Sunday, August 28: 11:21 am - The Top 8 Decklists
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
J. Evan Dean
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Top 8 Canadian National 2005
Sunday, August 28: 12:07 pm - The Top 8 Profiles
With a philosophy that puts drinking before playing, it's no surprise that Mike has an interesting history at Canadian Nationals. He has been close to the top eight several times, always falling just short. His previous best finish at Nationals is 9th, where he missed the first round of day two due to a hangover and proceeded to go undefeated despite knowing he couldn't make it. On Saturday, he and Elijah Pollock showed up not feeling their best after another visit to the bars, and he was planning on making it a perfect record by going out again last night rather than do any testing. Mike got the last ratings invite to Nationals, and naturally cites his best accomplishment as playing well while smashed. That means he's probably a lock to win it all.
Jason is from Manitoba and qualified through Regionals there. Like most of the top eight, Jason is playing rats. He decided on the deck at the last minute based on its success in the grinders and it looks like he made the right choice. Jason hasn't been to any international events, but this is his second Canadian Nationals. Last year he went 5-3-1, drop, so he's already improved on that performance, but I'm sure he's not satisfied yet.
Adam is representing Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this weekend, where he qualified through Regionals. He has been at the top of the standings all weekend, finishing up at 9-1-2 overall. He was undefeated in the swiss playing rats and only dropped one match in the draft. Rats was his deck of choice simply because, "it's the best deck." Being matched up against Blue Tron in the first round, it looks like a good bet that Adam will have a chance continue his success at worlds.
Kyle is the de facto leader of the three Ontario players in the top eight this weekend. He is perhaps best known as a writer for one of the major Magic websites. Kyle decided early on that rats was the way to go, and his list has significant innovations. He uses not only the ubiquitous Hypnotic Spectre, but also Blackmail from Ninth Edition. As he points out, with all of the discard in Rats Blackmail becomes Coercion very quickly. As the only selective discard in the deck, Blackmail is key in relieving decks of their most important answer to the rat swarm. Kyle placed 10th at Grand Prix Detroit and played at PT London this season. He has made nine PTQ top eights without winning a slot. Two years ago he placed 12th at Nationals.
Evan is a talkative player from Toronto, always looking to jump into conversations with a quick joke. Clearly happy to be here, Evan qualified through rating and "barned" his deck off Kyle. Kyle gave him the decklist, told him how to play the various matchups, and even gave him the sideboard swaps. He made only one change to the deck - swapping Tomb of Urami in for a Swamp at the last minute. Ironically, this change allowed him to beat Kyle when they played during the Swiss. Given that most or all of his opponents
will be playing rats, this might be a sign of good things to come.
Tyler is one of the underdogs on Sunday, with the unenviable prospect of having to beat three Rats decks if he wants to take the crown. The Calgary native is just back from the JSS and managed to grind in to Nationals. He decided to play Blue Tron based on its success at US Nationals. "I liked De Rosa's build, but his deck had some problems I thought I could fix." There's nothing like the confidence of youth. His major changes were removing the Extraction plan, upping the number of Triskelions and adding Meloku to the deck. Tyler plays at Valley of the Mage in Okotoks, just south of Calgary, and would like to thank Brynn Holstock for help with his deck.
Paul, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, also ground into Nationals with Blue Tron. Paul's only international event was GP Minneapolis in 2001, but he is a veteran of many Canadian Nationals. Three times including this weekend Paul has managed to grind into the main event in the last grinder. That's perhaps not as impressive as it would be in the US, but it's still quite something. Paul chose Blue Tron because he's a control player at heart. His only change to the deck was to play Tidings over Concentrate, a popular choice this weekend. He beat some rats decks in the grinders and in the swiss, losing to some as well, so this matchup isn't hopeless for him. He didn't seem too excited about it either, though.
Sunday, August 28: 12:31 pm - Quarterfinals: Derek Denholm (Viridian Rats) vs. Tyler Blum (BlueTooth)
Throughout Saturday's action the Rat pack was slavering at the prospect of playing against Mono-Blue Tron deck. The commonly held belief among the Rat players seemed to be that they were heavily favored in any control match-up. Overnight playtesting did not necessarily bear that out. At least one spectator chided Saturday's coverage claiming that the rat deck was close to a 70% underdog in the match-up due to Sensei's Divining Top.
I can only go by what the players tell me. There was a distinctive swagger to the Rat Pack on Saturday - they might as well have been Frankie, Sam, and Deano lounging in the feature match area between rounds and fantasizing about who would get the lucky draw of playing one of the blue tron players.
Some of the swagger had gone out of their step this morning as they looked at their match-ups in harsh light of playtesting.
This match-up was particularly interesting because it featured two of the youngest competitors in the whole tournament. Tyler is fifteen and Derek is fourteen and combined they don't even come close to adding up to the age of this graying coverage reporter. Tyler is fresh off of a low hundred placing at the JSS Championships. Derek did not attend the JSS instead opting to come to Canadian Nationals. Both players were eager to win this match and despite their youth were both definitive that they would be attending Worlds in Japan.
Tyler led off with Chrome Mox and an Urza's Land which allowed him to Condescend Derek's Aether Vial. A second Aether Vial resolved on turn two as did Blackmail. Tyler cast Thirst for Knowledge in response and pitched a Mindslaver. He showed Derek two Urza pieces and Echoing Truth - he lost the Truth.
Derek was a little tight on lands and missed his third drop. Nezumi Shortfang made a brief appearance but Tyler Thirsted into his tron and smoked it with his Triskelion. Derek tried to Rend the little bugger but Tyler had Condescend. Ravenous Rats hit the table via the Vial and Tyler lost another land.
Derek had another Rend Flesh but Tyler was able to shoot both the Rat and Derek and Echoing Truth the Triskelion back to his hand. Tyler was out of cards other than the Trike but he ripped Mindslaver and took Derek's next turn. Derek Vialed out Hypnotic Specter EOT. All Tyler could really do was nudge the Vial up to four counters and tap Derek out.
