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Helge Holds a Full Nelson on Germany

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Helge Holds a Full Nelson on Germany

Have you ever played a game of Magic? Then you know that sometimes, you need to destroy an artifact or an enchantment, right? Well, tournament players all over the world seemed to have forgotten just that very lesson. Going into German Nationals, Standard appeared pretty much solved. Caw-Blade was the overdog, U/B Control the hip anti-tech and Valakut was the other deck.

Funny story: Turns out, sometimes you need something faster than Karn Liberated to kill something. Like Shrine of Burning Rage, or Pyromancer Ascension. That were two major angles of attack both Caw-Blade and U/B Control had massive problems with, as champion Helge Nelson proved during the Standard rounds.

Nelson's story was remarkable. The 25-year-old PhD student originally was not qualified for Nationals and chose to try his luck and skill in the last-chance qualifiers on Thursday. When he entered his second M12 draft tournament, skill and luck came together perfectly to carry him to a clean sweep 5-0 victory and the right to enter Nationals the next morning.

Nationals is a multi-format event and you cannot be the champion without also mastering the draft. M12 proved to be an exciting, complex format that incited long discussions among the players how to make the best of it. Between the popular low-curve aggressive strategies, green-based aggro decks and blue-based control strategies, every player could find a niche.

When it came to the top 8 matches, Caw-Blade was nowhere to be seen, beaten by U/B Control which in turn had difficulty dealing with Lightning Bolt, Goblin Guide and especially Shrine of Burning Rage. The tables ran with fire as more than half of the Top 8 had red as their primary color. The German National Team – Helge Nelson, Tobias Dreger, Martin Zimmermann and Bernd Brendemühl – will certainly be looking at the red decks again come November and with it Worlds in San Francisco.


The German National Team (left to right): Martin Zimmermann, Tobias Dreger, Helge Nelson, and Bernd Brendemühl


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Michael Müller   Tobias Dreger
3-1
       
8 Tobias Dreger   Tobias Dreger, 3-1
       
4 Martin Zimmermann   Martin Zimmermann
3-2
  Helge Nelson, 3-2
5 Jan Hammerich    
       
2 Fabian Görzgen   Bernd Brendemühl
3-0
7 Bernd Brendemühl   Helge Nelson, 3-0
       
3 Helge Nelson   Helge Nelson
3-1
6 Michael Diezel    

3rd Place Playoff  
Bernd Brendemühl Martin Zimmermann
3-2
Martin Zimmermann


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EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER
  • by Tobi Henke and Hanno Terbuyken
    Feature: Top 5 Cards of Germany Nationals 2011

  • by Tobi Henke
    Final: Tobias Dreger vs. Helge Nelson

  • by Tobi Henke
    Semifinal: Bernd Brendemühl vs. Helge Nelson

  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Semifinal: Tobias Dreger vs. Martin Zimmermann

  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Third-place Playoff: Bernd Brendemühl vs. Martin Zimmermann

  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Quarterfinals Round-Up

  • by Tobi Henke
    Quarterfinal: Martin Zimmermann vs. Jan Hammerich

  • by Tobi Henke
    Top 8: Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8: Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Decklists: Top Standard Decks

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
  1.   Helge Nelson
  2.   Tobias Dreger
  3.   Martin Zimmermann
  4.   Bernd Brendemühl
  5.   Michael Müller
  6.   Fabian Görzgen
  7.   Jan Hammerich
  8.   Michael Diezel
Pairings Results Standings
Final Standings

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14
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11
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8
14
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12
11
10
9
8

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  • Top Standard Decks

    by Event Coverage Staff




  • Benjamin Petersdorf (7-1)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Adrian Reitenauer (7-1)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Florian Reiter (7-1)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Emanuel Sutor (7-1)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Bernd Brendemühl (6-1-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Michael Diezel (6-1-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Tobias Dreger (6-1-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Marcel Bauche (6-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)





    Florian Fingerhut (6-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Daniel Gräfensteiner (6-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Christian Hauck (6-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)



    Johannes Jessen (6-2)
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)





     
  • Top 8 - Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Martin Zimmermann - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


    Helge Nelson - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


    Fabian Görzgen - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


    Jan Hammerich - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


    Michael Diezel - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


    Bernd Brendemühl - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


    Tobias Dreger - Top 8
    German Nationals 2011 (Standard Constructed)


     
  • Top 8 - Player Profiles

    by Tobi Henke
  • Name: Michael Müller

    Age: 39

    Hometown: Dortmund

    Previous Magic accomplishments: Top 8 Nationals 2007

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    3-0 with R/G, 1-2 with R/W

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    I prefer Legacy




    Name: Fabian Görzgen

    Age: 21

    Hometown: Bochum

    Occupation: Student (chemical engineering)

    Previous Magic accomplishments: None

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    3-0 with B/R, 3-0 with U/W

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    Jund

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Worlds

    Name: Michael Diezel

    Age: too old

    Hometown: Leipzig

    Occupation: Teacher

    Previous Magic accomplishments: Top 8 Nationals 2000, German team champion 2005

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    2-1 with G/U, 2-1 with B/W

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    War of Attrition Event Deck

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Champion!

    Name: Jan Hammerich

    Age: 18

    Hometown: Heidelberg

    Occupation: Student

    Previous Magic accomplishments: None

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    2-1 with Garruk, Primal Hunter and Jace, Memory Adept, 3-0 with R/B aggro

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    No idea, probably mono red

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Worlds

    Name: Martin Zimmermann

    Age: 26

    Hometown: Wiesbaden

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    2-1 with U/W, 3-0 with U/B

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    What's Modern?

