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Round 9 Draft: Phoenix Foundation vs. (3 x 1) -1 + 1

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Dominant.

That is the only word you can use to describe Phoenix Foundation's devastating run through the Team Rochester Draft format. They were riding a sixteen match winning streak at Pro Tour events coming into this round. As dominant a Pro Tour presence as team leader Kai Budde has been at individual Pro Tours, his performances with his wingmen Dirk Baberowski and recent Grand Prix champion Marco Blume has been nothing short of staggering.

When asked in a quick question about what it would take to derail Kai and company, Jon Finkel answered simply, "Random variance." Enter the random variance.

(3 x1) -1 +1 is pretty random as far as team names go. In fact, no one seems to know what it means. It was an early morning name change after the first choice was deemed too "unsavory" for the competition. Mike Long is the most recognizable name on the team followed closely by recently unbanned Justin Schneider and yet neither of them is sitting in the pilot seat for this event. Their B player--with the unappealing job of taking down Kai--is Mike Krzywicki. This unlikely trio ran roughshod over the competition at Grand Prix - Pittsburgh and was looking to put an impressive notch in their collective belts.

They needed the win for more than just bragging rights, though. They took a back-breaking draw in the previous round when Krzywicki's opponent stole the second game with an unexpected Brain Freeze. It should also be noted that Phoenix Foundation was not a lock for Sunday yet. They needed one more victory to lock their third straight Sunday appearance.

While many notable competitors had elected to "receive" in this tournament--most notably the CMU-TOGIT crew and Bob Maher's team--you have to lend the opposing point of view more than a little credence when Kai's team chooses to kick off, which is what happened this round.

Onslaught Pack One

Kai Budde Daru Lancer Crown of Vigor
Dirk Baberowski Daunting Defender Fever Charm
Justin Schneider Vitality Charm Invigorating Boon
Mike Krzywicki Barren Moor Demystify
Mike Long Serpentine Basilisk Mistform Stalker
Marco Blume Riptide Biologist Spined Basher

Onslaught Pack Two

Dirk Baberowski Kamahl, Fist of Krosa Goblin Burrows
Justin Schneider Elvish Warrior Run Wild
Mike Krzywicki Glory Seeker Profane Prayers
Mike Long Choking Tethers Disruptive Pitmage
Marco Blume Tranquil Thicket Wretched Anurid
Kai Budde Crown of Suspicion Cabal Executioner

Onslaught Pack Three

Justin Schneider Spitting Gourna
Mike Krzywicki Jareth, Leonine Titan
Mike Long Shock
Marco Blume Imagecrafter Backslide
Kai Budde Dirge of Dread Disciple of Grace
Dirk Baberowski Daru Cavalier Chain of Vapor

Onslaught Pack Four

Mike Krzywicki Inspirit
Mike Long Shock
Marco Blume Read the Runes Headhunter
Kai Budde Screeching Buzzard Fallen Cleric
Dirk Baberowski Shieldmage Elder Mage's Guile
Justin Schneider Secluded Steppe Charging Slateback

Onslaught Pack Five

Mike Long Mistform Skyreaver Foothill Guide
Marco Blume Centaur Glade Skirk Prospector
Kai Budde Cruel Revival Unified Strike
Dirk Baberowski Vitality Charm Annex
Justin Schneider Spitting Gourna Erratic Explosion
Mike Krzywicki Shepherd of Rot Riptide Biologist

Onslaught Pack Six

Marco Blume Choking Tethers
Kai Budde Cruel Revival Crown of Suspicion
Dirk Baberowski Grassland Crusader Demystify
Justin Schneider Cover of Darkness Haunted Cadaver
Mike Krzywicki Daru Lancer Crude Ramparts
Mike Long Charging Slateback Aphetto Grifter

Legions Pack One

Marco Blume Keeneye Aven
Mike Long Skirk Marauder Blade Sliver
Mike Krzywicki Daru Stinger Wall of Hope
Justin Schneider Lavaborn Muse Berserk Murlodant
Dirk Baberowski Nantuko Vigilante Skirk Outrider
Kai Budde Withered Wretch Infernal Caretaker

Legions Pack Two

Mike Long Goblin Clearcutter Voidmage Apprentice
Mike Krzywicki Aven Redeemer Hunter Sliver
Justin Schneider Feral Throwback Goblin Grappler
Dirk Baberowski Liege of the Axe Glintwing Invoker
Kai Budde Smokespew Invoker Shaleskin Plower
Marco Blume Primoc Escapee Patron of the Wild

Legions Pack Three

Mike Krzywicki Wingbeat Warrior Goblin Turncoat
Justin Schneider Skirk Marauder Bloodstoke Howler
Dirk Baberowski Keeneye Aven Crookclaw Elder
Kai Budde Corpse Harvester Embalmed Brawler
Marco Blume Seedborn Muse Nantuko Vigilante
Mike Long Daru Stinger Patron of the Wild

Legions Pack Four

Justin Schneider Aven Warhawk Bloodstoke Howler
Dirk Baberowski Wingbeat Warrior Blade Sliver
Kai Budde Graveborn Muse Goblin Turncoat
Marco Blume Patron of the Wild Glowering Rogon
Mike Long Mistform Wakecaster Infernal Caretaker
Mike Krzywicki Gempalm Avenger Starlight Invoker

