Jonathan Randle, Too Hot To Handle!
When I asked Jon Randle if he had any great suggestions for captions for pictures of him in the coverage, only the title above came to mind. As it turned out it was quite prophetic. His Faeries deck was one of only a handful in the tournament, but it proved to be the equal of everything that it faced all weekend. He bested a pair of Reveillark decks along with Mono-Red to become the champion - a fair reflection of the most played decks in the tournament.
Joining him on the Great Britain National Team are Stephen Murray of Scotland, who has previously been a champion himself, and Ioannis Kyriazis, who has been close to top 8 of nationals for years, and this time filled an ambition that had been some time in coming to fruition.
Now these three will be frantically testing for Worlds in Memphis, Tenessee, where they compete for their nation, looking to go even further, becoming the best in the world.
Chris J Stocking
Russ J Davies, 3-1
Russ J Davies
Stephen Murray, 3-1
Matteo Orsini Jones
Stephen Murray, 3-1
Jonathan Randle, 3-1
Richard N Moore
Jonathan Randle, 3-0
Ioannis K Kyriazis
Jonathan Randle, 3-2
Ioannis K Kyriazis, 3-2
Michail G Dimakos
| 1. Randle, Jonathan
| 2. Murray, Stephen
| 3. Kyriazis, Ioannis K
| 4. Davies, Russ J
| 5. Stocking, Chris J
| 6. Moore, Richard N
| 7. Orsini Jones, Matteo
| 8. Dimakos, Michail G
Quarterfinals: Just Deserts - Jonathan Randle vs Michail Dimakos
by Tim Willoughby
While there were barely a handful of Faeries decks in the entire tournament, there is still one in the top 8 of Great Britain’s National Championship, and being piloted by no less than Jonathan Randle, top 8 competitor from GP Birmingham. His opponent, Michail Dimakos with Reveillark, on the face of things had a pretty bad matchup in the top eight, but some variations to his list meant that there was definitely game there.
Jonathan won the roll, and playing first, took a mulligan. He had a turn 1 Ancestral Visions, and a turn two Bitterblossom though, so this didn’t seem to be too great a concern for the placid Englishman. A Desert from Michail was a great answer to that Bitterblossom though. This was one of the cards that Jonathan had highlighted as making the matchup not as favourable as the average Faeries/Reveillark match might seem.
Jonathan attacked in with his tokens, only to lose one a turn to Desert. He played a second Bitterblossom, hoping to successfully swarm. This plan was stymied slightly as well, as Michail had an Aven Riftwatcher – a great creature in a race.
Ancestral Visions ticked down, giving Jonathan a whole host of options. He eventually went with a Scion of Oona, but was hesitant to attack. Michail was not about to let the first game be easy for Jonathan, with a second Aven Riftwatcher. At the end of turn, Slaughter Pact killed this fresher Riftwatcher off. In his upkeep, Jonathan paid for the pact, and got two more Faeries, going to 14. His attacks took Michail to 21.
Dimakos thought for a while, and played a Body Double targeting Aven Riftwatcher. This too resolved, further increasing the mountain that Randle’s Faerie’s had to climb. Michail had a Riftwing Cloudskate to bounce Scion of Oona, which was soon replayed by Randle. On just 10 life to his opponent’s 21 though, he would have to get beating.
Nameless Inversion got Body Double out of the way, and with swings Jonathan finally got Michail sub 20 life, on 15. An evoked Reveillark made things very tricky though, as while Randle had a Remove Soul, Michail had a Rune Snag, which was good enough to stop the counter. Body Double came back as Reveillark, and Aven Riftwatcher again joined the team. This would be close.
Jonathan attacked in, and when Michail blocked three, Jonathan had a second Scion of Oona. Much trading went on, and Body Double (as Reveillark) along with Aven Riftwatcher, came back. Michail was now on 12 to his opponent’s 6. However, those tokens that had been adding up coulld now reasonably swarm around, ans as 3/3s, they were too much for Michail to handle.
Jonathan Randle 1 – 0 Michail Dimakos
The tone was serious in this quarter-final match, and each player was businesslike in their sideboarding and shuffling. For Game 2, Michail was on the play, but just had to look on as a turn one Thoughtseize from Jonathan saw Desert, Riftwing Cloudskate, Wispmare, Reveillark, Wrath of God and Cryptic Command. The Wispmare got taken away, leaving the Cloudskate to be suspended on turn two, and Bitterblossom to be a safe play from Randle. That turn two Bitterblossom was followed by an Ancestral Visions suspend from Jonathan, whose draws again seemed powerful in what was already a matchup where he had to feel quite confident. When Riftwing Cloudskate ticked down, it took out Bitterblossom, and before Randle replayed it, he did a little probing with Thoughtseize. He saw that Wrath of God again, Reveillark and Cryptic Command, along with what was the third Desert in Michail’s hand. He took Cryptic Command, and thought better of playing his Bitterblossom – instead going for a Mistbind Clique in Michail’s upkeep.
The following turn Bitterblossom came down again, but when the fourth Desert came down from Michail, Randle sighed. Now none of his team was safe from those lands, not even his 4/4!
Randle dropped to 12 of Bitterblossom in his upkeep. He attacked with Mistbind Clique and two Faeries. Michail thought for a little. Ancestral Visions had just ticked down for Randle, so there was every chance that a Scion of Oona would be coming down. He blocked Mistbind Clique, and shot the Clique twice, and the two tokens. The Clique got bounced by a Cryptic Command though, meaning there would be another effective Time Walk coming from Randle.