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Worlds



    Name: Bernd Brendemühl

    Age: 33

    Hometown: Dortmund

    Occupation: Development engineer

    Previous Magic accomplishments: GP Top 8 (Paris 2009), Nationals Top 8 (2003), one GP Top 32, two GP Top 64

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    2-1 with W/R, 2-1 with U/B

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    Zoo

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Worlds

    Name: Tobias Dreger

    Age: 20

    Hometown: Bad Segeberg

    Occupation: Shepherd

    Previous Magic accomplishments: Nationals Top 8 last year

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    2-1 with W/B aggro, 2-1 with G/B ramp

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    Big Zoo with Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows, Knight of the Reliquary, and Green Sun's Zenith

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Worlds

    Name: Helge Nelson

    Age: 25

    Hometown: Münster

    Occupation: Ph.D. student (physics)

    Previous Magic accomplishments: GP Top 8 (Hasselt 2006)

    What decks did you draft and what was your score with each?
    3-0 with R/U, 2-1 with U/B splashing green

    If you played a tournament in the new Modern format tomorrow, what deck would you choose?
    My draft deck from the last-chance qualifier, that was really good.

    What's more important to you: being qualified for Worlds or being national champion?
    Worlds

     
  • Quarterfinal: Martin Zimmermann vs. Jan Hammerich

    by Tobi Henke
  • Martin Zimmermann entered the fray with blue-black control, Jan Hammerich brought his mono-red aggro deck. These were the two most succesful archetypes of the tournament, and here they faced off.

    Game One

    Zimmermann won the die-roll, but started with two mulligans before playing a tapped land. Hammerich had Goblin Guide. "Now it's only one mulligan," Zimmermann commented, as he revealed Darkslick Shores on the top of his library.

    He had Inquisition of Kozilek, but didn't like what he saw in his opponent's hand: MountainFurnace Scamp, Lightning Bolt, Searing Blaze as well as two copies of Shrine of Burning Rage, one of which he took. Hammerich cast the other.

    Zimmermann was looking for answers. Down came Jace Beleren and netted him an extra card. Goblin Guide attacked and Hammerich, stuck on two lands, summoned Furnace Scamp and Grim Lavamancer.

    Zimmermann had Black Sun's Zenith to clear the board, but the clock of doom that is Shrine of Burning Rage was still ticking. Unfortunately for Hammerich, he only had two lands and watched helplessly as his Shrine was returned to his hand via Into the Roil. When he replayed it, it resolved uncontested, but now Zimmermann's deck was operating on full power. He cast Liliana Vess and, unbeknownst to his opponent, tutored up Karn Liberated. When Hammerich tapped low for Ember Hauler, Karn exiled the Shrine.

    A Grave Titan followed, which Hammerich killed with Searing Blaze and Lightning Bolt. Its little Zombie buddies started the beatdown anyway. Zimmermann soon found another Grave Titan and Hammerich didn't have enough burn.

    Martin Zimmermann 1 – 0 Jan Hammerich

    Jan Hammerich didn't have a lot in his sideboard. He just switched two Searing Blazes for two copies of Act of Aggression. Meanwhile, Martin Zimmermann did some more extensive sideboarding:

    + Wurmcoil Engine
    +3 Disfigure
    >+4 Flashfreeze
    +2 Duress
    +1 Despise
    +1 Black Sun's Zenith
    +1 Dismember

    -3 Solemn Simulacrum
    -2 Mana Leak
    -1 Karn Liberated
    -1 Tectonic Edge
    -1 Consume the Meek
    -1 Consecrated Sphinx
    -4 Jace Beleren

    Martin Zimmermann

    Game Two

    This time, Hammerich went to five. Zimmermann, after one mulligan, kept: Darkslick Shores, Duress, Despise, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Flashfreeze.

    Hammerich had a Grim Lavamancer, that attacked with bonus from Teetering Peaks, while Zimmermann despised a Hero of Oxid Ridge. Next turn, Zimmermann used Disfigure on the Lavamancer, but had still no second land. Hammerich had no play during his own turn, and didn't respond to Zimmermann's Inquisition of Kozilek. He revealed Lightning Bolt and Hero of Oxid Rage. A baffled Zimmermann: "Err, yes? Then I take Lightning Bolt?" Hammerich chided himself for his misplay.

    Zimmermann found lands, but Hammerich found Shrine of Burning Rage. For the rest of the game, he continued to draw spells, whereas, because of his earlier screw, Zimmermann's finishers came too late.

    Martin Zimmermann 1 – 1 Jan Hammerich

    Game Three

    Despise revealed: Mountain, Koth of the Hammer, Furnace Scamp, Lightning Bolt, Searing Blaze, Scalding Tarn, and Grim Lavamancer. Zimmermann thought long and hard and, in the end, chose Grim Lavamancer. Hammerich summoned Furnace Scamp.

    Zimmermann preordained. When Hammerich decided to not sacrifice his Furnace Scamp, Zimmermann killed it at end of turn. Hammerich had another Furnace Scamp, Zimmermann another Disfigure.

    Chandra's Phoenix, however, proved a more resilient threat. It attacked a couple of times, then was returned via Into the Roil. It came back, then was killed by Black Sun's Zenith. Lightning Bolt regrew the Phoenix, but Disfigure killed it once again.

    Zimmermann made a Grave Titan that looked as if it might be fast enough to race the Phoenix. Zimmermann was at 10, Hammerich was at 18 from two fetchlands he had sacrificed earlier.

    Lightning Bolt put Zimmermann at 7 and the Phoenix back in Hammerich's hand. The attack brought Hammerich to 5. Grave Titan and his minions, together with Creeping Tar Pit, took Hammerich to 5 as well. Hammerich had the Lightning Bolt to clinch the game.

    Martin Zimmermann 1 – 2 Jan Hammerich

    Jan Hammerich

    Game Four

    Hammerich started with Grim Lavamancer, Shrine of Burning Rage, which met Mana Leak, and another Shrine of Burning Rage, which resolved.

    Zimmermann had Black Sun's Zenith for the Lavamancer and a Disfigure for a newly-summoned Goblin Guide. Hammerich wasn't able to make any creature stick, but he did have Shrine of Burning Rage and was clearly planning on burning Zimmermann out, when he shot a Lightning Bolt to the dome. Zimmermann on the other hand deployed Grave Titan.

