cruised around the MSS Quarterfinals tables to catch the highlights. Here's a quick roundup:
Jacob Gosche/Greg Poverelli
Jacob Poverelli, left, takes on Jacob Gosche.
Game 1: Seventeen-year-old Greg Poverelli's early beatdown walked into a three-for-one from Jacob Gosche's Angelfire deck in the form of Wrath of God. However the three creatures were all Keldon Marauders meaning Florida native Gosche still lost a healthy chunk of his life when his removal spell resolved. That proved critical in the long run as his Lightning Angel wasn't early enough to stem the tides. A topdecked Seal of Fire from Poverelli sent it to Game 2.
Game 2: A lucky Tin Street Hooligan from Poverelli sent Gosche's early Azorius Signet packing, a rough beat for the Angelfire player as his only other mana sources were three Plains and a Ghost Quarter. The play kept him off balance long enough for a series of Mogg Fanatics, the Tin Street, and Keldon Marauders, accompanied by the usual assortment of Chars and Incinerates, to get the job done. The match finished before most of their peers had even begun playing their second games.
When one of Jacob's friends from the crowd of onlookers pointed out he could have Ghost Quartered his own Plains to search up the Mountain he needed to play spells from his hand he replied "I know that play, but I only have Plains and Islands [for basic lands] in my deck."
Greg Poverelli wins 2-0 against Jacob Gosche.
Peter Montalbano/DJ Kastner
Peter Montalbano, left, goes up against DJ Kastner.
Game 1: A quick end-of-turn Momentary Blink targeting a morph turned out to be a huge play for nineteen-year-old DJ Kastner, as his 2/2 was in fact Akroma, Angel of Fury. Face-up from the Blink, the legend drew a whistle and comment from opponent Peter Montalbano.
"That's a good choice. The mirror can't do anything about that card!"
Unfortunately for Montalbano, who hails from Coral Springs, Florida, it all happened while he was tapped out meaning he could flip neither of his face-down Vesuvan Shapeshifters. Either copy could have saved him, but the first game went to Kastner.
Game 2: A Lightning Angel and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV from Kastner were quickly overwhelmed by Snakes (in the form of Mystic Snake and Coiling Oracle), Elves, and Faeries. The Faeries, or more specifically two protection from blue Scryb Rangers, proved to be the important part of the equation as DJ just couldn't dig to an answer for either, and was unable to block with his blue flyers. It didn't help that one of the Quirion Ranger retreads had been pumped by a +1/+1 counter from a Llanowar Reborn and that Montalbano was countering some of his efforts, and the game finally went to Peter in 1-, 2-, and 3-point life increments.
Game 3: Montalbano's Teferi and Heartwood Storyteller each got counters from Llanowar Reborns while DJ Kastner tried to get his beat on with Emperor Augustin and Lightning Angel. The Angel kept managing to get through, eventually knocking his opponent to just 2 life while he himself was at a healthier, but still under siege, 13. The game was getting interesting with a flurry of action when head judge Ingrid Lind-Jahn intervened for a meeting with Kastner. The crowd began speculating over what could have happened and many assumed he was in trouble for his sleeves.
It appeared that DJ's sideboard cards hadn't received as much wear over the weekend as his regularly sleeved cards had, and when he drew a Flashfreeze it was apparent that anyone looking closely enough could tell. After fifteen minutes and much speculation from the audience, Lind-Jahn returned with Kastner to give the final word.
It was not Kastner's sleeves but the curvature of his cards which was the problem. Apparently throughout the course of play the majority of his cards had warped slightly. However, since his sideboard cards spent most of their time in his deck box, they were much flatter than the rest of his deck, and that led to a pattern of distinguishable cards. Lind-Jahn ruled that-though the mistake was not intentional-because Kastner had been warned about it prior to the Top 8, he would have to be given a game loss.