Tyler played Sensei's Divining Top and looked at the top three cards, replayed the Trike and sent the turn back over to Derek with no cards in hand. Derek ripped another Rend Flesh and the Hippie died and Derek took one. Tyler had another Triskelion floating near the top of his deck - Derek slumped when he played it. When Tyler played Memnarch on the following turn, he conceded.
Tyler - 1 Derek - 0
Derek mulliganed his opening hand and seemed to be feeling the pressure of losing in what is supposed to be his deck's best match-up. He slammed his next set of six back on top of his library and was down to five on the play before he found something he could work with. Tyler seemed confidant when he announced that he would be keeping his seven.
Derek made no plays save land over his first two turns while Tyler cast Serum Visions on turn one and showed Mana Leak as he passed the turn. Blackmail took Thirst for Knowledge over two Echoing Truths and his Shortfang was Leaked. Tyler's Sensei's Divining Top left him only two mana up and he allowed Hypnotic Specter to hit the table while he looked for better answers than the two Echoing Truth he was holding.
Tyler sent the Hippie back twice but kept letting it resolve on its return flight. Finally he topped into Triskelion. He allowed the Specter to live and discarded his third Echoing Truth when it hit. Derek Naturalized the Antiquities reprint and Tyler shot it out of the sky but he was out of cards. Fortunately he had the Top which kept churning gas to the top for him.
Derek had another Specter and Tyler trumped it with Meloku. Two lands traded with Hippie and a vanilla Chittering Rats got in for two. The next Chittering Rats was a little better with a few cards in hand but Tyler had Thirst for Knowledge at the ready. Ravenous Rats gnawed a land from his hand.
Shaman swung and missed at the Top but now had three 2/2s and a pair of Blinkmoths to make an offensive push with. Tyler just had his Top and his Meloku. He returned two lands to kill one Chittering Rat but took six in the process. The score was 11 to 6 in favor of the Rats.
Tyler had to keep his Meloku back on guard duty and Derek did the same with his rat army. Tyler's top finally delivered the goods as he climbed back to six mana and played Triskelion. Meloku went back on the warpath and the best Derek could do was chump with his Blinkmoth.
Derek ripped a Pithing Needle and Tyler had to make a decision. He returned one land to make a flier and chose not to shoot anything with his fully loaded Trike. Derek named Triskelion. Meloku just kept beating and finally when Derek was within range of an alpha strike and the top of his deck delivered only a Swamp he conceded.
"I'll play," he sighed; suddenly down two games to nothing.
Tyler - 2 Derek - 0
No mulligans from either player this game although Derek did lead off with Blackmail. He took Meloku over two Annuls. He followed with Nezumi Shortfang, "I got a real hand this game."
Tyler played a Top and lost an Annul to the Shortfang. Another Blackmail took an Urza piece when offered a selection of two Mines and an Annul. He pitched that Annul to the Shortfang and was then faced with a Pithing Needle and no answer. Derek named Top.
Derek played a second Shortfang. Tyler topdecked Meloku but it was promptly killed with Rend Flesh. Derek also flipped a Shortfang and played a second Needle naming Triskelion. He even got to reload with Night's Whisper. Tyler managed a Solemn Simulacrum but Stabwhisker was taking its toll. The game was over in pretty short order.
Tyler - 2 Derek - 1
Derek was all business as he made some minor sideboard adjustments and shuffled fast and furiously. The only sound was Derek breathing through his nose as he tried to keep his emotions in check. Finally the tension was broken as a comment from the Handfield/Olynyk match drifted over.
Jason: "I was hoping you wouldn't draw Jitte."
The two competitors laughed and
Derek offered a turn two Ravenous Rats and Tyler Condescended. Pithing Needle was Annuled but Tyler had only one blue source in play and could not do anything Nezumi Shortfang. He Echoing Truthed it on his turn and Mana Leaked on the way back down. Derek took that window of opportunity to reload with Night's Whisper. Solemn Simulacrum hit play for Blum.
Chittering Rats put the last card from Tyler's hand back on top of his library and it was clear for another Shortfang. Tyler untapped and played Mindslaver but did not have the tron and could not activate it. Derek's Shaman sat on the Mindslaver. During Tyler's drawstep Nezumi Shortfang grew into Stabwhisker. The game went on for a few more turns but Tyler wasn't really involved in it in any meaningful way.
"That was rough," sighed Tyler as Derek adjusted the scoreboard to reflect his second win. The table judge thanked him for the assist and a relieved Derek smiled, "It was no problem."
Tyler - 2 Derek - 2
"Hmmmmmm…sure," grimaced Tyler as he decided to keep his opening hand. Derek was faced with a one-lander. He had no turn one plays and no Vial in sight. He finally decided to mulligan and sighed with relief as he peeled back the top cards of his deck and saw no more land was coming for three turns.
"This is my fifth mulligan."
Actually it was his third but it must have felt like his fifth. He kept his next hand with a pair of lands but no aggressive plays. He had a second turn Blackmail and Tyler offered him two lands and Echoing Truth - Derek took the spell.
Chittering Rats was Condescended as was Shortfang on the next turn. Meloku saw play on turn five and was met with Rend Flesh. Tyler stopped on five lands but was able to AnnulPithing Needle. Derek was holding a pair of Shamans waiting for them to become useful. Blackmail took Triskelion over Echoing Truth and Mana Leak - mildly curious I thought.
A Viridian came down with no targets. Tyler dropped his tron and played a freshly ripped Triskelion. "You rip so good…the tron…and then your second Triskelion."
"I tell my deck what to do."
Triskelion swung in for the first damage of the game - on turn 10 no less. Cranial Extraction drew the Mana Leak from Tyler. He took two from the Shaman on the next turn and then proceeded to break Derek's spirit with Sensei's Divining Top which he parlayed into Meloku.
Derek still had some game left though. He drew Rend Flesh for the androgynous legend and still had mana left over to Shaman the Trike. Tyler replayed the Top and Derek shook his head, "You can't have another Triskelion. You can't."