    When Grave Titan and team attacked for half of Hammerich's life total, Zimmermann himself was at 11, with Shrine of Burning Rage on eight counters. At end of turn, Hammerich cast Lightning Bolt; Zimmermann stopped it per Flashfreeze. The crowd held their breath. With three lands on the battlefield, an untapped land plus any one-mana spell would win the game for Hammerich. He topdecked ... Teetering Peaks.

    Martin Zimmermann 2 – 2 Jan Hammerich

    Game Five

    Again, Teetering Peaks was responsible for less than optimal mana supply. Hammerich kept Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning, Hero of Oxid Rige, Grim Lavamancer, two Goblin Guides, and Teetering Peaks as the only land. Zimmermann agreed that it was the correct decision to keep this hand, but the resulting slow offense allowed Zimmermann to take full advantage of all his discard.

    Soon, Hammerich was left with nothing but a lone Goblin Guide on the battlefield, along with three lands. He only had a Hero of Oxid Ridge and an Act of Aggression in hand, when Zimmermann reached six mana. But the control player knew about the Act of Aggression and played Grave Titan first, and only then continued with Wurmcoil Engine. The fatties finished the game in short order.

    Martin Zimmermann 3 – 2 Jan Hammerich

     
  • Quarterfinal Roundup

    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • While the quintessential match-up of this Nationals got the in-depth treatment (Mono-Red vs. U/B Control), I had the other three to watch.

    Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

    Starting with Müller vs. Dreger, Gixatian Probe showed Dreger Müller's mighty hand of Mana Leak, Into the Roil, Liliana Vess, Jace Blereren, Tectonic Edge, Despise and Stoic Rebuttal. Müller drew an Island off the top and Dreger had to spend a Mana Leak to stop Müller's Jace Beleren. Dreger had Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield, but things were looking good for Müller.

    A couple of minutes later, Dreger had two Pyromancer Ascension with two counters and as I walked over, he pointed Lightning Bolt and Red Sun's Zenith at Brendemühl, who shrugged and picked up his cards.

    Helge Nelson (Mono-Red) vs. Michael Diezel (Mono-Red)

    Meanwhile, Nelson and Diezel had already finished game one in their match. Both players had slung burn and creatures at each other, but Diezel had a not-so-subtle surprise for Nelson: Two Goblin Grenades. Boom.

    Bernd Brendemühl (Mono-Red) vs. Fabian Görzgen (Valakut)

    Bernd Brendemühl

    On the table to their right, Görzgen threw the first game away on a technicality. With exactly seven mana available including Overgrown Battlements, he moved to cast Primeval Titan and realized that he had not intended to use the Overgrown Battlement. Since he had announced the spell already, he had to play it that way. With the Titan on the stack, Görzgen was tapped out and thus without any chance of Nature's Claim to gain critical life. Brendemühl could incinerate Görzgen for the last three points of damage. Görzgen did not have Nature's Claim in hand, but that didn't matter in the least, because his misplay removed any uncertainty on Brendemühl's part that he could win game one right there.

    Helge Nelson (Mono-Red) vs. Michael Diezel (Mono-Red)

    Helge Nelson

    While Brendemühl and Görzgen shored up game one, the two accomplished burn mages Nelson and Diezel had already finished game two, this one going to Nelson as Diezel had missed a land to enable landfall on Searing Blaze, playing the entire game on two lands. Nelson fared better to pull away with damage and the win.

    Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

    Over in the match where a lot was going on without a lot happening, Müller held a good grip of Inquisition of Kozilek, Flashfreeze, Preordain, Karn Liberated and Jace Beleren. However, Dreger kept harassing him with Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe, proving that the information advantage was as important as the extra cards he drew off Probes. Foresee showed Dreger that he had land, See Beyond, Pyromancer Ascension and Ponder on top of his library. "Those all stay on top", he announced, cleary pleased with that selection.

    Müller played Jace Beleren. Dreger baited Mana Leak with Pyromancer Ascension and followed it up immediately with a second one that Müller couldn't stop, as laughter from the mono-red match drew my attention away: Helge Nelson had just pulled ahead a game in this best-of-five match.

    The match between Müller and Dreger not only was entertaining to watch for the player's easygoing banter, but also for the game itself. Where Müller had added Liliana Vess to his board, Dreger again had Pyromancer Ascension going with two counters. A replacement Jace Beleren, Karn Liberated and Wurmcoil Enginge were still waiting in Müller's hand. But Dreger Pondered without end. Red Sun's Zenith was in sight on top of his library, Lightning Bolt was in his hand and he held two Mana Leaks to protect all that.

    Müller used Liliana to find what he needed. But Dreger's deck was running smoothly, and he shaped his hand to deal with whatever Müller could throw at him, like Volition Reins. Müller was still on 20 life so Dreger would need the full force of Pyromancer Ascension to deal enough damage.

    Helge Nelson (Mono-Red) vs. Michael Diezel (Mono-Red)

    Michael Diezel

    Enough damage was not a problem for Helge Nelson, though, who had secured a third win in his match and was the first player to advance to the semifinals of the German Nationals 2011! In the fourth game of the mono-red mirror, he had managed to equip Sword of War and Peace, "which should never happen", according to Diezel. Goblin Guide had come from the top of his library to pick up the beatstick, and Diezel never recovered from that.

    Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

    Back to the more interesting match, Dreger had almost come in danger of drawing his entire library. He started the shooting with Burst Lightning and Lightning Bolt to get Müller to 13 life and kill Liliana Vess, as Müller was unable to cast either one of his two Flashfreezes to stop any of that. Dreger was on a mere 8 life, though, and Müller contemplated if his two Creeping Tar Pits could kill Dreger safely without dying from a burn spell.