At the end of turn, Michail played a Venser, Shaper Savant, which targeted Bitterblossom, but was thwarted by Scion of Oona‘s shroud provision. In upkeep, Mistbind Clique again tried to tap out Michail, but a Cryptic Command countered it and drew Dimakos a card.
The life totals at this point were 10 to Jonathan, while Michail was on 14. All those Deserts were now a little redundant, as Scion of Oona was never going to be attacking. Another Mistbind Clique came from Randle when an Ancestral Visions tried to resolve for Michail. This allowed Rune Snag to stop the card drawing spell.
Randle’s attacks also took Michail to 4. He was in a race that seemed very tough for him to get back into. When Wrath of God was countered by Spellstutter Sprite, Michail scooped them up.
Jonathan Randle 2 – 0 Michail Dimakos
Randle’s match had so far gone more or less to plan. He continued in similar vein with a turn one Ancestral Visions for the third game. Michail successfully evoked Mulldrifter on turn three, but Randle had to be happy to see nothing but Islands from his opponent. Those Deserts had proven troublesome.
A Thoughtseize revealed 2 Momentary Blink, Cryptic Command, Rune Snag, Reveillark, Aven Riftwatcher and Wrath of God. Without white mana much of this hand was dead, and Randle was quick to take Cryptic Command before playing Bitterblossom. All Michail could do for his turn was play another Island and say go. When Ancestral Visions ticked down, it met a Rune Snag, but the counter was easily paid for.
An end of turn Scion of Oona made that clock all the tighter against Michail, and a Mistbind Clique in upkeep suddenly threatened a blowout third game. Michail continued to be a mono-blue deck. Without a Plains he just couldn’t get into the game and was swiftly scooping up his cards.
Jonathan shared a rare smile with the crowd. He was now in the top four, and in great shape to get a place in the Great Britain National Team!
Jonathan Randle wins 3 - 0!
Top 8 Profiles
by Tim Willoughby
Name: Richard Moore
Nicknames(s): Mooro, The Littlest Hobo, Gandalf, Buddy Christ, The Barren (Moore), Ryce, Mr Moo, plus others too obscene to print
Occupation: Wandering hobo
Deck played in Standard: Seismic Swans
Record in Standard: 5-2
Record in Draft: 6-1
Best card for you this weekend: Kithkin Zephyrnaut - I had three in the Lorwyn block draft!
Greatest Magic achievement: 2005 English Champ
Greatest non-Magic achievement: 1995 and 1997 British Amateur Judo Champion
If the top 8 were draft, would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Only if it was SSE, I'd never drafted Lorwyn before this weekend
Tell us your favourite joke:
What's E.T. short for? He's only got little legs!
Name: Matteo Orsini-Jones
Deck played in Standard: Swath Storm
Record in Standard: 4-1-2 (two Ids)
Record in Draft: 6-1
Best card for you this weekend: Noggle Bandit/Cloudgoat Ranger
Greatest Magic achievement: Undefeated in release events since Dissension
Greatest non-Magic achievement: Magic is my life (obv)
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Better!
Tell us your favourite joke:
Why did the chimps put burgers on their heads?
They thought they were gorillas!
Name: Jonathan Randle
Occupation: Dark Horse
Deck played in Standard: Faeries
Record in Standard: 5-0-2
Record in Draft: 5-2
Best card for you this weekend: Bitterblossom
Greatest Magic achievement: Top 8 at GP Birmingham this year. Thanks to Donald Murray and Ian Davies for helping me test!
Greatest non-Magic achievement: Getting married
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Worse!
Name: Michail Demikos
Occupation: PhD student in mathematics
Deck played in Standard: Reveillark
Record in Standard: 6-0-1
Record in Draft: 4-3
Best card for you this weekend: Ancestral Visions
Greatest Magic achievement: Won a PTQ, but didn't manage to attend the Pro Tour.
Greatest non-Magic achievement: Nothing special.
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Better... damned Faeries!
Name: Stephen Murray
Occupation: Apprentice Engineer
Deck played in Standard: Reveillark
Record in Standard: 6-0-1
Record in Draft: 4-3
Best card for you this weekend: Runed Halo
Greatest Magic achievement: 2006 Scottish National Champion
Greatest no-Magic achievement: Won a bottle of Irn-Bru in a raffle once
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? No idea, I have two impossible matchups. Probably.
Tell us your favourite joke:
Cows go who?
No! Cows go moo!
Name: Russ Davies
Occupation: Software Development Manager
Deck played in Standard: Doran mana ramp
Record in Standard: 6-1
Record in Draft: 4-3
Best card for you this weekend: Harmonize
Greatest Magic achievement: Day 2 at a couple of Grand Prixs
Greatest non-Magic achievement: Won a Boy Scout cooking badge
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Better, but not because I can draft especially well
Name: Dr Christopher Stocking
Nickname: Dr Death
Deck played in Standard: Green/black Elves, pre-sideboarded against red
Record in Standard: 3-1-3
Record in Draft: 7-0
Best card for you this weekend: Spitting Image
Greatest Magic achievement: Cardiff 15 card Dragon Highlander Champion!
Greatest non-Magic achievement: Getting my PhD
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Better
Tell us your favourite joke: [JUST TOO RUDE TO PRINT!]
