Quarterfinals:Living the Dream

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The letter S!itting under the lights, Rasmus Sibast played against Aaron Brackmann in this quarterfinal of Pro Tour-Prague, the city that has been one of the inspirations for Ravnica. The set draws lots of inspiration from the Eastern European mythology, and much like Eastern Europe after the demise of the Soviet Union, Ravnica block drafting was shaken up by Dissension. Both Rasmus Sibast, the Danish national champion, and Aaron Brackmann, German Nationals finalist, have found good footing in this shook-up world of multicolor madness.

Brackmann was very content with his deck, having drafted green-blue with a red splash. He liked his chances in the match, having Drowsing Shaman with both Seal of Fire and Seal of Doom in his 40 cards, as well as Electrolyze and Steamcore Weird for additional removal. His curve tops out with Gleancrawler, and his mana base is supported by three Silhana Starfletchers.

Rasmus 'Big Oots' Sibast lost just one match in two days of Swiss.

Rasmus Sibast was green-blue as well, but splashing black, having such major hits in his deck as Golgari Rotwurm, Bramble Elemental, Pollenbright Wings, Assault Zeppelid and two Vigean Hydropons. One major theme in his deck is Graft, and like almost every other player at the table, Sibast shipped Doubling Season which would have been amazing in the deck.

Game 1

Rasmus played first, but the opening play of this quarterfinal was Aaron's, who opened with Plaxmanta and Silhana Starfletcher despite taking a mulligan. Rasmus burned an early Wildsize on that very Starfletcher just to draw a card, already in desperation to find any suitable play. Bramble Elemental from Brackmann put more pressure on the board. Rasmus had nothing except a Dimir Signet and three lands to Aaron's considerable offense of seven damage, taking Rasmus to 9 without losing a single life yet.

That was too much for Rasmus, who quickly scooped up his cards after a pretty uneventful first game in this best-of-five match..

Game 2

Both players were very composed, taciturn and calm. The second game started in silence, as Aaron took a mulligan and Rasmus chose to play first. Again, Aaron had the honor of the first play, a Simic Ragworm. Unfazed, Sibast had his first creature in the match in Bioplasm.

Bioplasm

As Rasmus attacked with his Bioplasm, both players had to go and read it before it could reveal a Gruul Signet and deal four damage to Aaron. Rasmus made the most of his mana, bringing Golgari Rotwurm and Wild Cantor to Aaron's Simic Ragworm and Coiling Oracle. As Aaron Scattered his Seeds, he might have wished to have the Doubling Season that passed around the table...

Aaron decided that he wanted more beef on his side of the table and attempted to steal the Bioplasm with Dream Leash. That took out Wild Cantor and Bioplasm, the Cantor making the black mana to activate the Rotwurm, sacrificing and fizzle the Leash. Rasmus put an Ocular Halo on his Rotwurm, making him do double duty as a creature dispatcher and a card drawer, but nonetheless Aaron's attack took the Dane to 13.

Aaron now had Bramble Elemental, Simic Ragworm, three 1/1 Saprolings and a Coiling Oracle to Rasmus's Golgari Rotwurm with the Halo, and a freshly cast Belfry Spirit and his two minions. He attacked with all his mana open and three cards in hand. Rasmus decided to block the Oracle, a Saproling and threw the Belfry Spirit at Aaron's head, gaining two new Bat tokens from the Haunt ability. The rest of Aaron's army took Rasmus down to a precarious 8 life, one less than the total power of Aaron's creatures which he reinforced with Silhana Starfletcher and Lurking Informant.

The Informant got rid of a Terraformer from the top of Aaron's library, and he drew a Gruul War Plow instead, to which Rasmus gives the thumbs up. As Aaron again threw all his creatures into the fray, Rasmus chose to block two Saprolings with his Spirits and the Simic Ragworm with the Rotwurm, taking four damage and going down to four life with only the Halo'ed Rotwurm left on his side. A Seal of Fire did the necessary damage to the Rotwurm to kill it, sealing the second game for Aaron.

Game 3

Aaron now looked confident, not surprising with a two-game lead, but Rasmus still was calm and composed instead of downcast or nervous. The Dane looked tired, though, and again chose to play first. No mulligans this time and the third game of the quarterfinal between Rasmus Sibast and Aaron Brackmann was under way!

Aaron raced out to a two-game lead.

Coiling Oracle from Brackmann gave him a Seal of Fire but the German had no red mana yet to go with it, instead having to cast Terraformer. Rasmus's deck seems to have delivered well this game, as he started out with a Minister of Impediments, a card he'd dearly liked to have had in the last game to halt Aaron's continuous offense.

Blind Hunter from Rasmus marked the first time in this match that he actually got ahead in a game, evening out the life totals at 18 and providing a solid blocker for the Coiling Oracle that Aaron chose to push into the red zone. Rasmus immediately blocked, and Aaron had obviously expected that, as he doesn't hesitate to dispatch both the Minister and the damaged Blind Hunter (now haunting the Terraformer) with Electrolyze, then added Seal of Fire to his board.

Rasmus answered with Gruul Nodorog. That's not enough on its own, as Aaron equals out with Bramble Elemental. But a legitimate bomb in the form of Pollenbright Wings from Rasmus on his Nodorog makes things look pretty bleak for the German, as the number of tokens Rasmus will make will rise fast if Aaron cannot stop the flyer.

