An all CMU-TOGIT final, Nate and Antonino thought that it was important for everyone to know it. A little fire to stoke the flames of the supposed to CMU-YMG rivalry was that the last hope for YMG, Brian Kibler, fell to CMU player Antonino De Rosa in the semi-finals.
This is one half of the final match that the experts expected. Nate was the odds-on favorite to get here out of his side of the bracket. The favorites in the other half of the bracket were De Rosa and Kibler, people figured them to be easy winners in the quarters and thought that the winner of the De Rosa/Kibler match would win the finals. De Rosa beat Kibler, and it seemed that people thought De Rosa would win these finals.
De Rosa ripped his seven cards and emitted laughter. "My hand isn't good," he said, "I just like laughing."
Turn one, he played Liar's Pendulum, which made everyone else at the table laugh. Nate played out a couple of lands, and then used a Deconstruct to destroy the Lightning Greaves.
Antonino started swinging the Liar's Pendulum, first naming Mountain, which The Heiss did not believe he was holding. The Heiss was wrong, and Antonino drew a card. De Rosa used his new found card advantage to keep the pressure on, as he ripped and then played Triskelion.
The Heiss didn't like the Trisky one, evidenced when he looked at Antonino and said, "I'm bolting your guy." How nice of him to give advance warning. He then played Electrostatic Bolt on the Triskelion. Trisky counters went flying all over though in response, killing a Vulshok Berserker and then dealing one damage to The Heiss.
"You're playing with that guy," Nate sighed in disbelief. "I'm impressed." Wurmskin Forger has been the butt of many unplayable jokes this weekend, but De Rosa felt like he made the cut, and after he put all of his counters on it, the Forger was kind of big.
"He's a five," Heiss questioned at the Wurmskin Forger in the red zone. He decided he would take the damage, not wanting to lose any of his creatures by blocking at this early point in the game.
The table appeared to belong to De Rosa at this point. His four creatures were backed up by a Pyrite Spellbomb and he still had the Pendulum helping him to net more cards. Nate was staring at his own four creatures, but thanks to the Wurmskin Forger Antonino had Nate's creatures didn't look all that good.
Antonino cast Shatter on the Wizard Replica, not wanting to leave Nate with a flyer on the table, but Nate did have an Exile on the board he could use to block the pesky Forger.
"Do something Nate Heiss," De Rosa shouted, goaded on a little by the new presence of his friends and teammates around the table. Nate finally did do something, playing a Titanium Golem onto the table for a little added creature protection.
Antonino pushed two creatures into the red zone, but didn't include the Wurmskin Forger. His Vulshok Berserker died, but his Myr Retriever hit The Heiss in the head. He didn't want to block it and give Antonino back one of his good artifacts from the graveyard.
Antonino drew the next card off of his deck and found his bomb. The Glissa Sunseeker he had opened had proved to be amazing in his trip to the finals, and here she was again. She got a groan from Nate, who compared her to the Dragon bombs of old.
A Shatter from Nate destroyed the Pendulum, he had apparently had enough of that little game. The creature standoff was horrific, with both players piling them onto the table.
Suddenly, Nate hit the jackpot. Goblin Charbelcher came onto the table, and wanted a piece of Glissa. Glissa used her ability to to blow up the Charbelcher, and she managed to survive when the ability resolved. Antonino did have to add four mana to his mana pool during Nate's main phase though, and the mana burn took him down to 12 life.
Now Antonino seemed to be back in control. The loss of control was not only temporary, but also short lived. Glissa destroyed a Soldier Replica, and Antonino used the mana in his pool to play Icy Manipulator. The Heiss was completely on the ropes and had gotten deathly silent.
Antonino moved his Forger into the red zone and Nate double-blocked. When Antonino cast Shatter on one of Nate's blockers The Heiss realized that this game was over.
Nate Heiss 0 - Antonino De Rosa 1
"Can I eat please," De Rosa asked as the players prepped for game two. A conversation between Head Judge Mike Guptil and Antonino ended when Antonino decided he would just wait until after the event.
Heck, who wanted pictures of Antonino playing Magic and eating? Turns out no one did, so he decided he would wait until later.
Talk turned to past Grand Prixs, particularly GP Cleveland. The fun stuff ended though when Nate announced he would play and that he was happy with his seven cards. Antonino decided his seven cards weren't good enough, and when asked about his six cards, he described them as "Not good, but I'll keep."
