Round 14: Jérémy Dezani (Abzan Company) vs. (2) Seth Manfield (Esper Control)

Posted in Event Coverage on April 23, 2016

By Josh Bennett

Three rounds remain before the cut to Top 8. Two players, both greats with titles to their name, within striking distance of Sunday glory and trying to focus on the task at hand.

Reigning World Champion Seth Manfield is second only to the irrepressible Owen Turtenwald on the Top 25 Rankings list. Manfield has been a fixture at the top tables this weekend, but already has three losses to his name. He’ll need to finish strong to wind up on the Sunday stage. His weapon of choice this weekend, like so many of his East West Bowl teammates, is Esper Control.

Former Player of the Year Jérémy Dezani cuts a dashing figure in his new Hareruya Pros hoodie. He may not yet be as accomplished as his Hall of Fame teammates Shota Yasooka and Kenji Tsumura, but he’s doing the burgundy and white proud this weekend. He also has the luxury of sitting at 10-2-1, so he probably has a loss to give in his run for the Top 8. His Abzan Company draws on the power of its namesake spell, as well as cost-efficient Eldrazi and the mighty Archangel Avacyn.

The Games

Dezani got on the board quickly with Deathcap Cultivator and Matter Reshaper while Manfield sorted out his mana via a pair of Evolving Wilds. Dezani hit for 5 and added another Reshaper. Manfield Anticipated, then untapped. A fourth land meant Languish, and Dezani turned up a pair of lands that went straight into play.

Dezani rebuilt with Sylvan Advocate and Eldrazi Displacer, but a second Languish swept them away. Dezani untapped and played a main phase Collected Company, netting himself two Catacomb Sifters who brought a total of six power onto the board. Manfield was in a bind. He tapped four for Narset, Transcendent and passed. Dezani ignored the Planeswalker and dropped Manfield to just 7 life with his attack.

Manfield went digging with an end-of-turn Anticipate, then untapped into yet another Languish, this one juiced up with Rebound thanks to Narset. The resulting scrying let Dezani set up his draw, and he put out a Sylvan Advocate, safe from the incoming Languish thanks to his having six lands. Of course, Manfield wasn’t out of tricks just yet. Ob Nixilis Reignited joined his side of the battle and dispatched the Advocate.

Jérémy Dezani and Seth Manfield were both playing for their second Pro Tour Top 8 in these last few rounds.

Dezani had a replacement, as well as a Matter Reshaper, but now Manfield was rolling along. Ultimate Price took care of the Advocate. Narset let him rebound an Anticipate, and five mana more hired Jace, Unraveler of Secrets to send the Matter Reshaper home. Things looked dire for Dezani, but he wasn’t out of it. Tragic Arrogance got rid of both Narset and Jace, leaving just Ob Nixilis.

Manfield gassed up with the second half of his Anticipate, then played Dark Petition. He tutored up Sorin, Grim Nemesis and scored himself a Spell Snare off the top. Dezani indulged one more draw step, then scooped.

Dezani led out with Catacomb Sifter in Game 2. It fell to Grasp of Darkness, but left a Scion behind to pester Manfield, who had no play on three mana, and watched as Dezani added Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to the table. Gideon brought a friend to the party. Manfield hoped that Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet would provide enough of a speedbump, but Dezani was ready with Anguished Unmaking. Gideon became a creature and the squad charged in for 8 damage.

Manfield fought back, clearing Gideon and his Ally token with Silumgar’s Command, but he was clearly on the back foot. Collected Company gave Dezani Matter Reshaper and Eldrazi Displacer. They all charged in, and the Displacer flickered Manfield’s Shambling Vent to prevent its blocking. Manfield had Languish to clear off the board, but Dezani flashed in a lethal Archangel Avacyn at end-of-turn.

Manfield had to go down to six cards before they were off for the third and final game. Dezani led with Deathcap Cultivator and followed up with Transgress the Mind. Manfield turned over a hand of Anguished Unmaking, Languish, Ruinous Path, and Narset Transcendent. Dezani stole the Planeswalker and hit for 2, passing the turn without a third land. That made Manfield pause and furrow his brow. With a shake of his head, he aimed Anguished Unmaking at the Cultivator. He spent his turn animating his Shambling Vent and draining Dezani for 2.

Dezani failed to find a land, but he did have Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. This earned the Languish from Manfield’s hand. Dezani bricked again and played Sylvan Advocate. Manfield destroyed it with Ruinous Path, and brought out Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Dezani finally hit his land, and just in time to drop Anguished Unmaking on Jace. His pain land damage had been piling up, however, and another Vent attack left him at just 8 life.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer was a welcome sight, even if Dezani had to fall to 7 to play her. She searched up a much-needed fourth land. Again, Manfield hit with the Vent. Dezani was down to just 5 life. He returned fire and passed with an obvious Collected Company at the ready. Manfield just passed back. Dezani decided to play it slow. He held back on the Company, instead untapping into Transgress the Mind. Manfield turned over Grasp of Darkness, Ultimate Price, Planar Outburst, and Ob Nixilis, Reignited. He took the Planeswalker, summoned an Elvish Visionary, and passed.

That was enough to draw out Manfield’s Planar Outburst. Dezani took the opportunity to main phase his Collected Company, getting Matter Reshaper and Eldrazi Displacer. Manfield untapped and killed the Displacer with Grasp of Darkness. Dezani hit for 3 and passed with five open. Manfield brought out Narset and upped her loyalty. His two remaining mana let him Ultimate Price Dezani’s Archangel Avacyn.

Dezani was falling farther and farther behind. His Matter Reshaper hit Narset for three and he passed. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet joined Manfield’s side, and another Ultimate Price jumped out of his hand to cut down Dezani’s second attempt at Avacyn. Dezani’s last gasp was an Eldrazi Displacer, but now, Manfield was in full control. Narset rebounded a Grasp of Darkness and Dezani packed up his cards.

Dezani 1 – Manfield 2


(2) Seth Manfield – Esper Planeswalkers

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Jérémy Dezani – Abzan Company

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