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Nice Masters Round 2: Jens Thoren vs. Chris Benafel

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Both of these players are running Donate-Illusions decks, but very different versions. Thoren is running the typical blue/red build, while Benafel is playing a deck similar to the one used by the Japanese players in the Gateway, which splashes green for Oath of Druids and Gaea's Blessing.

Game 1

Thoren mulliganed his opening hand. Benafel played a pair of Brainstorms before casting Intuition to get three Thawing Glaciers. Another Intuition was played on the next turn, getting three Tropical Islands. Thoren cast Merchant Scroll, getting Counterspell. Benafel continued to set up, getting three Powder Kegs with yet another Intuition. The Keg was cast, and Thoren played his own Intuition to get three Volcanic Islands. Obviously, both players were hesitant to make the first move and walk into countermagic, so they were using search spells to set up their hands to get ready for the opportunity to go for the combo once it presented itself. This waiting game would favor Benafel thanks to Thawing Glaciers and Gaea's Blessing.

Eventually, Thoren played his own Powder Keg, which would destroy Benafel's, which was preventing Sapphire Medallion from coming into play. Benafel decided to Counterspell it, and Thoren did not put up a fight. Thoren played another Keg a few turns later, and this time it resolved. Benafel drew into Treetop Village, which gave him a clock that Thoren could not counter. Additionally, Thoren already had a counter on his Keg, so killing the Village would require a second Keg. As a result, Thoren had to start working on getting the combo past Benafel's countermagic. Thoren used his Keg to blow up Benafel's, and played another Keg. Benafel came back with yet another Keg, which would blow up Thoren's in two turns, allowing the Village to go back on offense.

Meanwhile, Thoren went off with a few Accumulated Knowledges, gaining some card advantage. He decided to go for it, and played Illusions of Grandeur, which resolved. A second Illusions followed. Thoren tried to Donate one of them on the following turn, but Benafel responded with Accumulated Knowledge for five. A counterwar was then fought over the Donate, and was won by Benafel. Gaea's Blessing then targeted two Counterspells and a Gaea's Blessing. Thoren responded with Counterspell, and Benafel added his own to the stack. The counterwar continued, but Thoren eventually let it go, and the Blessing resolved.

Thoren untapped, and let one of his Illusions die, The problem was, he didn't have a Donate. The second one headed to the graveyard on the following turn. Thoren then tapped out for Stroke of Genius, and Benafel added Accumulated Knowledge for seven to the stack. This let him win the counterwar easily, and Thoren was left with only one card in hand. A second Treetop Village followed, and Benafel shuffled two Counterspells and Gaea's Blessing back into his deck, which only contained one other card. Both Villages attacked, and eventually did enough damage to give Benafel the first game.

Thoren- 0 Benafel- 1

Game 2

Even though the early game usually isn't relevant in this sort of matchup, it started out great for Benafel. He got two Thawing Glaciers, while Thoren missed his fourth land drop. However, Thore cast Intuition on end step, getting two Deep Analysis and a land. The land and an Analysis went to the graveyard, and Thoren drew into more lands, making the game a bit more even.

Thoren used Intuition to get Sapphire Medallion and then played it. The resulting counterwar was won by Benafel. Thoren then flashbacked Deep Analysis, and played Capsize with buyback a few turns later, which resolved after a huge counterwar that left Benafel tapped out except for one island. This cleared the way for Thoren to cast Deep Analysis, and flash it back. Intuition brought Thoren to two Illusions of Grandeur and a Morphling, and Benafel let him have an Illusions. After a few more turns the Illusions was played, and resolved.

Benafel cast Intuition on end step, getting two Roar of the Wurm and Accumulated Knowledge. Thoren let him keep one of the Roars. The other one was flashbacked, putting Thoren on a clock to either hand off the Illusions, or lose. Sure enough, Thoren cast Donate on the following turn, and it resolved. Benafel played Intuition on end step, and Thoren responded by casting Capsize with buyback on the Illusions.

Thoren- 1 Benafel- 1

At this point, the game was moved to the lobby of the hotel, as the tournament site closed down for the night. Unfortunately, it was raining outside, and Benafel's bag opened up as he ran to the hotel. It spilled out on the street, and a huge collection of expensive cards such as Foil Oath of Druids, Foil Arena Counterspells, Rishadan Ports, a full set of four Alpha Contract from Below, Foil Call of the Herd, Foil Shadowmage Infiltrator, many painlands and others were ruined. The final game was played in a corner of the hotel on a small table.

Game 3

Benafel opened with Thawing Glaciers, which had proven to be a big difference maker this match. Thoren played Sapphire Medallion turn two, and a second one was Counterspelled on turn three. Another Medallion was played and resolved. Thoren used Merchant Scroll to get Intuition, while Benafel played Powder Keg, and a Bottle Gnomes on the next turn. Thoren played the Intuition on end step, getting Pyroblast and two Deep Analysis, and kept Pyroblast. Deep Analysis was then flashbacked, Thoren then brought out Morphling, Powder Keg took out both Medallions, and Benafel tapped out to cast Roar of the Wurm. Thoren played his own Keg, which would be able to take out the token 6/6 creature without much of a problem. Still, Thoren wanted to hold it off since Benafel still had a Wurm to flash back.

The Wurm died to the Keg, and Pyroblast countered Benafel's Accumulated Knowledge. Roar of the Wurm was flashed back, and Thoren won the resulting counterwar. Benafel played a second Bottle Gnomes to buy some time, and played another Roar. Thoren added Intuition to the stack, getting a Counterspell to counter it. Morphling finished the job.

Final Result: Thoren- 2 Benafel- 1

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