Tyler defied him and flipped his top into a third Trike. "How can you have so many Triskelions?"
"You looked at my decklist didn't you?"
Derek offered token resistance but was soon defeated. Tyler was now qualified for Worlds and would be advancing to the semifinals to fight for a berth on the National team.
Tyler - 3 Derek - 2
Sunday, August 28: 12:40 pm - Quarterfinals: Adam Hein (Viridian Rats) vs. Paul Thiessen (BlueTooth)
At the end of Saturday, Adam was put as a heavy favorite to be qualified for the team as Blue Tron is supposed to be a big underdog to Rats. It seemed a fitting reward for having such a great run in the Swiss. The two players shuffled quickly and quietly, in contrast to the chatter coming from buddies Evan Dean and Kyle Smith behind us. No matter how this match goes it probably won't be quick.
Adam started with Pithing Needle on Triskelion. Paul also has a first turn play of Serum Visions, so this could be a game. Rats decks always have a second turn Ravenous Rats to play it seems and Adam proved no exception. Paul discarded a now-impotent Triskelion and played a Sensei's Divining Top on his turn. Adam attacked with his rats and passed, sitting on Rend Fleshes and Viridian Shamans. Can Rats win the control game against Tron?
Adam managed a Blinkmoth Nexus on his next turn and pondered, eventually playing Nekrataal. It seems like a safe play given the two Rend Flesh in hand. Paul thought about responding but finally allowed the overpriced 2/1 into play. He topped and Thirsted at the end of Adam's turn, discarding Top.
Both players were playing quietly and confidently, without any long pauses. Both probably know this match-up well enough by now that most of their decisions are almost automatic. Paul did pause on his next turn for a few seconds after completing the tron and sighed before passing it back over to Adam though. Adam drew a Night's Whisper and also paused for a while before playing it. Paul had Condescend. Adam's attack took Paul down to 13, but the tron couldn't bode well for him.
Paul had Trike next. It couldn't be use to shoot anything, but it would serve as an effective blocker in theory. With two Shamans and Rend Fleshes in hand, Adam's only choice was how to kill it. He opted for Shaman first. Paul had another Condescend. Adam had to pass. He had only four land and couldn't manage multiple threats each turn.
Adam then swung in with Trike and paused for a think again. He played Mindslaver and used it. Now it was Adam's turn to sigh. Paul saw Jitte, Shaman, two Rend Flesh, and Pithing Needle. He played the Shaman to kill the Needle and played Needle naming Umezawa's Jitte. That looked like the best way to play it, though the Trike attack seemed a little odd as he could have gotten a free kill of the Nekrataal if he had left it untapped.
Paul attacked again with Trike and Adam team blocked it. All Adam's creatures traded with the Trike. Paul then played Tidings. This game looked well in hand and Adam didn't look at all happy.
Adam began attacking with the Nexus and played another. He had little of use while Paul had a full hand. Another Mindslaver hit and was used. Rend Flesh took out Blinkmoth Nexus. Play a creature and end the pain Paul! He played Triskelion. Adam was at nine from various pain land activations and Trike attacks. Adam's Needle was Condescended. Then Rend Flesh. I think he was just bored now, waiting for the end. It came quickly.
Paul - 1 Adam - 0
Both players kept. Adam got off to a solid start with Aether Vial and Night's Whisper. Paul had two tron pieces and a Talisman of Dominance.
A Jitte hit the board on turn three. Solemn Simulacrum came out for Paul and put him up on land. Adam had no two drop from the Vial. He Whispered again. It finally gave him a threat in Chittering Rats. He followed it up with Pithing Needle on Meloku. Jitte went on Rats and they traded with the Solemn.
On his turn Paul played Cranial Extraction and named Cranial Extraction. Adam had none in hand but he had boarded in four copies. Paul looked confident. He clearly had a game plan here and it was working. Is this match-up not as bad as we had been led to believe?
Hypnotic Specter came in off Vial and picked up Jitte before getting a random card from Paul's hand. Maybe it is that bad. The next Pithing Needle named Mindslaver. Hypnotic Specter hit for 6. Nezumi Shortfang attempted to seal the deal but Paul Topped for Thirst for Knowledge, discarding Triskelion.
Paul played Meloku on his turn, but Pithing Needle had already shut it down. Rend Flesh killed it anyways. Paul was out of cards and probably looking at inevitability. Hypnotic Specter came in for 10 and the Top yielded no answers.
Paul - 1 Adam - 1
Adam drew Pithing Needle off the top for his first turn, again confidently naming Meloku. Ravenous Rats followed. On his third hand Adam had a choice between Chittering Rats and Hypnotic Specter. He chose Rats and it was Condescended.
Adam tried Night's Whisper next, but it was Mana Leaked. Ravenous Rats continued to take small bites and Adam played another to double the fun. Vial was then Condescended. Paul didn't have anything left but he was scrying like mad and drawing cards off Thirst for Knowledge. He had plenty of time if things stayed as they were.
Adam tried for that Specter he thought about two turns earlier and it resolved. Now Paul would have to come up with something quickly. He played Thirst for Knowledge on his turn to look for one. Then Serum Visions. Triskelion was the answer he found, which he could play with his now completed tron. Trike killed Hypnotic Specter and then Adam had to think about how to kill it. His options were Rend Flesh and Shaman. He passed the turn. In response to Paul's Tidings he used the Flesh, but didn't seem happy about his opponent drawing four cards. Paul had Memnarch. Adam played Viridian Shaman to kill it, but Paul had Echoing Truth. Uh oh.
Adam had an empty hand and no answer from the top of his deck on the next turn so he scooped.
Paul - 2 Adam - 1
Blue Tron was just one game away from pulling out the "upset".
The match continued to be mulligan-free. Adam led with Ravenous Rats (three for four). Paul discarded Memnarch. Chittering Rats tried to follow up, but it was Condescended. So was Hypnotic Specter. Interestingly, Adam had the option of playing Vial rather than Specter there - Vial would be immune to Condescend - but opted for the immediate threat.