Name: Ioannis Kyriazis
Semi-Finals: The Tan Plan
Occupation: Research Director
Deck played in Standard: Mono-Red
Record in Standard: 5-1-1
Record in Draft: 5-2
Best card for you this weekend: Demigod of Revenge
Greatest Magic achievement: Played in PT Kobe and PT San Diego
Greatest non-Magic achievement: Becoming a husband and father
If the top 8 were draft were draft would you have a better or worse chance in this top 8? Better
Stephen Murray vs Russ Davies
by Tim Willoughby
"So what did you do last night?"
"I spent hours poring over all the decklists, making lots of notes. You know..."
"I watched Serenity. River Tan kicks ass!"
Stephen Murray was feeling pretty good about his semi-final matchup. The former Scottish National Champion has a 100% records in nationals semis, and even won the roll in this match, choosing to play.
Each player accelerated in their own way on turn two, Murray with a Prismatic Lens, while Davies fetched a Mouth of Ronom with Into the North. Murmuring Bosk allowed Russ to cast Doran, the Siege Tower, but there was a Venser, Shaper Savant waiting to stop it for a turn, and then beat in. A Mulldrifter was the next play from Murray, whose hand was suitably stocked for future turns thanks to the elemental.
Rather than getting Doran out there again, Russ decided to play a Wall of Roots and Search for Tomorrow, ramping up to bigger threats. His deck could easily be described as a Doran deck, but with the mana ramping capabilities, it could make more massive threats than is necessarily typical of Doran.
Murray continued to beat and played a Careful Consideration to get up on cards, while Rus played Doran and a Loxodon Warhammer. these two aren't exactly a combo, but each is powerful enough on it's own to make a difference in any game they show up in.
Murray seemed relatively unconcerned by these so called threats. He played another Careful Consideration, and a Kitchen Finks, going up to 22. That Mulldrifter of Murray's was providing the beats, while Murray had all the blockers for Doran. A third Careful Consideration came on Murray's next turn.
"It's the first card I've drawn on each of the last ones!" remarked Murray, slightly apologetically.
He had no responses to a Cloudthresher from Russ, losing his Mulldrifter. When Russ equipped the Cloudthresher with Loxodon Warhammer, and attacked with both, a Venser bounced the warhammer and chump blocked.
Rather than recasting the hammer, a Primal Command shuffled Murray's graveyard back in, and found him a Shriekmaw. Russ' deck was just full of massive threats, but there was a Wrath of God to stop at least some of them. Murray followed his Wrath with a Mulldrifter. Ahead 17 life to 7, Murray was keen to press his life advantage while he could.
Russ played Shriekmaw to kill off the persisted Kitchen Finks, and a Loxodon Warhammer to help his race. It looked that the game might all be over when Murray played Mirror Entity and turned Mulldrifter into a 7/7, but a Slaughter Pact stopped the win that turn.
Loxodon Warhammer on Shriekmaw made the race interesting. with the life 13 to 11 in Russ' favour. the race would be tight.
Murray played a pair of Reveillarks. He had enough land that one swing with these flyers would easily be lethal. Shriekmaw swung to make the life totals 18 to 5 in Russ' favour. He played a 3/4 Tarmogoyf and passed, interestingly not using Mouth of Ronom to kill off the Mirror Entity while Murray was tapped out.
Murray swung in with his team, and after Tarmogoyf blocked Mirror Entity, it got activated for 9. This was responded to by a Mouth of Ronom to kill a Reveillark. This kept Russ alive, and allowed for a Mulldrifter to come back for Stephen. After combat, he played a Runed Halo naming Shriekmaw.
Russ activated two Treetop Villages, and swung, with a Slaughter Pact targeting Mulldrifter. Stephen responded by activating the Mirror Entity for zero, killing his team, but getting back Mirror Entity and Mulldrifter with his Reveillark. He double blocked Treetop Village, and lost a Mirror Entity, but crucially, did not die.
Stephen had drawn another Mirror Entity, and on his turn, his Mulldrifter attacked for just enough.
Stephen Murray 1 - 0 Russ Davies
After some careful sideboarding it was on to Game 2. Stephen suspended Riftwing Cloudskate early, while Russ was busy accelerating with Search for Tomorrow. The following turn came Prismatic Lens and a second Cloudskate suspended. Russ had a Harmonize for his turn, and discarded Chameleon Colossus at the end of turn.
Murray was quite happy to wait for his fliers to hit play, and had a Venser to bounce Wickerbough Elder on the stack, forcing another discard from Russ, another Chameleon Colossus. Riftwing Cloudskate #1 bounced a Treetop Village and swung, and was soon joined by Kitchen Finks. Wickerbough Elder was the next discard from Russ, who kept having things bounced, with the second Cloudskate bouncing that Treetop Village again.
It was a quick game, that Russ just couldn't get into in the face of all that bounce. He was swiftly scooping them up.
Stephen Murray 2 - 0 Russ Davies
"I did expect Reveillark to be bad, so I packed a bunch of hate, but winning 3 out of 3 is quite an ask"
Russ did have a keeper in the third game, but didn't seem so happy when his turn 2 Wall of Roots was met by a turn two Riftwing Cloudskate suspend. The beats from game 2 were still fresh.
Murray didn't have a third land though, and the Harmonize from Russ gave him plenty more options than his opponent in the third. He cast Doran, the Siege Tower and passed, saddened when between Prismatic Lens and a fourth land, there was a Wrath for his team. Another Doran soon came along, and Stephen chose to bounce Treetop Village for maximum tempo gain. While there was a Mirror Entity from Stephen, Russ seemed solid in the game with a Shriekmaw to kill it.