    Bernd Brendemühl (Mono-Red) vs. Fabian Görzgen (Valakut)

    Fabian Görzgen

    While all of this was happening, Brendemühl and Görzgen were plodding away in their quarterfinal, which turned out to be a one-sided affair. In game two of the match, Brendemühl had kicked off with Goblin Guide and Teetering Peaks, dealing a hefty amount of damage before Görzgen could establish his wall defense. But Görzgen found nothing else to stop the attacks – Primeval Titan especially eluded him. When Görzgen was on 8 life, Brendemühl drew Ember Hauler, Lightning Bolt and Incinerate, in that order, and fried Görzgen thorougly.

    Game three was essentially a blowout after both players mulliganed. Görzgen played a turn five Avenger of Zendikar, but couldn't grow his plants for lack of mana. Brendemühl seized the opportunity to kill the Avenger and found Kargan Dragonlord. It took just one turn to get the Dragonlord to eight counters, and Brendemühl rode that to victory and into the semifinals!

    Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

    Back in game two of the combo-control duel, Dreger had not managed to get an Ascension back up yet. At 3 life, he was in severe danger of dying to Creeping Tar Pit next turn, but with an end-of-turn Burst Lightning, Dreger took Brendemühl from 7 to 5, giving his Pyromancer Ascension a second counter. Dreger untapped, attacked with his Consecrated Sphinx (Müller to 1 life) and took a close game two with a final burn spell.

    Game three was once more a prolonged affair. The cheerfulness had largely dried out from these players, as they were playing mentally exhausting Magic, each waiting for a Mental Misstep from the other. Müller picked up a warning as he failed to discard down to 7 cards at the end of one of his turns. Roughly fifteen minutes into the game the board position consisted of lands only and Dreger had just two cards left in his library. Müller had sucessfully prevented any and all Pyromancer Ascension shenanigans, and this time, Dreger had not found a chink in the blue-black armor.

    Tobias Dreger (left) and Michael Müller (right)

    At two games to Dreger and one to Müller, the players shuffled up for the fourth game. This time, Dreger fared much better, setting up with Pyromancer Ascension with two counters AND a Consecrated Sphinx about ten turns into the game. Müller had Liliana Vess to help him out, though the planeswalker did little to afffect the board.

    Gitaxian Probe showed Dreger Flashfreeze, Karn Liberated, Surgical Extraction, Consecrated Sphinx, Jace Beleren and Inquisition of Kozilek in Müller's hand, but Müller was tapped out anyway and could do nothing as Dreger pushed a second Pyromancer Ascension to two counters. "Drawing cards is good", sighed Müller as his opponent drew and drew and drew through his deck. That Müller was stuck on five lands barely helped. Two times he tried Inquisition of Kozilek, but with the Sphinx providing twice the cards Müller had, Dreger had a counter for each of them.

    Müller then tried Surgical Extraction, on Mana Leak. Dreger responded with Burst Lightning with Kicker, copied twice – enough to kill Müller on the spot. "No, you cannot see my hand!" said Dreger and took the fourth game and the match.

    Final Results

    Bernd Brendemühl 3 – 0 Fabian Görzgen

    Helge Nelson 3 – 1 Michael Diezel

    Michael Müller 1 – 3 Tobias Dreger

     
  • Third-place playoff - Bernd Brendemühl vs. Martin Zimmermann

    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Both Brendemühl and Zimmermann came to the table quite relaxed. They knew that they wouldn't have to face the pressure of a championship match. Both had qualified for Worlds, and nobody would take that away from them now.

    Game One

    Brendemühl started with the classic opening move of Mountain, Goblin Guide, attacked and gave Zimmermann two extra lands in the first two turns of the game. That was good enough for Zimmermann, who was happy to then kill the Goblin with Go for the Throat. Brendemühl offered Plated Geopede buffed by Teetering Peaks, for which Zimmermann had Doomblade.

    Inquisition of Kozilek let Zimmermann remove Incinerate from Brendemühl's hand from among Burst Lightning, Ember Hauler and Grim Lavamancer. His Jace was quickly attacked and killed, but Zimmermann had already drawn Consume the Meek to clear the board of enemy creatures. Brendemühl tried to rebuild with Grim Lavamancer, which promptly died to another Go for the Throat. Whatever Brendemühl did, Zimmermann had the answer.

    Next answer: Grave Titan. Done.

    Bernd Brendemühl 0 – 1 Martin Zimmermann

    Bernd Brendemühl

    "Tell me, are you leaving the Kargan Dragonlords in?" Zimmmermann asked jokingly. Brendemühl politely declined to reveal his sideboard plan to his opponent. He did reveal it to the coverage reporter, though. Brendemühl brought in 1 Koth of the Hammer and his 3 Shrine of Burning Rage, taking out 3 Searing Blaze and 1 Burst Lightning

    Zimmermann's sideboard plan was more complex. He swapped 12 cards from his deck:

    - 3 Solemn Simulacrum
    - 1 Karn Liberated
    - 1 Tectonic Edge
    - 1 Consecrated Sphinx
    - 2 Mana Leak
    - 4 Jace Beleren

    + 1 Despise
    + 3 Disfigure
    + 1 Dismember
    + 2 Duress
    + 4 Flashfreeze
    + 1 Wurmcoil Engine

    Game Two

    An early Inquisition of Kozilek answered Zimmermann's question about the sideboard plan immediately: In Brendemühl's initial seven, he found and discarded Kargan Dragonlord. Still, Brendemühl had enough gas to put pressure on Zimmermann. Goblin Guide did a lot of the work, dealing 10 damage on its own, taking Zimmermann to 7 life with the help of Incinerate.

    Brendemühl played Shrine of Searing Flesh and Plated Geopede. With just two lands in play, drawing a third only on his eighth turn, Brendemühl's deck couldn't operate on full power. Still, his cards were cheap and he pointed more burn at Zimmermann as soon as he got it. Lightning Bolt and Burst Lightning brought Zimmermann to 2 life. All Brendemühl needed to finish his opponent was some burn spell.

