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Round 2: (3 x 1)-1+1 vs. My Giants

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As Round 2 started amidst the hubbub of three hundred milling players, the name placards for these two teams had not yet be delivered to the feature match area. This might normally cause a small problem, but with faces this recognizable on both sides of the table, the nameplates are really just a formality, something to help the audience keep score. It's the team of Ed Fear (his formerly flowing locks partially shorn for this event), Ken Krouner, and Michael Pustilnik doing battle against the notorious Justin Schneider, Mike Krzywicki, and a guy you might have heard about -- the often imitated, never duplicated Mike Long.

"We're playing three suspect decks," remarked Ed Fear, in what was probably the only semi-strategy related remark in the first five minutes of the round. If Long, Krzywicki, and Schneider had any overall opinion about their decks, they weren't telling.

With both teams at 1-0 coming into this round, there was some semblance of stoicism at the table, but not enough to interrupt the endless banter from Fast Eddie Fear's position in the B seat. Unfortunately for the goatee-sporting showman, Mike Krzywicki was blasting out of the gates with three early creatures against his board of nothing, so Ed needed some action to back up his chatter -- action that his deck wasn't providing.

Fear's teammate Mike Pustilnik was up in his match in the early going, with plenty of Elf action facing down the landscrew-afflicted board of his opponent. The army, consisting of Wellwisher, Elvish Warrior, Stonewood Invoker and Elven Riders, was sent into the red zone each turn, backed by combat tricks such as Vitality Charm. Tight on land and never able to play more than one creature at a time, Schneider was always one punch behind, and it wasn't long before he and the good doctor were shuffling up for Game 2.

Schneider 0 - Pustilnik 1
(3 x 1)-1+1 0 - My Giants 0

Justin, obviously frustrated with his poor land draws, did mention to this reporter and to his opponent that he believed Mikey P had misplayed the game despite his victory. Still, things weren't looking all bad for the (3 x 1)-1+1 team. Almost as quickly as Schneider had dropped his first game, Mike Krzywicki had taken his from Ed Fear, who found himself, like Justin, playing out his one creature per turn against a constantly attacking opponent with tricks and a hot hand on the play. Any player will tell you that there is only so much you can do to stem that tide.

Krzywicki 1 - Fear 0
(3 x 1)-1+1 0 - My Giants 0

Ed explained his deck this way: "My deck is the worst blue-white deck possible, with Eternal Dragon and Astral Slide. It's running such platinum hits as Seaside Haven." Getting into the details with a trademark flourish, Ed elaborated on his defeat by explaining Krzywicki's draw:

"He played turn 2 Aven Farseer, turn 3 morph, turn 4 unmorph Whipcorder and play morph, turn 5 flier, turn 6 Visara. It was like 'ramp right up to Visara.'"

Beyond those two players, nearest to the Feature Match sign, Ken Krouner and Mike Long, who once referred to himself on video as "The Michael Jordan of Magic," were deadlocked in a tense Game 1. The board looked even at first glance, but upon closer inspection, "KK" (as he is affectionately known) was at a big advantage despite the creature parity. His Boneknitter was making attack and defense extremely difficult for a landflooded Long, and the fact that one of Krouner's lands was Unholy Grotto only compounded the problem. After studying the board for a few moments, Long, down on life and out of options, could only slam his hand of lands on the table and shuffle up for Game 2.

Long 0 - Krouner 1
(3 x 1)-1+1 0 - My Giants 0

KK was quick to update his team. "I'm up a game, though if he draws less than 1,000 lands I might have a problem."

Long, with the ease of an old pro, was already collecting himself for Game 2. "That was frustrating," was all he had to say. Ken could only nod in agreement.

"That didn't look like much fun for you," offered Krouner. "The fact that I could draw a 4/2 regenerator every turn was pretty nice." KK was referring to his Boneknitter and Grotto-powered Fallen Cleric, an absolute monster under the circumstances. Long's resolve was bolstered by some "nice" news of his own, though -- Schneider had rolled over Mikey P with a quick draw, evening his match.

Schneider 1 - Pustilnik 1
(3 x 1)-1+1 0 - My Giants 0

Long was quick out of the blocks with a Fierce Empath for Krosan Tusker in Game 2, and he found the Swamp for a Nantuko Husk soon afterward. The Empath, having already done his searching job, was good food for the Zombie Insect should the need arise.

Krouner was able to reply with a somewhat unspectacular Embalmed Brawler, which was bittersweet not only because it was un-amplified, but because at the exact moment he announced the spell, Ed Fear dropped his second game to Krzywicki and his Visara, putting My Giants under the gun.

Krzywicki 2 - Fear 0
(3 x 1)-1+1 1 - My Giants 0

Long compounded Ken's troubles with a Sootfeather Flock, and Krouner, with many options in hand including Feeding Frenzy and Swat, lapsed into thought.

Alas, his play would be irrelevant.

At the other end of the table, Pustilnik was in serious trouble against Schneider in Game 3, with his lone Elven Riders facing down Justin's board of Battering Craghorn, Clone of Battering Craghorn, Goblin Brigand, and morph. After a flurry of trading creatures and removal in the early game, the Craghorns were an insurmountable problem for Mikey P, who was playing a fat-filled deck with efficient creatures, but precious little in the way of kill. Schneider needed no encouragement to press the advantage, and his subsequent attack step reduced Mikey's board to nothing and his life to 1, and then it was Justin who extended the hand.

Ed Fear piped up to downplay the idea that it was over. "Don't extend the hand yet, dude -- there's like 35 cards he could draw to beat you." Unfortunately for his bespectacled teammate, Ed was joking around. The match went to Schneider on the next turn.

Schneider 2 - Pustilnik 1

Final Result: (3 x 1)-1+1 defeats My Giants 2-0

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