Stephen had a Body Double as Doran to kill off the Doran in play, but winced a little as Primal Command put Prismatic Lens on top of his deck, and a Cloudthresher in Russ' hand. The life totals at this point were 12 each, but it was Russ that seemed likely to be able to attack for big chunks. Kitchen Finks looked good to help Stephen in a race, as did Russ' decision to be a little cagey about playing his Cloudthresher. It wasn't until Stephen played Careful Consideration on himself that the 7/7 came down, killing off Mulldrifter.
Attacks from Russ made the life totals 8 to 5 in Russ favour. He then cast Mind Shatter for 2, leaving Stephen with just one card.
"I don't like the sound of this."
He hit Reveillark and Wrath of God.
"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!" was shortly followed up with a more composed "That was unfortunate" from Stephen. He used Momentary Blink on his Kitchen Finks to get back a little life and a better attacker.
When the Blink got flashed back, Stephen got to gain some more life, get a blocker and just somehow stay in the game.
"Come on topdeck!"
With the life totals at 5 each, Stephen used Oblivion ring on a Cloudthresher, though he now also faced a Doran, the Siege Tower.
Russ plinked in for 2 with Shriekmaw.
"I'm still alive!"
When Stephen drew another land though, he scooped it up. Not alive any more for this game.
Stephen Murray 2 - 1 Russ Davies
Stephen again had the turn two suspended Riftwing Cloudskate, to Russ' Wall of Roots. Turn 3 came Mirror Entity, allowing Stephen to step up his aggro plan, while Russ just kept accelerating his mana with a Search for Tomorrow. He played a Tarmogoyf, but it was just a 1/2 - not big enough to block a Mirror Entity which became a 4/4.
When Tarmogoyf beat in, Murray chuckled. "Squired!". He played his Riftwing Cloudskate the following turn, targeting Murmuring Bosk. This was responded to by a Cloudthresher. Mirror Entity ran into the Cloudthresher, and a Wrath of God post combat cleared the board.
Russ played a Primal Command, using it to find Chameleon Colossus and put a Plains on top of Murray's deck. Kitchen Finks came next from Murray, but was no match for that Colossus in size when it came down.
It prompted another Wrath of God, leaving just Kitchen Finks on the board. Murray was now down to 1 card, but attacked Russ to 12, before playing another Kitchen Finks. This team of Finks ran in, taking Russ to 7. Doran then came down for the Englishman, who suddenly had a great blocker.
Doran can't block Reveillark, a fresh threat which came from Murray. When Murray attacked, there was a Slaughter Pact waiting for the Reveillark, and a Faerie Macabre to stop it from getting back anything. Russ was getting back into the game, and had a Harmonize to put him well ahead on cards. A second Harmonize left him with 5 cards.
Stephen had a Careful Consideration to help his hand, and finally found an Oblivion Ring to remove Doran in order to attack for the win.
Stephen Murray wins 3-1, and advances to the finals of GB Nationals, while Russ will now be playing in the playoff for 3rd place and a slot on the national team.
Semi-Finals: Jonathan Randle vs Ioannis Kyriazis
by David Sutcliffe
Of all the red decks that kicked off the 2008 British nationals two days ago, on a sunny Friday morning, only one remained - that of Ioannis Kyriazis. The red decks have been fighting uphill for almost the entire weekend but as Kyriazis proved by overcoming yet another unfavourable matchup against Richard Moore's Seismic Swans deck in his quarter final, "The Force is strong in this one". Across the table, the accepted wisdom had it that Jonathan Randle's Faeries would need to harness some of that mystical energy field if they were to stop the red deck's remarkable march into the history books.
Could the evil Faerie Empire withstand the attacks from Red Squadron?
"Get set up for your attack run"
It didn't start well for Randle, losing the dice roll then being forced to mulligan down to 5 cards, his only consolation being that Kyriazis would be starting from 6. The red deck rolled out of the gates with a Magus Of The Scroll and a Blood Knight, while Randle managed a second turn Bitterblossom. Kyriazis hadn't found a third mountain unfortunately, which slowed his offense - The Force didn't appear to be with either man. Randle Slaughter Pacted the Blood Knight as it was a threat his Faerie tokens would struggle to deal with, but paying that upkeep cost left him open and Kyriazis took advantage to play a game breaking Magus Of The Moon. His attempt to follow up with a Flame Javelin was countered by a Spellstutter Sprite from Randle's lone Island, but it also left Kyriazis with the one card in hand that would make his Magus Of The Scroll a threat for the Faerie player's lifetotal despite the Bitterblossom tokens.
Randle frantically fought back, swinging as many of his Faerie tokens as he dared at his opponent in an attempt to race, but as his lifetotal whittled away to the unstoppable Magus and Bitterblossom damage he resigned himself to defeat - his only hope was that with two cards in hand Kyriazis might miss the Demigod Of Revenge he had been naming for Magus Of The Scroll but Kyriazis sheepishly revealed that he had drawn a second Demigod, and Randle scooped.
Jonathan Randle 0 - 1 Ioannis Kyriazis
Game 2 started much better for Jonathan Randle, and he played his dream opening of Ancestral Visions and Bitterblossom, while Kyriazis fought back with a Blood Knight and Ashenmoor Gouger. Randle suspended a second Ancestral Visions - if he could hang in for just a few turns he would be looking good, and when he was able to drop a Mistbind Clique in Ioannis' attack step to destroy the Blood Knight without any response it seemed he had taken a big step towards that goal. Sucking up cards from his first Visions Randle had a Cryptic Command ready for a Demigod Of Revenge, sending the Gouger back to hand as well. Kyriazis immediately replayed his elemental beatstick, but a copy was Rune Snagged and Randle gladly scooped up another handful of cards from Ancestral Visions.
