Feature Match Round 9: Antoine Ruel vs. Sigurd Eskeland

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Sigurd Eskeland won Pro Tour New York back in the days of Lin Sivvi and Rishadan Port. Since then the big Norwegian has been toying with retirement but still turns up for the odd Grand Prix. Antoine Ruel also came to prominence around the same time as part of the French Black Ops team. Since then he and his brother Olivier have been strong presences on the Grand Prix circuit.

Eskeland won the die roll and elected to go first. After a mulligan and a short discussion on the merits of splitting the game got underway. Eskeland missed a land drop, but Ruel was unable to kill the Myr that appeared the following turn. The Spikeshot Goblin he cast on the following turn meant that the Myr wouldn’t be long in this world.

Eskeland found a third land and pointed a trigger back at the Goblin with a Spikeshot of his own, equipped with a Bonesplitter. The next turn was hard on the Norwegian as Ruel Irradiated the Goblin and shot the Myr. A Sun Droplet was stemming the bleeding but he was left with not a lot as Ruel started beating him down with a Sun Droplet.

Ruel’s deck was brimming with removal and Eskeland’s next two creatures, Tel-Jihad Archers and Exile, were dispatched to the graveyard. Ruel wasn’t killing Eskeland with any speed though. His War Wagon was Shattered and a Replica took down both a Moriok Scavenger and Iron Myr to leave Ruel with just a Spikeshot Goblin.

“This one is so annoying,” Ruel said, looking at a Sun Droplet brimming with counters. He cast Cathodion to try and inflict some permanent damage.

Eskeland made a Spikeshot Goblin of his own and as Ruel had no removal for the Goblin he needed to Detonate the Bonesplitter. It didn’t matter as Eskeland had a Wurmskin Forger and his Goblin swelled to 4/5.

The next two turns saw the pumped Goblin dispatch Ruel’s remaining creatures. Another monstrous Forger appeared. Ruel needed to draw Reiver Demon. He didn’t.

“One for the Droplet,” a spectator remarked as Ruel conceded game one.

Eskeland 1-0 Ruel

The annoying Droplet made an appearance again in the second game but this time Ruel threatened to outrace it with a steadily growing Slith Bloodletter. Ruel was a bit mana-screwed though as he had only two swamps and a Talisman.

Eskeland found an Icy Manipulator, but that wasn’t a solution to the Slith as Ruel Shattered it. The Bloodletter continued to gorge itself on Eskeland’s life total, growing to 5/5 and then 6/6 as a Krark-Clan Grunt joined it. Ruel continued the aggro with a Cathodion.

Meanwhile Eskeland was hitting back with a Vulshok Berserker. He summoned a Spikeshot Goblin but Ruel had an Electrostatic Bolt waiting for it when the Norwegian tried to make it bigger with a Battlegrowth.

Ruel replaced the Cathodion with a Nim Shrieker and blew up Eskeland’s Sun Droplet. From here the Norwegian was in trouble as the Bloodletter was too big to handle. He threw creatures in the way hoping to find Grab the Reins. It didn’t appear in time and it was time for a decider.

Eskeland 1-1 Ruel

Eskeland again had the feature play of turn two Sun Droplet. He brought out a Tel-Jihad Chosen and sent that in with a Bonesplitter. Ruel started hitting back with a Cathodion and then a Spikeshot Goblin.

Eskeland found his Goblin but it had no soon as picked up the axe only to be sent flying to the graveyard with a bolt. A Moriok Scavenger added to the beats.

Eskeland tapped out for a Sword of Kaldra giving Ruel the opportunity to kill the Exile with a Consume Spirit.

Ruel kept up the beats only for Eskeland to shore up with Tel-Jihad Archers. The Frenchman just couldn’t quite finish him off as Eskeland’s life stuck firmly around the halfway mark.

A Wurmskin Forger showed up and gifted the Archer a counter. Now it was big enough to start killing Ruel’s creatures. Ruel sent his monsters in anyway, losing the Cathodion and Scavenger. A Consume Spirit sent Eskeland to 1 life.

Now the Norwegian had to think. Did he have another one? What was the one card remaining in his hand?

Between the Sword, Bonesplitter, Archers, 4/4 Forger and a Myr Eskeland had 14 damage. Ruel was at 14 life. The Myr got a Sword. No response. Eskeland sent in the guys and Ruel scooped. So close for the Frenchman but not close enough.

Afterwards Eskeland kissed the Sun Droplet.

Sigurd Eskeland beat Antoine Ruel 2-1

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