Quentin and Michael are both on an 8-3 record and so the winner of this will advance to top 8 and the loser’s National Champion dreams will be crushed. Players have been studying the standings carefully and it turns out the earlier expected record of 8-3-1 doesn’t make it. This rules out any chances of these two competitors agreeing to an intentional draw.
Quentin wins the coin flip with heads and chooses to play first. Quentin is playing UR and Michael is playing RW. The first creature drop is from Michael and is a turn two Glory Seeker. This then attacks on Michael’s third turn after Quentin fails to draw another land. A Flamewave Invoker then joins the party.
On Quentin’s fourth turn he draws his much-needed land and sets up a Mistform Wall to cushion the incoming damage. Michael is tooled up with an Inspirit, which on his next attack with Glory Seeker and the Invoker allows the Seeker to dismantle the wall.
Quentin continues to drop defenders in the shape of Thoughtbound Primoc and Glintwing Invoker. Michael repeats the attacking process with the same two creatures and a second Inspirit allows the Glory Seeker to safely take out the Primoc. Michael then plays a Gustcloak Harrier and a morph.
The Glintwing, which has been kept safely away from combat, is now upgraded with a Lavamancer’s Skill. This allows Quentin to shoot down the Harrier while Michael’s Daru Encampment is tapped.
Michael sticks with his all-out attacking plan and again swings with everything. Quentin takes some damage from the attackers, and Michael makes a mistake of using the Encampment to boost his unblocked Glory Seeker, forgetting about the Lavamancer’s Skill. In Quentin’s next turn the Glintwing Shoots the Seeker and a morph creature is summoned. Michael has no play in his turn where as Quentin has two more morphs to add to his team. The Glintwing uses his lavamancing skills and shoots down Michael’s Drill Sergeant. Michael pays the mana for its triggered ability and flips a Deftblade Elite, which is sadly not a goblin.
Quentin reveals a Future Sight from his hand as well as an Aven Fateshaper. Michael is unsure whether to scoop, but with no cards in hand he knows he’s lost when Quentin decides to show him his face-down Voidmage Apprentice.
Both players sideboard at least three cards each. Quentin shows me his sideboarding decisions and he boards out three Screaming Seahawks for a Goblin Sledder and two Drill Sergeants. Quentin also gets carried away with stories about playing Wake decks and how fast he can play them.
Michael plays first this time but Quentin gets the first creature drop of the game, with his sideboarded Goblin Sledder. Both players match each other with early creature drops, but Michael’s Inspirits allow him to work himself into a slightly better board position, with his Seeker and Sergeant smashing in enemy blockers. These are backed up with a Windborn Muse and Gustcloak Harrier while Quentin, stuck without drawing land, is only able to play a morph creature. The flying onslaught continues from Michael’s side, as Quentin finally finds land to summon a Crested Craghorn, which isn’t able to utilise its haste ability due to the Muse’s ability.
With a Crested Craghorn on the table, Michael enchants his Windborn Muse with Crown of Awe to give it protection. As he is a bit nervous playing for top 8 on the feature table he taps one too many mana and suffers a point of mana burn. Quentin is paying too much attention to Michael’s mistake that he forgets he can unmorph his creature, a Willbender, to put the Crown onto one of his own creatures.
Quentin untaps and attacks with his Craghorn, provoking the Glory Seeker, which then dies in combat. Goblin Sledder’s ability saves the Craghorn at the cost of a couple of goblins. Michael again flies in with his flyers and takes another four life from Quentin, before deploying yet another Glory Seeker. In Michael’s end step, Quentin takes out the Harrier with a Shock. Craghorn and the morph attack in Quentin’s turn, and the Craghorn trades with the Glory Seeker.
Michael’s air attacks have been reduced to swings for two each turn, but now he finds a Lowland Tracker to pick on Quentin’s small creatures. Quentin’s newly cast morph gets provoked in the following turn, which is flipped over as Battering Craghorn to trade. A Flamewave Invoker is then added to Michael’s force.
In Quentin’s turn he enchants his remaining morph with Lavamancer’s Skill and unmorphs it as a Willbender. This then shoots a Glory Seeker. Quentin makes a further comeback with Future Sight, allowing him to rip through a few extra cards, making another land and an Echo Tracer. Sadly for Quentin, Michael draws a Demystify to deal with the Future Sight. Echo Tracer returns Windborn Muse to Michael’s hand, but Quentin is unable to deal with the threats that Michael keeps putting down and is eventually overwhelmed.
Quentin embarks on another of his little conversations while they shuffle for game three. Near the end of this Michael nearly draws his hand from Quentin’s deck, as they were using the same colour sleeves, but Quentin was quick to stop him and a game loss was avoided.
Both players keep their hands, but Quentin is clearly having mana problems when he misses his third land drop. Michael uses the same plan as in previous games, putting down cheap creature after cheap creature and attacking with them. When Quentin finally sorts his mana base out, where he also gets colour screwed out of blue for a while, he can do little more than attempt to gain back some tempo with Echo Tracer and deploy some weak blockers. Michael amasses a sizeable force and is easily able to out-race Quentin for the win.
Michael Groves wins 2-1