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Day 2 Coverage

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  • Sunday, 8:45 a.m. – Day 1 Undefeated Decks
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Ari Lax
    9-0 Day 1 Grand Prix Columbus




    Alix Hatfield
    8-0-1 Day 1 Grand Prix Columbus


    Joshua Howe
    8-0-1 Day 1 Grand Prix Columbus


    Chris Nighbor
    8-0-1 Day 1 Grand Prix Columbus

     


  • Day 2 Metagame Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Zoo 20
    Bant* 16
    CounterTop 12
    Merfolk 10
    Goblins 10
    Aluren 7
    Land 6
    Belcher 6
    ANT 5
    Landstill 7
    Aggro CounterTop 4
    Legacy Burn 4
    Survival 4
    BUG 4
    Junk 4
    Enchantress 3
    RUG 3
    Doomsday 2
    Dredge 2
    Enlightened Tutor 2
    Show and Tell 2
    Sneak Attack 2
    Hypergenesis 1
    Faeries 1
    UG Madness 1
    Affinity 1
    UB Thopter/Sword 1
    Depths 1
    Red Control 1
    StifleNaught 1
    Servant/Grindstone 1
     

    *(Including New Horizons and Natural Order variants)



     
  • Round 10 Feature Match – Ari Lax vs. Matt Sperling
    by Nate Price
  • "I guess the train had to derail sometime. Only two of my opponents played Force of Will during day one…zero Counterbalance. I came into this tournament knowing that if I played this matchup, I was just dead."

    "Man, you're really setting this up for the upset."

    Lax won the die roll and chose to go first. After Sperling resolved a mulligan, Lax stripped him of yet another card with a Duress. Brainstorm hit the bin out of a hand that contained a Predict, Counterbalance, and three land.

    Ari Lax doesn't like letting his opponent get two permanents into play.

    On the following turn, Lax went for it. Yes, that's right, turn two. Preordain set up a combination that resulted in two Lotus Petals, a Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, and Cabal Ritual leaving him with a storm count of six, six black mana in pool, and two cards in his hand. Those last cards proved to be a Lion's Eye Diamond and a now-hellbent Infernal Tutor. In response to his own Tutor, Lax cracked his Lion's Eye Diamond for black mana, making sure he would get the mana but not have to discard the card the card he was tutoring for. His tutor fetched up a second copy of Infernal Tutor, raising the storm count to nine. The last card he got was the Tendrils of Agony, which stormed off for exactly lethal loss of life.

    On turn two.

    "I guess that's the one I get to steal."

    Ari Lax 1 – Matt Sperling 0

    This time, it was Lax's time to mulligan. His six card hand gave him a bit of disruption in the form of a Thoughtseize, but Sperling had a Brainstorm to hide away the goods. All Lax got to choose from was a second Brainstorm, Predict, and a Spell Snare. Just as last game, Sperling's Brainstorm went away.

    Unlike last game, this one made it to turn four. Lax only had a single land in play, and Sperling was steadily growing his mana base. With each turn that passed, Lax was going to find it harder to win. He eventually made his way up to three lands and used a pair of Preordains and a Brainstorm to help him set up the eventual flurry, but Sperling had managed to stick a Jace, the Mind Sculptor by then.

    With all of his digging done, Lax went for it. First came Lotus Petal. Then Dark Ritual, putting the storm count at four. After the Ritual resolved, Lax used the mana to clear the way with a Duress. Sperling thought for a minute before giving the go ahead and revealing a hand of Brainstorm, Counterspell, Spell Snare, and Force of Will. Lax thought long and hard before selecting Brainstorm. His next Dark Ritual met with some serious thought from Sperling. Lax only had one black mana in pool, though he did have a Lotus Petal remaining. Sperling decided to attack Lax's mana production this time, stopping the Dark Ritual with a Counterspell. Lax passed the turn.

    On the following turn, Lax tried to dig with an Infernal Tutor, but it was met with a Spell Snare. At the end of the turn, Sperling stole a card from Lax with a Vendilion Clique, revealing Duress, Cabal Ritual, Grim Tutor, Infernal Tutor. Duress went away.

    "I have a feeling this isn't going to go well for me," Lax sighed.

    "I have that very same feeling."

    Matt Sperling feels the same way.

