as spells like Traverse the Ulvenwald, to set up delirium. From there, cards like Ishkanah, Grafwidow and the aforementioned creatures get even better. With discard and Emrakul, the Promised End to back things up, as well as Liliana, the Last Hope to perhaps create a Zombie apocalypse, the deck runs away with the advantages of a well-stocked graveyard and time.

Ishihara's Temur Emerge shared some features with Black-Green Delirium. Casting Emrakul, the Promised End was one plan in common. Finding value by turning on Traverse the Ulvenwald was another. But the cadre of Elder Deep-Fiends and Wretched Gryffs put Ishihara's deck in a decidedly different direction. Feeding Pilgrim's Eye or Filigree Familiar to whatever Eldrazi menace he needed gave the deck its name, with Ishihara using red for Kozilek's Return as a way to get the time he needed to go big.

Both Tyler Hill and Jun Ishihara were still on the course for their first Pro Tour Top 8. Who would emerge with that goal still in sight?

The Games

Traverse the Ulvenwald into a Mountain was Ishihara's opening for the first game, and Hill led off with an uncontested Grim Flayer to begin extracting value. Tireless Tracker looked to set up Ishihara's later plays, but Liliana, the Last Hope from Hill put more pressure on.

Ishihara passed the turn back, but emerged Elder Deep-Fiend during Hill's upkeep. Kozilek's Return came out from the graveyard to clear away Hill's creatures, but Murder also sent the Deep-Fiend packing.

Liliana kept rising.

Traverse the Ulvenwald found Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, thanks to Hill hitting delirium, and Liliana continued to tick up. Vessel of Nascency and Evolving Wilds also gave Ishihara delirium in addition to another Elder Deep-Fiend. That in turn let Traverse the Ulvenwald find a Ishkanah, Grafwidow for Ishihara to cast.

Hill unleashes the zombie horde.

Grim Flayer and Tireless Tracker for Hill set a formidable line of blockers to protect Liliana, the Last Hope at seven loyalty.

Ishihara went for Pilgrim's Eye first, then Evolving Wilds. He wouldn't be taking Liliana out on his turn.

"Zombie tokens?" Hill asked the judge nearby.

Liliana, the Last Hope gave Hill an emblem, beginning the Zombie horde ultimate. He gamely attacked with Pilgrim's Eye, then cast Traverse the Ulvenwald to find Emrakul, the Promised End.

He cast it, and the game turned yet again.

Before handing his next turn over, Hill used the Murder in his hand on Ishihara's Ishkanah. Drawing just a Swamp, Ishihara looked hard for ways to break up Hill's board. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Tireless Tracker, along with a few Zombies, didn't make it through the turn against the Eldrazi titan.

Once Hill had control back, he drew and cast Grapple with the Past to return Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Attacking with his Zombies, he put Ishihara down to 8 life. Hill sat at a comfortable 28 thanks to Emrakul eating the first Kalitas. While Ishihara's Emrakul and Pilgrim's Eye halved that lead to 14, Hill returned the favor and cast his own Emrakul, the Promised End.

Ishihara's long-held Elder Deep-Fiend finally appeared, tapping down Grim Flayer, Kalitas, and some Zombies. Ishihara's stolen turn revealed a hand full of Elder Deep-Fiends and a Nissa, Vital Force, not enough to turn the game around after Hill had a chance to emerge all the wrong ways.

The second game featured Vessel of Nascency filling up Hill's graveyard against Ishihara's early Filigree Familiar. Traverse the Ulvenwald for Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet was step one of Hill's line, and Grasp of Darkness put away the emerge potential of Ishihara's Familiar.

Primal Druid was next on Ishihara's emerge block, along with his own copy of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Grapple with the Past for Grim Flayer was Hill's next turn, but Elder Deep-Fiend finally appeared from Ishishara on Hill's follow-up upkeep. It left an opening for Ishihara to attack Hill down to 12 life.

Ishihara, content to sit behind some Spiders.

Hill went for Ishkanah, Grafwidow next, piling up the blockers against Ishihara's Eldrazi. But Emrakul, the Promised End meant Ishihara would have something to say about that beforehand. Forcing Hill's creatures to attack unfavorably, Ishihara passed after that to let Hill cast his own Emrakul in turn.

Taking control of the turn, there was yet another Emrakul waiting in Ishihara's hand. The Promised End seemed to have none.

The real issue for both players was an opponent neither could defeat: The end of the round. Ishihara had to defeat Hill quickly to ensure at least a tie. He cast another Emrakul to start the turn-taking process again, using Hill's Traverse the Ulvenwald to find nothing, then trading Emrakuls in combat. Facing Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and an army of Ishihara's Zombies, Hill moved on to the third game with just one minute left in the round.

He also needed to mulligan, so the third game would have started on turn 0.

"Draw?" Hill asked, valiantly shuffling up with the judge hovering nearby.

"Draw." Ishihara agreed, extending his hand.

With Hill and Ishihara each falling to 11-3-1, the prospect of a Top 8 finish slipped for both. They'd each have to win—and have the right players lose elsewhere—to achieve their Pro Tour dreams.

Hill 1 – Ishihara 1

Tyler Hill - Black-Green Delirium

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Jun Ishihara - Temur Emerge

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