team of Florida pros, Thaaat's Me won this year's Team Limited Grand Prix in Washington, D.C. Comprised of U.S. Nationals runner-up Bill Stead, two-time Team GP finalist Charlie Gindy, and rookie-of-the-year contender Chris Fennell, they were considered one of the major contenders for at least day 2 in this Pro Tour. Unfortunately, things haven't gone according to plan, and they must win this match or be eliminated from the tournament. Sitting across the table were Chris Benafel, Ryan Fuller, and Noah Boeken -- the once mighty ABU, resurrected this time as www.impulsemagic.com. Though unquestionably good three years ago, this team had largely fallen off the map and was generally considered to be taking a break from the game, either enforced or otherwise.
Game 1 (Seat C)
The banter before this match was fast and furious -- and perhaps surprisingly loose for an elimination match. Before the match started, Benafel scammed both a die and a pen from a spectator in the stands, proving he was still an interesting draw even if he hasn't been making headlines recently. Tel-Jilad Wolf traded with an early Tel-Jilad Chosen from Gindy, and it was on. Benafel cast a Juggernaut and tossed a Neurok Hoversail on it. The 5/3 got in one swing before falling to an ignominious death to a blocking Clockwork Condor.
Gindy cast Viridian Lorebearer, saying, "I guess it's good." Benafel squinted hard at the Lorebearers before shrugging and saying, "Okay."
"Oh Dear!" was the cry from Benafel as he slapped an Atog onto the board. With two Tree of Tales in play plus the Hoversail and a Copper Myr, the Atog would be a pounding should Chris decide to attack.
Gindy pushed his team of Elf Replica, Goblin Brawler, and Tangle Asp into the red zone, eventually trading a Predator's Strike and an Elf Replica for two Copper Myr and Neurok Hoversail from Chris.
Over in the A seat, Chris Fennell put a quick beating on Ryan Fuller to give Thaaat's Me an early lead.
Meanwhile Benafel stepped up the beats a bit and put Tangle Golem into play, following that up with a mighty cry of "Meeeegatooooog!"
"I have two Megatogs, by the way and I'm going to cast the next one next turn," he said. "If you don't believe me, ask Noah."
"Well, Tangle Asp is gonna kill one of them, so you better bring that second one out quickly. I told you my deck was no good," said Gindy.
"You didn't lie," quipped Benafel, who thought for a while about an attack before saying, "Ah f*** it, I'm too dumb to figure this out," and attacking with his team.
Tangle Asp blocked Megatog, Goblin Brawler blocked Tangle Golem, and Viridian Lorebearers blocked Tel-Jilad Exile, leaving a lonely Atog to get through undeterred. Before damage, Benafel pumped his Megatog twice, then damage was assigned and once Gindy tapped out to save his Asp (figuratively, of course), Benafel tossed Shrapnel Blast at Gindy's head for the win.
While Seat C was shuffling up for Game 2, Fuller managed to even things up in Seat A.
"Man, were you guys good at some point?" asked Gindy.
"Apparently," replied Chris, "Though you are too young to remember it."
"When we were good, he was in diapers," was Fuller's response, to which Boeken responded "Oh, in that case, I'm your dad. I had to tell you some day, son," getting the whole team in on the action.
Seat A: Fennell 1 - Fuller 1
Seat B: Stead 0 - Boeken 0
Seat C: Gindy 0 - Benafel 1
Game 2 (Seat C)
As game 2 began, Tel-Jilad Wolf and Juggernaut for Benafel matched up against a Clockwork Condor and Viridian Lorebearers for Gindy. The Juggernaut died to Rain of Rust and Benafel replaced it with a Thermal Navigator and a Goblin Archeologist to a derisive "looks like your deck has some filler too," from Gindy. The Archeologist become active and slapped the Condor out of the sky. Chris continued is board development with Tangle Golem and Fireshrieker, yelling, "Take that!"
"I'm still gonna win this game," said Gindy. "Whatever!" came the response.
"Okay, let me show you then. I'll e-Bolt your Golem at the end of turn. Now I'll draw my card, lay my land and cast Rude Awakening with entwine and beat you for twelve (Benafel's life was at eleven). How do you like me now?"
"What the hell does that card do? Let me read it. Are you kidding me?"
"I told you I don't lie!"
Over in the B seat Stead had just conceded game 1 to Boeken with 22 minutes remaining in the round, and Fennel won his match in Seat A.
Seat A: Fennell 2 - Fuller 1
Seat B: Stead 0 - Boeken 1
Seat C: Gindy 1 - Benafel 1
Game 3 (Seat C)
Game 3 started out just like game 2 for Benafel, except he skipped the Juggernaut this time and just cast a Wolf and the Navigator. Gindy developed his mana with a Pentad Prism and Dawn's Reflection, but failed to cast anything as both players missed their fourth land drops. Navigator No. 2 entered play for Benafel, and he chose not to attack fearing a Tangle Spider from Gindy, which is exactly what Gindy cast at the end of turn. Tel-Jilad Chosen from Gindy followed by an Atog from Benafel further gummed up the board, as neither played could find a profitable plan of attack.
Gindy threatened to break the stall, however, when he cast a Tyrranax, but Chris promptly Shrapnel Blasted it. Benafel remained stuck on land, and Gindy worsened the situation by casting Rain of Rust on Benafel's lone green mana, a Tree of Tales. "This guy, he only plays two- and three-drops!" referring to Chris's board of six two- or three-drops.
Benafel gave a little celebration as he won another coin flip and Goblin Archeologist again crushed a Clockwork Condor (just like last game), then cast a Copper Myr before passing the turn. He followed with a Clockwork Vorrac, slowly drawing out of his mana screw. The Archeologist continued to go to work on Gindy's artifacts, slapping down an Elf Replica this time and earning a big high five from an observing Fuller. Fireball from Benafel killed Tangle Asp and Tel-Jilad Chosen, but Chris failed to attack, perhaps fearing another Rude Awakening. Beacon of Creation created six 1/1s for Gindy, bringing him back from the brink of destruction to stall the board again.
Benafel finally chose to attack with a five-counter Vorrac, Thermal Navigator, and the Wolf. Baton of Courage absolutely wrecked Gindy, giving Benafel a seven-for-three from the card and leaving Charlie with nothing. Rude Awakening from Gindy could only generate sixteen points of unblocked damage, and since Benefel was at twenty, Gindy died on the counterattack.
Boeken was up a game, as he plodded through his match with Stead over in Seat B with four minutes left on the clock. The obvious ploy at this point was simply for Boeken to stall out the board and not die before time and extra turns were completed. However, Stead was having a hard time drawing any non-land cards, while Boeken had a series of small men and two Cranial Platings, making for impossible blocking situations for Stead. Eventually Stead extended the hand, giving Boeken, Fuller, and Benafel a chance to prove they were "back" in day 2.
Final Score: www.impulsemagic.com 2 - Thaaaat's Me 1
Seat A: Fennell 2 - Fuller 1
Seat B: Stead 0 - Boeken 2
Seat C: Gindy 1 - Benafel 2