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2020 Mythic Invitational Upper Bracket Highlights

September 12, 2020
Corbin Hosler

After outlasting 152 other opponents over 14 rounds, the eight remaining competitors of the 2020 Mythic Invitational shifted gears for the final challenge: Top 8. The 2020 Mythic Invitational featured a double elimination bracket played out over two days, meaning on Saturday one player would advance to the championship match—and everyone else would return on Sunday for nonstop elimination matches.

Every player had their story and decklist, but Top 8s are full of heroes defying the odds. Here's how the story of the 2020 Mythic Invitational upper bracket played out.

The Quarterfinals

Four matches would get things going, and it started with a classic rematch between Luis Salvatto, the 2017-18 Player of the Year, and Seth Manfield, the man Salvatto beat in just the second-ever tiebreaker showdown to decide that title.

Luis Salvatto

Seth Manfield

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

It was a back-and-forth match between Sultai Midrange and Rakdos Arcanist, but disaster struck Manfield in the third and deciding game: his Grafdigger's Cage locked out Salvatto's graveyard shenanigans, but it also prevented him from escaping an Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

On a key turn later, Salvatto was able to whittle down the Hall of Famer's life total thanks to an army of Young Pyromancer tokens.

Next up in the quarterfinals was the Top 8's lone Goblins representative Ken Yukuhiro facing off against Grzegorz Kowalski on Jund Sacrifice. And while the famously innovative Japanese deckbuilder didn't bring something totally out of left field this time, he was one of the only people playing Irencreg Feat in their Goblins list to ramp out ever-faster Muxus, Goblin Grandee.

Ken Yukuhiro

Grzegorz Kowalski

But Yukuhiro was facing an uphill battle against Kowalski's Jund Citadel deck after missing the beat with his Goblins. In addition to a bevy of removal, the Polish pro had access to Mayhem Devil and plenty of sacrifice outlets to bring down the small Goblin armies Yukuhiro could offer—assuming Muxus, Goblin Grandee even came through.

Things didn't go much better in the second game, and it was a quick 2-0 for Kowalski to move on to face Salvatto in the upper semifinals.

The next quarterfinal match featured two of the less-decorated—but incredibly skilled—players in a stacked Top 8 field, and neither was a stranger to the pressure. Matt Nass had just one previous Top Finish to his name, but he's been a staple of the competitive scene for years and competed as a member of the Magic Pro League and then Rivals League.

Matt Nass

David Steinberg

David Steinberg has played card games for years, and won the Hearthstone event at Dreamhack Austin in 2017. In his first career Top Finish, he was trying to knock off Matt Nass and his combo-driven Mono-Black God-Pharaoh's Gift brew. And while it is an explosive and powerful deck, it struggled against graveyard hate, and that's exactly what Steinberg had in the form of Scavenging Ooze. The multi-format all-star has made its way to Historic, and it gave Steinberg the cushion he needed to pull off two victories over Nass.

The best was saved for last: two titans of Magic facing off, Luis Scott-Vargas and Gabriel Nassif. Each Hall of Famers with almost two dozen Top Finishes between them, the pair had worked together to prepare for the Mythic Invitational and were playing the 75-card mirror.

Gabriel Nassif

Luis Scott-Vargas

It doesn't get any better than that for a Top 8, and the match didn't disappoint. Mayhem Devil had been the card of the tournament in the swiss rounds, and the three tight games the friends played came down to Mayhem Devil every time. They had built their deck to prey on other creature decks, and that meant three back-and-forth contests that saw boards wiped and leads erased in the blink of a Mayhem Devil draw step.

In the end, it was Nassif who got the better of Scott-Vargas, finding the all-important second Mayhem Devil and burning the win out with sacrifice triggers and a Witch's Oven.

The Semifinals

First up was Salvatto and Kowalski, playing one of the most interesting matchups of the weekend: Rakdos Arcanist against Jund Sacrifice. For Salvatto, Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger could be awkward in the face of opposing Mayhem Devils, which could also pick off Young Pyromancers at ease. But Salvatto did have the power to strip away Kowalski's cards, giving him a window to end games before Kowalski could get set up.

Kowalski missing on Collected Company also helped.

Incredibly, Kowalski fought back from that position stealing the first game thanks to a clutch Claim the Firstborn off the top of his library. It was anyone's match to take.

But like the first 14 rounds, Salvatto was seemingly unstoppable. He leveraged his early disruption in the second game to force a third, and in the decider he showed off just how powerful his Dreadhorde Arcanist deck could be.

The other semifinal featured the first-time Top Finish player Steinberg, who was taking on Nassif in his 13th such finish. But while the career stats may have been a bit lopsided, the games were anything but in an incredible Jund Sacrifice mirror.

Cauldron Familiar Witch's Oven Mayhem Devil

With limited interaction available to disrupt the Cauldron Familiar/Witch's Oven/Mayhem Devil triumvirate outside of establishing their own the first game saw both players trade jabs as they tried to set up the better board and, of course, Mayhem Devil. But there's exactly one creature big enough to survive several Mayhem Devil triggers: Korvold, Fae-Cursed King ended the first game in a hurry for Steinberg.

Steinberg had the Magic titan on the ropes, but Nassif was not out of it. He held serve on the play, leading to a third game that was grindier than any that came before it. Nothing grinds better than than the Cat-Oven duo, and Nassif even brought in his companion Jegantha, the Wellspring to earn his spot in the finals with style.

The Upper Bracket Finals

This match between Nassif and Salvatto wasn't for the Mythic Invitational title, but the winner would be closer than anyone else by locking their spot in the championship match with a victory. The loser would return on Sunday with the rest of the Top 8 to battle back for another chance.

This time it was Nassif striking first, taking advantage of a mana-flooded Salvatto to drain him out thanks to a timely Collected Company that treated him much better than it had treated Kowalski earlier.

After a drawn-out second game, it looked as if we were destined for a third. At one point Salvatto had seven power in play— including a Hazoret the Fervent—to Nassif's empty board and empty hand. But Collected Company came off the top and did exactly what Collected Company does, giving the French player the creatures needed to buy time.

He put that time to good use. Over several meticulous, dramatic turns—with his game clock ticking down all the while—Nassif continually found ways to hang on and survive for just one more turn.

And we all know what happens when you give the Sacrifice deck just a few more turns.

With the victory Nassif sets himself up perfectly for Sunday, where he'll await the winner of the lower bracket in the Championship match!

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