With David Sharfman the only remaining undefeated a whopping eleven rounds in, I would imagine his rounds from here on out are likely to start similarly to this one:
"Any chance you'd scoop?" asked Paul Cheon.
"Maybe," was all Sharfman had to say while shuffling up.
"We'd make an awesome national team. You, me, maybe Sam Black or someone else," said Cheon
"I'm pretty sure you got wronged two years ago," said Cheon of Sharfman's 9th place finish in 2006. "One of you two [Sam Black being the other] should make top 8.
Before they could get started, though, judges swooped for a deck check.
"That's three rounds in a row I've been deck checked," sighed Sharfman.
"They're probably thinking ‘undefeated, who's that guy?'" joked Cheon while both waited.
"10-3-1 should top eight. One win and I'm in."
The crowd reminded Cheon that Sharfman hasn't lost a Standard match at Nationals, to which Cheon replies, "Yeah, that's why I don't want to play him."
Meanwhile, Sharfman relayed the story that he almost didn't come to Nationals; school and family obligations had threatened to keep him home. Practically a lock for the top eight, it looks like he made the right decision.
After both decks came back clean, the two potential future national teammates shuffled up.
Will Paul Cheon be the one to knock David Sharfman off his pedestal?
For two players angling to represent their country, Cheon and Sharfman were awfully chatty about their deck choices and card selections prior to the game.
Cheon led with Ancestral Visions while Sharfman was content to simply build his mana with Vivid and storage lands. An attempted Shadowmage Infiltrator from Cheon was Rune Snagged.
On turn four, Cryptic Command
s traded over Ancestral Visions, favoring Cheon but tapping him out completely he suspended another Visions. Sharfman showed why he had fought the upkeep battle when he played Reveillark
against his now helpless opponent. With one Mulldrifter
already in the graveyard, he was guaranteed to get some mileage out of the powerhouse 4/3.
Cheon played the Bitterblossom
from his spate of newly drawn cards and passed the turn back.
The following turn, when Sharfman attempted to resolve an evoked Mulldrifter
, Cheon Terrored the Reveillark
to give his opponent two cards now rather than four cards later.
Cheon played draw go while Sharfman tried to make Reveillark
. Cryptic from Cheon was Rune Snagged which was in turn countered by Spellstutter Sprite
. With Bitterblossom
churning tokens and another Visions ready to come in, Cheon's faeries looked to be taking over. Shadowmage Infiltrator and an upkeep Mistbind Clique
only furthered the advantage.
Against a fully tapped-out opponent with only a Mulldrifter
to speak of, Cheon thought for a good 60 seconds before finally opting to Slaughter pact said Mulldrifter
and swing for nine plus a card off of Finkle.
No upkeep effects offered a temporary reprieve for the last undefeated player, and he tried to make the most of his open turn with a fully "kicked" Firespout
. While the first met a Rune Snag, the second managed to resolve and cleared the board. Immediately after, Sharfman sacrificed enough lands to bring Greater Gargadon into play. The former champ Cheon was ready with the Remove Soul, but Sharfman, no slouch himself, had his own Rune Snag, allowing Greater Gargadon to come into play and swing unabated. With Cheon at 10 and a Bitterblossom
poking the final point down, Cheon died on his upkeep.
Sharfman 1, Cheon 0Game 2
Cheon, on the play, mulliganed down to six while Sharfman kept his initial hand.
Cheon made the first play of the game with a Bitterblossom
on turn two, but its partner in crime Ancestral Vision was nowhere to be seen.
Sharfman was the first to draw extra cards off of an evoked Mulldrifter
, but since he was on the draw he was forced to discard a land.
Cheon, possibly taking a lesson from a much slower Game 1, took a different approach and got aggressive immediately, attacking with Mutavault
and a token.
A Murderous Redcap
from Sharfman was Rune Snagged by Cheon, who kept up the pressure by attacking with faerie rogue tokens and Mutavault
Body Double met Remove Soul, which allowed Cheon to keep playing at pace and attacking aggressively, Still early in the game, Sharfman was already at eight.
A Cryptic Command
prevented the next attack, and Reveillark
made it in play the following turn. With Body Double and Murderous Redcap
already in the graveyard, Sharfman was only a Greater Gargadon away from completing his combo.
Cheon, unperturbed, threw the team into the red zone, where Reveillark
ate a Mutavault
and Sharfman fell to three.
An upkeep Cryptic Command
tried to stave off death for a turn by tapping down the faerie army and, in a possible misplay, bouncing Reveillark
. Cheon conferred with a judge quickly to make sure he could fizzle the Cryptic Command
died and, when it was confirmed, he tried to Terror Reveillark
. Sharfman had the Pact of Negation, but Cheon had his own pact in the form of Slaughter Pact, fizzling the command and earning the concession.
Sharfman 1, Cheon 1Game 3
"What were your next cards?" mused Cheon.
and Gargadon," said Sharfman. "So I go off next turn."
"So if you just tap my guys and draw a card, you win?"
"Yeah, I think so."
After that disheartening revelation for Sharfman, he kept his seven. Cheon stayed put as well.
David Sharfman took off his hat.
Sharfman's keep turned questionable, however, as he missed his third land drop. Cheon, noting that a keep like that had to indicated Rune Snag, simply suspended Visions and got aggressive again with Mutavault
Sharfman found his third land on his fourth turn, but nothing else and passed back. Cheon, trying to dictate the tempo, tapped out to make a Bitterblossom
and attack with Mutavault
Sharfman continued to do little as Cheon made faeries and attacked with his lands. In fact, the first time Sharfman placed a non-land on the table was when Cheon Thoughtseize
d a hand that, given mana would have been pretty spicy: Reveillark
, Body double, Pact of Negation, Cryptic Command
, Murderous Redcap
and Crovax, Ascendant Hero. Cheon eventually opted to remove the Pact of Negation.
Another land allowed him to leave up three mana and still attack with Mutavault
, dropping Sharfman to 9.
Sharfman hadn't been completely idle the whole time, building up counters on a Calciform Pools. This allowed him to attempt to play Crovax. But since this is a Faeries match, the key word was "attempt." Remove Soul ended any hopes of it actually resolving.
Three turns later, an upkeep Mistbind Clique
gave Cheon both a Time Walk and a 4/4. When he flashed a Rune Snag to stop any further shenanigans, Sharfman graciously scooped up his cards in defeat for the first time all weekend.
"It sucks," said Sharfman of his first Standard loss this weekend, "but at least he's a good player."
Paul Cheon defeats David Sharfman 2-1, earning a spot at a guaranteed 30 points and a likely Top 8 berth.