Virginia Top 8 – The Coverage!

Alas, Ted didn’t manage to make the Top 8 this year – but he did prepare for his upcoming coverage of New Orleans this weekend by covering the Quarterfinals, the Semifinals, and the Finals of the West Virginia State Championships! Witness the U/B Mesmeric Orb vs. Goblin Bidding matchup, see Shane”Second Place At The Vintage Championships” Stoots attempt to take the Championship, and witness”The Jankiest Deck Ever To Make A Top 8″ versus U/B Zombies!

Quarterfinals: Andy Hall (Goblin Bidding) versus Brian Kelly (U/B Mesmeric Orb)

Though Brian Kelly is currently sporting a nametag that says,”I’m new to Magic,” in actuality he is an experienced player from Virginia Beach. His U/B Mesmeric Orb deck didn’t lose a match all day, and before the match he was heard saying,”No matter how this match goes, the deck has proven itself.”

Andy Hall (known to most as simply”Gibb” or”Herr Beano,” is a Pro Tour Chicago competitor who has been here before. Last year he lost to Matthew Mann in the finals of this tournament while playing U/G Madness, and this year he’s looking to win it all with a Goblin Bidding deck that we designed for him while riding in my car to the tournament.

Brian won the die roll and chose to play first, but was forced to Paris. A second set of six spells and no land forced a second Paris from Brian to groans of”This is a great way to start the Top 8.”

Kelly decided that five cards was finally the right number for him and kicked off his engine by playing a Turn 2 Mesmeric Orb, while Gibb beat down with two early Skirk Prospectors. Looking at the decklists, Gibb would seem to be at a very large advantage, provided he could ever get a Patriarch’s Bidding past Brian’s counterspells…

Goblin Warchief and Clickslither from Gibb met consecutive Mana Leaks, as graveyards on both sides began to get hefty. Patriarch’s Bidding met a Rewind, but the two Prospectors were doing work as Kelly’s life total dropped to twelve. Unfortunately, the two 1/1s were going to lose the race if Gibb couldn’t get additional pressure on the board.

A second Patriarch’s Bidding was just was Herr Beano ordered – and this time it resolved, resulting in ten hasted Goblins entering play and ending the game.

Gibb 1 – Kelly 0

“Holy Crap! I’m gonna show you this… Woo, four fetchlands!” As if the matchup wasn’t bad enough already from Brian, he drew seven lands in his first hand of game two and again had to Paris.

“Are you kidding? There’s no land in that one.” The crowd chimed in with support for Brian’s deck, as it was clearly a crowd favorite, but that didn’t do anything to help his land situation.

Gibb decided he was dissatisfied with his own seven cards and Parised as well. Finally the mulliganing was over, and play began.

Turn 1 Goblin Sledder kicked things off and was followed by his little brother Skirk Prospector. Sulfuric Vortex was leaked away and followed up with Grid Monitor on Kelly’s side of the board. Gibb’s response was to Shatter the artifact and swing with the little kids some more, dropping Brian to thirteen. Siege-Gang Commander found a Terror waiting for him, but his little siege gang buddies entered the fray on the next turn, and the army of 1/1s dropped Kelly to eight.

“Let’s just play this for fun!” was the cry as Brian cast Mesmeric Orb, but Gibb was all business as he cast Patriarch’s Bidding and crushed Kelly’s dreams of a Mesmeric Orb deck winning the Virginia State championship.

Kelly:”Well, I’m gonna go home and drink until my heart’s content!”

Me:”What are you drinking?”

Kelly:”Half a bottle of 151, Spiced Captain Morgan…. Random stuff. It was a good day.”

Gibb 2 – Kelly 0

VA States 2003 Semifinals: Shane Stoots (MBC) vs. John Matthew Upton

When asked how his uber-janky B/R deck had made it this far, John Matthew Upton of Richmond, winner of a PTQ slot to Amsterdam and current States Top 4 competitor, said,”I don’t know. I just chalk it up to dumb luck, man.”

Shane Stoots, on the other hand, is considered by many to be a Type 1 master after his second-place finish at the GenCon Vintage World Championships. On this day he showed that his Type 2 chops had returned after a long break from the format, and he was hoping to ride his Mono-Black Control deck all the way to the finals.

