One of the key moments of Conley Woods' run through Worlds was his seventh round matchup with then also-undefeated Craig Wescoe. That win helped catapult him to a 6-0 Day Two and a 13-0 start.
It was a pretty key moment for Wescoe as well. The long-time pro sneaked in as one of only two players among 11 with 39 points. Not only was the loss one of the few he received on the weekend, but having Wood up his tiebreakers was likely important for him sneaking in as the eighth seed.
During one of the breaks, Woods revealed he needed to make the semifinals to reach level 6 for next year.
"It's been a rough year," he said.
Craig Wescoe fights for his Level 6 pro player status against the juggernaut of this year's World Championship: Conley Woods.
Though, so far, it has been anything but a rough tournament for Woods, who won every match he actually played in, conceding to two of his teammates without playing.
Woods started on a mulligan to five, but his five was about as spicy as it could get. By the end of turn-two he was already on the board with Vault Skirge, Signal Pest, Inkmoth Nexuas and a Glint Hawk off a Mox Opal. He then emptied his hand the following turn with an Etched Champion.
Woods started attacking with his two fliers as Wescoe was building his board with a Leonin Relic-Warder, removing Signal Pest, a Mirran Crusader followed by Hero of Bladehold ready to crash in for roughly a million damage when boosted by Wescoe's follow-up Honor of the Pure.
And attack he did. If unblocked, he was clocking in at a whopping 19 damage. And with his fliers squarely on attacking duty, Woods had only Etched Champion, a Myr token and Inkmoth Nexus for blockers.
When the dust finally settled from Wescoe's massive attack, Woods was down a Nexus and life totals were squared at 10 apiece.
But Woods, still short on resources, expertly managed his blockers.
Inkmoth blocked the Warder, Champion blocked the Mirran Crusader, evening life totals at 10 each. Wescoe followed up with a Doomed Traveler.
Woods stayed aggressive, attacking with his two fliers again. And the Dispatch he plays in Wescoe's upkeep on Hero of Bladehold showed exactly why.
Wescoe chose to attack with everything except the Relic Warder for fear of unleashing the Signal Pest. Woods used Inkmoth Nexus to chump block the Mirran Crusader and his Etched Champion to kill a Soldier Token. Once again the life totals are equal at 7.
Win or lose, Woods has been showing the demeanor of a cold, calculating machine. Much like many of his creatures.
Staying aggressive again, Woods attacked through the air, but Mana Leak halted a second Etched Champion.
Now Wescoe attacked with everything, with Woods down to two blockers. Woods opted to block with only Etched Champion, but that only dropped Woods to 2.
Wescoe indeed had nothing in his hand of value, and Woods's return swing was lethal.
Wescoe 0, Woods 1
Memnite, Memnite, Glint Hawk, he's Conley Woods. And he was off to a quick start in game two. So quick that Wescoe was already down to 12 life on turn three facing down a 3/3 Memnite, thanks to Tempered Steel.
But Wescoe fought back with duel Leonin Relic-Warders, removing a Glint Hawk Idol and the offending Tempered Steel. The two Cat Clerics faced down the same Etched Champion that had been so problematic in game one, but they were quickly outclassed when Dismember removed the cat warding away the Tempered Steel. The resulting attack with the Champion and a Glint Hawk Idol quickly dropped Wescoe to 2 life.
Woods is back-peddling, but his Geist Aggro deck has plenty of removal and tricks for this match-up that can bring him back into the match.
And when Wescoe couldn't find an answer to the protection-from-all-colors robot, Woods was quickly up two games to none.
Wescoe 0, Woods 2
All of that quickly changed in the third game. As Woods watched his teammates each begin to lose their quarterfinals matchups, his also began to slip from his grasp.
Wescoe began to show why his deck had gone undefeated in Standard. He Dismembered a Signal Pest, removed a Glint Hawk Idol with Oblivion Ring, and looked to go on the offensive with a pair of Heroes of Bladehold.
Dispatch took care of the first Hero, and the second Hero was similarly exiled, though not until Woods had to find his second removal spell with Origin Spellbomb.