    "Well, there is still a place for hope and prayer in this matchup," Lax countered with a smile.

    His prayers began on the following turn with an Infernal Tutor for a second Thoughtseize. Sperling let it resolve. When Lax went to pass his turn, Sperling used his Karakas to return his Vendilion Clique to his hand before recasting it. With his hand now at Sperling's whim, Lax just conceded rather than continue to draw things out.

    Ari Lax 1 – Matt Sperling 1

    For the decider, Lax began with a trio of Ponders to sculpt his hand. Sperling had some sculpting of his own to do via Brainstorm. His work paid dividends in the form of a Counterbalance. A Thoughtseize from Lax revealed a land on top of Sperling's library thanks to the Counterbalance. He chose not to counter, revealing a hand of Predict, Vendilion Clique, Spell Snare, Force of Will, and Krosan Grip. The Clique hit the bin.

    With the knowledge that the top of his deck was a Tropical Island, Sperling took advantage to Predict it away, netting himself an extra card. He also managed to find himself a Relic of Progenitus to clear the graveyard, lest Lax reach threshold for his Cabal Rituals. After popping it, he drew his card from the activation.

    Only one of these players gets to remain undefeated.

    "Seems like a good card to draw," he said, plopping down a Sensei's Divining Top. With the combo assembled, Sperling looked to be in complete control of the game. All of the next attempts by Lax to disrupt Sperling met the same fate: a flipped over card and a sad face. When Sperling resolved a Meddling Mage and named Tendrils of Agony, Lax scooped it up.

    Ari Lax 1 – Matt Sperling 2

    "This matchup is atrocious," Lax admitted after the match. David Williams who had wandered joked, "Let's be honest. Does anyone ever have a good matchup against Matt Sperling?"



     
  • Video Feature: Deck Tech - UG Madness with Caleb Durward
    by Nate Price



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  • Round 11 Feature Match Tom Ross vs. Caleb Durward
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Tom "The Boss" Ross is best known for developing Boss Naya, a Standard a red, green and white deck that attacked with creatures like Wild Nacatl and Knight of the Reliquary and finished opponents and creatures off with Lightning Bolts and Path to Exiles.

    So you would be excused if you got a case of déjà vu when The Boss sat down this weekend running Legacy Zoo, a red, green and white deck that attacked with creatures like Wild Nacatl and Knight of the Reliquary and finished opponents and creatures off with Lightning Bolts and Path to Exiles.

    Meanwhile, his opponent Caleb Durward was best known for recurring Vengevines with Survival of the Fittest and Basking Rootwallas, um, today. And yesterday. Durward's Blue-Green Madness deck had been the talk of the tournament so far, as hasty Vengevines made pretty good fodder for Survival, ending in some pretty fast kills.

    Game 1

    Both kept, and Ross had no turn one play except to Lightning Bolt Durward's turn one Noble Hierarch. He did have a rather large turn two, though, with a Tarmogoyf that was already a 3/4 thanks to fetchlands and a toasty Hierarch.

    "I put you on entirely the wrong deck," said Durward, who noted that Ross' teammates were all playing a Counterbalance list with Firespouts.

    "I'm playing the same Wild Nacatls in every format," offered The Boss.

    Right on cue, Durward had the turn two Survival of the Fittest, the card that makes his Blue-Green Madness deck far scarier in the early turns.

    Tom Ross

    Ross kept increasing his clock with a Knight of the Reliquary, but had to watch as Durward's Survival engine came online. Ross attempted to get Durward in burn range, but two Rootwallas and a Vengevine jumped onto the battlefield at instant speed. Ross used a Bolt to keep his Knight alive after a double block. But with Vengevines ready to go, even Ross' nearly empty board loomed.

    On his turn, Durward used Survival to find more Vengevines and Rootwallas, eventually attacking for 8 with two Vengvines while two Rootwallas and a Vengevine stood back on defense.

    "Got anything fancy?" asked Durward.

    Ross didn't, and scooped to a horde of hasty Elementals.

    Caleb Durward – 1 Tom Ross – 0

    Game 2

    "I shouldn't have mulliganned that. Six landers are good against Zoo, right?"

    "You had a spell, right?"