    But Zimmmermann had brought Grave Titan to the battlefield once more, and Brendemühl's time to win was running out. Goblin Guide wasn't doing much against the Titan, and when Brendemühl's last chance turned out to be Koth of the Hammer, Zimmermann had turned the game around at the last moment.

    "This was close", commented Zimmermann, "any closer would have been death!"

    Bernd Brendemühl 0 – 2 Martin Zimmermann

    Game Three

    Once more, Zimmermann led with his favorite card, Inquisition of Kozilek. He saw Kargan Dragonlord, Lightning Bolt, Hero of Oxid Ridge, Incinerate, Plated Geopede and Mountain, picking the Dragonlord. Go for the Throat killed the Plated Geopede that was Brendemühl's first attack, and Zimmermann had to eat a lot of damage when he played another Inquisition, because Brendemühl dealt him six in response to the spell with Lightning Bolt and Incinerate. He also got to keep his other two cards, because the Inquisition could not touch the two Hero of Oxid Ridge.

    Again, Brendemühl was scarce on lands, not drawing a fourth for three turns. Kargan Dragonlord filled the gap in the meanwhile. Despite being able to cast his Dismembers, Zimmermann was also hit by mana troubles, as he failed to find a source for blue mana. Brendemühl declined to give him a chance for land through Goblin Guide, and when blue mana was not forthcoming, Zimmermann succumbed to the onslaught.

    Bernd Brendemühl 1 – 2 Martin Zimmermann

    Martin Zimmermann and his Playoff winning neckline.

    Game Four

    Immediately after he drew his initial seven cards in the fourth game, Zimmermann shipped them back for a better six. Despise then gave him a look at four lands, Kargan Dragonlord, Grim Lavamancer and Plated Geopede. Brendemühl drew Goblin Guide on his next turn, played it and gave Zimmermann a land with it. The next card he revealed was Consume the Meek – potentially bad news for Brendemühl.

    Brendemühl smashed Zimmermann to 14 with Goblin Guide and played Kargan Dragonlord, attacking with it and Goblin Guide on the next turn. Zimmermann decided to take 4 damage, going to 10, and only after combat did Brendemühl put counters on the Dragonlord. Incinerate brought Zimmermann to 7. Consume the Meek prevented more damage from the coming attack. Brendemühl had Lightning Bolt to put Zimmermann on 4, and Ember Hauler sacrificed brought Zimmermann to 2.

    With Doomblades, Disfigures and Flashfreezes, Zimmermann kept the board empty for while. He fought off five Plated Geopedes, Ember Haulers and Goblin Guides. Then Brendemühl drew another Goblin Guide from the top, and the little Goblin that did so much this weekend finished the job to even out the games.

    Bernd Brendemühl 2 – 2 Martin Zimmermann

    Game Five

    So it came down to a fifth game! Both players tackled it in relaxed fashion. Both would be going to Worlds, and that was the main goal. A place on the National team was just the icing on the cake. But still: Who would it be?

    Brendemühl kicked off with Plated Geopede, Zimmermann answered with Disfigure. The second Plated Geopede met Flashfreeze. Inquisition of Kozilek took away an Ember Hauler, but another one remained alongside two Lightning Bolt and Incinerate.

    Zimmermann went to 17 from Lightning Bolt and used Mana Leak to stop Shrine of Burning Rage. The next creature Brendemühl played was Ember Hauler, then Kargan Dragonlord. Duress from Zimmermann just revealed more of the same: Lightning Bolt, Incinerate, Burst Lightning. Incinerate went away, Disfigure took care of Kargan Dragonlord and finally Zimmermann knew what he wanted to use all the time for that he bought: Grave Titan.

    He didn't have much joy of it, though. Brendemühl burned the Titan away with Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning and a sacrificed Ember Hauler. That emptied Brendemühl's hand completely, and Ziommermann's two zombie tokens were the only non-land permanents left. Facing a control deck in full stride with nothing left to play with but the top of his library, Brendemühl had no outs.

    Bernd Brendemühl 2 – 3 Martin Zimmermann

     
  • Semifinal - Tobias Dreger vs. Martin Zimmermann

    by Hanno Terbuyken
  • Game One

    Zimmermann kicked off the information war with Inquisition of Kozilek, taking away Gitaxian Probe from Dreger while also seeing Mana Leak, Red Sun's Zenith and Lightning Bolt. Clearly Zimmermann didn't want his hand given away. But Dreger had another Gitaxian Probe, and Mana Leak for Zimmermann's second Inquisition. Zimmermann was happy to see no Pyromancer Ascension in Dregers hand, but two turns later, Dreger simply drew one and put it on the battlefield to the crowd's amusement.

    As in his quarterfinal match, Dreger burned through cards like only the Ascension deck can. That gave him Mana Leak to counter Zimmermann's Jace Beleren – an important spell, as that one gave Dreger the second counter on his Pyromancer Ascension. Dreger then played a second Ascension and Pondered and Foresaw and Saw Beyond to quickly put a second counter on that one, too. A bunch of draw and search spells later, Zimmermann conceded game one.

    Tobias Dreger 1 – 0 Martin Zimmermann

    Tobias Dreger

    Both players went to their sideboards and changed their decks. Tobias Dreger simply took out 4 Into the Roil and added 3 Mental Misstep and 1 Consecrated Sphinx from his sideboard.

    Martin Zimmermann's plan was a little more intricate. His changes looked like this:

    IN

    + 4 Flashfreeze
    + 2 Memoricide
    + 2 Duress

    OUT

    - 1 Solemn Simulacrum
    - 1 Black Sun's Zenith
    - 1 Go for the Throat
    - 2 Doom Blade
    - 1 Consume the Meek
    - 1 Despise
    - 1 Dismember

    Game Two

    Once more, Zimmermann decided to put an Inquisition of Kozilek out as a first feeler. He saw 2 See Beyond, Ponder, Preordain, Burst Lightning and 2 fetchlands in Dreger's opening hand and made him discard the Ponder. Dreger had drawn a Gitaxian Probe, though, and returned the favor of probing for information. He saw 2 Jace Beleren, Creeping Tar Pit and two more lands.