“This time I’m not missing a lingerie party, but there is another drunken party that I’m missing tonight,” said John Matthew, referring to the sacrifice he had to made to qualify for Pro Tour: Amsterdam two weeks ago.

While Upton decided to Paris, he chatted with a spectator about the Yu-Gi-Oh cartoon, making the last three topics of discussion Lingerie parties, drunken debauchery, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Other match commentators might use this time to make witty comments about that particular combination of subjects, but me, I’m going to choose to keep those in my pants.

Play finally started with Disciple of Vault, also referred to as the”jankiest card in my deck.” Stoots started with a Talisman, but found that quickly Shattered by Upton, as he made certain Shane wouldn’t get any additional acceleration in the control-on-control matchup. A second Talisman hit the table for Stoots, while the Disciple started to do his dirty work for John Matthew. The second Talisman was Shattered to cries of annoyance from Stoots. “You only run two of those main, right?”

Persecute, naming Black, emptied Shane’s hand of everything except a Jens and the game suddenly looked very much in favor of John Matthew Upton. Jens came down on Upton’s side, fetching him an additional land, and Stoots answered the previously-mentioned Swede of his own as he tried to recover from the brutal five-card Persecute (which yanked his two Terrors, a Barter in Blood, a Promise of Power, and a Consume Spirit).

Disciple of the Vault continued to show his worth, netting Upton two more life points off Stoots as the twin Jens traded. He then cast Promise of Power, drawing five more cards, and casting a second Disciple and a Pyrite Spellbomb – but Shane topdecked a Persecute, forcing Upton to discard Persecute and Visara, revealing Bottle Gnome and two cycling lands.

Life: Stoots 12, Upton 14.

The Gnomes hit the board for Upton, while Shane put a great deal of thought into tutoring up an answer. He cast his Consume Spirit on one of the Disciples, gaining a life – but not before Upton hit him with a Pyrite Spellbomb, dropping Shane’s life by an additional four. Upton cast a third Disciple, along with an Oblivion Stone and Goblin Replica, and Shane simply shrugged and said”Let’s go on to Game 2.”

Upton 1 – Stoots 0

A Paris on Stoots’ part netted him six cards, while Upton began the match with his now-patented first-turn Disciple of the Vault (I’m still not believing this, though I can see he’s going to be a very annoying part of future Affinity builds). A second Disciple hit the board, but this time the amazing little beaters (they’ve been crushing people all day) found their match in Infest.

Cabal Interrogator left Shane wishing he’d saved the Infest a turn longer, but he had a second Infest to clear that one off the board. Upton merely shrugged and dropped Interrogator number 2, which Shane promptly Bartered into the grumper. Upton cast a Jens, as he continued to cast undersized utility creatures, which Stoots responded with a Withered Wretch. Upton’s Hammer of Bogardan ended the Wretch’s brief stay in play, and was followed up with a Bottle Gnome. Shane cast another Barter in Blood, clearing away the pests, as the war for board and card control continued.

“Sulfuric Vortex?” asked Upton, to Stoots'”Sulfuric Vortex!” and Jens followed the Red enchantment onto John Matthew’s side of the board. Shane cast Oblivion Stone, giving him a reasonable response to a card that Black would normally not be able to deal with. Shane blew the Stone, but Upton continued to draw into pressure, casting Goblin Replica and then throwing a Hammer of Bogardan at Shane’s dome.

Life: Upton 17 – Stoots 8

Shane thought hard about whether to cast Consume Spirit before deciding to Diabolic Tutor for Withered Wretch, and passing the turn instead.

“Shrapnel Blast you in the head?” asked Upton.

“(Unprintable exclamation), Batman! I should have freaking drained you!” A Hammer of Bogardan that Upton had bought back the last turn finished things off and Upton was on his way to the finals.

Upton 2 – Stoots 0

2003 VA State Championship Finals: John Matthew Upton (R/B Control) versus Wes Moss (U/B Zombies)

When asked for predictions prior to the match, the finalists were mum. The players were all business as they wished each other good luck and were off.