    Maybe if that spell had been Survival of the Fittest, Durward could have kept. As it was he was forced to stay with five, though one of those spells was a Survival of the Fittest.

    Ross had a turn one Loam Lion that Durward Force of Willed. Even down to three cards in hand, Durward wasn't terribly slowed, as he was able to cast another turn two Survival of the Fittest after topdecking a Wasteland.

    A Relic of Progenitus was Ross' answer, and with only one Forest up, Durward was forced to pass the turn with no play and no Survival of the Fittest activations.

    Ross tried a Knight of the Reliquary, but Durward nearly emptied his had to Force it again, pitching the Aquamoebas that seemed to only exist for that purpose. Durward then Wastelanded Ross' Taiga.

    Durward found a second land, allowing him to chain two Rootwallas again into bringing back a single Vengevine. Ross dispatched it with a Lightning Bolt, opting to save his Relic for the time being.

    Ross passed again, but had a Lightning Helix for Durward's Wild Mongrel after two Rootwallas attacked for two.

    Once again, Ross, still on two lands, was forced to pass back. Durward also had no play on his turn.

    A Taiga gave Ross the mana room he needed to cast Qasali Pridemage while still leaving Relic mana up for Durward's attempt at chaining two end of turn Rootwallas into Vengevines.

    Caleb Durward and his many Basking Rootwallas

    This merely gave Durward the room he needed to find two more Vengevines and attack with all four Basking Rootwallas the next turn. He added an Umezawa's Jitte to the board and passed.

    Ross had a Lavamancer and Wild Nacatl ready to go, while Durward worked his Survival to pitch his last Vengevine and find Wonder. The Wonder allowed him to equip Jitte to a flying Rootwalla. Ross Path to Exiled the Jitte-carrying Rootwalla, allowing him to keep the Pridemage alive and counters off the dangerous equipment. Durward ended the turn with a Submerge on the Grim Lavamancer, protecting his team for another turn.

    Ross attacked for 5 the next turn with the Nacatl and Pridemage, evening the life totals at 11, then played a Sylvan Library and passed.

    Durward merely attacked with another Jitte'd Rootwalla, which finally prompted the Pridemage to take a dive. With only one creature in hand, Durward wasn't able to re-buy his Vengevines and continued to merely attack and pass.

    Ross Chain Lightning'd a Rootwalla after his Nacatl traded with a Rootwalla, but had no other action.

    Durward, on the other hand, finally found a second creature and cast Wild Mongrel and Aquamoeba, allowing him to attack Ross down to 1. When Ross didn't find any help on the top of his deck, he scooped, allowing Durward's Madness to continue.

    Caleb Durward – 2 Tom Ross – 0



     
  • Video Feature: Deck Tech - Chris McDaniel with Hypergenesis
    by Nate Price


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  • Sunday, 11:15 a.m. – Quick Hits: Judge Calls
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • What's the most interesting interaction you've seen or ruling you've had to make this weekend?



    Ryan Stapleton: A player used Survival of the Fittest to discard Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with a Loyal Retainers in play, and they asked if Emrakul could be returned with the ability on the stack. And we were like, well, yes, yes you can!



    Kevin Tinsley: I did see a Lands mirror where it came down to Loaming up three Wastelands every turn trying to destroy all of their opponent's green sources. One player ended with no lands in play and the other had a Mox Diamond and an Island.

    Nicolas Turk: I have enjoyed watching the Aluren and Doomsday decks. It's one thing to see what they're trying to do on paper, it's another to see them in action and watch their opponents flail to try and stop them.



    Emanuel Palmeri: We really haven't had all that many hard calls. Not more than in Standard.



    Ingrid Lind-Jahn: A player had Humility in play, and his opponent dredged a Stinkweed Imp. He asked if he could actually do that. And he could, because it's just a card in the graveyard, not a creature. So he asked all these questions, like can you cycle creatures, what's a Tarmogoyf's power and toughness in the graveyard? It was different than what you expect with Humility. That was kind of fun.



     
  • Video Feature: Eli Kassis with Land links
    by Nate Price


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  • Round 12 Feature Match – Carl Dillahay vs. Chris Gosselin
    by Nate Price
  • Gosselin won the die roll and started off with a Thoughtseize. Out of a hand containing two Brainstorms, Swords to Plowshares, Tarmogoyf, and Stifle, Gosselin chose to bin the Stifle. At the end of Gosselin's second turn, Dillahay Brainstormed. After untapping, Dillahay aimed a Wasteland at Gosselin's Underground Sea. Gosselin used its blue mana to Brainstorm before putting it away.

