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Round 13: Bill Stead vs. Nicolai Herzog

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Bill Stead is only competing in his second Pro Tour but has some high level experience with a Grand Prix win in New Orleans. Nicolai Herzog is a former European Champion and an established Norwegian Pro Player.

This is crunch time. Both players have three losses. They need to win out to make the Top 8.

Herzog is playing white-black while Stead has blue-black.

The first game was over before it began as a judge came over and pointed out that Stead had forgotten to mark the Torment cards for his sideboard in the colours he wasn't playing. As it was a sideboard error this was a game loss rather than a heartbreaking (at this late stage) match loss.

This gave him the choice of whether to play or draw. He went first and a Mesmeric Fiend revealed Herzog had a hand full of creature enhancers and only one creature – an Aven Flock. Unsurprisingly Stead chose to take the creature.

The Fiend nibbled away for a few turns while Stead set up defences with a Dreamwinder.

There was a humourous little nightmare exchange as Herzog used a Butcher to suck under the Fiend and get back his Flock only for the positions to be reversed when Stead used a Dematerialise to return the Butcher to Herzog's hand.

"You have so many creature enchantments," Stead said.

"Torment was not good for me as you may have noticed," Herzog replied.

Stead built up a force of Rotting Giant, Dusk Imp and then a Cephalid Looter while Herzog summoned the Flock and cracked an egg to find a Mystic Crusader.

Stead decided he wanted to go aggro with the Dreamwinder and sac'ed an island to allow it to attack. It only cost Herzog his Bog Wreckage to block with the Flock for no damage.

Herzog enchanted his Mystic Crusader with a Strength of Isolation and decided it was time to start swinging with the Flock.

Stead was looking more in command as the Looter got active and replaced the extra land in the American's hand with better cards. An Aven Fisher tipped the race through the air in his favour.

Herzog did have a Healer now and he sent the enchanted Crusader into the red zone. Stead tried blocking it with both Fisher and Dreamwinder only for a Pay no Heed to save the Crusader after dispatching the Dreamwinder.

Stead tried to Churning Eddy the Shade's Form enchanted Aven Flock. Herzog countered with Shelter.

Stead tried to Churning Eddy the Shade's Form enchanted Aven Flock. Herzog countered with a Shelter. Déjà vu anyone?

Herzog was now looking the one in control as both the Crusader and Aven Flock pecked away now. A Mystic Familiar with Tattoo Ward was left on defence.

Stead shut down the Healer with Stupefying Touch but Herzog was in attack mode with his fliers and that was where Stead needed to focus his forces. A Balshan Collaborator seemed a little too late and all of Stead's other fliers looked too small. He had to chump with a Fisher.

Stead chose to go out fighting and threw the Collaborator and Rotting Giant into the red zone. Herzog blocked the Giant with an Angelic Wall and took 2 damage to go down to 11.

Stead was at 3 and facing fliers. He needed more life. Morbid Hunger on the Healer was the only real way to do it.

But this tapped him out and only put him to 6. Herzog was able to sacrifice the Tattoo Ward to gain threshold and then attack with 6 damage worth of unblockable pro-black creatures.

The Shelters had been key as Stead had wanted to follow the Churning Eddy with Standstill.

Final Result: Nicolai Herzog beat Bill Stead 2-0

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