Magic: The Gathering Team Challenge 2000 Finals
by Gary Wise
In the finals of the richest twelve man tourney in the history of Magic the Gathering, David felled Goliath as the French team, Black Ops defeated the heavily favored Team Antarctica two matches to one.
In the first of three pairings, Jon Finkel, the world's top player, met his match in the form of twenty year old Antoine Ruel. In the first game, Finkel, playing RU, started things off with Laccolith Grunt and a Rath's Edge quickly found himself on the receiving end of some intense beatings from Antoine's assortment of large Green creatures. First it was the 4/6 Woodripper, followed by a 4/4 Silverglade Elemental, and when Jon finally dealt with those behemoth's he sat with creature removal in hand as the 6/1 untargetable Deadly Insect dealt him lethal damage. Game two was much of the same, with Jon's first creature, Ancient Hydra being Vendettaed and then being forced to watch as a number of huge Green and Black creatures took the match to a quick end.
In the second pairing, Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz paired off against Olivier Ruel, Antoine's brother. Splitting the first two games, Steve, after taking a mulligan in game three was able to take advantage of his deck's strongest card, Wave of Reckoning, leaving him in a strong position. When Olivier played two Kyren Snipers, leaving Steve little time, Steve was able to respond with Saproling Burst, which he used in combination with Ramosian Rally to force Olivier to sacrifice his creatures to stay alive. With no cards left in hand, Olivier watched helplessly as Steve played a Snorting Gahr, and a turn later was forced to concede the match.
Upon completion of this match, the crowd's attention turned to the match between Steve's brother Dan and Frenchman Florent Jeudon. With the score knotted at one game a piece, Dan came out quickly with his b/w weenie deck, playing a Stronghold Thug on turn two. Florent, with a number of powerful four casting cost spells in hand, found himself stuck at three mana, but found a savior in the form of a Nightwind Glider. Dan was again able to go on the offensive with an unblockable Rathi Intimidator when Florent finally found a fourth mana source. As he cast Coastal Piracy, Florent's teammates recoiled in anguish, questioning his aggressive play, but calmed down when they saw he was working towards future turns, choosing not to attack in this one. Dan, with five mana in play and sitting at 10 life, then had to make a decision: cast Primeval Shambler, Rathi Fiend or the most recently drawn Fresh Volunteers. Dan made an incorrect decision, going with the Fiend, and after Florent had attacked with the Nightwind Glider, drawing and casting a Rishadan Airship, Dan could only look on in horror as the Frenchman ensnared Dan's creatures and attacked for six, winning the match, and the Championship.
The Magic: The Gathering Team Challenge 2000 will be shown on ESPN2 this May.