Semifinals: John Larkin vs. Justin Gary
John is the only person left in this Top 8 who can stop team Your Move Games from totally sweeping the Pro Tour. Your Move Games is 9-0 in games so far, and Justin Gary is looking to make sure that's going to be 12-0. For Justin, things look pretty bright, as John commented before the match that this might just be ugly for him.
Justin won the flip and chose to play first. That however meant that John had to choose whether or not he'd be having his deck on the left or right side of the playing mat – the feature match tables have a 'left' and 'right' side. Justin jokingly commented:
"Yeah that's gonna cost me"
It didn't though, as he drew a fine opening hand of 2 Island, Yavimaya Coast, Brainstorm, Counterspell, Living Wish and a Pernicious Deed. John on the other hand had to mulligan his opening hand into the following mediocre hand – Visara, Entomb, Mesmeric Fiend, two Swamps and an Island. The first few turns of the match were spent just playing land, something that's highly in Justin's favor. John had the first real spell by casting a Mesmeric Fiend but that got Countered. That did open a window of opportunity for John to Entomb a Multani Maro-Sorcerer, as Justin played a Treetop Village as his third land. In the graveyard is not the same as in play though, Justin untapped and played his fourth land, and now has mana open to both Counter and Mana Leak, should John feel the urge to resurrect his Multani in some way. John just Brainstormed in his turn, putting back the Visara from his hand, along with an Entomb keeping another Entomb and some Exhumes.. A Brainstorm from Justin's side, along with an Intuition for three Accumulated Knowledges made things look very grim for John, who Entombed his Visara at the end of his own turn as well, shuffling away the chaff at the top of his library.
Justin "You put cards in the 'yard, I put them in my hand"
John "Seems fair"
John Vampiric Tutors at the end of Justin's turn, fetching Duress, in an attempt to force through one of the Exhumes. In response to the Duress, Justin plays the Accumulated Knowledge, and lets the Duress resolve, showing two Counterspells, a Mana Leak, Krosan Reclamation, Brainstorm, a Living Wish and two lands. The Living Wish hits the grave as it can fetch a Gilded Drake to steal the Visara should it come out. John's first Exhume is countered. Justin's next turn again goes without a spell, but John draws another Duress. Knowing well what cards are in Justin's hand, he has no chance of resolving Exhume this turn. Things get a lot worse when Justin plays Fact or Fiction next turn.
John "Good draw step as well"
Justin "My deck is full of good cards, every one of them draws more cards, stops your spells or just generally kicks ass"
John split it Swamp, Intuition, Mana Leak vs. Oath of Druids and Island.
Justin "Wow, that's actually a good Fact or Fiction split – they usually take me 5 seconds to pick a pile"
John "Thanks, I guess"
Justin "Guess I picked correctly" after drawing and casting Oath of Druids. Now things turned from hard to really nasty for the Irishman. He spends his next turn trying to improve his draw some by Brainstorming and using a Polluted Delta to shuffle away what he didn't want back. A Pernicious Deed gets added to the array of weapons Justin has against anything John could do, and he Fact or Fictions at the end of John's next turn, flipping over a Forbid, 3 lands and an Oath of Druids. John places the Forbid in a separate pile, and Justin takes the big one.
John "Greedy eh?"
Another Oath hits play next turn, and Justin starts beating with a Treetop Village. Some turns later John stocked up on cards again and figured it was time to try and do something. His first Duress gets Counterspelled. So did the second one. Exhume gets Mana Leaked – and after that John ran out of business spells again. Justin continued to beat with the Treetop Village and takes Game 1.
Justin Gary 1 – John Larkin 0
Justin sides in one of his Powder Kegs and a Gilded Drake, taking out two Fact or Fictions. John goes takes out his Wonder, Thrashing Wumpus, and two of his Careful Studies and a Vampiric Tutor for a Gilded Drake, Llawan, 2 Cabal Therapies and a Gainsay.
