Finals Feature Match: Potato Nation vs. Car Acrobatic Team: Scott Johns vs. Andrew Johnson
by Collin Jackson
Scott Johns, despite being a seasoned Pro Tour veteran, is a huge sufferer of "always a bridesmaid, never a bride:" five Pro Tour Top 8's without a single match win. In the trash-talking words of Brian Hacker,
"There's no one more washed up than Scott Johns." Scott continued his losing streak by losing his match in the semifinals, and had a lot to prove, not only to his teammates in Potato Nation, but to the Magic-playing world. Andrew Johnson is a member of the trend-setting Team CMU and has attended multiple Pro Tours, but this is his first trip to the final day. The match sets up as the veteran versus the new kid, with Scott trying to break through to Champion status against the newcomer.
Scott was stuck at three lands early in the first game, but he managed to play out an army of cheap creatures anyway. Summoning Defiant Falcon, Thermal Glider, Rib Cage Spider, and Horned Troll, he began to fly over Andrew's Pious Warrior and Alabaster Wall.
Scott used his Defiant Falcon to retrieve a Nightwind Glider from his deck. Not to be outdone, Andrew played a Ramosian Lieutenant and used it to bring out Defiant Falcon. After Scott played a Defender en-Vec, Andrew's Defiant Falcon was no match for Scott's superior air force. Using the Defender to protect his flyers from damage, Scott slowly whittled away Andrew's life total.
To speed up the process, Scott played out a Stampede Driver and used it to give his flyers and edge over the Alabaster Wall-protected Defiant Falcon. A War Cadence spelled doom for poor Andrew, and Scott's small creatures earned him a decisive game one victory.
Both players vied for advantage in the opening turns of game two. Scott played Crossbow Archer, Thermal Glider, Silt Crawler, and Rib Cage Spider, while Andrew played Lightbringer and Shield Dancer. Scott attacked with the Crawler while Andrew was tapped out, and Andrew decided to block with both of his creatures, trading off the Dancer for the Crawler.
Over the next few turns Andrew brought out Wishmonger, Charm Peddler, Defender en-Vec, Whip
Sergeant, and Troubled Healer, hoping to end the game with a quick swarm. Scott defended himself by laying out a Nightwind Glider and Toppling the Monger. But Andrew added Lawbringer to his arsenal of creatures and began a relentless assault.
Scott's Nightwind Glider was slowly pecking away at Andrew's life total, but Scott needed a way to defend himself against Andrew's ground army. He played Horned Troll as a blocker, then cast Ancient Hydra despite the Lawbringer on the other side of the table. "This is the crappiest Ancient Hydra ever," he explained. "I'm using it as a Shock Troops." Andrew sacrificed the Lawbringer to remove the Hydra, as expected.
Scott finally achieved stability on the ground as both players laid out more and more creatures. Andrew cast Aura Fracture, Ramosian Lieutenant, and brought out a Defiant Falcon, but Scott was able to match this with Blastoderm and Defender en-Vec. Scott used his Gliders to bring Andrew down to 1 life; the Troubled Healer shielded Andrew from further damage. Scott finally got greedy and tried attacking with the Blastoderm as well. He paid the price for his impatience when Andrew searched out a Pious Warrior and used it to chump block, gaining himself five more life.
The board situation got more and more complicated as Scott played Defiant Falcon, Thresher Beast, and Darba, while Andrew brought out Soul Charmer and Lawbringer. Scott had to spend many minutes contemplating every decision, knowing that he could pull out a win if only he could find the way. "This game is nuts," he apologized. "Why do they always give the complicated games to the slowest players?"
Scott managed to bring Andrew back down to 1, but the Troubled Healer prevented him from finishing Andrew off. He would have to deal many more damage to win the game, and he was only at four life himself. If he overextended himself but failed to kill Andrew, he would be signing his own death warrant.
Rath's Edge, Flowstone Thopter, and Charmed Griffin appeared to swing the game in Andrew's favor, but Scott wasn't finished yet. If he could topdeck a War Cadence, he would have just enough mana to push through with a massive attack. If he could draw a ninth land, he would be able to play Vitalizing Wind with devastating effect. He realized that these were probably his only avenues to victory, so he stopped paying upkeep on the Darba and placed it in his graveyard.
Scott's next draw was Thrive, which wasn't quite what he wanted. He held back with his creatures so that he could chump-block if necessary. On the next turn he got the forest he needed, and he decided it was now or never. He attacked with three flyers, and Andrew could only block with the Griffin and the Thopter. Using Vitalizing Wind, Scott killed off both blockers and forced Andrew to sacrifice five lands.
Andrew was down to two lands, but he wasn't quite finished yet. Scott was at only four life, and Andrew had two more attackers than Scott had blockers. Andrew sent over all his creatures, knowing that this was his last opportunity to save himself. It wasn't quite enough. After the dust settled, Scott had only been dealt three damage and was still alive. Andrew then offered his hand in concession as Scott and his team were declared champions of Pro Tour New York 2000.