Semifinals (Loser's Bracket) Feature Match - Mike Long vs. Aaron Forsythe
by Adrian Sullivan
In one of Mike Long's biggest matches this year, he plays New CMU member Aaron Forsythe with one player knocked out of the running for the U.S. National Team. This is an important honor for Mike, who has more experience in the Top 8 of this tournament than any other player in the room. The winner here will be playing in Worlds for the United States.
The matchup is an interesting one. Forsythe's Angry Hermit deck has some of the same weakness as Trinity Green in this matchup: Long's 4 sideboard Hibernation will certainly be quite effective, especially when used against cards like Treetop Village. Forsythe also has to worry about the general slow pace of his deck, a pace which could give Long an opportunity to gain control in the late game or simply drop a third turn Morphling and try to race. In Forsythe's favor, his significant disruption, especially post-sideboard, could easily cause horrific problems for Long, especially since long relies heavily on Masticore to deal with Forsythe's creatures. In the end, the matchup will probably be decided by Masticore.
Long starts out quick with a pair of Grim Monolith and a fast Masticore. Forsythe tries to get something working, but the Masticore starts shooting away Forsythe's Elves and coming in. But the fast Masticore is somewhat costly: Long's hand is heavily depleted, and he is forced to start discarding powerful spells.
Forsythe uses this opportunity to drop his own Masticore. Coming in with several Elves, and his Masticore on the next turn, Mike blocks an Elf, and lets the remainder through. On the subsequent turn, though, Forsythe makes a critical error.
Mike Long taps Forsythe's Port with his own Port, and Forsythe indicates he's wanting to enter his draw phase. Too late, he realizes that the Masticore has not yet been paid for this turn. While Forsythe hoped that since Masticore's upkeep effect had not been announced and since the effect itself was mandatory, he would be able to keep the Masticore. Unfortunately for him, while the effect does indeed go onto the stack, his forgetting to announce that would not negate the ability being on the stack. Thus, having failed to pay for Masticore, and now being unable to go back to pay for it, he lost the only blocker he had left on the table.
Long seizes the opportunity, coming in several times. While Forsythe tries to keep up some defenders, Long merely shoots them all out of the way.
Long 1 - Forsythe 0
Long Mulligans his no-land hand and draws into a fairly exceptable 1 land hand with quick casts (including a Powder Kegf) and a Brainstorm. The Powder Keg proves useful, killing an Elf and a Bird of Paradise, but it doesn't end up mattering much.
Forsythe Plows two islands Under, holding a Boil in his hand. Treetop Villages bring Mike down low, and with a Grim Monolith, Long tries to stabilize the table. Forsythe, draws his one Splinter off the top of his library, and ends the game.
Long 1 - Forsythe 1
Forsythe drops an early Llanowar Elf, and Long drops a Powder Keg to hold the table. On Aaron's second turn, Uktabi Orangatang drops down to kill the Keg, and the Elf and Uktabi both start acrossed the table to bring in beats. A pair of Boils push past Mike's countermagic, and Mike falls to an Uktabi Orangatang and a Yavimaya Elder.
Long 1 - Forsythe 2
The most exciting of the games, both players have good opening hands, with ample lands and a good mix of cards for the matchup - Long with control cards and Forsythe with creatures and Port.
The first few turns are mostly uneventful as the players build up their mana. Forsythe begins sending with a Llanowar Elf and brings out a Yavimaya Elder. Long drops his own creature, proclaiming "Hello, Hippo" as he drops the Masticore down hard on the table. Forsythe tries to exploit this opportunity, and Plow Under Mike's land. Mike Rewinds the Plow Under, and untaps his Grim Monolith.
The Masticore kills the Elder, and Forsythe fetches his first Mountain. "Ready to Boil?" asks Mike. Forsythe doesn't Boil, but he does drop a Deranged Hermit. Mike ponders the Hermit for a while before allowing it. His hand consists of a Thwart, a Stroke of Genius and an Opportunity. At the end of the turn, mike casts Opportunity and draws a phenemonal set of cards - Island, Powder Keg, Hibernation, and Counterspell.