With a Mistbind Clique
on offense, plenty of cards in hand, and two Bitterblossom
s generating a sea of cloned Faerie stormtroopers Randle was well positioned to see out the game in just a couple of turns and level the match.
Jonathan Randle 1 - 1 Ioannis Kyriazis
Kyriazis' Magus Of The Scroll looked lonely for a turn at the start of the third game before being joined by an Ashenmoor Gouger, while Randle set up his Bitterblossom and hung back, using a Nameless Inversion to finish off an attacking Gouger after it had been blocked, then cutting off the red deck's fourth turn with a Mistbind Clique. Even though Kyriazis immediately Skred the Clique, Randle followed up casting another Mistbind Clique to deny his opponent a fifth turn as well - could it really be so easy for the Fae?
As Randle suspended an Ancestral Visions both time and opportunity started to ebb away for Ioannis Kyriazis, who put an Ashenmoor Gouger alongside his still-lonesome Magus Of The Scroll, but the Gouger was helpless on defense as Randle surged forwards with his Mistbind Clique and a pair of Mutavaults, and just one turn later the Empire had struck back to take the lead!
Jonathan Randle 2 - 1 Ioannis Kyriazis
In Game 4 Kyriazis lead with the Tatooine farmboy with dreams of bigger things, the Figure Of Destiny. A Blood Knight joined it, and when Randle slapped a Nameless Inversion onto the 2/2 Figure Kyriazis immediately replaced it with another Figure. A Flashfreeze countered his Magus Of The Moon, and a second Nameless Inversion killed the Figure Of Destiny but it left the red deck with a Blood Knight in play against a seemingly defenceless opponent.
13... 11... 9... 7... 5... Randle's life total was only going one way as he pulled land after land from his deck. The Force was very clearly against him at this point, providing a Mistbind Clique the turn after he had been forced to throw his sole Spellstutter Sprite under the hooves of the Blood Knight. With luck like that, who needs enemies? Down on luck, and down on life, Randle was finally put out of misery with a Flame Javelin and a Keldon Megaliths to tie the match.
Jonathan Randle 2 - 2 Ioannis Kyriazis
Hang on for an awesome fifth game.
The farmboy with a big destiny began Kyriazis' final assault, while Randle spent his second turn suspending a pair of Ancestral Visions. The Figure Of Destiny proved it's worth in the red deck, allowing Ioannis to leave all his lands open into his opponent's turn threatening to either burn or grow the Figure into a 4/4 should Randle want to give it +3/-3 at any point. It was burn on Kyriazis' mind though, and a Flame Javelin hit Randle full in the face at the end of the Faerie player's turn, and the 2/2 figure attacked again dropping Randle to 10 life while still two turns away from those Ancestral Visions cards.
It was a repeat performance next turn as well. Again Randle could only pass the turn, getting ever closer to the 6 cards he was waiting for, and again Kyriazis flung a Flame Javelin at him, this time drawing out a Rune Snag. That was the opportunity Kyriazis wanted, and he slipped a Magus Of The Moon into play and attacked again. Randle was beaten down to 8 life, but picking up 6 cards, could it prove enough to turn the game around and fire his Faeries into the final?
took care of the Figure of Destiny
, a Nameless Inversion
came out of Randle's basic Swamp
to eat the Magus Of The Moon, and suddenly the Faerie deck seemed in good shape against a clear board. Kyriazis attempted to find a second wind with another Magus Of The Moon but that had it's soul removed before it could affect play, a third Magus on the next turn was killed by a Nameless Inversion
and Kyriazis could only get a Blood Knight
to stick in play.
The Blood Knight was Cryptic Commanded back to hand as it attacked, but immediately returned to play, while an Ashenmoor Gouger was hit by a Flashfreeze - this red deck was still not done playing threats despite the fact Randle still had a hand full of spells. Randle accepted two damage from the Knight, dropping to 6 life, before Cryptic Commanding it back at the end of Kyriazis' turn and against the board was clear. A Flame Javelin drew out a third Cryptic Command at the end of Randle's turn, and it left the Faeries almost entirely tapped out
"Red Five, standing by"
Demigod Of Revenge, 5/4 haste flyer, it resolved, Kyriazis swung and Randle desperately threw a Spellstutter Sprite from his hand to stave off the damage. He untapped, cast a Bitterblossom and immediately Championed it out of play with Mistbind Clique. Kyriazis held his Demigod back to avoid the trade-off with the Clique which would return Bitterblossom to play. Randle attacked with his Clique and then cast a second Mistbind Clique in Kyriazis' upkeep, flipping out his Mutavault. That Mistbind Clique was now the only thing standing between Kyriazis' Demigod Of Revenge and Randle's lifetotal - a Skred aimed to clear a path, but Spellstutter Sprite countered it. Would either of these two players stop drawing gas?
Suddenly Randle's Faerie deck looked alive and punching for survival - with two Mistbind Cliques and a Spellstutter Sprite in play and an Ancestral Visions about to resolve, this game has suddenly swung within two turns. Randle attacked and finally Kyriazis accepted the trade and his Demigod took down one of the Mistbind Cliques, returning the Mutavault to play. Then Kyriazis dug deep and somehow dredged up yet another attack force, a Blood Knight and an Ashenmoor Gouger - would this red deck never quit?