Aaron drew, tapped his mana and with a smile put a Dream Leash on the Winged Nodorog. Rasmus smiled back, took his turn and draws Indrik Stomphowler off the top of his deck to destroy the Leash and get his token-making Nodorog back. Now the situation looked quite unwinnable for Aaron, as he had spent most of his removal already, having only Seal of Doom left in his deck to help him out. Rasmus attacked with Nodorog and Stomphowler, but not before putting a Moldervine Cloak on it. With double blocking, Aaron got rid of the Stomphowler, but the gigantic Nodorog looked ready to do him in.

Rasmus had another flier, Daggerclaw Imp, which Aaron cannot stop, not even with the Simic Ragworm he mustered. Rasmus sent in the gigantic Nodorog and Aaron chump-blocked with a Silhana Starfletcher, running out of options fast as Rasmus added an Assault Zeppelid to his side of the board.

Rasmus just shrugged as Aaron put an Ocular Halo on his Simic Ragworm and drew four cards in a row. Finding nothing, Aaron scooped in the face of Rasmus' overwhelming offense.

Game 4

The fourth game began with Aaron shaking his head, exclaiming "Oh my goodness" and taking a mulligan. Not to worry, said Rasmus: "Every time you took a mulligan, you beat me."

Aaron's second hand of cards satisfied him and he started off - again! - with the first creature in the match, a Silhana Starfletcher.

aquastrand spider

It was Rasmus's turn to show that not every mulligan hand Aaron had wins games, and he kicked off his side with Aquastrand Spider grafting up the Gruul Nodorog that won him the last game. Aaron had Ocular Halo on Silhana Starfletcher and seems to wish he had held on to that a little longer, since his freshly cast Bramble Elemental would have made a juicer target.

Rasmus drew first blood with his 5/5 Gruul Nodorog and carefully put down a Bramble Elemental of his own - only his is bigger, thanks to the Spider grafting out its life. He declined to block Aaron's Bramby, though, hoping to get back with a retaliation attack to take another big chunk out of Aaron's life total.

The German thought long and hard while Pro Tour photographer Craig Gibson did his job, making Rasmus smile for the camera. Simic Signet powered out a Patagia Viper and her two Snakes for Aaron. Rasmus activated the Nodorog's ability and attacked with both monsters, and while the two Snakes took on blocking duty, Rasmus spiced up his 5/5 Bramble Elemental with Wildsize, leaving Aaron at four life and attacking back for six damage, taking Rasmus down to 10 life.

With Rasmus at 10 and Aaron at 4, Rasmus untapped. Aaron only had a 1/1 token and Silhana Starfletcher with which to block (everything else is tapped), and no black mana on the table. Assault Zeppelid joined Rasmus' ranks before he attacked with Bramble Elemental and the activated Nodorog. A Scatter the Seeds allows Aaron to stave off all damage, and on his turn, Electrolyze takes down Rasmus's Wild Cantor and dealt one damage to the Dane. The game moved at a slow pace now, with Aaron, slightly flustered, thinking his way through his deck. He is trying to find an option to get out of the conundrum of dying to Rasmus' creature assortment of 13 points of power, three of which fly.

An attack with Bramble Elemental and Patagia Viper threatened to take Rasmus to three life. Rasmus blocked the Viper with his Assault Zeppelid and let the Bramble Elemental through. Wildsize from Aaron enhanced the Viper, which took the Zeppelid with it to the grave, but Aaron could work his way through Rasmus's big monsters and scooped.

Game 5

So it all came down to the fifth game in this quarterfinal. After the 2-0 lead, Aaron had been confident to win the match over the course of the next games, but in both games three and four he did not find a way past Rasmus's bigger creatures. The removal in Aaron's deck seemed to favor him for the decider, but Rasmus has shown that his deck has a high density of quality threats.

dream leash

Both players kept their opening hands, and it was Coiling Oracle that made the first scaly appearance on the board, netting Aaron a Silhana Starfletcher. Rasmus again had the Aquastrand Spider that helped him pave the way to victory in the last game, but Aaron clearly got a huge tempo boost out of stealing Rasmus's Simic Growth Chamber with Dream Leash and having the Wildsize to destroy Rasmus's Spider which blocked the Coiling Oracle.

Both players played fast now, especially Aaron who wanted to seize this board position and ride it to the win. He had six power worth of creatures on the table to Rasmus's one permanent, an Azorius Chancery. Rasmus's next play is Vigean Hydropon, which fit well into his strategy but could not stop an attack that took him down to 13.

Sporeback Thrull from Aaron enhanced his Lurking Informant, but Rasmus was no stranger to the Graft game as his Assault Zeppelid quickly got a counter from the Hydropon.

"You have a lot of guys," sighs the Dane, as Aaron took him to five and played Dowsing Shaman.

Brackmann's Leash kept Sibast in check in Game 5.

Belfry Spirit for Rasmus provides a bit of a respite, as both the Spirit and his bat minions get a +1/+1 counter from the Hydropon. Aaron's all-in attack is met with extensive blocking, but as the dust of combat settled, Rasmus still took four damage and went down to 1 life. Aaron had not lost a single point of life yet. With more creatures on the table than Rasmus, Aaron was guaranteed to kill the Dane, and Rasmus threw in the towel for just his second match loss on the weekend.

Talking to the players after the match, Rasmus seemed to be a little disappointed.

"If he had not had the Dream Leash in the last game, I would have won. All he has is little guys, and my creatures are just bigger," Sibast said.

Aaron naturally disagreed, saying: "I really like my deck. My removal is very good, and I have enough creatures."

One thing he agreed to is the deciding play: "The Dream Leash won me this game."

The players' sideboards seemed to hold nothing of much value, though, since both players did not use that resource. So, on the back of a timely Dream Leash, Aaron Brackmann advanced to the semifinals of Pro Tour-Prague!

Final Result
Aaron Brackmann 3, Rasmus Sibast 2

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