Semifinals Feature Match - Mike Turian vs. Chris Benafel
In a long drawn out match featuring two players looking to make their first appearance on the US National team, Mike Turian and Chris Benafel squared off with a spot on the team as the prize to the winner.
Game one was all Baneful, with the two players trading land drops until the 8th turn, Benafel's fourth. Three of Mike's four lands were Rishadan Ports, so Chris started attacking Mike's colored mana sources, Pillaging the lone Forest Mike had in play while Mike sat holding two Yavimaya Elders, the key card in the matchup. Mike then played a Mountain which Chris Promptly destroyed with an Avalanche Rider, after which he Pillaged a Port and the rout was on, with Mike being reduced to one Port as his only permanent before conceding.
Game two saw Chris start with a six card hand in what would be as lopsided a game as the previous one. After having his second turn Bird of Paradise killed by Seal of Fire, Mike kept playing lands every turn until he'd reached enough mana to cast Plow under, setting back Chris' development. With a one point Earthquake taking care of Mike's Hermit Druid, Chris was then forced to cast a five point Earthquake to kill a Blastoderm. Sitting at six life, Chris could only watch as Mike played his third consecutive threat, another Hermit, with the game ending two turns later.
Game three saw Mike make a questionable decision regarding keeping his hand, deciding that one land and a Llanowar Elf warranted the decision. It paid off for Mike, who drew lands in his first two turns, but Chris was able to stabilize things until a Yavimaya Elder came into play. Chris retaliated with a Masticore, but Mike, who played a second Elder was able to get up to enough lands that he could cast three Plow Unders, reducing Chris to one land and two cards in hand. When Mike exclaimed "well, well, well, what do we have here!" and proceeded to Orangutan Chris' Masticore, they proceeded to game four.
Once again, Mike, drawing first, elected to keep one land and an elf, but this time he wasn't so lucky. Chris started off by shocking the Elf, with Mike failing to draw any land in the first two turns. Chris then played Cursed Totem, making Mike's mana producing creatures next to useless and proceeded to destroy Mike's one land. With Turian proclaiming "Come on deck!", the deck didn't respond with mana, and Mike had to scoop soon thereafter.
In game five, Ponza did what it does best: take advantage of a mana shortage. Mike cast a Bird of Paradise on turn one and played a Port on turn two, but those were the only hands he had until turn four. Chris played the Totem once again, nullifying the Bird and then went to work on Mike's lands, Stone Raining a Port. Mike made a clutch draw, top decking a Gaea's Cradle with which he cast the Orangutan, but Chris was ready, With Avalanche Rider taking care of the Cradle and Masticore the rest. Three turns later, his life at three, Mike, extended his hand, congratulating Chris on making the national team.