    Dillahay started his offensive with a 3/4 Tarmogoyf. At the end of turn, Gosselin started digging with a Lim-Dûl's Vault. After paying a few life to find a packet he liked, he finally decided on an order for the top of his library. Among the cards he found was the Doomsday for which he was looking. His life paid, he built himself a snazzy new library composed of Shelldock Isle, Stifle, Cloud of Faeries, Emrakul, and a Solitary Confinement.

    Dillahay attacked for three before Wastelanding Gosselin's Scrubland—his only white source. After a look of consternation, Gosselin untapped and played a Shelldock Isle, hiding away his Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. On the following turn, he untapped and played an Emrakul from underneath his Isle. Since the Isle allows you to "play" a card without paying its mana cost, Emrakul's ability still triggers. That gave Gosselin the go ahead to take another turn. Before he could, though, Dillahay conceded.

    Carl Dillahay 0 – Chris Gosselin 1

    Dillahay was a little leery about keeping an opening hand that contained five land, a Brainstorm, and a Force of Will, but in the end, he figured it was a worthwhile gamble. Gosselin used a Stifle to stop an attempted fetch, effectively destroying Dillahay's Windswept Heath. Over the next couple of turns, both players exchanged Brainstorms, good ideas flying all around.

    Gosselin found the first of his search engines, a Sensei's Divining Top, which soon went to work digging for a Doomsday. On the way, it found him a Force of Will for a Knight of the Reliquary, though it was Forced back. One final Force from Gosselin made sure the Knight was out of play, keeping it from searching out a Wasteland.

    Gosselin went back to the grind. After a couple turns of digging and shuffling his deck with fetch lands, he finally ripped an Engineered Explosives from Dillahay's hand with a Thoughtseize before spinning his Top into a Doomsday. Dillahay was not pleased. After resolution, he stacked his deck with a Stifle, Shelldock Isle, Cloud of Faeries, Shared Fate, and an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Dillahay countered with a Knight of the Reliquary, which Gosselin was forced to let resolve.

    Dillahay is the real Lord of the Waste(land)s.

    Undeterred, Gosselin played his Shelldock Isle. Dillahay untapped, used his Knight to search through his deck for a Wasteland and used it to kill the two lands, locking the Emrakul under the now destroyed Shelldock Isle. With access to his white mana and Emrakul stolen, Gosselin conceded.

    Carl Dillahay 1 – Chris Gosselin 1

    Gosselin took two at least one of the cards out of his eventual Doomsday with a first-turn Shelldock Isle hiding away a Force of Will. On the next turn, he started his search engine with a Sensei's Divining Top. Dillahay, meanwhile, did nothing but play land. When Gosselin tried to shuffle away an extra Top by spinning the one he had in play before searching with Marsh Flats, Dillahay Stifled the land. After some thought, Gosselin let it resolve. After putting it in the graveyard, Gosselin dropped a second Isle into play, this one hiding Shared Fate.

    Unfortunately for him, the Dillahay dropped the previous game's all-star into play, and Gosselin was not happy to see the Knight of the Reliquary make an appearance. Dillahay wasted no time in Wasting Gosselin's Tundra. When a second Knight threatened to make an appearance, Gosselin fought back with a Force of Will. The following turn, Dillahay searched out a second Wasteland to take out the Isle hiding a Force of Will. With the damage done, Dillahay was free to attack. Two creatures totaling ten power turned sideways.

    I, too, tear the aeons.

    With death a mere one turn away, Gosselin went for it. Dark Ritual powered out a Thoughtseize and Show and Tell. Daze bit the dust. In response to the Show and Tell, Dillahay used a Brainstorm to hunt for an answer. Finding nothing, he was forced to let Gosselin drop an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play. Dillahay's addition was a Crucible of Worlds, allowing him to recur a Wasteland, destroying the other Shelldock Isle, leaving Gosselin with a sole Swamp. Using that Swamp, Gosselin ran a Thoughtseize into a Daze, clearing the way for Emrakul to smash over for victory.

