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2020 Mythic Invitational Championship Match

September 14, 2020
Corbin Hosler

The truly Historic 2020 Mythic Invitational all came down to this. After 160 players competed over 14 rounds, followed by the upper and lower Top 8 brackets, the championship match was set. In fitting fashion, history would be made no matter who won.

That's what happens when you have two Hall of Famers squaring off.

Gabriel Nassif

Seth Manfield

Gabriel Nassif battled through the Top 8 Upper Bracket on Saturday to earn his spot in the title match, securing the best position for his third premier event trophy. Seth Manfield was after his third such title too, but fought through the hard way. After losing his first match on Saturday and being relegated to the Top 8 Lower Bracket, he had to win four straight matches to earn the right to compete against Nassif. He succeeded in an incredible run, and now the two decorated players would play a best two-of-three matches to become champion of the 2020 Mythic Invitational.

And to make Magic history.

Just four other players had ever won three or more trophies at this level. Kai Budde's mammoth seven title wins may never be surpassed, but the winner of the 2020 Mythic Invitational would earn their third to join Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Jon Finkel, and Dirk Baberowski as legendary players. The stakes could not be higher for two competitors who were among best in the game at that moment.

Here's how it played out.

The Championship Match

Both players knew they were in for a long battle. With at least two matches to play between Jund Sacrifice and Sultai Ramp, the twists and turns were too numerous to track.

But the games generally involved Nassif attempting to get in early damage with his creatures, while Manfield spent the first few turns trying to contain the threat and ramping with Growth Spiral or Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

Both Jund Sacrifice and Sultai Midrange planned to be the better deck in the late game, but in these matches it was Manfield who was being pushed into a defensive position, trying to survive the late bursts of damage that only a deck full of Mayhem Devil, Dreadhorde Butcher, Blood Artist, Woe Strider and Priest of Forgotten Gods could do.

Mayhem Devil Dreadhorde Butcher Blood Artist Woe Strider Priest of Forgotten Gods

Things went exactly to Nassif's plan in the first game. As Manfield struggled to develop a hand full of ramp he lacked any answers to a growing Dreadhorde Butcher. A second Woe Strider joined the board for Nassif, and the French native drew first blood.

For the third time in as many matches, Manfield found himself down a game. While he wasn't facing elimination quite yet, he was one more down away from being against the ropes. His response to the pressure was one of the most exciting games of the weekend.

Late in Game 2, as Manfield began his turn, Nassif had an incredible board capable of true Jund Sacrifice shenanigans. By the time he had untapped, Manfield had decimated the board and firmly grabbed control of the match in a sequence you have to see to believe.

With the momentum on his side and game three ahead, Manfield executed his sideboard plan to perfection. With just the right mix of threats and answers—and removal spell after removal spell for Nassif's board—Manfield's game looked quite similar to the second. He removed Nassif's early creatures, and then turned the corner with Nissa, Who Shakes the World. One of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed, attention to Nissa was taken by the hordes of Goblins during the tournament but it is was an all-star in the Top 8 for Manfield.

Once again, Manfield fought back from a game down to win a match. But he needed one more match to etch his name into history. Despite his clear disappointment in the final turns of their first match, Nassif came back for the next set locked in. Unfortunately for the French legend, he was unable to keep up with a powerful draw from Manfield in the first game, and lost his third straight game to the American as Manfield continued to build steam.

The tables had turned.

Nassif had been unbeatable on Saturday, but Manfield now looked unstoppable on Sunday. After missing on a Collected Company earlier in the match, Nassif wasn't ready to give up on the dream of a third title of his own and fought back.

But the end of the weekend belonged to Manfield. As he prepared to celebrate his 30th birthday the following day, reality set in. He was now among a truly exclusive group of players, even among those we know as the best to ever to play the game.

As the Team Envy pro put it, he actually got to have his cake and eat it, too.

Congrats to Seth Manfield, your 2020 Mythic Invitational champion!

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