This time around John gets a decent opening hand of Entomb, Reanimate, Duress, Brainstorm, Verdant Force and Exhume – Justin trades in his opening hand though – getting a reasonable hand of Underground River, Treetop Village, Forest, Powder Keg, Brainstorm and Force Spike.
John starts out by Entombing his Multani Maro-Sorcerer but gets his second turn ReanimateForce Spiked by Justin. Oath of Druids hits play next turn, giving this game a feeling of being over already. John Duresses Justin taking a Brainstorm, and plays an Underground River. With the Oath of Druids in play, the Multani can't race a Cognivore anymore. John Entombs and Exhumes his Visara next turn though, making this game more interesting than it was before. Justin thinks for a long time before deciding to activate Oath of Druids. He gets a Gilded Drake and takes the Pit Fighter Legend. The Drake was deep down into the deck though, making decking a real possibility. John gets Visara back with his own Gilded Drake after Vampiric Tutoring for it.
More time is spent during Justin's next turn, but in the end the Powder Keg gets his second counter and blows up both Gilded Drakes. Justin shuffles his back into his deck with Krosan Reclamation before activating his Oath a second time, this time getting a Cognivore out of the deal. A second Oath of Druids hits, making this game more complicated. John just draws his card and passes the turn. Justin serves with the huge flier but Visara kills it, and he plays a Pernicious Deed. John liked the big flier Justin had, and Reanimates it after Brainstorming and Duressing Justin. During another complicated upkeep, Justin Oaths up a Cognivore, then a Gilded Drake, which attempts to steal back John's Cognivore. Visara kills the Drake, preventing the exchange of the two creatures. Justin plays his sixth land, blows up his Deed for 6 killing off the Visara. During John's next attack step the two Cognivores trade, and during the following few turns Justin beats down with Treetop Villages to take Game 2 as well.
Justin Gary 2 – John Larkin 0
Rushing River, Gilded Drake, Mesmeric Fiend, Brainstorm, Reanimate and two Swamps. That's what John traded in for 6 new cards – but those contained no land so he went down to 5. That hand contained Duress, Careful Study, Brainstorm and a Llawan, Cephalid Empress. He Duressed Justin, showing a mediocre hand of Force Spike, Brainstorm, Powder Keg, Accumulated Knowledge, two Treetop Villages and a Polluted Delta. After trying to get the Delta, John took the Brainstorm. Justin plays an Island, revealing the card he drew that turn, and plays an Underground River, giving him at least a small chance at this game. He draws two Entombs and a Swamp and puts back one of the Entombs and the Llawan. Justin plays the Polluted Delta and passes the turn. John Entombs his Visara, making him feel a bit more confident after the double mulligan he had to endure this turn. Justin plays the Accumulated Knowledge at the end of John's turn, hoping to improve his pretty poor draw.
John plays a Careful Study, commenting how that's his third mulligan this game, drawing Entomb and Reanimate while discarding two Swamps. He plays a Polluted Delta, and then Reanimates his Visara. Justin all of a sudden turns quiet, showing quite obviously this game is not going exactly the way he had hoped. He Brainstorms at the end of John's turn, plays Living Wish and fetches Gilded Drake to take the Visara. John draws a land, knowing that he needed the Gilded Drake or a reanimation spell to stay in this game. He attacks with his Drake, in a last-ditch effort to deal some damage to Justin.
Justin "What does he have? Why is he attacking? Did he sideboard in Massacre?"
And Justin blocks the Drake with Visara. If John had drawn Reanimate he could've gotten the Drake back and stayed in this game. Justin knew that he misplayed horribly after that, but it didn't matter as Visara along with a Treetop Village did John in next turn, making the top 3 of Pro Tour Houston all Your Move Games. They did so without losing a single game in the top 8 to non-Your-Move-Games people and that's impressive
Final Result: Justin Gary 3 – John Larkin 0.