Wescoe made a thirdHero of Bladehold. Idol attacked, as Woods played an Etched Champion followed by a Dispatch on the Hero.
Stymied for the moment, Wescoe went back to removing threats from the board. Leonin Relic-Warder removed a Glint Hawk Idol and Fiend Hunter removed a problematic Memnite.
This whole time Woods had been attacking with an Etched Champion that was again giving his opponent fits. As a result, Wescoe was behind on both life...and creatures.
Timely Reinforcements showed up just in, um, time (that is approximately the 87,362nd time that pun has been made to date). Not only did the tokens show up, but they became 2/2s thanks to Honor of the Pure.
Woods, not to be outdone, found a Tempered Steel to turn the tide and put Wescoe within range of a lethal Etched Champion. However, Moorland Haunt made a token that screwed up Woods' math. He hadn't considered that it became a 2/2 with Honor of the Pure, and Wescoe was able to attack for exactly lethal.
Wescoe 1, Woods 2
Pretty much all you need to know about this game is that Woods, playing Tempered Steel, likely the fastest deck in Standard (see, Memnite, Memnite, Glint Hawk in game two for reference), cast his first spell of the game on turn four. That Glint Hawk Idol was made into a Divine Offering.
That forced Woods to play an unprotected Etched Champion. Wescoe used Fiend Hunter to remove the robot, but when he went to attack with two Gideon's Lawkeepers, Dismember freed the Champion, only to have Wescoe Dismember it right back.
A few more turns of that, and we were on to the decider.
"It was not the most robust of draws," Woods said.
Wescoe 2, Woods 2
Woods would need a robust draw to keep team Channel Fireball from going 0-4 in the quarterfinals after all of his teammates had already lost.
Instead, it was another game, and another turn-one with no plays for Woods. He did at least jump on the board with Glint Hawk Idol once he hit two mana.
But Wescoe had put together one of his deck's most feared starts. Turn-two Honor of the Pure, turn-three Geist of Saint Traft.
From 2-0 to 2-2. Woods is now battling against a monstrous start from Wescoe. Can the remaining Channel Fireball player in the Top 8 navigate through Wescoe's Geist for a win?
Oblivion Ring removed Glint Hawk Idol as the Geist and his Angel attacked for 8. With a mind to racing, Woods played Signal Pest and Hero of Bladehold.
With a mind to not dying, Wescoe used Fiend Hunter to remove Hero of Bladehold and even added a second Honor of the Pure. The ensuing attack dropped Woods to a precarious 2.
It looked to be all over for Channel Fireball after one of the most dominant team performances in history. And Woods's last 2 life was all the room for error that stood between them and an historic collapse.
And that's when things turned around again.
Woods activated an Inkmoth Nexus to give him metalcraft, allowing Dispatch to bring back Hero of Bladehold. He then attacked for three with Etched Champion and Signal Pest, putting Wescoe to 11. He followed it up with a Glint Hawk untapping his Nexus.
Wescoe attacked again. Woods used the Inkmoth Nexus and Glint Hawk to block, and then used Dispatch to remove the Angel and keep his Hawk alive, playing around potential countermagic.
Wescoe then followed up with Timely Reinforcements right on – all together now – time. While the spell didn't gain any life, it did make three 3/3s thanks to Honor of the Pure.
Woods fought both with and through a mess of soldier tokens to mount an improbable comeback in game five.
Still, Woods attacked with everything. All three of the tokens died, and Wescoe took 9, evening life totals at 2.
At this point all of Woods' creatures were tapped and he had one card in hand. How could he possibly handle the Geist?
The answer was Glint Hawk. The little 2/2 that could returned Signal Pest to Woods' hand and let him replay it. When he was able to successfully block both the Geist of Saint Traft and the Angel, Wescoe turned over two lands in his hand and the room erupted.
Wood's had completed an epic and unlikely comeback to move on to the semifinals.
As Woods walked away, I told him it was a great game.
He paused, took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Yeah," he said, seemingly relieved. "Yeah, yeah it was."
Wescoe 2, Woods 3