Semifinals: Bob Maher, Jr. vs. Brian Hegstad

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One half of what a lot of people were calling the "Best GP Top 8 Ever", Maher and Hegstad have both tasted the fruits of success. For Maher, the Onslaught Limited Grand Prix is old hat, after having won Copenhagen and come ninth at Philadelphia. Hegstad, one of the most vocal opponents of Onslaught Sealed, suprised himself by escaping the Sealed Deck rounds by, gasp, outplaying his opponents. It was almost enough to renew his faith in Magic. Almost. During Day 2 his draftings skills came into play, and now he's within two wins of a title.

In the spirit of fairness, Hegstad was given a few minutes to review Maher's decklist, since Maher's 2-0 demolishing of Eisel left him ample time to scope Hegstad's build.

"This deck is good. Geez, Spitting Gourna, two Undoraks. This deck is VERY good." - Brian Hegstad

Maher was quick off the blocks with an Elvish Warrior, answered by a morph from Hegstad. Maher followed with one of his own. Hegstad untapped and went into the think tank.

"You really do live for the untimed round." - Bob Maher

Eventaully Hegstad made a second morph and passed it back. Maher was quick to charge in. Neil Reeves stepped in with a fresh toothpick for his teammate. Hegstad doubled up, and Maher chose to off the second morph. It was Riptide Biologist. Maher's was Skirk Commando. He added a Wirewood Herald to his side, and got ready for a long wait.

Hegstad counterattacked for two. Maher let it by. He added Ascending Aven to his team and was done. Maher returned fire for three. His Goblin MachinistThreatened to run away with the game. Hegstad went overhead for three more, and Cloned the Machinist. Unfortunately, Maher had his sixth mana, turning the Machinist into a real monstrosity. He swung in, and when Hegstad pushed his Machinist in front of Maher's, Maher chose to let them bounce rather than risk the double-activation. He instead spent his mana on Pinpoint Avalanche to get rid of the Aven. Hegstad summoned Riptide Shapeshifter and sent it back.

Maher's Machinist came in alone. Hegstad thought hard before letting it through. He was only at eleven. Maher's first activation turned up Pinpoint Avalanche, giving him pause.

"Alright, so how many cards kill you?" - Bob Maher, Jr.

He eventually let it stand at five damage. Sparksmith and Birchlore Rangers increased his board presence. Hegstad had no play. Maher's Sparksmith offed the morph, and his whole team charged in. Hegstad crossed his arms and checked his options. He put his Machinist in front of the Warrior, and the Shapeshifter opposite the Machinist. Maher activated. Five land from the top of his deck went to the bottom, followed by Spitfire Handler. He chose not to activate again. Neither did Hegstad. He fell to four. Maher made a Leery Fogbeast. Hegstad sacrificed his Shapeshifter and went digging for a wizard, hoping for Aven Fateshaper. It was the second card down.

"That's how I made Day 2 at Copenhagen. I didn't even run Sage Aven, so that it'd be my only Bird." - Bob Maher, Jr.

The Fateshaper even let Hegstad set up his draw. He played his sixth land, hit for four in the air, and then played Slice and Dice.

"That was nice." - Dave Williams

"It was." - Brian Hegstad

Maher's team went to the 'yard except for his Machinist. He untapped and attacked. Hegstad naturally blocked. Maher flipped up Goblin Sledder. That put him in a pickle. After some deliberation, he turned it on again. Wave of Indifference. Not enough. It was almost certain doom as he handed it back to Hegstad. Sure enough, Hegstad fired up his Machinist and hit Mistform Mutant. Maher scooped.

Hegstad 1 - Maher 0

Hegstad asked a judge to shuffle his deck, fearing landscrew. In a Shocking bit of irony, he had to mulligan not once, but twice. He cycled Lonely Sandbar on his first turn, earning a chuckle from Maher.

"Mulligan to five and you're cycling lands? How greedy!" - Bob Maher, Jr.

Maher's start was gangbusters. Sparksmith and morph were answered only by Mistform Wall, but Hegstad wasn't willing to block. Then Snarling Undorak joined the fray. But Hegstad's mulligans had been very kind indeed. He had Lavamancer's Skill to shoot down Maher's morph. Crown of Fury on the Undorak gave him more to worry about. Maher dropped him to twelve. He cast Elvish Warrior and was done.

Hegstad was being backed into a corner. While he pondered his next move, Maher stuck his chin in his hand and stared at him. He made a second Mistform Wall and passed it back. Maher's Undorak came in again. Hegstad let it by, and fell to seven. Read the Runes got him two cards further into his library, but he was still forced to chump the Undorak with a Wall. He drew and passed it back, ready with Pinpoint Avalanche. He let the Warrior by, dropping to five. Maher continued to press, this time with Spitting Gourna. Hegstad tapped out for Screaming Seahawk.

"Got a Wave for me?" - Brian Hegstad

"Trust me, I would have just shown it to you." - Bob Maher, Jr.

As it was, he had to send it back without a play. Hegstad got in with another Seahawk. It was by now almost eleven. Dave Price sauntered by. When he saw that the semifinals were still underway, he quipped "How do you type fast enough to keep up with this?". Hegstad continued to take his time on each play.

"It's killing me." - Bob Maher, Jr.

"The time?" - Brian Hegstad

"No, not the time, the fact that you have more permanents than me after a double-mulligan and a Careful Study for three mana." - Bob Maher, Jr.

"How embarassing." - Brian Hegstad

The third and final Seahawk entered play after Maher laid his seventh land and passed the turn. Then the Hawks started to attack. One of them traded for the Gourna. It didn't matter. It was clear when Maher didn't sacrifice his Wooded Foothills that he held Insurrection. His next draw was a mountain, and he flipped the card up on the table. Hegstad packed it in.

Hegstad 1 - Maher 1

Maher put his second-game start to shame with an opening of Goblin Sledder and Sparksmith. That was called to a screeching halt when Hegstad busted out Mistform Wall. Worse, Maher's third land was Tranquil Thicket, so he had no third-turn play. Hegstad untapped, then tapped mountain and island. He turned over Sliptide Serpent, and the crowd of Maher supporters let out a huge sigh of relief. Maher dropped a fourth land and a morph before passing it back.

Hegstad's only play was to Clone his Wall. Maher's morph came in, and Hegstad doubled-up. The Sledder made the save while helping to finish of the Clone-Wall. Maher kept hammering with Elvish Warrior. Hegstad brought a Sage Aven to his defense. Maher swung in with his morph and elf, and was delighted when Hegstad chose to block the Warrior. He cast Nosy Goblin after combat and finished the Wall with Sparksmith.

Then the board collapsed. Hegstad cycled a Slice and Dice to off the goblins, and had Shock for Maher's morph. Maher returned the favor with a Shock on Hegstad's Sage Aven, leaving his Warrior as the only creature in play. He untapped and added an Undorak. Hegstad made another Wall. Maher kept hitting. Hegstad dug with Read the Runes for two, but was short on answers. A Sparksmith and Goblin Machinist followed, and that signalled the end.

Bob Maher, Jr. defeats Brian Hegstad 2-1

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