Semifinals: Gerry Thompson vs. Pascal Vieren

Posted in Event Coverage on February 4, 2018

By Frank Karsten

Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage. Dark Confidant. Stoneforge Mystic. Every color has its own iconic two-mana creature. And the typical red entry to this list is Young Pyromancer.

Both Pascal Vieren of Cardmarket and Gerry Thompson of MetaGame Gurus Sun were playing the 2/1 Human along with Lightning Bolt to trigger it, but their decks diverged widely beyond that.

Gerry Thompson, the Pro Tour Amonkhet champion in his third Top 8, was playing a Mardu deck that could fuel Young Pyromancer with various flashback spells in Faithless Looting and Lingering Souls. Another key card in his deck was Bedlam Reveler, a 3/4 creature that, in the late game and with an empty hand, might cost only two mana and draw three extra cards with no downside.

Pascal Vieren, who had yet to lose a single match this entire Pro Tour, was running a blue-red deck designed by his brother Peter. Their deck contained a bunch of card selection spells in Ancestral Vision, Serum Visions, and Opt, and it had access to Cryptic Command and Snapcaster Mage to keep up with Thompson's flashback spells in the late game.

The games between these midrange/controlling decks were poised to take a while. Both players had lots of interactive spells, relatively few win conditions, and plenty of ways to grind out a long game.

The matchup also featured two potentially important interactions. First, if Vieren would manage to transform Thing in the Ice into Awoken Horror, all of Thompson's Bedlam Revelers would stay on the battlefield. They are Horrors, after all. Second, Thompson only had one white source in his entire deck. If Vieren would be able to destroy Sacred Foundry with Field of Ruin, then that would be a big play.

Would it be Gerry Thompson who would move on to be a potential two-time Pro Tour winner, or would Pascal Vieren keep his streak without any losses going for the weekend?

The Games

In Game 1, the early turns started with both players sculpting their hands. Vieren started things off with Serum Visions, while Thompson cast Faithless Looting and discarded Lingering Souls for value.

Both players followed up their turn one card draw spell with a creature on turn two. It was Thing in the Ice for Vieren and Young Pyromancer for Thompson. But while Vieren had an answer at the ready, Thompson did not. His only main deck answers to Thing in the Ice were two Fatal Push, one Terminate, one Dreadbore, and one Liliana of the Veil, and he simply didn't draw any of them in time.

Thompson bought turns by chump-blocking with Spirit tokens and eventually drew into a Terminate with Bedlam Reveler, but by that time it was already too late. Vieren had cast Young Pyromancer and had resolved Ancestral Vision, and the resulting board presence overpowered Thompson.

Vieren's deck choice served him well all three days, earning him a record that few ever achieve on the Pro Tour and a boost towards the same Pro Club status that his brother Peter possesses.

In Game 2, Thompson started by slightly improving his hand with Faithless Looting, while Vieren had the dream start of Island, Ancestral Vision. One of those card draw spells is better than the other in a control mirror, and things didn't look better for Thompson after his Inquisition of Kozilek revealed that Vieren was holding not one, not two, but three Cryptic Commands!

Still, after filling up his graveyard with these cheap spells, Thompson was able to cast a two-mana Bedlam Reveler on turn four. It was a very powerful play, but Vieren's hand of triple Cryptic Command remained dreamy for blue control mages all around the world.

Several turns later, Vieren had stabilized. His Young Pyromancer had created an army of tokens, he was still at a double-digit life total, and Thompson was living off the top of his deck.

Eventually, Vieren cast Thing in the Ice and easily transformed it. Especially once he bounced his own Snapcaster Mage with Cryptic Command for extra value, he had no shortage of spells. What's more, the fact that Bedlam Reveler stuck around was actually beneficial for Vieren, as it meant that Thompson couldn't replay it to draw fresh cards.

Although Thompson managed to prolong the game, the Awoken Horror kept chipping away at his life total. Several turns later, Vieren led the match 2-0. Thompson would now have to win three games straight if he were win the match.

Thompson battled back from a difficult position and low life totals all weekend, and he found himself in a similar position during his semifinal match.

Game 3 was a relatively quick one. Thompson, on the play, stuck a turn-two Young Pyromancer while Vieren lacked an answer. Faithless Looting, Manamorphose, and Collective Brutality quickly produced three tokens while Vieren was not getting anywhere.

Thompson cemented his advantage with a Collective Brutality to kill Vieren's opposing Young Pyromancer and discard his Cryptic Command. Bedlam Reveler followed all that up. Vieren was unable to deal with that board presence, and Thompson was able to take his first game.

Game 4 revolved around Vieren's double Thing in the Ice. At a certain point, Vieren had two copies of the 0/4, one with one counter and the other with two counters. He then cast Roast on Bedlam Reveler, transforming the first Thing in the Ice and putting Thompson down to 4 life. Things looked dire for the American Pro Tour champion.

But everything changed in dramatic fashion on the next turn. Thompson drew Liliana of the Veil off the top of his deck to deal with one Thing in the Ice, then found Fatal Push with Faithless Looting, as Vieren's daunting board presence had turned to rubble.

It was an insane turn of events. In the blink of an eye, Thompson had gone from dead to saved, all in the face of a giant Horror. It was like we were living in the Upside Down.

Over the course of the next few turns, Vieren failed to draw a relevant spell—Electrolyze into Lightning Bolt would've been an immediate win—while Thompson found Young Pyromancer and Bedlam Reveler, moved to the red zone, and closed the game as quickly as possible.

With the match now tied at two games apiece, things were slipping away for Vieren in dramatic fashion. It was now do or die. He had to win the last game if he wanted to hold on to his undefeated streak.

In Game 5, Vieren started off with a mulligan, but his six-card hand had the perfect start of a turn one Ancestral Vision. Thompson also had an ideal start, as his Faithless Looting discarded two Lingering Souls. Both of their decks were firing on all cylinders.

Over the course of the next few turns, the flashbacked Lingering Souls taxed Vieren's resources, but he managed to keep the board under control as he waited for his Ancestral Vision to come off suspend. The card draw spell provided Vieren with a second copy of Cryptic Command, and he passed the turn with four mana up.

When Thompson cast Thoughtseize, Vieren had two options. The first was counter it for value, tapping out in the process. The second was to allow Thompson to take one of his Cryptic Commands, while keeping four mana up to counter Thompson's next spell. Vieren chose the former route, which backfired as it allowed Thompson to resolve Bedlam Reveler.

The extra cards provided by the 3/4 were instrumental for Thompson to eventually run away with the game. He found removal and discard spells for Vieren's win conditions and cards in hand, and eventually Thompson started chaining card advantage spells by returning another Bedlam Reveler with Kolaghan's Command.

There was no realistic combination of cards that Vieren could draw at that point, and it didn't take long for him to extend his hand, acknowledging defeat for the very first time this weekend.

Thompson moved forward, where he would try to beat Luis Salvatto with Lantern Control in the hope of becoming a two-time Pro Tour champion.

Gerry Thompson defeats Pascal Vieren 3-2 and advances to the finals!

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