Copious amounts of tapping on his deck before he drew his managed to net him the second land he was looking for, and on turn three he found his third land, using it to play a Viridian Joiner.
Turn four he got an Elf Replica onto the table, and despite missing land drops his mana appeared to be developing nicely.
Nate put that development to a halt when the Elf Replica died as part of combat and the Lightning Greaves were hit with Deconstruct. Nate followed the Deconstruct with Tel-Jilad Archers, which joined his previously played Spikeshot Goblin.
Antonino first played, and then started using, his Liar's Pendulum. The first card he named was Triskelion, which Nate correctly guessed was in his hand. Antonino didn't see the humor when people around him started laughing.
"It's not funny," he protested. Nate agreed, thinking it pretty bad that Antonino had Triskelion in his hand, just waiting for the mana. The mana that was available, his Viridian Joiner, died as soon as he tried to equip it with the Vulshok Gauntlets.
"You're the man," Antonino lifelessly intoned as Nate blue up his Vulshok Gauntlets with his second Deconstuct of the game. After he put his creatures in the red zone Nate was in charge, having put Antonino down to three life.
The game ended the following turn, as Antonino looked at his next card and knew he couldn't win.
Nate Heiss 1 - Antonino De Rosa 1
"I'm pushing my hunger advantage," Heiss mused. "You're what," Antonino questioned. Nate had decided that Antonino needed to eat more then he did, and this gave him the advantage.
How do you milk that advantage? Play slowly?
Antonino decided that he liked the seven cards he would start the game with, and when Nate decided to mulligan he screamed. "Come on food!" Antonino wanted to eat, and the mulligan seemed like nothing more then a stall tactic to use the hunger advantage.
Antonino played his second land, and was left with none in hand. He sacrificed his Pyrite Spellbomb to get a card, finding land number three.
Nate simply sat back and laughed. The Silver Myr that Antonino played went into the red zone and dealt first blood. It was followed up by a Myr Replica, as Antonino pleaded with his deck to give him another land. He had Glissa in hand, but stuck on three lands he couldn't get her into play.
"There it is," Nate announced when the Liar's Pendulum came into play. He answered no when Antonino said he had a Mirror Golem and Antonino couldn't believe it. Nate had gotten it right again.
"Land...land...land," Antonino pleaded with his deck. The Heiss didn't have any concerns at that point though, he was swinging with mad beats into the red zone.
Gerard Fabiano joined the chant from outside the game...pleading with Antonino's deck to give him land, and finally it answered someone's call, there was a Mountain. Antonino used that Mountain to help him finally play Glissa, and if she could live until Antonino's next upkeep, things could be get ugly.
"If you're thinking with a Bolt in your hand," Antonino started, "I'll vomit." No bolt in hand for The Heiss, but he did play out a Krark-Clan Shaman, and coupled with the Titanium Golem and the Dragon's Blood on the table it could be used to kill Glissa.
That prospect didn't last long, as Antonino blew up the Dragon's Blood with Shatter. A counter did get added to the Vulshok Berserker on Nate's side, and with Antonino at only eight life Nate looked to be in control despite the presence of Glissa.
Nate played Creeping Mold to deprive Antonino of one of his four lands, and Antonino responded with a Shatter targeting Nate's Titanium Golem. With creatures now missing from Nate's side, and with Cathodion joining Antonino, the game appeared to have settled into a deadlock.
Antonino swung with Cathodion, a possible gambit aimed at netting him some mana. He used the mana to power his Pendulum, but it didn't net him a card.
Nate then played the powerful artifact, Altar of Shadows. The Altar's first activation took out Glissa finally, before Antonino was anywhere near the seven mana needed to blow up the Altar with her power.
Antonino had found a fourth mana again and he used it to play out a Tel-Jilad Exile. He appeared to be firmly back in control of the board. Altar of Shadows destroyed the Exile, but Antonino was still in control through sheer numerical superiority. Triskelion came onto the table and eliminated Nates only blocker, allowing the Viridian Joiner and the vulshok Berserker to get through and bring Nate down to only five life.
The Heiss took the turn back from Antonino and stared at the board. He drew his card, and nothing changed. The Heiss offered his hand to Antonino and scooped up his cards.
Nate Heiss 1 - Antonino De Rosa 2
Antonino De Rosa is the Grand Prix Kansas City 2003 Champion.