Legions Pack Five

Dirk Baberowski Primoc Escapee Berserk Murlodant
Kai Budde Wingbeat Warrior Goblin Turncoat
Marco Blume Wirewood Channeler Glowering Rogon
Mike Long Riptide Director Skirk Drill Sergeant
Mike Krzywicki Starlight Invoker Infernal Caretaker
Justin Schneider Krosan Vorine Patron of the Wild

Legions Pack Six

Kai Budde Aven Redeemer Whipgrass Entangler
Marco Blume Timberwatch Elf Nantuko Vigilante
Mike Long Echo Tracer Daru Sanctifier
Mike Krzywicki Smokespew Invoker Gempalm Polluter
Justin Schneider Goblin Goon Frenetic Raptor
Dirk Baberowski Deftblade Elite Willbender

Scourge Pack One

Kai Budde Lingering Death
Dirk Baberowski Aven Farseer Temple of the False God
Justin Schneider Root Elemental Krosan Drover
Mike Krzywicki Chill Haunting Reaping the Graves
Mike Long Scattershot Hindering Touch
Marco Blume Dispersal Shield Frontline Strategist

Scourge Pack Two

Dirk Baberowski Zombie Cutthroat
Justin Schneider Chill Haunting
Mike Krzywicki Soul Collector
Mike Long Frozen Solid
Marco Blume Riptide Survivor
Kai Budde Zealous Inquisitor

Scourge Pack Three

Justin Schneider Root Elemental
Mike Krzywicki Lingering Death
Mike Long Shoreline Ranger
Marco Blume Chill Haunting
Kai Budde Bonethorn Valesk Karona's Zealot
Dirk Baberowski Noble Templar Daru Spiritualist

Scourge Pack Four

Mike Krzywicki Dragon Scales
Mike Long Zombie Cutthroat
Marco Blume Frozen Solid Temporal Fissure
Kai Budde Torrent of Fire Goblin Warchief
Dirk Baberowski Zealous Inquisitor Thundercloud Elemental
Justin Schneider Spark Spray Death-Head's Buzzard

Scourge Pack Five

Mike Long Siege-Gang Commander
Marco Blume Rush of Knowledge
Kai Budde Vengeful Dead
Dirk Baberowski Zealous Inquisitor
Justin Schneider Scattershot Wirewood Guardian
Mike Krzywicki Karona's Zealot Dragon Shadow

Scourge Pack Six

Marco Blume Rush of Knowledge
Kai Budde Zombie Cutthroat
Dirk Baberowski Dragon Scales
Justin Schneider Root Elemental Accelerated Mutation
Mike Krzywicki Aven Liberator Karona's Zealot
Mike Long Rock Jockey Goblin Warchief

After the draft was over, everyone who was gathered along the rail agreed on one thing. Random variance was looming over the Phoenix Foundation like Warren Sapp staring down a gimpy offensive lineman. They didn't make any glaring mistakes in the draft, but they were significantly out-opened. "I have literally never played in a draft like this in anny format," said a stunned Dirk moments after the draft. "Kai is winning, but we're about to lose. If we do win it is not going to be on my shoulders, I'll tell you that."

When asked about the draft, Marco just shook his head slowly with a look of embarrassment. When pushed for a comment on what exactly he felt was missing to make his deck better he shrugged, "Even a Coast Watcher would have been nice." He was somewhat surprised at some of the draft errors he felt that his opponent made. His only hope to win was his Centaur Glade and yet they let him get Nantuko Vigilante after Vigilante on the way back.

Everyone agreed that Kai had a favorable matchup, but Kai was quick to downgrade it from "very good" to a mere "good" matchup. Several spectators suggested that (3 x 1) -1 +1 had erred when they counter-drafted an Aven Warhawk form Dirk instead of a Graveborn Muse from Kai, but he disagreed. He believed that the Bird was a better card and that it would have given Dirk a shot in an otherwise hopeless match.

"Mike Long's deck is retarded!" -- Kai Budde

When asked about what cards he would have liked his team to see in order to swing the odds his team's way Kai laughed, "Siege-Gang Commander and a pair of Shocks maybe. All the stuff they opened."

(3 x 1) -1 +1 was less optimistic about their matchups. Justin was apprehensive about his chances against Marco. "His deck is good--he has two Rush of Knowledge and a Choking Tethers," complained Justin.

"Those two Rush of Knowledge at the end were pretty hard," was Mike Long's assessment while examining the Siege-Gang that had allowed the first Rush to get to Marco. "I don't pass this guy right?"

Krzywicki was adamant that you do not pass Siege-Gang and explained simply, "Rush of Knowledge helps you win games, but this guy flat out wins them." Despite Jareth and Soul Collector, he was not looking forward to facing Kai's deck. "He was just cutting red cards toward the end because his deck is so ridiculous!"

Long was pretty confident in his matchup but he had one concern, "I would gladly trade my Cutthroat for Dirk's Cutthroat--his is soooo much better than mine because I have all these quick beats." Mike was referring mainly to a pair of Goblin Brigands.

With apparently lopsided matches in Mike Long and Kai Budde's favor, it appeared as though the outcome of the overall match would come down to Justin and Marco. Mike tried to talk it up to the glum Schneider, "He's blue-green, and you should have an excellent chance. You know what card he can't deal with? Feral Throwback."

Perhaps Justin was regretting those Nantuko Vigilantes when he came back with a dour, "Yes, he can. He has Frozen Solid."

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