Jacob Wilson, currently 15th in the Top 25 Player Rankings, has long been touted as one of the Next Big Things in North American Magic. He had put up a string of solid finishes, including a Grand Prix win, but it wasn't until his finals appearance at Pro Tour Born of the Gods that he finally showed what he's made of.
Josh McClain (Ranked 19th) is still chasing his first PT Top 8, and actually came within a match win of getting there at that same Pro Tour, finishing 11th overall. McClain is best known as a Modern Constructed specialist. In fact, both he and Wilson are Modern Grand Prix Champions. Today they crossed paths in M15 Limited, McClain with a perfect 2-0 start, and Wilson saddled with an unfortunate draw. McClain had a fast Blue-Black deck featuring multiple Frost Lynxes, while Wilson was playing a Black-Green deck that took advantage of numerous graveyard synergies and plenty of ways to get value out of the mighty Roaring Primadox. Oh, and Nissa, Worldwaker.
What's At Stake?
These two are both in the hunt for an At-Large invite to Magic World Championships in December. McClain came into the event tangled with a number of players at 44 Pro Points. Wilson had the same, but led the tiebreaker for Worlds seats thanks to his finish at Pro Tour Born of the Gods. A Top 25 finish here will get them both in the mix, and a Top 16 or better puts them in a good spot to qualify for Magic's most prestigious event.
Game one started slowly with a Satyr Wayfinder for Wilson and a Chief Engineer for McClain. Neither player made a move on three land, and Wilson decided to risk playing out Roaring Primadox. McClain was ready with Crippling Blight on the Wayfinder, forcing the Primadox back to Wilson's hand on his upkeep. He also had Carrion Crow to start applying pressure.
Wilson had no option but to replay his Primadox. McClain sailed over for two and passed on five lands. Wilson hit his sixth land drop to get out Ancient Silverback. This was all according to play for McClain, however, who had Frost Lynx at the ready, getting in for 3 and building his board. Wilson played out Primadox and Necrogen Scudder falling to 1. Peel from Reality sent the Scudder home and let the Lynx come back for an encore. He also had Amphin Pathmage and for a moment it looked like it would all be over, but Wilson had Covenant of Blood to steady his defenses.
He was quickly back down to 7, but Netcaster Spiders on back-to-back turns meant that McClain was unable to push through further damage. Paragon of Gathering Mists met Flesh to Dust, and then Wilson drew Shaman of Spring to start the Primadox card-draw engine. Soon he was attacking with Ancient Silverback and Soul of Innistrad, and McClain was chump blocking to stay alive. Wilson played it slow and careful, and took the first game.
McClain had to go down to six cards for the second game, but he stayed on six and they were off. He was first on the board with Aeronaut Tinkerer and attacked past Witch's Familiar with the help of Paragon of Gathering Mists. Wilson played out Satyr Wayfinder and convoked Living Totem to boost his Familiar. McClain hit for another 3 and played Shadowcloak Vampire.
Wilson passed on five mana and used Flesh to Dust to get rid of the Vampire, but he still had no flying defenses to stop against the Paragon / Aeronaut combo. Worse, McClain had Stab Wound for his enhanced Familiar. Wilson untapped, already down to 9. He thought hard, then put McClain to a dilemma with Nissa, Worldwaker, using her untap forests ability to summon Invasive Species as well, picking up the Familiar and saving himself further Stab Wound damage.
McClain couldn't clear out Nissa immediately, and so decided to go after Wilson. He used his only blue mana for Frost Lynx, tapping down Living Totem, then attacked with his strolling Aeronaut. Wilson wasted no time before chump-blocking with the Invasive Species. Wilson untapped, animated a swamp with Nissa, and swung in for 4. It was to be a race to the finish. McClain fell to twelve. Wilson summoned Roaring Primadox and Elvish Mystic, then passed.
McClain tapped five for his own Flesh to Dust on the Primadox, and swung with all his creatures. Wilson immediately chumped both 3-power creatures, leaving himself with just Living Totem and his animated land. Still, the path was clear. He animated a second land and knocked McClain to four, then summoned a Necromancer's Assistant. McClain had Crippling Blight for the Assistant but no way to push enough damage through, and was soon scooping up his cards in the face of three lethal 4/4's.
McClain 0 – Wilson 2
Afterward, McClain said he hadn't expected much more than 2-1 with his deck, and so he was satisfied with his result. In the draft he hadn't quite managed to find enough strong playables, and so splashed a Lightning Strike for a little extra power.
Wilson on the other hand, was disappointed not to have posted a perfect 3-0. His draw had come in a match where his opponent stymied all possible attacks with a Soul of Theros. Still, Wilson had an active Nissa and used her ultimate ability, assembling an army large enough to kill in a single swing even with the lifelink from the Soul. Unfortunately for him, his opponent had Ætherspouts. The game dragged on further, and Wilson again had a chance to win, but the opponent had yet another trick to split the match 1-1. They couldn't complete the third game in time.