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Grinder 2 Finals: David Chung vs. Paul Rietzl

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The last time Dave Chung was featured here on the Sideboard it was in the finals of the Neutral Ground/ Your Move Games $5000 Grudge Match. After four consecutive seasons of Neutral Ground winning local bragging rights, Chung let the final season's title fall into the hands of up and coming Lucas Galvin.

Chung was looking for some small measure of vindication here as he sat down in a do or die match against Paul Rietzl. Rietzl is one of YMG's new breed of players and also made it to the finals of fourth season of the Grudge Match where he fell to Eric Ziegler. He is also looking for vindication. In Chicago, Rietzl fell in the Top 8 of the Last Chance Qualifier in what, by default, is a heart breaking loss. He was staring at the same do or die situation after grueling rounds of play.

The two players had very different decks. Reitz's deck was a black-white powerhouse with Exalted Angel and Soul Collector. Even without those two bomb rares he still had solid creatures and removal. It is the type of deck you hope to receive in a sealed deck tournament. Chung's deck on the other hand...

Chung's deck is three colors—he had to pull good cards wherever he could find them. He does have a Butcher Orgg but its triple red in the casting cost could be prohibitive with three types of land to draw on. "How's your deck—rock solid?" asked Rietzl as they got underway.

Chung shrugged, "It got me here..."

Rietzl nodded, unsure what to make of that, "I had to beat Pat Sullivan last round. I felt bad 'cause I knew I would win. His deck was a three color special with some sub-standard cards."

Game 1

Chung got right into it with a Goblin Sledder but Rietzl had a Festering Goblin ready to trade. Rietzl had the next play—a Battlefield Medic. By the time Chung played a Wirewood Savage, word had gotten around about the pairing and several New York and Boston players began to drift over to pull for their local champion. Chung was already aware of the quality of his opponent's deck and when the Bostonian made a morph Chung could only groan, "Which bomb is under there?"

Symbiotic Elf joined Chung's team on the next turn. Rietzl did not play a fourth land before attacking with his morph. He also did not have triple black so he was clearly not showing Angel or Collector but Chung was wary and chose not to block. Rietzl played the fourth land and another morph after combat—prompting another unhappy sound from Chung.

Chung swung the Symbiotic Elf into the fresh morph and Rietzl blocked. When he attempted to use his Battlefield medic, Chung Solar Blasted the 1/1 and it prevented no damage. The 2/2's traded—the morph was Gravel Slinger—and Chung got a pair of bugs. The bugs jumped in the way of morph #1, which was revealed to be Jon Becker's 'favorite' card, the Liege of the Axe.

Chung used Erratic Explosion on the 3-toughness soldier, which prompted a "How lucky!" from Rietzl when Needleshot Gourna was flipped over. "I have heard that phrase quite a bit today," grinned Chung. It was Rietzl's turn to grin when he played a Prowling Pangolin and Chung forgot to draw a card.

After playing a morph, Lingering Death dealt with the black beast but Chung fell to 14 waiting for it to happen. Rietzl had a Lingering Death of his own for the Savage and he Pacified the morph.

The Savage got in for two points and Fierce Empath put a Butcher Orgg in Chung's hand. "That's my third opponent who has Fierced up a Butcher Orgg!" Unspoken in that statement was Rietzl's 5-0 record to this point. Sunstrike Legionnaire came down on his side and he passed back the turn with only two land drops standing between him and the Butcher Orgg.

Chung played a land and tapped out for a Treespring Lorian and Rietzl made a Harrier. Chung did not drop the dreaded land number seven but had a Goblin Clearcutter. Rietzl fell to 11 from the Lorian. The Harrier pecked Chung down to 10. Chung decided not to use the Clearcutter to get the Orgg into play and instead chose to swing with both his guys. Rietzl was on 3 and he banged on his deck, "THIS turn!!!" He found nothing, picked up his Pacifism and they began to shuffle.

Chung – 1 Rietzl – 0

Game 2

Dave Chung looked up from his shuffling to see the sunburned face of Lucas Galvin looking on from Reitz's side of the table, "I remember you..." Chung deadpanned.

Rietzl was grim, as he had no more games to give before elimination. He kicked things off with a Catapult Squad and a Gustcloak Harrier. Chung came back with a mystery man. Rietzl followed suit and Chung came back with Symbiotic Elf. Rietzl was tumbling on lands and cycled a Disciple of Grace before playing an Aven Farseer. He swung with the morph and the Harrier and Chung put his elf in the way of the mystery guy. Rietzl shot it with the Squad. Chung had a clear window to attack and sent one token and his own morph before casting Lingering Death on the morph and Empathing for Butcher Orgg. "Yup! Once again a NICE selection!"

Rietzl was out of land and he sent in everyone but the Catapult Squad. Chung blocked with the Empath and before damage Rietzl flipped up his Aphetto Exterminator to kill the morph on the sidelines of the skirmish—making his Farseer bigger in the process. Chung played his sixth land and a Needleshot Gourna, which drew another exaggerated roll of the eyes from the mana light Rietzl, "Every turn...he always plays the land he needs."

Rietzl found no fifth land waiting for him and could not attack into the Gourna. He enchanted it with Linger Death and grudgingly passed the turn back to Chung. Chung had the seventh land and played his Butcher Orgg with a big grin. Rietzl made a shoe of being angry, "I don't find this amusing! Not a bit!" He was still out of land and he just sent in the Harrier to drop Chung to 8. When Chung attacked with his Orgg, Rietzl revealed the ace up his sleeve—Gempalm Avenger. He was able to triple block the monster and first strike it to death.

Chung hoped to steal the win with an Unstable Hulk and an Erratic Explosion. Sensing something in the air, Rietzl blocked well enough that Chung needed a five point Explosion but he only hit Sparksmith.

Chung – 1 Rietzl – 1

Game 3

Rietzl: "If I lose here it won't be as bad as losing to Zadjner in the LCQ at Chicago."

Lucas Galvin could only shake his head in wonderment as Chung played three different land types on the first three turns for the second time in three games. His morph was Swatted on Rietzl's third turn—it was a Titanic Bulvox. Chung played another morph and Rietzl came back with Vile Deacon. The Deacon chose not to block and Chung morphed up his Venomspout Brackus and ate a fourth of Rietzl's life total. Prowling Pangolin threatened to keep the Brackus at bay but Chung had a morph and Lingering Death and took six before it died. Rietzl was feeling the pressure of the Venomspout and played out two morphs.

Chung thought long and hard on his turn. He was holding Smother and Scattershot and could kill both morphs but instead chose to attack his opponent down to 10. Rietzl flipped up his Exterminator on the next turn and tried to kill the morph. Chung morphed up his Treespring Lorian and it survived. Rietzl sent all of his guys in but Chung wasn't blocking. Rietzl could only shake his head sadly and start craning his neck toward the sign up line for the final Grinder. He played a Sunstrike Legionnaire and passed the turn back with Chung sitting on a tantalizing 3 life. Paul was at 10 with two five-power creatures staring him down.

Chung Smothered the morph that attacked last turn—it turned out to be Exalted Angel—and then Scatter Shot the Legionnaire. Everyone agreed that he targeted the wrong creatures with each spell but the result was the same...

Dave Chung ground into US Nationals and exorcised the ghosts of past feature matches.

Final Result: Chung - 2 Rietzl - 1

Paul Rietzl
Grinder #2 – Top 4

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