Paul found the tron and Trike traded with Ravenous Rats and Rend Flesh. He refueled with Tidings.
Adam had several options to consider on his hand. He went for Nezumi Shortfang followed by Aether Vial over Chittering Rats or Ravenous Rats. Shortfang died to a Triskelion by Paul and Adam paused his threat generation to try for Rend Flesh on the Trike. Paul had Echoing Truth to save it.
Stuck on three lands, Adam was starting to look a little resigned while Paul continued to play his even, confident game. He had another Tidings, replayed the Triskelion, and played Sensei's Divining Top. Adam hard-cast Hypnotic Specter on his turn, saving the Vial for Chittering Rats. Triskelion took him to nine. Then Paul had Solemn Simulacrum. And another Triskelion. "Yep."
Adam passed the turn. "Thirst for Knowledge." "Yep" - yawn. Adam played Chittering Rats off Vial to slow the trikes. Paul ended it with an Echoing Truth.
Paul - 3 Adam - 1
After the match Adam said the match-up was actually really bad for him. He was four for twelve in playtesting. If his opponent gets the tron quickly he just can't win. With both Blue Tron decks winning the quarters, the "Blue Tron lottery" isn't looking so hot anymore.
Sunday, August 28: 2:02 pm - Semifinals: Paul Thiessen (BlueTooth) vs. Jason Olynyk (Viridian Rats)
Paul opened on a mulligan and a second turn Ravenous Rats from Jason turned it into a double mulligan -- Paul pitched a Mindslaver. He passed the turn with no third land but had Mana Leak ready for Jason's Chittering Rats as well as the Hypnotic Specter on the following turn - just no lands. He missed his land drop on turn five but was able to play Talisman and Sensei's Divining Top.
Jason punished him for tapping out with Pithing Needle naming Top and added Nezumi Shortfang to his side of the table. Paul found a third land without any help from the Top and he returned the Shortfang with Echoing Truth. He Mana leaked it on the return trip but it was small consolation as he only had one card left in hand.
The Ravenous Rat nibbled away. When Jason tried to restock with Night's Whisper Paul revealed the one card to be Thirst for Knowledge and he discarded Island and Echoing Truth. Whisper resolved and Jason was able to play a fresh Shortfang. Paul dug with Serum Visions and then shuffled his library with Solemn Simulacrum. He had one card left in hand and Stabwhisker was waiting in the wings.
Jason went to sixteen and cast his second Night's Whisper and flipped around Stabwhisker taking Paul's last card. Paul had no play and Jason let him go up to two cards by Shamaning the Simulacrum and getting in for four with his Rats. Paul drew one more card and then reached for his sideboard.
Jason - 1 Paul - 0
"Do you want some witty banter for your coverage?" asked Jason when he noticed how quiet the match had been to this point. That was about the extent of it though as both players focused on their sideboard plans.
Paul brought in 2 Sun Droplet, 3 Cranial Extraction, and 1 Meloku taking out 3 Mox, 2 Mana Leak, and a Mindslaver. Jason took out 2 Needles, 1 Nekrataal, 4 Jittes, 1 Ink-Eyes, and 1 Nezumi Shortfang to make room for 4 Distress, 1 Hippie, 3 Cranial Extraction, and 1 Shaman.
This was the first time that Jason had ever qualified for the Pro Tour and was planning on being in attendance in Yokohama, "It is a dream of mine to live off the Pro Tour. It is much too hard though. I am sure a salaried job is much easier."
Jason was leery about the trip to Japan as he has been about past opportunities to travel fro Magic. "I have qualified for the Pro Tour twice but they were both off continent - too expensive. I almost went to Amsterdam though."
There were no mulligans this game. Both players made one-drop artifacts -- Top for Paul and Vial for Jason. Paul played a second Urza piece and made a Talisman. Jason matched him with Shortfang.
"Is that the third piece of the tron?" asked Jason as Paul went to make a non-basic land drop.
"Is it?" teased Paul who played a redundant piece instead and made a Solemn Simulacrum.
"Looking much better for you this game," nodded Jason as he played Chittering Rats.
Paul had a Sun Droplet which left him without enough mana to Condescend Jason's Night's Whisper but Jason still did not have a fourth land and passed the turn with no other play and six cards in hand. Paul shrugged and tapped out to play Meloku.
"Yeah," sighed Jason as he Vialed out Hypnotic Specter. I don't know what he was sighing about though. He untapped to Rend Flesh the legend and randomly strip a card with Hippie. He hit Memnarch. Jason Vialed out Chittering Rats to put the last card down on top of Paul's library and it seemed like Jason was going to go up two-oh. He played a second Top and passed the turn.
Jason tried for Cranial Extraction but even though Paul was empty-handed he was not without options. He flipped up his Top and Condescended the chase rare. He also got to scry through the top of his deck. Jason swung in with everyone and Solemn stepped in the way of one of the rats. Unfortunately for Paul he would have to discard the card he drew to the Hippie. He stacked the whole sequence of events and used his remaining Top to soften the blow.
He removed a counter from Sun Droplet and Jason smiled, "You remembered." Paul had missed twice.
"That was awful of me." He played another Simulacrum which also had to step in the way of a Chittering Rat. He stacked things the same way and had an Urza piece and Triskelion waiting for him. Jason activated his Shortfang during Paul's drawstep and the blue mage stacked his Top so he could draw and then arrange his library. He pitched Triskelion to the rat and then completed his tron. Jason Vialed out a second Hippie EOT.
"The Specters are fine," sighed Paul as he pointed to Shortfang. "It is that guy who is killing me."
Shortfang was activated during Paul's next drawstep, "I'll take your top unless you buried it."
"Indeed I did."
Jason Vialed out Viridian Shaman before Paul could gain another life to kill the Sun Droplet and swung in for lethal damage.
Jason - 2 Paul - 0
Paul Thiessen, left, and Jason Olynyk
Jason was very happy with his deck for this tournament and marveled at his experience this weekend. "I know how the deck works and I know how the match-ups work. That has never happened to me. I think this is a favorable match-up but I don't think it is dominating or anything."