Upton Parised to six on the draw, while both players started slowly. A third-turn Rotlung Reanimator from Wes looked to be a solid play, especially with an Unholy Grotto that preceded it. That meant that he could overcome the Oblivion Stone that Upton would eventually cast.

As if on cue, Upton cast Stone and the tone for the beatings was set. Withered Wretch came down on Moss’s side, while Upton tapped his deck and asked,”Where’s the love?” in a futile request for more lands. Upton cycled away Starstorm, but no land was to be found, as the zombie clerics continued to bring the beats, dropping Upton to seven. A second Starstorm was cycled away as Upton laid an ironic Forgotten Cave on the board.

The zombies trekked into the red zone yet again, plinking John Matthew to three, and a Consume Spirit from Moss finished things off.

Moss 1 – Upton 0

“Ever since the sixth round I’ve lost every first game – this is all just part of the plan,” Upton cried as he attempted to rally the crowd to his side for a comeback.

John Matthew kicked things off with a zombie of his own in Withered Wretch, stealing Wes’s style, as Moss simply laid lands and said”Go.” Jens followed the Wretch on the board, but Wes Mana Leaked the Simulacrum so Upton couldn’t gain any card advantage.

“I really wanted that guy! You ruined my plan!” was John Matthew’s complaint, as his Withered Wretch continued to beat Wes down, dropping his life total to thirteen. Wes was stuck on three land with a bunch of four-plus casting cost cards in hand as he discarded a Graveborn Muse at the end of his turn without getting any action on the board.

Upton cast his MVP of the day, Disciple of the Vault, while Moss continued to not draw lands. Moss played a Damping Matrix on his side of the board, while Upton attacked again and then chucked a Hammer at Wes’s head, dropping him to five life.

Rotlung Reanimator entered the game on Moss’s side, but it didn’t matter as Upton dropped a Vault of Whispers into play and promptly sacrificed it to Shrapnel Blast, sending the finals to game three.

“Hopefully we can get a good game for this last one, to really see what it’s all about,” said Upton, as the 2003 Virginia State Magic Championships all came down to one game.

Moss 1 – Upton 1

John Matthew asked for a brief break to call his parents and see if they would arrive at the tournament in time to see him play the last game of the finals, and Wes agreed. Tragically, John Matthew’s folks were just leaving the driveway, resulting in a minor diatribe from Upton about parental responsibility and how he was annoyed they weren’t going to be here in time.

Upton’s Pyrite Spellbomb was the first spell cast, while Moss responded with Rotlung Reanimator. The Reanimator was promptly burnt away at the end of Wes’s turn, as Upton cast a three-butt blocker in Bottle Gnomes.

Withered Wretch was cast by Moss, and Upton exclaimed”Gotta go for it!” casting Persecute for Black. He netted only a Phyrexian Plaguelord.

Moss topdecked a Rotlung Reanimator, making any removal from Upton mean considerably less, but the Gnomes were still there to turn Moss’s attacks into a slow bleed instead of a fast rush.

Lord of the Undead got cast, making Wes’s undead kids quite a bit more dangerous – but he was Shrapnel Blasted away before his temporarily-3/3 Zombies could do any work. Starstorm for two on the next turn got rid of Wretch and Rotlung, and replaced them with more 2/2 Zombies.

But Upton made a crucial mistake here: He had the Starstorm in hand when he blasted the Lord of the Undead. If he had merely Starstormed for two, he would have killed the Lord, and then the other two Zombies would have died as well when the Lord left play.

Moss managed to keep up the pressure, though, as he finally cast a creature with a three-butt: Graveborn Muse. The Muse stayed alive for a turn, drawing Moss three extra cards, and then entered the red zone along with two zombie tokens

“Persecute?” was the question from Moss as Upton replied with”What color?” not realizing that as soon as he asked the question, the spell was considered resolved. “Red” was the answer, as Upton lost two more Blasts and a Shatter from his hand, forcing him to admit,”Yeah, I think I’m going to lose this game.”

Moss played a Damping Matrix to declarations of”The Matrix has you,” getting chuckles from the crowd. Two more swings from the Zombie army and no responses from Upton meant Wes Moss was the new Virginia State Champion.