    The two players essentially replayed their first couple of turns without much difference – once again, Zimmermann took a Ponder from Dreger's hand. But Dreger simply saw more cards from his deck overall, and one of them was Pyromancer Ascension that immediately received two counters through the usual small spells.

    Zimmermann's main problem was that his deck had no way to deal with Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield other than one Karn Liberated and one Into the Roil. Though Zimmermann played Liliana Vess to help him find a solution, his biggest hope were his counterspells. But even those would never be enough to stop all copies.

    '...When he put a third Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield and pumped it up to two counters, Zimmermann slumped...'

    A case in point was the Red Sun's Zenith that Dreger played to kill Liliana Vess. Zimmermann tried Flashfreeze to counter at least one copy, to keep Liliana alive. But Dreger not only had a copy of Zenith, but also Mana Leak to stop the Flashfreeze entirely. And of course, Dreger simply drew more cards. When he put a third Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield and pumped it up to two counters, Zimmermann slumped.

    However, Dreger was already down to 8 life, mostly damaging himself through fetchlands. Zimmermann attacked with Creeping Tar Pit. But against three loaded Ascensions, that plan seemed much too slow – and it was, as it turned out, especially since Dreger still had Burst Lightning to just kill it.

    Tobias Dreger 2 – 0 Martin Zimmermann

    Game Three

    Zimmermann decided to play first and immediately mulliganed to six cards in hand. Neither player had Inquisition of Kozilek or Gitaxian Probe, so for the first few turns the fog of war engulfed their hands. Until Dreger had Gitaxian Probe. Zimmermann sat on a hand of Flashfreeze, Solemn Simulacrum, Jace Beleren, Grave Titan and Go for the Throat – but he was missing land drops.

    Four mana was just enough to play Memoricide, though. Dreger had to let it resolve, with a hand of Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning, See Beyond, Ponder – and Pyromancer Ascension. Of course, that was what Zimmermann had in mind to name anyway! Without his Ascensions, Dreger had to try and win this game the hard way, with Bolts, Bursts, Red Sun's Zenith and Consecrated Sphinx.

    A reinvigorated Zimmermann was happy to summon Solemn Simulacrum to the battlefield and to let Dreger dig through his deck with Ponder and See Beyond. Jace Beleren followed from Zimmermann, but did nothing: Lightning Bolt from Dreger drew out Mana Leak from Zimmermann, but after an untap a second Bolt killed Jace for good and Dreger used Red Sun's Zenith to remove Solemn Simulacrum.

    Zimmermann was unfazed. Small wonder, as he tapped all his lands to put Grave Titan on the battlefield! Dreger was holding Consecrated Sphinx which he played, knowing full well that Zimmermann was still holding Go for the Throat, but the feeble resistance was futile and Martin took the game.

    Tobias Dreger 2 – 1 Martin Zimmermann

    Tobias Dreger's double ascensions overwhelm Zimmerman's U/B control.

    Game Four

    Dreger pondered long over his initial hand and decided to ship it back for lack of land. Inquisition of Kozilek from Zimmermann revealed that his second set had enough land, but only Gitaxian Probe and Mana Leak as spells, and the Probe quickly went away. A turn later, Zimmermann played a second Inquisition, which Dreger countered with his Mana Leak. A third Inquisition was met by Mental Misstep. With that, Dreger had successfully protected the Pyromancer Ascension he had just drawn to put it on the battlefield.

    Gitaxian Probe showed Dreger that Zimmermann held Jace Beleren, Flashfreeze, Liliana Vess, Preordain and Consecrated Sphinx. But all of that wasn't much help as Dreger exploded in a flurry of copied cantrips.

    A second Pyromancer Ascension immediately gained two counters as well. Zimmermann slouched in his chair after he had pressed F6 to cede priority to Dreger for the turn. There was nothing he could do, and after Dreger countered Liliana Vess, Martin extended the hand and Tobias Dreger advanced to the finals!

    Tobias Dreger 3 – 1 Martin Zimmermann

     
  • Semifinal - Bernd Brendemühl vs. Helge Nelson

    by Tobi Henke
  • "Burning" Bernd Brendemühl is known throughout Germany as one of the very best mono red mages. Sitting across from him this round, however, was Helge Nelson who had already dispatched Michael Diezel in another mono red mirror match in the quarterfinals.

    Game One

    "My start's rather harmless, I'm afraid," said Brendemühl, playing Teetering Peaks and passing the turn. Nelson had Goblin Guide and attacked. On his turn, Brendemühl got rid of the Goblin via Searing Blaze. Next, his Burst Lightning killed Plated Geopede. Then, Nelson summoned Chandra's Phoenix which received a Burst Lightning as well.

    Bernd Brendemühl

    Brendemühl made the first creature of his own: Ember Hauler. Nelson had yet more creatures: Another Plated Geopede, and two Grim Lavamancers. Brendemühl killed all of them, losing his Ember Hauler in the process. And it was just as well because Nelson had cast Sword of War and Peace. With the equipment at the ready and Brendemühl tapped out, Nelson looked at the top of his deck. "Goblin Guide?"

    He got Koth of the Hammer instead and attacked for 4. Brendemühl who was stuck on three lands made Grim Lavamancer and Kargan Dragonlord and passed the turn with two cards left in his hand, resigning to the fate of being hit by Sword of War and Peace. Nelson drew Chandra's Phoenix, cast and equipped it, with the fifth mana courtesy of Koth, then attacked for, all in all, 6 damage to put Brendemühl at 6.

    "I don't even have the mana to get rid of enough cards in my hand to survive one more turn," Brendemühl complained.