    Carl Dillahay 1 – Chris Gosselin 2



     
  • Video Feature: Deck Tech - Gerry Thompson and Cedric Phillips with Aluren
    by Nate Price


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  • Round 13 Feature Match Philip Yam vs. Eli Kassis
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Philip Yam and his Goblins started out the day with an unblemished record after a 9-0 Day One, but had hit a few speed bumps on day two, including losing the die roll against one Eli Kassis.

    Eli, on the other hand, just wanted to be known as a complainer. "A whiny, average Magic player," he said.

    With both players at 10-2, the winner would position himself for a run at the Top 8, while the loser would likely find himself on the outside looking in.

    Game 1

    Both kept and Kassis had the turn one Manabond off a Tropical Island, dumping two Maze of Iths, a Wasteland and a Tolaria West onto the table, discarding a Life from the Loam.

    Yam considered his options on turn one, looking at basically the 42 Land nuts hand against his Goblins.

    "Are you considering conceding to not show me what you're playing?"

    "Yeah."

    Instead, Yam had a Wasteland for Kassis' only green source, and a Goblin Lackey to follow up.

    Philip Yam

    Kassis meanwhile, spent several turns dredging Life from the Loam and doing nothing else but filling up his graveyard.

    Meanwhile, Yam found Wastelands two and three to remove both Maze of Iths, clearing the way for his Goblin Lackey, finding a Chieftan.

    Kassis, suddently, was down to just the Manabond and Tolaria West with no hand. He finally chose to draw a card, rather than dredge, but took two turns to find the green mana he needed for Life from the Loam.

    Meanwhile, Yam added a Piledriver and Mogg War Marshal to the battlefield and was able to attack for the win before Kassis could get back on the Loam train.

    Philip Yam 1 – Eli Kassis 0

    Game 2

    Kassis had Exploration off a Tropical island into a Mishra's Factory while Yam had the ubiquitous turn one Goblin Lackey to kick off game two.

    Kassis' only play on turn two was a strong one, as he played the creature-slaying Tabernacle at Pendrel Vale, but not a second land for the turn.

    Yam paid for his Lackey and found a Wasteland to potentially stave off the Tabernacle, but had no attack into the Mishra's Factory.

    Eli Kassis

    Kassis played Tolaria West and then sacrificed to it Glacial Chasm before Loaming it back and passed the turn with no open mana. This opened to door for Yam's fourth Wasteland of the match, again on Kassis' only green source again, followed by an Aether vial. The Chasm, however, kept his Lackey from doing any work.

    Kassis chose to draw on his turn rather than dredging, wondering aloud how many Riftstone Portals were near the top. Finding no green mana, he once again passed the turn.

    Another Wasteland (the second of this game, fifth of the match so far) for Yam took out Kassis' last remaining tappable land in Mishra's Factory. Kassis just ticked the Chasm up again, dropping to 14 and playing the Tolaria West.

    The Tolaria West was locked down by Rishidan Port the next turn as Chasm continued to suck away at the Land player's life total, now at 8.

    Unable to pay for the Chasm, Kassis was forced to let it expire. Without another land in his ostensibly mostly land deck, Kassis was forced to sit and watch as a Vialed goblin Chieftan and a Piledriver allowed Kassis.

    After the game Kassis lamented not fetching a basic forest in game one. The excitement over his explosive start led him to overlook the fact that he only had one green source in his hand.

    Philip Yam 2 – Eli Kassis 0



     
  • Video Feature: Deck Tech - Goblins with Steve Sadin
    by Nate Price
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  • Feature Match Round 14 - Craig Wescoe vs. Lou Christopher
    by Nate Price
  • "I'm playing a Calosso Fuentes brew," Wescoe confided in me before the match. I apologized to him.

    Wescoe won the die roll and chose to go first. After a long period of thought, he chose to keep his opening hand. Christopher found his first seven lacking, but kept his second with a "yeah, buddy!"

    Wescoe began with a Ponder, this one taking considerably less time to decide on than when he pondered his opening hand. Christopher revealed his deck with a first-turn Wild Growth. His following Argothian Enchantress got a quick read from Wescoe. After placing it back on the table, Wescoe Predicted himself naming Flooded Strand.

