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Round 11: Dave Humpherys vs. Mike Long

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Mike Long, a one-time fixture in US Nationals Top 8's, is in a bit of a fix. He has a record that would allow him to make the Top 8 with a win and a draw, but no one at his table can afford to draw with him. So he, like his opponent - YMG's Dave Humpherys, must win the last two rounds in order to have a shot at making the US Team.

The action started when the Hump, playing black/white, summoned a Shieldmage Advocate on turn three that enabled a turn-4 double Battle Screech. Long, playing white/red answered with a Battlewise Aven that looked to be capable of playing "D" all by itself.

Humpherys made his own Battlewise Aven and passed the turn, and then Long took the upper hand with an Arcane Teachings on his Aven and a Flame Burst on Dave's. Humpherys exhaled slowly.

With no answer to the 4/4 flying pinger, Humpherys added more men to the table - Teroh's Faithful and Phantom Nomad - in an attempt to overload it.

Long kept killing tokens, then went on the offensive in earnest with a Pardic Firecat and a Halberdier. Humpherys could never make effective blocks thanks to the Arcane Aven, and started taking damage.

He stemmed things a little with a Screams of the Damned that killed the Halbardier, but he wasn't making any real progress... until Humpherys drew Chastise.

One thing about Arcane Teachings is that it makes your guy large enough that it's worth attacking with it, which means it will occasionally fall prey to things like Chastise. Long look very upset that his flying monstrosity was dispatched thusly. But he had a backup plan, first Sonic Seizuring Humphery's (tapped) Advocate, then summoning the colossal Worldgorger Dragon, emptying his side of the table.

The Hump valiantly tried to race the big Dragon's seven-point clock with a Shade's Form on his Teroh's Faithful, but at the last moment, Long played out enough new land to summon an Angelic Wall to stop the last hit from the Shady Faithful.

Humpherys 0 - Mike Long and Worldgorger Dragon 1

Long tried to engage Humpherys with idle chatter about how good his Battle Screech opening was between games, but Humpherys would only nod silently as he concentrated on sideboarding.

Humpherys turn-one Benevolent Bodyguard was hit with a Firebolt, but he kept on developing with a turn-2 Phantom Nomad and a turn-4 Gravedigger.

Long's first four lands were 3 Mountains and a Forest, which he tapped to make a Centaur Chieftain that held the ground. The real surprise came when Long made a second Chieftain from what was previously a red/white deck.

Humpherys remained the aggressor, casting his Bodyguard again and a Pilgrim of Justice, and attacking with all four of his creatures into the Centaur pair. Long blocked the two one-power guys, but Prismatic Strands kept the Hump's team alive and Crippling Fatigue finished off one of Long's Chieftains.

Long Firebolted the Bodyguard (effectively), and Humpherys used his two flashback cards to duplicate his previous turn, killing the other Chieftain. Long was at 10 life.

Then Long drew a Plains - his hand was four white cards - and summoned the beefy Anurid Brushhopper. Angelic Wall and Border Patrol joined the team, and Long stabilized the board.

Long started attacking with the Brushhopper and a newly-summoned Battlewise Aven, and Humpherys drew six straight land and could only shake his head in disgust as his side of the board deteriorated.

When Humpherys was left with only a Pilgrim in play and lethal damage bearing down on him, Long comforted him with, "I'm sure there's an Unglued card that can save you at this point."

Final Result: Humpherys 0 - Long 2

As Humpherys walked away from the Feature Match area, spectator David Price said, "Humpherys, you failed me."

Mike Long is one win away from his fifth Nationals Top 8.

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