Paul looked up at the 2-0 deficit on the scoreboard and cleared his throat.
Jason smiled apologetically, "Well…"
Jason took some pain from Llanowar Wastes to offer up Distress but Paul had the Condescend. He played a third land and shipped the turn. Jason tried the Distress again and saw a hand that included Serum Visions, Thirst, Sun Droplet, Mindslaver, and Echoing Truth. He took the card drawing spell.
Serum Visions and Sun Droplet were Paul's plays. Jason had a clear window to play his Shortfang. Paul passed the turn with no play. Jason set him back with Chittering Rats but Paul was still able to Echoing Truth the Shortfang and Extract it on his next turn. Jason showed him Rend, Extraction, two Shamans, and a Ravenous Rats.
"Was there a fourth land on top of my deck for Extraction?"
"Dammit. I guess that makes the match-up a little better for you."
Ravenous Rats hit the Mindslaver that was in Paul's grip and Jason also played Vial. Thiessen untapped and had a Solemn off the top of his deck. Paul was back up to his full allotment of life points by the time the turn swung back to Jason who was still scuffling for that fourth land. "You're up. I don't see the point in attacking."
Jason still didn't get his land but did play Hypnotic Specter. Paul's next rip was a beauty as he drew four cards with Tidings and was able to complete his tron with four cards still in hand.
Jason Vialed out Shaman to kill the blocker and attacked for five. Hippie ripped another Tidings. Jason played his fourth land and cast Cranial Extraction naming Memnarch and pumped the fist to find one lurking in hand alongside two lands and Triskelion.
Paul went back to sixteen from his Droplet and laughed as he ripped another Triskelion. He played the first and smirked, "I wouldn't want him to be lonely."
"That's hilarious." But you could tell Jason didn't really mean it. He used Rend Flesh on one - Paul killed Hippie and did one to a Shaman - and then realized, "Wow, I am so not going to make forward progress, am I?"
"Gotta do it."
"Yeah you do."
He vialed out the second Shaman and Paul finished off the Shaman and also smoked the Chittering Rats. "Top deck war," announced Jason who was getting in for one point a turn provided that Paul remembered to use his Sun Droplet every upkeep. He played Blinkmoth Nexus and was now showing a net of two points per turn. Paul was just drawing mana sources.
So was Jason but his mana source was a second Nexus. He was now going to be netting three a turn. Paul drew Condescend and played his Talisman and Condescended it to look at the top of his deck - he paid - and put one on top and one on the bottom.
"I wanna see what that one on top is!"
Jason took Paul down to seven. He went up to eight and played the card he had kept - Sensei's Divining Top. He activated it and passed the turn - creeping back up to nine.
Jason played Cranial Extraction. Paul sat back in his chair and went into the think tank. He announced that it was fine and Jason announced, "Meloku the Clouded Mirror."
He seemed puzzled to only find one Meloku and looked and looked but could only find the one. He could only attack with one Nexus and his two critters. Paul went - briefly - to five. Paul flipped his Top into Thirst for Knowledge and kept the Top and pitched two lands.
He did the same thing on his next main phase but pitched the Top this time. He played a second Top and looked at some fresh cards, finally finding a Triskelion. He flipped up into the Trike and played it. "Your turn."
Jason showed no fear and animated his Nexus and attacked with everyone. Paul blocked the Shaman and shot the Nexus. Jason picked up the Nexus and revealed that is was actually Ink-Eyes. Paul had Echoing Truth and bounced the ninja before she could do any harm.
"I had to go for it," shrugged Jason.
Paul attacked with Triskelion and played Solemn Simulacrum to see three fresh cards. He saw only lands.
Jason used his Vial to Shaman the Triskelion - the trike took out the Shaman on its way out. There was nothing Paul could do to prevent a Blinkmoth nee Ink-Eyes from sneaking into the red zone. Paul fell to three and Jason was able to reanimate Triskelion for the final points.
Final result: Jason Olynyk was now on the Canadian National team. He would be fighting for the title of National Champion in a Rat mirror match with Evan Dean. Paul was heading toward the 3rd/4th playoff and another mirror match - the dreaded BlueTooth mirror.
Sunday, August 28: 2:14 pm - Semifinals: Evan Dean (Virdian Rats) vs. Tyler Blum (BLueTooth)
Evan J. Dean
Evan began the match at a million miles a minute, chatting about everything from whether I quoted him in the bios to warning Tyler that his comment about improving De Rosa's build of Tron would get him eaten at Worlds. Tyler protested that the deck wasn't right for him. I don't know if that'll wash.
Both of these players have qualified for Worlds and now are playing to guarantee themselves a spot on the team, and of course a chance to be the national champion. The loser would play off against the loser from the other semifinal for the third spot on the team.
This is another Rats against Blue Tron match. So far the count is 2-0 for Tron, but Evan says Adam Hein's deck was very poorly set up to beat Tron and that his build had a much better shot. This is anything but a foregone conclusion.
Evan came out strong with Aether Vial and Nezumi Shortfang. He borrowed dice from Tyler, saying that Tyler's small dice were much better than his.
Evan hit the 4th turn tron. "That's hot," Evan observed. Trike shot down Shortfang but Evan had Viridian Shaman on his turn. After it came into play Tyler had it commit suicide to try to get Evan to target the Vial but Evan informed him that the target had already been chosen. Tyler's inexperience cost him a little there, though his mind was on the right track.
Tyler then had a Solemn Simulacrum to tie up the ground. Hypnotic Spectre came out of the Vial though and nabbed a Condescend from Tyler. On the next turn another Spectre added to Evan's board. Tyler was out of cards.
Despite hitting the tron on the fourth turn Tyler was in serious trouble. The Spectres took him down to seven. He played Serum Visions and passed. When Evan attacked Tyler showed the Echoing Truth he had drawn, buying him an extra turn.
Next turn Evan had to think about whether to Rend FleshSolemn Simulacrum to attack for the win or just attack with the Spectres through the air. He chose not to go for the kill, giving Tyler an extra turn. Tyler had Thirst for Knowledge but he found nothing.