Ancestral Visions resolved and Randle pulled up another 3 cards, the Mistbind Clique attacked again, putting Kyriazis on 8 life and leaving the Spellstutter Sprite to block. But Randle hadn't accounted for the Keldon Megaliths that were sitting untapped over on Kyriazis' side and the Spellstutter Sprite was shot down. Would it be the red deck, now with 6 power of creatures against a Faeries deck with 6 life and no blockers? But no, Randle still wasn't done and in Kyriazis' upkeep he played yet another Mistbind Clique - that play would not only block the Blood Knight so that Jonathan survived a turn, it also gave him 8 power of flyers with Kyriazis on 8 life! Suddenly it was Ioannis Kyriazis scrabbling for answers - he floated three red mana in response to the Clique's ability and hovered his hand over his library... after five games it came down to this, to just one draw step and one card that he needed to be any sort of burn spell... would The Force be with him once again?
Kyriazis drew his card, grimaced, took three mana burn, attacked futilely to put Jonathan Randle to 2 life, and offered his hand in defeat while the massed crowds applauded both players for their tough and well-fought fought Semi-Final. After an epic game, and an epic mathc, it's Jonathan Randle who progresses to the final of the 2008 UK National Championships!
3rd Place Playoff: Ioannis Kyriazis vs Russ Davies
by David Sutcliffe
In the world of National Championships the 3rd-4th playoff is one of the most important matches to play. While the final decides who carries away the trophy, the glory, and the title of UK National Champion, the playoff determines which of the two defeated semi-finalists will become the third member of the World Championships team for Great Britain. For two players just beaten down they have to pick themselves back up quickly, dust themselves off, and get ready to go again,
Game 1 started swiftly, with Russ Davies managing a Doran just seconds before a Magus Of The Moon cut off his various non-basic lands. Tarmogoyf followed, although as a 0/1 Kyriazis wasn't trembling in his boots anytime soon, at least not while he still had a Doran distracting him as something to worry about!
Boom! Russ Davies' Doran knocked again at the door of the red deck, dropping Kyriazis to 5 life. Kyriazis hit back with an Ashenmoor Gouger
and, stuck on 4 land, had to waste two Skred
to remove the Siege Tower on Russ' next attack, dropping to just 2 life as the Tarmogoyf
swelled to a ¾. Davies followed up with a Chameleon Colossus
, but on only 9 life himself would have to be careful. Kyriazis played a Demigod Of Revenge, but it was one of those rare Demigods that doesn't arrive in play tapped and attacking, but sits back on defense. It's not enough though - Shriekmaw
removed Kyriazis' Magus of The Moon which was the only non-black creature he had, and the Pro:Black Chameleon Colossus
romped home for the final points.
Ioannis Kyriazis 0 - 1 Russ Davies
Oof! A double mulligan took the wind out of Russ Davies' sails, but as Kyriazis struggled to find any offense it gave the green player a chance to Harmonise and get himself back in the running, cards-wise. Sensing that the red deck was having a bad time of it, Davies used a Primal Command to return a land to the top of Kyriazis' library and pull a Cloudthresher into hand. Then the red deck exploded into life - a Flame Javelin cut Davies to 13 life, and the Demigod Of Revenge swept out of Kyriazis' hand as he drew a fifth land, and Davies was down to 8 from 17 in the blink of an eye. Davies played a Doran, leaving the 6 mana he needed for the Cloudthresher but Doran became an Unwilling Recruit of the red deck. Davies clung onto life, using his Cloudthresher and a Wall Of Roots to see off the red army.
Davies, with Doran returned to him unscathed, swung back with the 5/5 masquerading as a 0/5 and a Treetop Village, but then the Cloudthresher became another Unwilling Recruit to Kyriazis' team, and it was only a second Cloudthresher that Davies managed to hurl in front that kept him in the game. The two decks finally stepped back from beating each other to rebuild and play creatures, and it was Kyriazis who managed to take the edge with an Incinerate dealing the last few points to bring Davies down before he could mount another ground offense.
Ioannis Kyriazis 1 - 1 Russ Davies
Another full speed collision between two muscled decks in Game 3 - Figure Of Destiny, Figure Of Destiny, Ashenmoor Gouger
for Kyriazis while Davies responded with a Tarmogoyf
, Wall Of Roots, and Doran. With a mana base of basic forests and swamps Kyriazis' Magus Of The Moon did little to stop Davies playing his spells, and it certainly did nothing to stop him casting a Loxodon Warhammer
. Before he could equip it to anything and begin gaining life back, however, a Demigod Of Revenge flew directly over the heads of Russ' creatures and demolished his life total in just a few swift turns. The Magus Of The Moon that had seemed to have so little immediate impact in fact proved crucial - keeping Davies from getting anywhere close to the 2GGGG he would need for a Cloudthresher
to survive the Demigod.
Ioannis Kyriazis 2 - 1 Russ Davies
Was that a smile from Russ Davies when he saw his 7 cards? I think it was, but it was a wry smile that indicated the gods of mulligan have come to visit him yet again and he sent his hand back for 6 different cards. Uh-oh, another knowing smile signalled that the mulligan gods have toyed with him once more, and his 6 cards become 5. Oh dear god, not again? 5 cards become 4... 4 cards become 3.
Roll up, roll up, come and watch the incredible shrinking hand!
Could it be? Double forest, double Wall Of Roots, Treetop Village? Surely Russ Davies couldn't fight back from just 3 cards could he? In with the Treetop Village, ahead 20 life to 17
"I'm winning! I'm winning!"
Skred on the Treetop Village
"I'm losing! I'm losing!