    Bernd Brendemühl 0 – 1 Helge Nelson

    Nelson's sideboarding

    -4 Goblin Guide
    -2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
    +2 Manic Vandal
    +2 Arc Trail
    +1 Vulshok Refugee
    +1 Dismember

    Brendemühl's sideboarding

    -4 Goblin Guide
    -4 Kargan Dragonlord
    -1 Hero of Oxid Ridge
    +3 Shrine of Burning Rage
    +2 Vulshok Refugee
    +2 Manic Vandal
    +1 Searing Blaze
    +1 Koth of the Hammer

    Game Two

    Both decks apparently turned a lot more control-oriented after sideboarding. The action started with Shrine of Burning Rage for Nelson, Ember Hauler for Brendemühl. Nelson had another Shrine, then hit Ember Hauler with Arc Trail.

    Over the next couple of turns, the players traded numerous burn spells for just as many creatures. The board was empty except for lands on both sides and the two Shrines on Nelson's side. He controlled one Shrine with seven counters and one with eight as well as six lands. Brendemühl was on 17, Nelson himself on 10. Nelson drew the only card that would allow him to win this turn: Koth of the Hammer. If he played Koth, the Shrines would both get another counter. Then he could use Koth's second ability to generate six mana, and deal lethal damage with the Shrines. But Nelson didn't see it!

    Helge Nelson produces an Arc Trail to deal with Brendemühl's Ember Hauler

    He used Koth's first ability instead and attacked for 4. Brendemühl pointed out the mistake and also that he himself did indeed have 7 points of burn damage (kicked Burst Lightning, which he played at end of turn, and Lightning Bolt) in his hand. If he drew another Lightning Bolt or Incinerate now, Nelson's mistake really would cost him the game. The crowd watched expectantly as Brendemühl slowly drew his card: It was Koth of the Hammer, now completely useless because of Nelson's own Koth.

    Bernd Brendemühl 0 – 2 Helge Nelson

    Game Three

    After mulligans, Brendemühl was a little short on mana, which delayed his Vulshok Refugee. Meanwhile his opponent's Chandra's Phoenix was busy attacking since turn three.

    Still, the Refugee wasn't exactly bad at playing catch up. After all, it did have more power, and Chandra's Phoenix died a couple of times. Just in time, though, Nelson found Shrine of Burning Rage to get rid of the Refugee.

    Nevertheless, Vulshok Refugee and Chandra's Phoenix had managed to put their respective victims in the single-digit life total range. The game was going to be decided on direct damage. In the end, it came down to a situation when Nelson's Staggershock rebound put Brendemühl at exactly 1 life, so he couldn't use Arid Mesa to get landfall for his Searing Blaze.

    Bernd Brendemühl 0 – 3 Helge Nelson

     
  • Final: Tobias Dreger vs. Helge Nelson

    by Tobi Henke
  • This is it. The culmination of one weekend of thrilling Magic. Three more wins and one of these players would be crowned champion of German Nationals 2011. The match-up was Pyromancer Ascension played by Tobias Dreger and, on the other side, a deck and a player not many had expected at the beginning of the weekend to end up here. Helge Nelson won a last-chance qualifier on Thursday and made it all the way to the finals with his mono-red deck.

    Game One

    Dreger won the die-roll and kept his seven, Nelson took two mulligans. Both players had tapped lands on their first turn, Halimar Depths for Dreger, Teetering Peaks for Nelson.

    On turn two, Nelson summoned two Goblin Guides, one of which was stopped by Mana Leak. Dreger cast Pyromancer Ascension and passed the turn with one Mountain untapped. Nelson used the opportunity and cast Shrine of Burning Rage as well as a third Goblin Guide. One of the Guides died to Burst Lightning, the other got Dreger down to 16.

    Dreger cast Preordain, paid 2 life for Gitaxian Probe, saw that the single card in Nelson's hand was Staggershock, paid 1 more life to fetch Island with Misty Rainforest, and cast another Preordain to put the first counter on Pyromancer Ascension. He passed the turn with no blue mana available, an opportunity Nelson used to resolve Staggershock.

    Goblin Guide was hit by Lightning Bolt. Now, since Nelson was tapped out and couldn't use his Shrine, Dreger seized the opportunity and bounced the artifact. He passed the turn with Mana Leak mana up. Nelson didn't have much choice and re-cast his Shrine and Dreger did indeed have the Mana Leak, which also put a second counter on Pyromancer Ascension

    Now on 9 life with a fully-powered Ascension, Dreger looked firmly in control. The game continued for a couple of turns in a flurry of copied Preordains, Ponders, Gitaxian Probes, with the occasional See Beyond for good measure. Nelson fought back valiantly with Chandra's Phoenix, a second Staggershock, and Lightning Bolt. And in fact, he did manage to get Dreger down to 4. But when a second Pyromancer Ascension made its way to the table and was charged in record time, a couple of Lightnings soon finished the game

    Tobias Dreger 1 – 0 Helge Nelson

    The match-up was about to change considerably, because both players boarded some extremely effective cards, though it was hard to say who gained most from his sideboard.

    Nelson's sideboarding:

    -4 Searing Blaze
    -1 Staggershock
    +2 Manabarbs
    +2 Manic Vandal
    +1 Vulshok Refugee

    Dreger's sideboarding:
    -4 Gitaxian Probe
    -4 See Beyond
    -1 Foresee
    -1 Red Sun's Zenith
    -2 Into the Roil
    +2 Batterskull
    +4 Flashfreeze
    +3 Pyroclasm
    +3 Mental Misstep

    Tobias Dreger

    Game Two

    Both players kept their opening seven, neither had a play on turn one. Turn two, Nelson had Grim Lavamancer, whereas Dreger had Pyromancer Ascension. What Dreger lacked, however, was blue mana. Nelson attacked, summoned Plated Geopede, and played a Scalding Tarn.