Looking at the table, Mike decides that his Masticore can do any of the work that the Hibernation would, so he discards it to the Masticore and drops the Powder Keg as insurance against squirrels and the Treetop Village. Forsythe Plows Under again, and the Masticore tears up a Hermit in response.
Showing he's under pressure from both the desire to make the Nationals Team and his problems in the Draft Invitation (from which he was disqualified), Long fails to draw a card on his next upkeep, the second time he has done this today. Awarded a warning, he continues on, holding on defense against a Yavimaya Elder. Forsythe sacs the Elder, drawing another Elder. His hand is full of land, with almost no threats besides another Deranged Hermit and the Elder. Topdecking a Plow Under, Forsythe casts the Elder and Plow Under and Long Rewinds the Plow. Staying on defense with the Masticore, Forsythe decides the Elder will serve him best as an Ancestral Recall, and he again sacs an Elder. Drawing a Karplusian Forest, Forsythe has only a Hermit as a potential threat.
Long's mana has been tied up with other cards, but finally Long will have breathing room to use Masticore to kill Forsythe's squirrels. Bringing in the Squirrels, Long drops to 16 and Forsythe discards one of his 7 land in hand.
Now under double Rishadan Port, Long's few Islands are under constant pressure, and he is left mostly helpless to threats. Long decides to turn aggressive, and he kills Forsythe's Llanowar Elf, coming in for 4. With a Powder Keg still available, Forsythe's three squirrels and Treetop Village are not a significant threat. Forsythe comes in with the squirrels, and Mike drops to 13. At the end of the turn, Mike cycles and then kills a squirrel.
Ported again, Mike kills another squirrel and comes in once more, bringing Forsythe to 12. With very little mana left to counter, Forsythe double-Ports Long on his own turn, and attempts to Boil. Mike Thwarts and continues in with the Masticore. Forsythe returns with Treetop Village and drops a Deranged Hermit. The Masticore shoots some of Forsythe's men, and Forsythe drops a Blastoderm. Now at 7 life, Long was on the defensive.
Forsythe presses the advantage. Porting some of Long's land on Long's upkeep, and then Porting again on his own turn. Avalanche Rider comes across with the rest of Forsythe's creatures. Masticore shoots down the Avalanche Rider, blocks the Treetop Village, and Long drops to 1. Forsythe drops Rofellos to keep up the beatdown. Long stays home with the Masticore one more turn, and Forsythe is stuck with only a Rofellos and a Squirrel after the Blastoderm fades away.
"Slaughter Rofellos like the pig he is... destroy the pathetic squirrel," intones Mike when Forsythe says go.
Realizing that he can't keep up counterspell mana versus Forsythe's Ports, Long decides to go all out in the next few turns. He drops a Grim Monolith on one turn, and uses Stroke of Genius for 7 on the next turn, tapping out completely both times.
This opening lets Forsythe Plow Under Mike's land, but he can't find a threat. Masticore comes for the kill.
Long 2 - Forsythe 2
Everything rides on this one game.
Forsythe opens with a Treetop Village and follows with a Bird of Paradise and pair of Rishadan Port. Long opens with Islands, and after laying his third land, is Boiled out. While he holds a Thwart in his hand, he still can't keep from losing all his land on the table.
Forsythe presses in with Blastoderm, and Mike drops a Grim Monolith.
Tapped out, Long is defenseless against Forsythe's Plow Under, a move which causes spectator Gary Wise to exclaim, "This is violent!"
Mike drops a Masticore to defend, and Forsythe swings in again with the Blastoderm, dropping an Elder. When Forsythe taps Mike down, Mike shoots down the Elder, and comes in with the Masticore.
Tapped out Mike again suffers under a Plow Under, and finally an Uktabi Orangatang kills the Masticore. Attacking with the Uktabi, Forsythe drops an Ancient Hydra from the Sideboard, and taps his last land to bring Mike Long to 0. An exciting end to an exciting match.
Long 2 - Forsythe 3