Ioannis Kyriazis flooded the board with creatures, drove through the Wall Of Roots with sheer numbers, and overwhelmed the poor Russ Davies with room to spare. From three cards a comeback was always against the odds, but for a second or two it seemed like it might possibly be on the cards.
Ioannis Kyriazis 3 - 1 Russ Davies
Finals: Jonathan Randle vs Stephen Murray
by Tim Willoughby
Had Jonathan Randle played against Richard Moore in the semi-finals, a hugely favourable matchup against Seismic Swans, we might have been talking about how Randle had had a great set of matchups to set himself up in the final. When Moore lost in the quarters though, Randle found himself against a much tougher deck in mono red. Having prevailed there in a great match that went to five games, he really earned his place here against Stephen Murray, who has been in two such finals before, once walking away the Scottish National Champion.
Game 1 of the five game set started out in exactly the sort of fashion that Murray was hoping to avoid - a turn two Bitterblossom. He dug with a Careful Consideration, but was soon being beaten down by 1/1 Faeries.
A Mulldrifter from Stephen resolved, making him feel a little better about his situation. A second Bitterblossom forced a rethink there though. While Randle was short on land, he was big on bringing a whole army of creatures to the board.
Murray played a Riftwing Cloudskate, bouncing one of Randle's three lands. It seemed that Murray was happy to play for tempo, and attack in, relying on Bitterblossom to help out in terms of damage. Having a pair of 2/2 fliers attacking effectively kept Bitterblossom in check, and Murray continued to commit threats to the board, with a Kitchen Finks being his next play - one that was stopped by Spellstutter Sprite.
Murray took the opportunity to resolve a Runed Halo on Mistbind Clique while Randle was tapped out, and also suspended another Riftwing Cloudskate. Randle was able to get his first hits of the game in, but by this point was on just 12 himself. He continued to be lambasted by Murray's fliers, double blocking where he could to ensure some trades.
When Murray tried a Body Double, Cryptic Command stopped it, and bounced Murray's Runed Halo. He replayed the enchantment quickly, happy that it resolved once more. Randle's draw appeared to be a little patchy as Murray's attacks continued to strike home. A Mulldrifter from Murray was countered by Cryptic Command, again bouncing that Runed Halo.
This left a window for Wrath of God. The board was left clear, and on Randle's turn he dropped to just 6. He had a Mistbind Clique in upkeep to champion a token rather than having it be bounced, but was on a comparatively short clock just because of his own Bitterblossoms. On 14, Murray could afford to play things cagily, even when Nameless Inversion cleared out his only blocker and allowed Randle to swing.
Randle had a Spellstutter Sprite for a Runed Halo, and another for Wrath of God. Would it be just enough? That second Sprite was enough to make the swingback enough to just kill Murray.
Jonathan Randle 1 - 0 Stephen Murray
Even when Randle's draw had looked a little patchy, he had still been able to take it down. Would Murray be able to fight back with the post-sideboard games? As he carefully sideboarded he certainly hoped so.
While Murray was quick to keep his seven in Game 2, Randle had to have a little think before a quick nod indicated that his hand was good enough. He had a turn one Ancestral Visions, the first threat from Murray was a Kitchen Finks, that got hit by Remove Soul. Murray's next attempt was a Mulldrifter. This resolved just fine, and at the end of turn Jonathan played a Spellstutter Sprite.
"This doesn't bode well at all" remarked Murray, suddenly wary of Mistbind Clique.
The Clique didn't surface in his upkeep, so Murray played Riftwing Cloudskate to bounce one of his opponent's lands and had a Pact of Negation stopped any Ancestral Visions from helping out Jonathan.
A Pendelhaven from Jonathan combined well with his 1/1 Spellstutter Sprite, making it a good blocker, at least until Mirror Entity showed up from Murray. He attacked and made his Mulldrifter and Riftwing Cloudskate into 5/5 monsters.
"Double Slaughter Pact?" enquired Murray jokingly, looking at Randle's 5 lands. Jonathan simply took 10, going to just 4.
Jonathan used an Extirpate on Pact of Negation, as much as anything to get more information about the matchup, both how Murray had sideboarded and to make sure that his hand wasn't too threatening. A Riftwing Cloudskate and Kitchen Finks were in Murray's hand, and in not too long a time, all the Pacts were removed from the game. This, of course, only applied to Murray's pacts. Slaughter Pact killed off Mirror Entity, and there was a follow up of Mistbind Clique in upkeep to stop more spells from Murray for his turn.
There were small swings from Murray, dropping Randle to 2, but those final life points seemed hard to get rid of for the Scotsman. He resolved a Kitchen Finks, but not a Riftwing Cloudskate.
When he tried a Mulldrifter, Randle had a Cryptic Command.
"You are such a spoilsport!" declared Murray, feeling the game slip away much like game 1.
He had another Mulldrifter for the following turn, but a Spellstutter Sprite, helped out by 2 Mutavaults just stopped it. At this point the game had stalled into Murray playing a threat each turn, and Randle always somehow having the perfect answer.
Mirror Entity hit a Rune Snag, but there was sufficient land under Murray's control by this point that he was easily able to pay what he needed to. He seemed less excited about all the cards that Randle got off an Ancestral Visions. When Mistbind Clique attacked, it did not seem like a good sign for the Scotsman.
Murray attacked with his team, and seemed a little surprised when Randle simply chump blocked each of his attackers, who became large enough that each was massively more than lethal.