    Dreger still didn't have an Island, but he did have a Lightning Bolt for the Geopede. Dreger was in dire trouble as Nelson cast Koth of the Hammer, which Dreger couldn't stop without blue mana. Dreger killed it with two Burst Lightnings which got him a first counter on Pyromancer Ascension, but not without taking 5 damage on the attack.

    Again no Island, while Nelson made Hero of Oxid Ridge, exactly when Dreger was out of instant burn. He did have Pyroclasm to take out Hero and Grim Lavamancer, but Nelson simply untapped, and pointed two Lightning Bolts and a Staggershock at Dreger's face

    Tobias Dreger 1 – 1 Helge Nelson

    Game Three

    Dreger's start was much better this time, with Preordain, Pyromancer Ascension, Preordain, Ponder, and Burst Lightning, all in the first three turns.

    Nelson's draw was certainly not bad either, with Grim Lavamancer, Shrine of Burning Rage, and Vulshok Refugee. Nelson continued with Grim Lavamancer and left three mana up for Shrine of Burning Rage.

    Dreger had Burst Lightning for the Lavamancer, putting a second counter on his Ascension. But on his turn, when this reporter was expecting a number of spells and copies, Dreger just laid a land and passed. A quick peek at his hand confirmed: he only held red cards, and a Batterskull which was still one turn away from being cast.

    Staggershock, its rebound, Vulshok Refugee, and Shrine of Burning Rage ended the game before it ever came to that.

    Tobias Dreger 1 – 2 Helge Nelson

    Helge Nelson

    Game Four

    Nelson had Goblin Guide on turn one, Dreger had Mental Misstep. Nelson tried Shrine of Burning Rage, Dreger had Mana Leak. When he continued to not do anything on his turn, it became clear that Dreger's deck was giving him the full counter suite this time.

    Next, he countered Manabarbs with Flashfreeze, then made a Pyromancer Ascension and allowed Chandra's Phoenix. The Phoenix swung in for 4 thanks to Teetering Peaks and was joined on the following turn by Goblin Guide. Dreger really had to manage his resources, one of which was Pyroclasm and killed both of Nelson's creatures. Another couple of spells were traded against counters which left Dreger with a fully active Pyromancer Ascension, but no cards in hand, to his opponent's Grim Lavamancer. He drew his card and made a face of pleasant surprise. Down came Batterskull. Nelson found no way to handle the Skull and was competently battered.

    Tobias Dreger 2 – 2 Helge Nelson

    Dreger made a little adjustment to his deck, switching the third Pyroclasm for a third Into the Roil.

    Game Five

    Nelson was happy to play first in the final game, but not too happy with his opening seven, happy enough, though, to keep. Dreger had the first play with Preordain, Nelson had the very important Shrine of Burning Rage. Dreger cast a second Preordain and triggered his Ascension.

    At the end of his turn, Nelson cast Staggershock, which Dreger stopped with Flashfreeze. Nelson untapped, played a fourth land and cast Koth of the Hammer. On his turn, Dreger cast Into the Roil on Koth and left mana up to be able to counter the planeswalker if needs be. Nelson chose to play Grim Lavamancer instead, leaving mana up for Shrine of Burning Rage, which had six counters already.

    Dreger had Burst Lightning for the Lavamancer, but apart from that all he had left was Mental Misstep and Flashfreeze, and nothing with which to advance his Pyromancer Ascension status. Meanwhile, Nelson was prepared to wait for his Shrine to reach lethality.

    Preordain changed the plans, however, because a) it revved Pyromancer Ascension and b) found Into the Roil. When Dreger cast it on Shrine of Burning Rage, it dealt 9 damage and he went to 6. But now Nelson actually had to fight to get rid of the rest. Koth of the Hammer met Flashfreeze, Goblin Guide, however, went unimpeded directly into the red zone and revealed Dreger's next draw to be Mana Leak. Nelson cast Burst Lightning to put Dreger at 2. Mana Leak didn't really help.

    Tobias Dreger 2 – 3 Helge Nelson

    Congratulations to Helge Nelson, the German National Champion 2011!

     
  • Feature - Top 5 Cards of Germany Nationals 2011

    by Tobi Henke and Hanno Terbuyken
  • German Nationals bore witness to the upheaval of certain well-established facts. Especially, the event surprised everybody with a new order to a Standard format that seemed to be so set in stone.

    Shrine of Burning Rage

    This card destroyed the hopes of a number of U/B Control players. With typically just one Into the Roil and one Karn Liberated, people found themselves unable to deal with a threat which came down on turn two and won many a game virtually by itself. Also, the Caw-Blade players, nowadays often eschewing Oblivion Ring, had their fair share of difficulties.


    Auramancer

    A typical value card, Auramancer returned everything from Divine Favor to Pacifism, from Ice Cage to Brink of Disaster in the M12 drafts this weekend. One of the hallmarks of a good player was to know when to hold it back to return an enchantment later on, and when to play it early as a simple bear.


    Goblin Guide

    Goblin Guide was the cornerstone of the red deck. The immediate impact it had every time it hit the battlefield on turn one was central to the red decks' success. On the other hand, whenever the early aggression petered out, a couple of extra lands boosted the opponents' chances to turn the game around. Goblin Guide is a two-edged sword.


    Into the Roil

    Into the Roil may look innocuous enough, but its versatility knew to impress. A number of Caw-Blade players swore by the universal solution. For other decks it was the only line of defense against noncreature permanents. Timing it correctly was not always obvious, especially in the ubiquitous staring contest against a constantly growing Shrine of Burning Rage. It was not easy to use, but essential to have.


    Squadron Hawk

    Squadron Hawk is a card of the weekend not because of its impact, but specifically because of the lack of impact. 44 out of 195 players had pinned their hopes on the Hawk, and all of them were disappointed. No Caw-Blade made it to the Top 8. Compared to the results of previous Nationals, this was surprising to say the least. This weekend has severely ruffled its feathers.


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