Evan listed the reasons not to Rend Flesh. "He could have randomly drawn Echoing Truth and I didn't want to get pwoned and then if he drew Memnarch or his main deck Moloku... that's right, I looked at your decklist."
Evan - 1 Tyler - 0
Between games we had a conversation about the new duals in Ravnica and Evan's sideboarding misadventure in the swiss where he kept Night's Whisper in against mono red.
Evan had back to back rats on turn two and three. Ravenous Rats and Chittering Rats teamed up to start nibbling at Tyler's lifetotal.
"How many cards in your hand?" Evan asked.
"That's a lot. I hope my deck can do something about that."
Evan had Hypnotic Spectre next, which also resolved. He then started counting Tyler's possible mana, trying to decide if he should play Pithing Needle. Deciding not to, he passed the turn. Tyler played Thirst for Knowledge and had a Top, but nothing of consequence. It looked like Tyler was in trouble again.
Evan tried to play the Needle naming Mindslaver on his next turn but Tyler had Annul for it. Then Tyler got the tron and played out Memnarch. "Sure," Evan replied, holding Viridian Shaman in his hand. On Evan's turn he attacked with Hypnotic Specter first. Tyler paused and took it, which looked like an Echoing Truth tell. The random discard got Top, leaving one card in Tyler's hand. Sure enough, when Evan went for Shaman Tyler had the Truth to save his man.
Tyler played Meloku rather than Memnarch on his turn, so Evan played Cranial Extraction naming Memnarch.
Evan J. Dean, left, and Tyler Blum
"Only one in your deck?" he asked, looking for the second copy that was now hiding in Tyler's sideboard.
"That's okay, I didn't have any way to deal with it."
Tyler drew Top on his turn. "I thought I shuffled that away!" Evan exclaimed. Top yielded Mindslaver. "Can you put that he's the luckiest sack ever in the coverage?" Evan asked me. To make matters worse, he had Tomb of Urami and drew the land that let Tyler Armageddon him. "Gonna side out the Tomb," Evan fake whispered to me.
Derek Denholm asked from the sidelines, "Wasn't that your tech?"
"How'd you do against this deck Denholm?" Evan shot back.
"If he draws three Triskelions you lose."
Evan - 1 Tyler - 1
Evan sideboared out the Tomb face up. The Terror he brought in would be a surprise. He also took out the Naturalizes he put in for Game 3, putting back the Aether Vials.
The third game started slow with the first play being Mana Leak on Hypnotic Spectre. The second Hippie stuck. It hit Echoing Truth. Tyler dropped Meloku, but it met with Rend Flesh. Then another Spectre came into play.
Tyler Topped and Serum Visioned and passed. "How many cards in hand?"
"I should be able to get rid of those."
Both Spectres hit, and he got a Triskelion to go with the Memnarch he got last turn and an earlier Triskelion.
"Do you have any threats left? Can you even win this game?"
The Hippies kept sending, emptying Evan's hand.
Tyler finally found something in Trike on his next turn, taking down a fresh Nezumi Shortfang and killing a Spectre. Evan had another Shortfang. Tyler needed to topdeck some more answers quickly to stay in the game.
Evan - 2 Tyler - 1
"Crunch time now," Tyler said as they shuffled up.
"Gotta win out, gotta sweep," Evan affirmed.
Tyler had his first mulligan of the match - bad timing. Evan observed that mulligans are even worse against rats as it helps their strategy and gives you less options. Blackmail gets better and Shortfang gets better. Tyler had to mulligan again. Evan flashed me two Blackmails. Tyler had to mulligan yet again, still getting no land.
"Can you believe that? That's terrible."
Blackmail was Coercion on Evan's first turn. He took Thirst for Knowledge over an Island and Urza piece.
Tyler did find a Condescend for Evan's second turn Ravenous Rats, but now the local was down to no cards in hand against his opponent's full grip. The beats started with Chittering Rats and Hypnotic Spectre joined them.
Tyler had a fourth land and Echoing Truth to slow it down a little. Evan dropped Nezumi Shortfang which promised to be a beating though. Chittering Rats took Tyler to 13. Rather than flip Shortfang, Evan chose to Cranial Extraction for Triskelion. He showed me the top two cards of Tyler's deck: land, Triskelion. "See, I know he draws well like that."
Evan went for Meloku next, leaving Tyler with just Memnarch and Solemn Simulacrums for the kill... not that killing his opponent was at the forefront of Tyler's mind, getting beat down to 11 with no cards in hand.
Shortfang came back via Aether Vial and flipped on Evan's turn. That gave Tyler virtually no outs.
Evan - 3 Tyler - 1
After the match Evan asked if Tyler had put the Sun Droplets in. He said no. Tyler had boarded them against Kyle Smith in the swiss, so Evan put in Naturalize. He took them out after seeing none in the second game. Tyler said he didn't find them that effective and Evan agreed, especially as Shortfang is life loss anyways.
Evan had an interesting strategy for the match. He wanted to use Cranial Extraction to rid Tyler of all his threats, virtually locking the control player out of the game. With not much real action in the Tron deck a Cranial Extraction or two could make it really difficult for Tron.
Sunday, August 28: 4:00 pm - Finals: Jason Olynyk (Viridian Rats) vs. J. Evan Dean (Viridian Rats)
Jason is just happy to be here. Both players are on the team for sure now and looking forward to decent paychecks. This match is certainly not insignificant though, as the winner is the National Champion and will take home a larger chunk of money.
It came out before the match started that Jason actually qualified for Nationals due to a "clerical error." Manitoba regionals is supposed to only send four players, but Wizards gave invites to the entire top eight. Jason benefited from this and is now playing for the top prize.
Evan has been talking and joking his way through the entire tournament and was hoping to be only a few dozen one-liners away from carrying the flag in Japan.
Evan pumped the fist before drawing his hand as he realized that he had mirror match tech again. The Tomb was a liability last match but it could be great in this one.
