Brian Kibler has been testing with YMG for this tournament and it seems to be paying off in spades for both sides in that deal. Brian and Dave were the only remaining undefeated players coming into this round—Brian was 7-0 while Dave had a draw (insert joke here). Both players were involved in a few controversial picks but each had extremely solid white decks. Apparently the preferred strategy for YMG was to try to go nearly mono-white and supplement the color from the most under drafted of the remaining colors.
Dave is red-white with the controversial Slice and Dice as the centerpiece. Brian is not without a wrath of his own—in this case Decree of Pain. Brian also has Eternal Dragon to smooth out his early mana and dominate the late game.
Both players led of with morphs—Kibler cycled an Eternal Dragon to find his third land. They followed up with another round of morphs while Kibler missed land number four. When he did find the land he was able to play a Death's-head Buzzard and attempted to trade it with a morph. Daru Sanctifier lived and the bird died.
Despite a brief land stumble, Brian was aggressively eating into Dave's life total. Dragonstalker came down but traded with a morph thanks to a cycled Slice and Dice. Brian kept the pressure up with a Gluttonous Zombie and a Dive Bomber the next turn—Dave's Noble Templar could only look on as the fear creature zipped by.
Dave threatened to stabilize with a big Aven Warhawk but a Skinthinner removed him from the equation and Dave fell to two. Brian had seen Dave's whole hand of soldiers and when Dave started looking for outs he pointed out that Dave would need to have drawn a Wing Shards AND a instant to avoid a lethal attack.
Brian – 1 Dave – 0
Dave came smoking out of the gate with Stoic Champion and Zealous Inquisitor. Brian slowed him down considerably with a Disciple of Malice and a Starlight Invoker but he stalled on three lands for two turns. He finally drew his Eternal Dragon and made his fourth land drop but had to wait a turn before he could exploit it. In the meanwhile, Dave had played a few morphs and was attacking about as aggressively as you could expect from the Hump.
Brian found his back against the wall but a 4/4 Daru Stinger promised to make things better. Dave bided his time and played a Grassland Crusader, White Knight and Deftblade Elite—the Champion fell to a Chill Haunting. Brian could not find the fifth land for his Warhawk and Dragonstalker and had to play his Dive Bomber.
Dave sent everyone but the Crusader into the red zone and he was able to take out most of Brian's team with a cycled Slice and Dice in combat. With the fifth land still eluding him, Brian scooped.
Brian – 1 Dave – 1
There were twenty-one minutes remaining in the round—time is always a factor when the deliberate Dave Humpherys is playing. "If I only could have gotten a land—even it's just my fourth land a turn earlier," griped Kibler. "He was sitting there casting 7000 spells a turn and I was just---aaaarrggh!!!!"
Dave mulliganed his openers and didn't seem thrilled with his next six but decided to keep them.
Kibler opened with Deftblade Elite and neither player did anything else until Brian's turn four Screeching Buzzard. Lowland Tracker came down for Kibler against Dave's empty board with the Hump at fourteen. Humpherys played an Aven Warhawk revealing a Frontline Strategist, Noble Templar and Grassland Crusader.
Kibler provoked the flier with his Elite and banged Dave down to ten. Humpherys did not attack with his flier and played a Grassland Crusader. Brian continued to get in two in the air thanks to Deftblade Elite tying up the Warhawk. He added a Dive Bomber. Dave thought for a while before deciding to play his Noble Templar and a face-up Strategist while swinging for seven with his flier that was useless as a blocker.
Brian got in for four and Dave fell to four life. He added a Dragonstalker and pitched the turn back to Humpherys who was trying to figure out if he had missed a chance to win by attacking with the Warhawk a turn earlier. He got in for seven more and played a Zealous Inquisitor.
Brian looked over the board, did a little math, "You're at four?" He sent them all in and Dave nodded and extended the hand. Afterward he wondered about his missed attack with the Warhawk.
Brian was now the only undefeated player and it was extremely likely he would be playing on day three.
Final Result: Brian - 2 Dave - 1
Brian Kibler US Nationals Feature Match 1
Round 8/Draft 2
David Humpherys US Nationals Feature Match 1
Round 8/Draft 2