Whoops went up from the fans behind Montalbano while across, Kastner's friends voiced their disagreement with the decision. Montalbano and Kastner, to their credit, did a good job keeping their cool, taking the time to shake hands. Visibly frustrated, Kastner informed his opponent, "I'm not mad at you, dude."
Peter Montalbano wins 2-1 against DJ Kastner.
Ryan Ward/Alec Nezin
Ryan Ward, right, attacks Alec Nezin.
Game 1: Two Lightning Helixes bought Salem, Oregon resident Ryan Ward enough time to suspend an Aeon Chronicler for one. After that monster had come into play his follow-up was a Lightning Angel, and Nezin's Rakdos deck struggled to keep up. A Compulsive Research kept Ward's hand juiced long enough to finish beating for Nezin's life total and the first game went to the Angelfire player.
Game 2: Nezin had an early Dark Confidant and Rain of Gore to keep both his hand filled up and his opponent's life total low from his burn, regardless of Lightning Helix or Faith's Fetters. His threats quickly put their pound on and Ward's back-to-back Lightning Angels were answered with back-to-back Hits of Hit // Run fame from Nezin, and Ward was unable to dig in long enough to withstand the Onslaught. The second game went to Nezin.
Game 3: For the rubber game Ward again was the beneficiary of double Lightning Helix in addition to a Wrath of God, clearing his opponent's board of threats. A Faith's Fetters for Ryan took care of Alec's Keldon Megaliths while a Lightning Angel got its beat on and Compulsive Researches started refilling Ward's hand. Nezin, on the other hand, was hitting some serious mana clumpage and drew way too little burn. The Char he did manage had to go to his opponent's Lightning Angel. When Ward revealed a Sacred Mesa for a final threat which his opponent couldn't answer, Nezin extended his hand.
Ryan Ward wins 2-1 against Alec Nezin.
Tim Landale/Jonathan Benson
Tim Landale faces off against Jonathan Benson.
Game 1: Though their Game 1 was the slowest of the four matches, it seemed that not that much was actually happening. Landale's Grave-Shell Scarab was too slow to stop the beats from Benson's Gruul deck, and a topdecked Char finally managed to take it home. When asked what big plays had happened, Landale replied, "Um…his deck just makes a lot of little plays…"
The victor Benson, who hails from Clinton, Ohio, nodded in agreement.
Game 2: The second game was a bit spicier, as an early Essence Warden from Landale managed to curb the beats from his Gruul opponent. When a Loxodon Hierarch joined the table, it seemed even Benson's Magus of the Moon wasn't going to be enough to make an impact on the game. Eventually, after Benson had drawn more than a few blanks, Landale managed to start cycling through the Project X combo, playing a Crypt Champion, returning a Saffi, using Saffi to save Champion, etc. However, that wasn't enough for Benson, who asked him to demonstrate the combo the whole way through. After seeing the whole thing, he finally scooped up the cards and Landale's Project X deck evened things up to one game a piece.
Game 3: The final game proved to be the most interesting. Benson tried to get his early beats on but was stymied by Landale's Loxodon Hierarch. With Plan A stopped, he opted for Plan B in the form of Magus of the Moon and disrupting his opponent long enough to work around the large threat on the board. That stranded Chord of Calling in Landale's hand, but he wasn't going to let that stop him. Eventually he managed to Crypt Champion a Wall of Roots into play, enough to allow him to Chord for the combo.
However, a Mogg Fanatic on his opponent's side of the board made that an impossible way to win, so he opted for a second play, instead Chording for four and putting Ghost Council of Orzhova into play.
"I guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way…" muttered Landale as he begin shifting the Council in and out of play, gaining life each time while reducing his opponent's life total in single point increments. Thanks to an early hit from the Hierarch and some unfortunate self-inflicted wounds at the hands of his own painlands, Jonathan Benson's opponent didn't have far to go, and after a few turns Landale had taken the third game and the match.
Tim Landale wins 2-1 over Jonathan Benson.