    After a sheepish grin and a look towards his Ponder, he pumped the fist and exclaimed "Yes," as he flipped a Flooded Strand over into his graveyard. The Enchantress resolved. Wescoe got on the board next with a Tarmogoyf. Despite having his Enchantress in play, Christopher found nothing to play for her and passed. Wescoe made another successful Prediction on the following turn, netting even more cards.

    At this point, Christopher finally hit five mana. Sigil of the Empty Throne went onto the stack, prompting a Brainstorm from Wescoe. After digging a little, he found a Force of Will to get rid of the troublesome enchantment. After untapping, Wescoe put the screws to his vulnerable opponent, setting up the Counterbalance/Sensei's Divining Top combo. Despite having the combo together, Wescoe whiffed on his first attempt to counter a Sterling Grove. He also failed to stop a City of Solitude, though most of his counterMagic would be in the form of Counterbalance, which the City doesn't stop. When Christopher went for a Utopia Sprawl to finish his turn, Wescoe demonstrated just that by flipping over the Sensei's Divining Top he had left on top of his deck during the last Top activation.

    Lou Christopher just wanted Wescoe to leave him alone

    While searching the top of his deck, Wescoe managed to find himself a Misty Rainforest, allowing him to flush away the useless Swords to Plowshares sitting on his deck and get him a new set of Top cards. In that new set, he found himself a Vendilion Clique, which he used to strip a Solitary Confinement from Christopher's hand.

    During his upkeep, Christopher popped his Sterling Grove to go fetch a Runed Halo. Unfortunately, Runed Halo never saw play as he ran afoul of a Daze on top of Wescoe's deck. After placing it in his graveyard, Christopher quietly picked up his deck to move onto the next game.

    Craig Wescoe 1 – Lou Christopher 0

    "Our one playtest game yesterday was helpful," Wescoe offered with a smile.

    "Yeah, I guess it was, unfortunately," Christopher laughed.

    Wescoe began working on his hand with a first-turn Sensei's Divining Top. Christopher was ready for him after sideboarding, and went to fetch a Null Rod with an Enlightened Tutor. Wescoe put his Top on top of his deck in response to the articat before playing a Counterbalance on the following turn. Now, Wescoe was left with blind Counterbalances until he could find a Krosan Grip that he undoubtedly sided in. One of his other sideboard cards, Firespout, took out an Argothian Enchantress, forcing Christopher to get by with just an Enchantress's Presence. Unhappy with letting him have even that, Wescoe aimed the first Grip he saw at the Presence, denying Christopher even a card.

    Wescoe almost overbalanced during game 2

    Wescoe built his board a little more with a redundant second Counterbalance and a useless Top. With Predict in his deck, as well as Brainstorm, Wescoe could use the second Counterbalance to get himself either a free blind Counterbalance or a second attempt if he could remove the top card. Instead, he used his Predict to get rid of a City of Solitude that Chris fetched with a Sterling Grove. With his graveyard filled with sexy enchantments, Christopher went for the haymaker: Replenish. Unfortunately for him, Wescoe had the Force of Will. Visibly deflated, Christopher went back to playing draw-go.

    Wescoe, meanwhile, managed to rid himself of the Null Rod, turning his Top back on. He used it to stop a second Replenish a couple of turns later (thanks to Jace, the Mind Sculptor). Christopher was able to make an Enchantress's Presence stick, though it appeared to be too little, too late. After playing a pair of Tarmogoyfs (6/7s), all it took was a couple of turns and a Vendilion Clique for the last few points and he moved on.

    Craig Wescoe 2 – Lou Christopher 0



     
  • Video Feature: Deck Tech - Survival with Patrick Chapin
    by Nate Price
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  • Feature Match Round 15 - Match Tom Martell vs. Alix Hatfield
    by Steve Sadin
  • Tom Martell, with four-color Counterbalance, is 11-2-1 and likely must win out to make the Top 8, while Alix Hatfield, packing Zoo, is 11-1-2 and has slightly more breathing room, but not by much.

    But no matter who wins the match, everyone who gets to look at Hatfield's hat is a winner at life.

    Game 1

    Hatfield, on the play and down a card, led off with the classic Kird Ape/Taiga combo, but no turn two follow-up. Martell, meanwhile, stuck his deck's namesake Counterbalance on his second turn.