With damage on the stack, Randle played Mistbind Clique, championing Spellstutter Sprite. Randle still couldn't attack really, but had slightly better blockers now. He had to chump block again the following turn, thanks to Mirror Entity. Even when left with virtually nothing, Randle didn't seem to flinch, calmly playing an Ancestral Visions as if not in trouble at all.
Murray looked rattled by this calm demeanor, but as it turned out, there was no reason to worry. Attacks the following turn made the game 1 - 1, evoking a sigh of relief from the Scotsman.
Jonathan Randle 1 - 1 Stephen Murray
"I've already told you what I had for breakfast today right? Faerie cake."
Murray seemed buoyed by getting a game under his belt, and shuffled up briskly for Game 3, with a new sense of hope for the matchup.
This didn't seem to last when Ancestral Visions came down on turn 1 for Randle.
"I won't be able to Pact that!" the Scotsman despondently revealed. When Bitterblossom followed, he was less than pleased. He suspended a Riftwing Cloudskate and passed.
A Thoughtseize from Randle saw a Pact of Negation, Reveillark, Mulldrifter, Kitchen Finks and a Plains. The Mulldrifter went, and Randle calmly asked whether the hand was a good keep. Murray shrugged. It wasn't as good as Randle's start, but then little in Standard is.
Murray cast those Kitchen Finks, and they soon traded for two Bitterblossom tokens. Murray tried for a Careful Consideration, only for Cryptic Command to stop it and bounce a card back to his hand. A second Thoughtseize from Randle saw Reveillark, Prismatic Lens and Pact of Negation. Closer to being able to pay for the Pact, Randle took the counter.
What with the Bitterblossom, and modest amounts of beats from Murray, Randle was soon on 10, to Murray's 22. This was far from being a problem though, as a combat step Mistbind Clique gave Randle a favourable trade, and a monster in the air to attack back with.
Murray cast Reveillark, only to see a Remove Soul from Randle. The beatdown from Randle was very much on, and even his posture in the chair showed that he was now in beatdown mode. He seemed unworried by an evoked Mulldrifter the following turn, getting back Riftwing Cloudskate and Mulldrifter.
The following turn, Body Double came down, pretending to be Reveillark. All that Murray would need now would be a Mirror Entity, and he could combo off. Randle was playing draw-go at this point, but sprang into action with a Spellstutter Sprite when Mirror Entity showed up.
Murray cast Careful Consideration and passed. In the end, Randle finally drew the Cryptic Command he needed to tap down his opponent's creatures and swung for the win.
Jonathan Randle 2 - 1 Stephen Murray
Both players kept their seven for game 4, and Murray was again heard to faux scream when he saw Ancestral Visions on turn one from Randle. there was a Riftwing Cloudskate on turn 2 from Murray, but this didn't seem as hot as the start from Randle.
Murray was all about the bounce, with Venser, Shaper Savant to bounce a land from Randle. Jonathan's response was a Thoughtseize, seeing Mirror Entity, Mulldrifter, Body Double and Riftwing Cloudskate. He took the Body Double, wary of the fact that it could become any of the others. He then played Extirpate on it. Now he would not need to worry about Murray going off with his combo.
For a little time while looking through Murray's deck, it appeared that he couldn't find the other Body Double.
"You're no good at those Where's Waldo things are you?"
Immediately Randle flicked the Body Double out of the deck. "I'm not bad actually."
When Murray tried his second Riftwing Cloudskate, it met a Rune Snag. Randle was down to 12, without any offence to speak of, but with plenty of cards, there still seemed to be a lot of play in the fourth game. He had another Thoughtseize, seeing Mulldrifter, Mirror Entity and a Land. The Mirror Entity got hit, and then Bitterblossom and Ancestral Visions came down. There was Jonathan Randle's game.
On his own turn, with Randle tapped out, Murray played Teferi. If Murray could keep the legend around, then that Ancestral Visions would be moot, along with much of Randle's control package. The Mage of Zhalfir was not long for this world though, as Slaughter Pact killed him off in Randle's pre-combat main phase.
A Mistbind Clique came next, and Randle had a little think about what best to champion. In the end he went aggro, taking a Bitterblossom token, rather than the enchantment itself. Attacks from Murray the following turn put Randle on 3, and in his upkeep he went to 2. With Murray still on 20, the game seemed beyond Randle. Riftwing Cloudskate bounced Mistbind Clique, giving Rnadle the chance to champion his own Bitterblossom, but in effect the game was all over.
Randle played a Secluded Glen untapped, revealing a Bitterblossom.
"That's a really nice card" remarked an amused Stephen Murray. There was no other play from him though.
Murray tried a Kitchen Finks, and met a Spellstutter Sprite. Next came a Mulldrifter, which saw a Cryptic Command stop it, and draw Randle a card. For the first time in the game, Randle swung in, with Mistbind Clique to make it 16 to 1 in Murray's favour.
In upkeep, Randle had another Mistbind Clique to tap down Murray, and get even more of a force with which to strike. He got in for 6, putting Murray on 10.
Murray had to play a second Venser to be able to get a bounce on to stop a lethal attack. When Spellstutter Sprite stopped that plan though, Murray extended his hand. It was all over.
Johnathan Randle defeats Stephen Murray 3-1!
Congratulations to Jonathan Randle, 2008 Great Britain National Champion!
Podcast: It's a Knockout
by Rich Hagon
Forty minutes of audio goodness takes all day to compile for your listening pleasure, but the matches in this Top 8 were great. Join us for back to back commentary on quarters, semis, and final action as we discover the identity of the GB team for Worlds 2008.