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Semifinals: Eugene Harvey vs. Andrew Ranks

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Game 1

Harvey's opening hand consisted of a pair of Forests and a number of blue and red cards, with no mana acceleration. He opted to throw it away. The new hand was acceptable, and he played a turn one Llanowar Elf. On the second turn, Harvey cast Llanowar Elf again before playing a land. He was hoping to bait a counter and succeeded. He attacked with the Elf already in play, and laid an Island. Ranks tapped out to cast Psychatog, and Harvey tapped out to cast Opposition.

Despite playing with countermagic, both players were tapping out every turn. Harvey cast Deep Analysis. Ranks summoned a Nightscape Familiar and spent the remaining three mana to cast Fact or Fiction. He chose Island, Repulse, and Nightscape Familiar over Island and Fact or Fiction. Harvey tapped out yet again to cast Flametongue Kavu, taking out the Familiar. Rather than tap Psychatog via Opposition, Harvey chose to block it with the Kavu, trading it for a card in his opponent's hand and four from the graveyard.

A pair of Merfolk Looters were up next for Harvey, but Ranks managed to Repulse one and Memory Lapse the other, leaving the coast clear to cast Upheaval on the following turn. He could not summon any creature, but it got Opposition off the table and made the Force Spike he was holding useful, as he countered Harvey's Llanowar Elves. Harvey retaliated by using Fire to take out Nightscape Familiar. Psychatog resolved, prompting Harvey to do some quick math, keeping Ranks' Cephalid Coliseum in mind as well. The math wasn't good – he was forced to chump-block with a Looter, leaving just a Bird in play.

Harvey cast Squirrel's Nest on his Shivan Reef, leaving the Bird untapped to block with in case that does not resolve. Ranks used his Coliseum but that left him with just a Swamp and an Island untapped, so he could not cast the Counterspell he drew into. The Nest resolved. Able to block Psychatog with a Squirrel token every turn, Harvey was not under so much pressure now. Soon after, he was able to force Opposition through as well. Now it was Ranks who was on the clock – he needed to find a solution before Harvey made enough tokens to mana-lock him.

The solution presented itself on the very next turn, as Ranks top-decked a Recoil. Harvey did not have a permission spell to protect his Nest, so the land it was on went back up to Harvey's hand. With two Squirrels, a Bird, a Wild Mongrel and a Merfolk Looter in play, Harvey was still in great shape. He kept tapping down enough of Ranks' lands to prevent another Upheaval. When Ranks tapped out to cast Deep Analysis, Harvey played another Squirrel's Nest. Ranks cast another Fact or Fiction, but did not find a Recoil.

About fifteen minutes passed as Harvey held Ranks in the headlock but was still unable to make him cry uncle. When every one was his lands was under Harvey's control, Ranks finally gave in, seeing that there wasn't anything he could draw to get out of this predicament.

Sideboarding

Ranks
Out: 3 Circular Logic 2 Deep Analysis, 2 Probe, 3 Repulse
In: 4 Ghastly Demise, 4 Duress, 2 Slay

Harvey
In: 2 Static Orb, 4 Gainsay
Out: 3 Flametongue Kavu, 2 Call of the Herd, Llanowar Elves

Game 2

First turn Duress took out Squirrel's Nest, leaving Gainsay, Looter, and a bunch of lands in Harvey's hand. Ranks' draw was very aggressive. He cast a turn 3 Psychatog, then used Slay and Ghastly Demise to take out Birds of Paradise and Merfolk Looter that Harvey summoned on the previous turn. Harvey cast Deep Analysis. He kept taking damage from his pain lands any time he wanted red or blue mana, helping out Ranks' cause. A second Demise took out a second Looter two turns later.

Harvey recast Deep Analysis from the graveyard drawing lots of Gainsays, but had no answers to the Psychatog. Although no Upheaval or Fact or Fiction resolves (and none was going to any time soon based on the players' hands), Psychatog was becoming a real threat with Harvey down to twelve life points. Harvey cycled Ice on Psychatog, cast Deep Analysis and summoned a Bird, only to have it killed by yet another Ghastly Demise. With no blockers in sight, Ranks pitched enough cards to Psychatog to get to Threshold, and then used Cephalid Coliseum to get more cards into the graveyard. He pitched the rest of his hand, and removed the graveyard, delivering coup de grace.

Sideboarding

Harvey
Out: ?
In: Llanowar Elves

Game 3

Llanowar Elves entered play on turn one. Ranks Duressed on his first turn – just in time to take out Squirrel's Nest that would otherwise enter play on the following turn. As is, Harvey had to settle for Birds of Paradise and Wild Mongrel.

With Island and Swamp in play, Ranks had to decide between sitting on Memory Lapse and immediately removing one of Harvey's mana creatures with Ghastly Demise. He opted for the latter, taking out the Birds. Ranks rinsed and repeated a turn later, taking out a second Bird with Demise. He then cast Pshychatog but was unable to stop Opposition from entering play. Ranks cast Fact or Fiction and used Force Spike to counter Gainsay, with both players completely emptying out their hands at this point. Fact or Fiction provided Ranks with some cards to replenish his hand though, as he chose Psychatog and Underground River over a pair of Nightscape Familiars and an Island.

