Quarterfinals: Josh Rider vs. Eivind Nitter

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Top 8, this is what the weekend has been all about. The field has been cut down from 525 players to just eight. These two are part of that privileged few and they know it. There’s a very relaxed atmosphere, a lot of early joking and jovialities. Josh Rider and Eivind Nitter have torn their way through the tournament playing almost exactly the same deck, WR Control. Their versions differ little, Eivind has the slight advantage main, having a fourth Astral Slide and two Wing Shards instead of Rider’s three Gempalm Incinerators, but after sideboarding the decks are identical.

Rider won the coin flip and elected to play. Nitter was the first one with a non-land permanent, a turn two Rift. He backed it up the following turn with a morphed Exalted Angel. It flipped over and swung at the first opportunity.

Rider seemed to be a little land light, with three of his five land having come into play tapped. Nitter was all gas though, he added a Slide to his already prominent board position.

Rider missed his sixth land drop, crucial as he was holding three Akroma’s Vengeance. He had to make do with a morphed Angel of his own. It was shot in the end step. Nitter’s Angel kept swinging, bringing Josh to eight.

Josh finally found his sixth land, but it came into play tapped as well, luck just was not on his side. Nitter sensed that Rider was feeling dejected, and with a flurry of cycling cards later the first game went to the Norwegian.

Nitter 1 – Rider 0

After sideboarding, both players had two Decree of Annihilation, two Akroma, Angel of Wrath, an extra Temple of the False God and three Wipe Clean. On top of that, Nitter gained an Oblation. Rider had chosen not to board in any of his Wing Shards. Nitter had removed all of his Lightning Rifts, a very controversial move, deciding instead to keep in his Wing Shards.

Rider went first, keeping a hand of five land, Decree of Annihilation and an Akroma’s Vengeance. Nitter’s grip contains four land, a Wipe Clean, an Angel and a Starstorm. Rider drew an Eternal Dragon and immediately Plainscycled it. Eivind was first to act with his usual turn three morphed Angel. It flipped over and swung. 24-16 Nitter.

In Nitter’s end step, Josh dug his way through his library trying to find an answer, first a Forgotten Cave, then a Decree of Justice, then a Secluded Steppe, followed by another Cave. He untapped, laid a land and passed his turn. The Wing Shards bluff kept the Angel at bay. No wait. Nitter fingered the Angel. He tapped it, he untapped it. He looked at Josh, he looked back at the Angel. He tapped it and hoped. Rider sucked up the damage.

The Canadian end step cycled a Decree for three soldiers, which swung the following turn before being Vengeanced away along with the Angel. Eivind made his eighth land and grinned. Akroma busted her way into the Red Zone, knocking Rider to six.

Rider stared at his hand in desperation, he had no answer. The top of his library coughed up another Vengeance, keeping him in the game. Eivind could only answer with an Astral Slide.

Rider’s deck was being kind to him giving him a Lightning Rift to help him back in the game. Nitter’s turn was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Josh returned his Dragon to his hand and morphed an Angel, coming firmly back into this game before Nitter could capitalize on his low life.

Nitter made a Dragon, suddenly taking away all of Rider’s momentum. With an Astral Slide on the board, that Dragon was looking really threatening. Rider chose not to attack, still holding the Red Decree he had at the end of the game and one other card. Eivind phased out the morphed Angel and the Dragon dropped Josh to a precarious one.

In Nitter’s end step, Josh destroyed the Slide with a Wipe Clean, Nitter responded by removing his own Dragon from the game, to save it from a potential Vengeance. Rider regrew his Dragon and passed his turn. The Angel and the Dragon came back into play.

Nitter sent the Dragon once more into the Red Zone, the Angel chump blocked, leaving Rider at five. Both players had ten mana, so Decree of Annihilation was looking scary. Rider drew and cast an Akroma, choosing to hold it back rather than attacking for fear of losing to Wing Shards. Nitter’s turn passed without comment.

Rider went for it. He floated three mana and cycled Decree of Annihilation, Eivind floated ten. The Armageddon ability resolved. Rider used his mana by cycling a Dragon, making the Plains he found to cast a Lightning Rift. Nitter cycled Decree of Justice for seven soldiers, Rider extended his hand in congratulations.

Nitter 2 – Rider 0

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