Sure enough, he had the Tomb to start the game, but it was just a bad painland as he used it to play Ravenous Rats. Jason discarded a Swamp and then played a Rats of his own. Evan took longer to decide what to discard and went with Viridian Shaman.
The rats traded on Evan's attack and he played Hypnotic Spectre, taking another point from his tech. Jason again matched him. Another tap of the Tomb put Evan down to 17 to play Nezumi Shortfang. "Yeah, that's the tech baby!"
Jason had tech of his own with a Nekrataal coming getting nothing. Umezawa's Jitte on his next turn was much more impressive though and Evan got a little quieter. Shortfang got a last bite in before dying to the Jitte.
Evan J. Dean, left, and Jason Olynyk.
Evan played Night's Whisper off Tomb, taking three down to 11, searching for answers before the Jitte got out of control. He played Shaman.
Nekrataal attacked and Jason ninja'd in Ink-Eyes, bringing Evan to 6 and stealing Hypnotic Spectre. Evan packed on his turn.
Jason - 1 Evan - 0
Jason remarked between games that Evan's sideboard was much better than his.
"First time I've lost Game 1, makes me sad," Evan replied.
He then started offering sideboarding advice. Jason should keep the Nekrataals in because he was bringing in Molder Slugs and Iwamori. Jittes should go - they don't really do much.
Nezumi Shortfang started the party for Evan. As has become his habit, Jason matched him. He couldn't match Hypnotic Spectre, though, having only Chittering Rats.
On his turn Evan accidently drew an extra card after redrawing the Chittering Rats card. He got a warning and moved on, no harm done. Hypnotic Spectre nabbed Chittering Rats and Chittering Rats took another card from Jason. He still managed to play out Jitte though, which went on the rats and gained some counters.
The equipment was again threatening to run away with the game as Evan couldn't find an answer on his turn. He was without green mana. He soon ran out of cards, so he would need a double topdeck of green land and Shaman to Naturalize or a Jitte of his own to survive. Even then it wouldn't look great. It didn't happen.
Jason - 2 Evan - 0
Evan J. Dean
This match looks likes it is all about the Jitte so far and Jason is up 2-0 on drawing the crazy equipment. It turns out that the extra card Evan drew in the last game was Jitte. The judge thought Evan already had the Jitte and drew a Chittering Rats, so, as Jason noted, it really speaks highly of Evan that he wasn't tempted to go along with the judge and let himself back into the game.
Jason mulliganed a seven-lander but had a decent six-card hand. Evan didn't have a two-drop, so Jason's Ravenous Rats were the first threat. Dueling Chittering Rats were next. Evan passed the test this time and only drew one on his turn. He fueled up with Night's Whisper.
Jason decided to go on the attack with his rats and took Evan to 15 as Evan had been taking pain from his Llanowar Wastes. Evan had the sideboard tech Sword of Light and Shadow though, which could actually be better than Jitte in this match.
Jason delayed with Rend Flesh when Evan went to equip and swung with all his guys. Evan had Rend Flesh for Ink-Eyes, but he still fell to 11 and had no creature to play. Chittering Rats from Jason meant that he would get another free attack phase. Another Rend Flesh kept the bleeding to a minimum, but Evan couldn't be happy about Viridian Shaman.
It did allow him to play his Shaman now that the Sword was gone though. He took five and killed a Ravenous Rats, falling to just five life. He needed to topdeck here and peeled his card slowly off the top. He passed the turn. Jason attacked. Evan thought. He was looking at three damage if Shaman traded or four if he killed a Ravenous Rats. He killed the rats and fell to one.
His next draw was a blank and he conceded.
Our champion is pumped up by Head Judge Jason Ness!
Jason - 3 Evan - 0
Jason Olynyk is the Canadian National Champion!
Both players thought Evan had the advantage in the match, with Sword of Light and Shadow in the board, but the nature of the mirror makes it very swingy, with cards like Hypnotic Spectre and Umezawa's Jitte able to quickly compound one player's advantage. Both players played well, but Jason drew better, and he is a very deserving national champion.
These players will be back together in Japan playing on the same side of the table. Good luck to both!
Sunday, August 28: 4:37 pm - Third/Fourth Playoff: Paul Thiessen (BlueTooth) vs. Tyler Blum (Blue Tooth)
Both of these players fought through one round of the Rats match-up before running afoul of the same in the semi-finals. As a punishment for losing they were both sent to the Feature Match area for a grueling best-of-five mirror match between two BlueTooth decks for the final berth on the National Team.
Game 1 was mercifully brief - although Tyler would have gladly played for longer. Paul Thiessen did not give him the chance to do so with a speedy set of Urza's lands powering out Memnarch with counter back-up. I had barely gotten through taking all of the requisite Finals and 3rd/4th photos by the time table judge Jeremy Smith adjusted the scoreboard to reflect Paul's win.
Tyler - 0 Paul - 1
Both players made identical plays on turn one Serum Visions. Tyler was on the play and got off to a strong start by Annexing an Urza piece. Tyler resolved Top after a brief counter war. Paul's attempt at Top was met with Annul.
Paul resolved Solemn Simulacrum and Tyler flipped his Top EOT to cast Thirst for Knowledge - he pitched a Chrome Mox. He untapped to play his own Simulacrum and replayed his Top. Paul untapped and played Meloku and Tyler lost his happy feeling. "The Clouded Mirror…sure." The fifteen-year-old bounced Meloku with Echoing Truth. Paul set off a search for empty sleeves by making a token creature in response. The token swung in and Tyler narrowed his eyes, "Again he draws first blood."
"Let's see what you got," probed Paul as he replayed Meloku. The answer was Condescend. He dug down to find an Annex and left Paul two pieces away from a tron although he did not complete his own either.
Paul tried another Meloku but Tyler had another Condescend lurking near the top of his deck and was able to spin his Top into it. He untapped and played the Top and parlayed it into his own Meloku. Tyler let Paul's Solemn get in for two points of damage not wanting to give his opponent any more cards. Paul was undeterred and drew three with Thirst of Knowledge - pitching a Talisman. He played his own Top.
