Semifinals: Mike Pustilnik (USA) vs. Antoine Ruel (France)
By Pete Norris
Mike was the oldest guy playing in the top 8, and has an impressive history including first at Grand Prix Memphis, top 8 at PTNY 97 and 13th at PTNY '99. His opponent was Antoine Ruel from the formidable Black Ops team, winners of GP Cannes and the Team Challenge at PTNY. Add to this 2 top 16 finishes in individual Grand Prix, and we see that both of these competitors have an impressive professional record.
Mikey opened up with a Second turn Lieutenant, which Antoine banished after making Spineless Thug. Mikey made his Fen Stalker on Turn 4, while Antoine made Prowler. Looking to win the race Mikey took advantage of Antoine's lack of mana, and Syphoned him for 5. The 2 players enter a race, with Antoine making Griffin and Death Charmer, while Mikey made intimidator and Lawbringer using a Greel's caress to remove the Thug from the game. Antoine used a Mageta's boon to block a Fen Stalker with a Griffin and live, but at this point Mikey dropped the Pit Raptor, while holding a Dark Triumph in Hand. Antoine cast an Enslaved horror hoping to win the next turn (Mikey returning the Fen Stalker to play) Next turn Mikey got a grey ogre past Antoines bolstered defenses and cast Dark Triumph for the win.
Mike 1 - 0 Antoine
Mike again saw the 2nd turn lieutenant, but missed his 3rd turn land drop, while Antoine made his Skulking Fugitive (which he sideboarded in) He started to beat with the Fugitive, and took control of the air with a Diving Griffin. Mikey Vicious Hungered the Griffin after making a much needed land drop and said go. The fugitive continued to serve, Antioine making his second Griffin to back it up. Mikey missed his 4th Turn Land drop, but made a Lightbringer to try and hold Antoine off until he could stabalise. Antoine Severed the Lightbringer and attacked to put Mikey on 6 life before casting the Fen Stalker. Mikey P tried to hold Antoine off with a Soul Charmer and an Intimidator, but in the turn he needed to draw a creature he could only draw the swamp that eluded him early game.
Mike 1 - 1 Antoine
Mikey opened with a first turn Rampart Crawler and a second turn Persuader, but again missed his 3rd turn land drop much to his chagrin. Antoine made a Death Charmer and a Rathi Fiend using it to dig out Bog Glider and then Thug and Fugitive. Mikey couldn't lay a land until turn 6, by which point Antoine had an irreversible lead. Despite Mikey's best efforts he didn't manage to pull out of the situation and Defender en Vec ensured that Antoine won, making it an all Ruel final.
Mike 1 - 2 Antoine