Second Psychatog entered play, matched by the second Llanowar Elf. Wild Mongrel was still able to attack for two points of damage every turn, with Ranks at twelve life at this point, to Harvey's fourteen. Ranks activated the Coliseum, cycling through some cards to end up with Fact or Fiction and Nightscape Familiar in hand. He then cast the Familiar. Fact or Fiction followed a turn later, allowing Ranks to get Slay and Force Spike over Counterspell and two lands. Ranks used Demise to take out one of the Elves. Harvey could now only tap one of the two Psychatogs. The second 'Tog attacked and Ranks cast a third Fact or Fiction to cycle through more cards. He snatched three lands as opposed to a land and a Psychatog, and removed the sufficient number of cards from the graveyard and hand to win the game.

Game 4

Harvey was forced to take a devastating double-mulligan going first. He ended up keeping a five card hand of four lands and an Opposition – far better than could be under the circumstances. Ranks contemplated his hand for several minutes, and decided to mulligan as well. His six card hand featured only a single land – a Salt Marsh, but also had Duress and a pair of Nightscape Familiars. He chose to keep his hand.

The gamble did not pay off. Ranks failed to draw another land. He Duressed on turn 2 and took out Opposition, but it was now one of two Oppositions in Harvey's hand. Wild Mongrel put Ranks on the clock. At this point Ranks finally drew a second land, but it was a Salt Marsh, so he was unable to play another spell that turn. Harvey cast Opposition and used Mongrel to tap one of the Salt Marshes in upkeep. Ranks did not draw a third land and was forced to discard, getting rid of one of the Nightscape Familiars. Having drawn all four Familiars at this time, Ranks discarded a second one on the following turn. Harvey summoned Llanowar Elf, now able to tap down both of his opponent's lands. Harvey also cast second Opposition to make sure that Ranks coild not get out of the lock later with Recoil, and finally cast a Bird of Paradise. Ranks still failed to draw a land over the course of these turns.

Once Ranks finally got his third land, he was able to add mana to his pool in response to the lands being tapped and cast Slay, taking out Llanowar Elf and drawing another land. With Ranks tapped out, Harvey cast Static Orb. Duress revealed nothing but land, but Harvey still had the two creatures in play to lock his opponent with.

On his turn, Harvey top-decked Squirrel Nest and cast it on his last untapped land. There were some groans and some cheers from the audience, depending on who the spectators were rooting for. Ranks picked up his cards and the marathon match proceeded into its final game.

Game 5

Unlike the previous several games, nothing happened over the course of the first few turns. It was on turn 3; when Ranks played a Salt Marsh that Harvey saw his chance. He Iced one of the two untapped lands and forced Squirrel's Nest through. In tradeoff, Harvey was stuck on three lands for several turns. Ranks cast Psychatog and it raced with the growing army of Squirrels for a few turns.

Very soon Ranks could no longer afford to attack with Psychatog, holding it back to block a Squirrel and even countering Ice that threatened to tap it. Psychatog alone could not keep up though; with Ranks taking four points of damage from the Squirrels each turn. Ranks needed to find an answer, and fast. He had much hope in Fact or Fiction. It resolved, and Harvey offered him either Slay, or Psychatog and three lands. Both players were forced to spend a very long time on the difficult split, with Ranks finally choosing the four-card pile. Although the cards he got weren't as good, he was able to cycle through them with help of Cephalid Coliseum.

Ranks untapped and attacked with Psychatog. Harvey made a Squirrel and blocked it. Ranks summoned another Psychatog. Harvey countered with Circular Logic. Harvey's four Squirrels could reduce Ranks' life total down to one point next turn but not kill him. Thus, it made sense for him to attack with just two or three of the tokens to lower the chances of Ranks being able to kill off the rest and punch through with Psychatog for the win.

Harvey started off by casting Static Orb. Although it wasn't particularly helpful to his Squirrel army, it also wasn't going to hurt him much, while it could hinder Ranks' ability to operate quite a bit more. Harvey sent in two Squirrels – just enough so he could untap them at the end of turn and attack again. Ranks used Ghastly Demise to kill one of them and went down to four life points.

A turn before Harvey could kill him, Ranks cast Upheaval with two untapped Islands to back it up. Harvey could not stop him, so the game was reset, but it was Harvey who got to replay the first land. He also summoned a Bird of Paradise – a crucial play at this stage in the game. Harvey cast a turn 2 Squirrel's Nest but was only able to make one creature before Ranks dealt with it by Recoiling the enchanted land. Harvey cast Opposition and used his one Squirrel to tap down one of Ranks' lands. At this time, Harvey was also issued a warning for slow play. Both players were proceeding at an extremely leisurely pace and the judges felt Harvey's was slow enough to justify a warning.

Harvey cast another Squirrel's Nest and tapped down Ranks' lands during upkeep. Ranks responded by tapping out for Slay and destroying the Bird. On his turn, Harvey untapped and won the game by casting Static Orb. He had enough creatures to lock down Ranks completely, and would be able to attack for the kill in just two turns anyway, so Ranks conceded graciously rather than dragging it out for another several minutes.

Final Result: Harvey 3 – Ranks 2

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