rance's long tradition as a Magic
power came into the foreground as veteran Olivier Ruel squared off with rookie Pierre Canali. The two had never met before the weekend, but Saturday they became well acquainted -- they played on Day 2, with Ruel (who believed himself a little lucky), walked away with the victory. After Olivier stole the judge's quarter, the two gave one another a high five and got down to business
Game 1 saw Canali's Affinity deck produce its favorite start, with Aether Vial hitting the table immediately, with Meddling Mage to follow after Olivier played Mogg Fanatic. When the Mage hit play, Pierre named Burning Wish, to which Olivier responded with thumbs up to the camera, then a blatant point-and-laugh in Canali's direction.
After a number of unimpressive creatures traded shots, Pierre cast Thoughtcast, producing a turn of Frogmite, Frogmite, Aether Vial and Cranial Plating. Olivier's reply was to draw a third Cabal Therapy, to go with Living Death and no black mana. A second Plating made each frog 11/2, and a turn later, sideboarding commenced.
Canali 1, Ruel 0
Pierre brought in three Chill, three Engineered Plague and City of Brass for three Somber Hoverguards, three Myr Enforcers and one Cranial Plating. Olivier, sensing Pierre's decision to constantly name Burning Wish with Meddling Mage, took out all four Wishes and two Goblin Piledrivers, replacing them with three Duress, Meltdown, Cave-In and Pyroclasm.
Olivier took a big chance to start Game 2, keeping a one-land hand despite playing first, and the gambit backfired. Pierre again had a first-turn Aether Vial. Olivier drew land number two on turn three, but really played up his frustration, passing the turn while holding Cave-In, which he was obviously hoping to take full advantage of.
Pierre's second turn produced another Vial and Arcbound Worker, and on turn three he cast the crucial Engineered Plague. Things were looking bad for Ruel, but he top-decked his one Meltdown to buy himself some time. Pierre cast two Disciples of the Vault, but Olivier wanted to set up the Cave-In even more, a decision he'd regret after Pierre's next turn produced Chill.
The Disciples reduced Olivier to 10, and he finally cast the Cave-In, taking himself to 8, but the Chill made a tempo shift impossible. With plenty of time to spare, Pierre played a second Engineered Plague. Olivier promptly conceded.
Ruel 1, Canali 1
Olivier, stating "I don't fear anything!", kept a slow draw to start Game 3. Pierre started things off with a first-turn Arcbound Worker followed by second-turn Meddling Mage, but Pierre named Burning Wish despite having seen Meltdown and Cave-In during Game 2 (rendering the 2/2 partially ineffective). Olivier's first play was a third turn Goblin Matron, which fetched Goblin Warchief, but before the latter could make it into play, a second Meddling Mage barred it from action.
Deprived the Warchief avenue, Olivier went with Goblin Sharpshooter and Skirk Prospector. A mass attack from Pierre took Olivier to 12, and another Meddling Mage naming Warchief was a nice attempt. But Olivier's next turn saw Ruel sacrifice four goblins and cast Living Death, returning two Matrons to play, which fetched two Pile drivers. The Goblins were all sacrificed, Olivier played Warchief and both Pile drivers and attacked for 11, the precise amount needed to end the game
Ruel 1, Canali 2
Game 4 was all about Goblin Sharpshooter. Olivier kept a hand with no red sources, but managed to find one on turn three -- and despite Pierre's faster start, by turn four, Pierre was being held in place by the Sharpshooter. Working well in conjunction with Skirk Prospector, the shooter took Pierre's five-man army down to nothing in a turn, meanwhile mustering the mana to produce Siege-Gang Commander. As a finishing tough, Olivier played Rishadan Port and tapped Pierre's City of Brass.
Ruel 2, Canali 2
The members of Ruel Nation -- namely brother Antoine -- wondered if the time had finally come, after so many years of suffering through near misses. There was a collective groan as Olivier mulliganed six lands and Goblin Matron, keeping a strong six-card hand only to stall on two land.
No more Goblins for you!
Once again, Pierre played a second turn Meddling Mage, and once again he named Burning Wish. Olivier slammed Sparksmith into play on turn two, but after Goblin Pile driver joined in the fun, Pierre wiped it away with an Engineered Plague, naming Goblins.
With a hand full of little red demi-humans, the black enchantment was crippling. Pierre, remaining remarkably calm for a kid about to make the final of his first Pro Tour, started pouring out creatures as Olivier could only shake his head. Ruel cast an instantly dead Matron, which fetched Goblin Ringleader, but Pierre had all the answers as Meddling Mage put the stops to that plan of action. He played out two Disciples as he whittled Olivier's life down to four, and after one more futile draw, the clown prince could only extend the hand. Wait 'til next year.
Ruel 2, Canali 3