Tyler sent in his team - including a token he made EOT - and Paul traded tokens. The older player took four and went to sixteen. Tyler was playing empty-handed. Paul sifted through the top of his deck with his Top and played Urza's Tower. Tyler had more or less matching pieces and commented, "The race for Urza's Mine." Paul tried to 187 Meloku with his own copy but Tyler flipped his Top into Mana Leak and Paul had to allow it.
Tyler replayed his Top and thought for a while about how to play his turn. Finally he decided to "wasteland" Paul's Oboro with a copy of his own. Paul took three and tapped out for Memnarch. Tyler made another token EOT. He replayed his Top and looked for an answer. All he could do was attack for four and forlornly pass the turn.
Paul was grateful to untap with Memnarch in play and made no moves on his turn - at least during his mainphase. Tyler activated his Top at the end of the turn and Paul took that opportunity to turn Meloku into an artifact. Tyler announced his attack and Paul went to steal the legend. Once again Tyler's Top did not let him down. He activated it to draw Echoing Truth and picked up his Meloku but not before also picking up five lands to make a flying army.
Memnarch rumbled into the red zone and flattened Tyler's blocking Simulacrum. Triskelion joined Paul's squad. Tyler untapped to send seven tokens into battle but only four survived the Trike's gaze and Paul went to three.
Thirst for Knowledge found him nothing useful although he could have stolen one token and survived another turn. Instead, when Tyler attacked for four he smirked and conceded the game.
Tyler exhaled, "I was so sure you had the Truth or something."
Tyler - 1 Paul - 1
A discussion about Shifting Borders slipped into reminiscences about Thawing Glaciers, Political Trickery, and Outposts. Fifteen-year-old Tyler was conspicuously silent during the exchange as he had never seen or heard of most of those cards. He has only been playing competitively since Fifth Dawn although he did buy cards as far back as Torment.
Paul shipped back his first set but kept the next. Tyler offered up Top on the draw and braced for Annul but it never came. Thiessen missed his third land drop but recovered a turn later. Tyler announced "I will Thirst for Knowledge."
"So will I," agreed Paul. Tyler untapped into the tron and played Triskelion.
Paul Thiessen, left, and Tyler Blum
Paul stared at his board. Tyler frowned, "Surely you got a land off of your Thirst."
Paul said nothing; instead he cast another Thirst, found an Urza piece and Sensei's Divining Top. Tyler came in for four with only a second Top to show for his turn. Paul flipped his Top and completed his set.
"Now we both have Tron. That's new." Paul offered a Solemn and it was Condescended to the tune of four mana. He resolved Top on the next turn - Tyler only had one blue source. Blum played his second blue with Chrome Mox and attempted to Annex Paul's operation but Thiessen Annulled.
With Tyler's blue mana all tapped out Paul had a clear window to trot out Memnarch or Meloku - he wasn't sure which. He ended up with the legend and left some blue mana available for use on Tyler's turn. The only problem was that he planned on using that mana for Thirst of Knowledge and did not have a counter. Tyler made a second Triskelion and he had to let it happen. Tyler killed the flier and still had two more bullets to use. Paul drew three and discarded Duplicant.
The Meloku plan had failed so he tried the Mennarch route. Tyler Mana Leaked and when Paul paid he was unable to pay for a Condescend for two. Tyler played a land and was once again playing empty-handed against Paul's fistful of cards. He took him down to 8 with the two Trikes and sat with his head in his hand hoping they would hold up.
Paul worked Serum Visions and Top into a Triskelion and Tyler could sense the game slipping away. He sent his two 2/2s into the freshly cast Trike and they put damage on the stack. Tyler removed a counter from the blocked Trike to do an extra point. Tyler flipped an Echoing Truth up into his hand and Paul shot the one he targeted again. Both of Tyler's Trikes died and then Paul used his own Echoing Truth to return his own Trike. Paul went to six from the combat damage and then manaburned to five.
Paul replayed his Triskelion. Tyler's Thirst for Knowledge lingered on the stack for a while as Paul tried to decide what to do. Ultimately he Condescended for five - Tyler paid and the Thirst resolved. Tyler replayed his Top but he was clearly seeing no action on the top of his deck.
Paul played a back-breaking Tidings (In fact, Tyler commented, "That is back-breaking" just as I typed that.) Still Tyler was game. He offered up a Memnarch but a Condescend for six was out of his price range. When Paul scryed he saw his own Memnarch on top He led off with Cranial Extraction naming Meloku - he saw Annul waiting in Tyler's hand. Memnarch would have to wait for another turn. Paul played Meloku instead.
Tyler did some quick math and announced "Ridiculous" as he conceded.
Tyler - 1 Paul - 2
Paul Condescended an Annex on turn four and untapped into a fourth turn tron. He made a Talisman and punished Tyler for tapping out by drawing four cards with Tidings.
"That card is terrible," decried Blum. But lest anyone accuse him of sour grapes he clarified, "It's like 'bam!' you win."
Tyler played out the tron on his side of the table as well and seemed surprised that his Meloku resolved. While Tyler sides in Annexes in this match-up, Paul prefers Cranial Extraction. He bounced the legend on his own turn and then extracted them from Tyler's hand and library but he wasn't happy as he looked at Tyler's hand and saw Memnarch on deck.
Tyler played the legend that puts the bite in BlueTooth and although the game continued for several more turns it never really mattered.
Tyler - 2 Paul - 2
Tyler's sideboard plan showed up in force for the final game of Canadian Nationals (Jason had long since won the Rat mirror in the Finals) Paul mulliganed and then scuffled for lands while Tyler played three straight Annexes to assemble his tron, play Memnarch, and stone rain Jason into the alternate position.
Final result: Fifteen-year-old Tyler Blum - two weeks away from playing in the JSS Championships -- literally annexed himself onto the Canadian National team. He will join National Champion Jason Olynyk and runner-up Evan Dean in Yokohama this November. Congratulations to everyone and good luck at Worlds!