This finals match was very much a clash of old and new. Anatoli Lightfoot has been a member of the magic community for approximately 1000 years and has a well-earned reputation as an excellent player. Conversely Dylan Brown is much newer to the game however he is still a formidable competitor. Anatoli was piloting a Jeskai deck featuring cheap creatures such as Young Pyromancer and Geist of Saint Traft backed up by efficient cheap spells such as Brainstorm, Lightning Bolt and counterspells. Dylan’s weapon of choice was a heavy-hitting four colour midrange deck filled with powerful multi-colour spells that aim to overpower its opponents with sheer value for mana. It features several creatures with cascade and even spends a full four points on Ancestral Recall.
Game 1 starts off with a T2 Hymn to Tourach for Dylan which removes a Fire//Ice and a Goblin Rabblemaster from Anatoli’s hand. Anatoli replies with a Young Pyromancer which could cause a lot of problems for Dylan if left unchecked. Untapping for turn three, Dylan confidently casts an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, which Anatoli has no response to. Dylan plus 2s Ashiok and exiles no creatures. Anatoli follows up the turn two Pyro with a Dack Fayden, using Dack’s +1 to draw and discard. Young Pyromancer then rumbles in to reduce Ashiok’s loyalty to 3. Dylan starts to deploy a Snapcaster to flashback that Hymn to Tourach, but reconsiders and decides that the greatest thief in the multiverse could provide consistent card selection for Anatoli and removes it with an Abrupt Decay.
Both players pause for a moment whilst Anatoli makes sure he fully understands what Volrath’s Stronghold does. Armed with this knowledge Anatoli slams a Jace, the Mind Sculptor onto the battlefield and immediately uses Jace’s +0 ability. Back to Dylan and it’s finally time to Snapcaster back that Hymn. Anatoli responds with a Gush, then resolving the Hymn to Tourach. The Hymn takes a Clique and an Island from Anatoli. Ashiok then rolls up and removes a Jori En, Ruin Diver which would be amazing for a deck with so many cascade spells! Back to Anatoli and JTMS brainstorms again, quickly recouping any card disadvantage that was taken away with the Hymns.
Ponder is the next play from Anatoli and it does a great fetchland impression; shuffling away cards placed on top with Jace. A single elemental pecks away at Ashiok taking their loyalty to 4.
Dylan untaps and immediately ticks Ashiok up to 6 and we see a Snapcaster Mage exiled by them which looks mighty fine with that Abrupt Decay in the yard. Dylan elects to leave Snapcaster on defence to protect Ashiok but it fails to do so after Anatoli casts Brainstorm, making a friend with Young Pyromancer and then a Lightning Bolt on the Snapcaster which means that Young Pyro and his 4 friends can take out that Ashiok on Anatoli’s combat step. Dylan uses Volrath’s Stronghold to return Snapcaster from the graveyard to the top of his deck. However, when Dylan tries to recast the Snap, Cryptic Command stops those plans cold. Dylan tries again to cast a meaningful spell via Collective Brutality on Young Pyromancer but Anatoli is having none of it with a Force of Will pitching a Mental Misstep. With the Elementals stacking up and Dylan’s life total dwindling we are onto Game 2!
Dylan starts us off with a Deathrite Shaman which Anatoli dispatches via Lighting Bolt. Anatoli jokes about turn two Hymn to Tourach and Dylan replies with turn two Rise//Fall doing an okay Hymn impression by revealing a Cascade Bluffs and taking a Path to Exile. Anatoli deploys Jori En on turn three, and Dylan’s turn four involves casting a Bloodbraid Elf which cascades into Pernicious Deed. BBE comes in for the three and it’s back to Anatoli. Anatoli Brainstorms, casts a Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy and draws a card thanks to Jori En. Seeing the opportunity for a 2 for one, Dylan attacks with BBE and pops the deed, taking out the merfolk and baby Jace.
Anatoli untaps and passes back to Dylan. BBE comes in again and Snapcaster ambushes, targeting a Brainstorm. The creatures trade and Anatoli flashes back Brainstorm end of turn. In response, however, Dylan deploys a Notion Thief, hoping to steal that Brainstorm for himself. Anatoli isn’t keen on “put two cards on top and opponent draws 3” so he Dazes the Thief and continues the Brainstorm. Anatoli untaps and casts Jace, the Mind Sculptor onto the now empty board. Jace draws some cards and the onus now lies on Dylan to have a strong follow up to the powerful planeswalker. Dylan untaps, casts Brainstorm of his own and…hits a Dreadbore! He dispatches the planeswalker and casts Sylvan Library.
Anatoli untaps and summons the mighty Geist of Saint Traft, and if that wasn’t enough, casts a Time Walk! Geist comes in with his angelic friend for a full six points! Armed with six mana and three cards in hand Anatoli confidently passes the turn. Sylvan Library sees some blanks for Dylan and he tries for a Snapcaster, hoping the body with stop the Geist from charging in. Anatoli has other plans however and responds with Mystic Confluence with the modes being Counter, Counter, Draw. Dylan surveys the board, examines his cards and plays a Noble Hierarch.
Geist crashes in and Hierarch bravely gives her life to soak up a measly two points. Ajani Vengeant is a strong follow up from Anatoli and +1s to keep Dylan’s Underground Sea from untapping. Dylan sees a single card deeper on the Library and fails to find an answer! Anatoli Lightfoot is the new National Australian Highlander Champion! Congratulations Anatoli and thanks for reading.