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Gateway Final: Outland vs. www.shop-fireball.com

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It's a big day for the boys from Norway. Having split the members of the original Outland in order to front two teams at Pro Tour – Boston, they wound up taking eleventh and nineteenth. Now those two teams stand just one draft away from qualifying for the Team Masters here in Venice. Standing in the way of Nicolai Herzog, Eivind Nitter and Bjorn Jocumsen are three of Japan's finest: Tsuyoshi Ikeda, Jin Okamoto, and Jun Nobushita. They are www.shop-fireball.com.

Game 1

Herzog looked bemused as he made no third turn play against Okamoto, but his gambit was revealed when he answered a morph with Chain of Plasma. Ascending Aven and Riptide Shapeshifter followed. Okamoto did not draw a fifth land, and so was unable to bust the 'Shifter with Crested Craghorn. Solar Blast had to suffice. Herzog looked over to see how teammate Eivind Nitter was doing.

He was met with a disappointed shrug. "What can I do?" lamented Nitter. His three plains weren't faring so well against Tsuyoshi Ikeda's many lands, Wretched Anurid and Berzerk Murlodont. By the time he had a pair of morphs on the table Ikeda's forces had grown to "insurmountable", and they started shuffling for Game 2.

Both Jun Nobushita and Bjorn Jocumsen had drawn their fair share of land. After a few brief skirmishes the board had stabilized with Ikeda's pair of Gravel Slingers and Planar Guide staring back at Timberwatch Elf and Stonewood Invoker. Jocumsen's wealth of land turned to a boon as he laid his eighth land, turning on the Invoker.

Meanwhile, Herzog had managed to take Game 1 when Macetail Hystrodon gave him the extra tempo he needed to outrace Okamoto with his Aven. Along the way he'd managed to forget about the possibility of Broodhatch Nantuko when he hit one of Okamoto's morphs with Pinpoint Avalanche. It didn't matter, as Okamoto couldn't answer the flier.

Game 2 between Herzog and Okamoto was short and sweet. Okamoto opened with Sparksmith and Skirk Drill Sergeant, and Herzog never got above three lands. Herzog scooped rather than draw it out. It also coincided with an end to the agony between Nobushita and Jocumsen. Jocumsen had drawn his second Timberwatch Elf, meaning that he'd be free to let his gigantic Invoker run offense. Nobushita soon scooped.

Ikeda gave the first match win to Shop-Fireball by dominating his second game against Nitter. Double Misery Charm in the grip shut down Nitter's first two plays of Battlefield Medic and Aven Redeemer. Meanwhile Wretched Anurid was bringing the beats. A pair of Krosan Vorines took down a pair of monsters and then Snarling Undorak showed up. Shop-Fireball were ahead.

Shop-Fireball 1 – Outland 0

Game 2

Herzog kicked off the deciding game against Okamoto with Ghosthelm Courier, quickly shot down by a cycled Solar Blast. That was all fine, though, as Herzog again had the mighty Ascending Aven. They matched morphs, and Crested Craghorn busted up Elvish Soulkiller. Already that far ahead, Herzog still held Chain of Plasma and Choking Tethers. Okamoto was unable to stop the flier. He tried Shaleskin Bruiser, but that just gave Herzog the time to add Covert Operative to his clock. The Tethers earned a frown from Okamoto, and left him defenseless. The Chain finished him.

Shop-Fireball 1 – Outland 1

Game 3

If there's two elves you don't want to let go unanswered, they're Timberwatch Elf and Wirewood Savage. Nobushita had let Jocumsen untap with both in play on his side. Then things started to get ugly. Snapping Thragg came down for Jocumsen, and Nobushita had to answer with one of his own, giving Jocumsen a card. Jocumsen played another Thragg. Then Leery Fogbeast. Then another Timberwatch Elf. Nobushita tried to match him with Gravel Slinger and Lowland Tracker, but it wasn't happening. With both Elves online, Jocumsen was ready to start hitting with his Thraggs. Two hits and Nobushita knew it was hopeless, giving Outland the berth at the Team Masters.

Final Result: Outland defeats www.shop-fireball.com 2-1

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