    A Qasali Pridmage attempted to exalt the Ape and threaten the Counterbalance, but Martell had the Force of Will to keep the kitty down. Instead, Hatfield and his hat had to pass the turn back after fetching a Plateau.

    Sensei's Divining Top completed the soft lock for Martel. And the next sequence of events showed just how soft it could be.

    On Hatfield's turn, he attempted a Chain Lightning. Martell Topped and, finding no one drop, went to crack a fetchland. In response Hatfield was able to resolve a Lightning Bolt, sending Martell to 8. After shuffling and looking again, Martell still found no one drop, and was forced to flip the Top to keep the Chain Lightning from resolving. This gave Hatfield the room he needed to resolve a 4/5 Tarmogoyf.

    Martell fought back with a Tarmogoyf of his own, but declined to replay the Sensei's Divining Top, leaving Tundra open for the Swords to Plowshares that wrecked Hatfield when he attacked with his animals the following turn. Tarmogoyf ate the Kird Ape, and then ate a Lightning Bot.

    Without even checking again, Tarmogoyf jumped straight from the top of Martell's library to the battlefield, and a Brainstorm allowed Counterbalance to stop a Grim Lavamancer, the last card in Hatfield's hand. Martell had a second Tarmogoyf, and quickly took Hatfield – and his hat – to the cleaners.

    Tom Martell – 1 Alix Hatfield 0

    Game 2

    Once again Hatfield led with Taiga/Ape, which was met by Martell with a Sensei's Divining Top. The Wild Nacatl that followed was Force of Willed, and Hatfield tipped his hand a bit when he missed his land drops for the next two turns with no plays.

    Meanwhile Martell made his Top work for him…er, TopS work for him, as he found and played a second and eventually a third one of the ubiquitous Champions of Kamigawa artifact.


    Hatfield and his hat


    Hatfield's second land allowed him to fetch a Plateau for a Steppe Lynx that, based on the last several missed land drops, was going to be pretty tame in the meantime. Meanwhile, the Kird Ape continued to do what it has done since about the beginning of time: beat for two.

    A fetchland off the top made the Steppe Lynx scary, and Hatfield cracked the Wooded Foothills to try and grow it. Martell had the Swords to Plowshares (courtesy of one spun Sensei's Divining Top).

    "So Kird Ape gets in for a very satisfying two damage?" asked Hatfield.

    The Kird Ape did indeed get in, putting Martell to 11 while he worked his Tops. Eventually all that topping produced a Counterbalance, only to watch helplessly as it fell to Krosan Grip.

    Equally scary was Hatfield's Choke (oh, and the Kird Ape that sent Martell to 7 after two more Flooded Strand activations) while Martell had only Islands in play. Counterspell tried to stop it, but Pyroblast robbed it of its glory.

    However, the last Top on the table still had work to do, and blindly drew the top card to reveal…Force of Will! Martells Islands would indeed be untapping.

    The Top again went to work, taking out the Kird Ape that had been so much trouble with a found Swords to Plowshares. Unfortunately for Martell, a Wild Nacatl and a Krosan Grip on the last of his three Tops was enough for Hatfield to grab game two.

    Tom Martell – 1 Alix Hatfield 1

    Game 3

    A turn one Plateau signaled game three would be slightly different for Hatfield, who led not with an Ape, but with a Cat, as Steppe Lynx looked to go Goyf sized early. A Brainstorm in response allowed Martell to Force of Will the offending kitty and follow up with a Counterbalance.

    Pyroblast eliminated the Counterbalance, but Hatfield again had no second land while Martell made a Tarmogoy, which pretty quickly ate a Path to Exile.


    Tom Martell knows a thing or two about fighting Zoos animals


    A second Steppe Lynx was Hatfield's follow-up, and Martell held serve with his second Counterbalance. When Hatfield went to play a third Lynx, Counterbalance blindly revealed Sensei's Divining Top, prompting an audible sigh from Hatfield, who also cheekily attacked with his 0/1 Steppe Lynx.

    A forest pumped up the Lynx and allowed a Qasali Pridemage to resolve, only to die the next turn to a Firespout, emptying the battlefield of creatures.

    An attempted Krosan Grip was stopped by Counterbalance revealing Firespout, and a Spell Snare caught one Tarmogoyf and a hard cast Force of Will stopped a second 'Goyf. That allowed Hatfield to resolve a Sylvan Library, which, unfortunately for the hat, could not attack.

    The 5/6 Tarmogoyf from Martell, however, certainly could. Counterbalance (with some help from Swords to Plowshares and Firespout) countered Path to Exile and Knight of the Reliquary as both players sped up their play pace to try to finish as the round neared its end. When Counterbalance revealed another three for Hatfield's Choke, Hatfield conceded, putting Martell within shouting distance of a Top 8 appearance.

    Tom Martell – 2 Alix Hatfield 1



     
  • Video Feature: Deck Tech - Doomsday with Chris Gosselin
    by Nate Price
  •  


  • Feature Match Round 16 -Ari Lax vs. Tom Martell
    by Nate Price
  • "Step one if this matchup is to win the die roll," Ari Lax said. "Step two is having them mulligan to five."

    As we learned his previous turn in the Feature Match area, Ari Lax is not very pleased at his chances of defeating Tom Martell's Counterbalance deck with his ANT deck. He considered himself lucky to have stolen a game from Matt Sperling earlier with a sick turn two kill.

    This game, he started off ripping a Force of Will out of Martell's hand, leaving him with a pair of Sensei's Divining Tops and a Tarmogoyf. A Ponder allowed him to search through his deck. It also freed him up to use a Thoughtseize to strip Martel of his freshly drawn Counterbalance. Instead of dropping the powerful enchantment, Martell was forced to resort to a 3/4 Tarmogoyf in its stead. Lax merely played a land and passed the turn.

    During his upkeep, Martell used his Top to arrange his draw. Unhappy with his find, Martell used a Scalding Tarn on his main phase to wash the cards away. He then plopped down a twin Tarmogoyf and attacked Lax to thirteen. Yet again, Lax just drew and passed. He was holding a trio of Cabal Rituals, but nothing to do with all of that mana. Martel took advantage of Lax's apparent weakness, attacking him down to five. On his turn, Lax cracked his two fetch lands, trying desperately to thin his deck and raise his odds of hitting something, even if it was only a small amount.

    Lax gave new meaning to the phrase Ad Nauseam, dying to the second spell it revealed

    Those odds paid off as he drew an Ad Nauseam for his turn. It was time to begin. First came a non-threshold Cabal Ritual. It resolved. With a black in his pool, and three untapped lands, he tried another. This time, Martell stopped it. Lax just plowed on through with another. With five mana in his pool, he cast Ad Nauseam with audible wretch. The past couple of turns, as well as sacrificing his lands, left him with a mere three life to play with. The first card revealed was a Thoughtseize, dropping him to two. The next must have cost two or more, because Lax scooped it under his cards so fast that I wasn't even able to see what it was.

    "I did have outs," he admitted.

    "LED, LED, LED, Ponder?" Martell asked.

    "There were a few ways it could have gone involving one casting cost cards."

    Ari Lax 0 – Tom Martell 1

    Lax started game two with a Lotus Petal, which he immediately sacrificed for a Brainstorm. Martell thought for a second or two before declaring it ok. When Lax tried to follow that with a Duress, Martell Forced it. Spell Pierce stole the second Duress. With two mana available, Lax ventured a guess at Martell's play.

    "Counterbalance?"

    "There's a chance I am playing that spell."

    "Well, considering you exiled one for Force of Will…"

    "There is a higher chance I am playing that spell."

    Indeed he did, and the powerful enchantment hit play. When Lax went for a third Duress on the following turn, Martell went to a blind Counterbalance.

    Martell played the control deck to a T…with a little help from lady luck

    "Oh my God," Lax moaned. Sitting face up on the top of Martell's library was a Sensei's Divining Top, countering the Duress, as well as providing an ominous glance into a bleak future for Lax. The Top hit play, along with a Relic of Progenitus to keep Lax out of threshold. The nail in the coffin would be a Vendilion Clique backed up with Karakas to maintain strict control over Lax's hand. After a few turns of futility, Lax decided to pack it in. The only spell he managed to land during the time after the blind Top was a Lion's Eye Diamond.

    Ari Lax 0 – Tom Martell 2

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