Pro Tour-New York 2000 Round 10 Feature Match
by Randy Buehler
The round 10 feature match between Britt Fitch and Dave Humpherys looked on the surface like yet another match between Rebels and Rising Waters, but it was actually even more interesting than that. Fitch is one of only two competitors on Day 2 who did not play with either Lin Sivvi or Rishadan Port. When I asked him about it he explained that in playtesting he never saw anyone use Lin Sivvi's recycling ability. All she really does is recruit more rebels. Britt decided he'd rather use his small creature as recruiters and play 3-mana rebels that were good attackers. That's why he used Ramosian Captains instead. The same desire to be as fast as possible explains his decision not to play Ports: "Why would I want to slow both of us down?" Most players feel there is almost zero drawback to the Port since you can always just tap it for mana instead of slowing the game down, but Fitch was still in the running to win this Pro Tour as round 10 began.
Humpherys' Rising Waters deck is also a little different. Whereas Mogg Squad decided to play 3 copies of Daze in their main deck, the Your Move Game version runs 4 Accumulated Knowledge instead. More interestingly, the Your Move Waters deck only uses one Rishadan Port whereas Mogg Squad uses 4 and claims it's one of the keys to the deck.
Fitch mulliganed twice before game 1, but Humpherys also mulliganed once. Fitch did manage to use Rally to kill a Drake Hatchling and Fitch had Reverent Mantra ready to deliver the death blow if only he could knock Humpherys down to a low life, but with only 3 land in play he was unable to use his Lieutenant to recruit any more 2/2's. Humpherys had a Bouncer running and he soon used Gush to find Rising Waters. That forced Fitch to use his Mantra just to keep his creatures on the table and buy some time, but the extra turn didn't help. Humpherys gradually found an Eye of Ramos and Waterfront Bouncer. Fitch tried to Topple the Bouncer (after all his own 2/2's got either bounced or killed), but Humpherys used Thwart to defend his lock. A few turns later Dave showed Britt his hand full of permission, saying "You're not winning this game." Britt agreed and they moved on to game 2.
Humpherys had to mulligan again in game 2 and elected to keep a 6 card hand with only one land. He didn't draw a land in any of his first four draw phases. By that point Fitch (who was suddenly sitting up, excited, and playing quickly) had Sergeant, Steadfast Guard, and Seal of Cleansing in play plus 4 mana untapped to start recruiting with. Humpherys conceded immediately, leaving 25 minutes left to play game 3.
Humpherys slammed down his game 3 draw in disgust. "Mulligan." Fitch had a solid draw, but he stopped playing land with only 2 plains in play. Humpherys came up with a Drake hatchling to use as a blocker, but Fitch had last Breath. Humpherys Misdirected the last breath to one of Fitch's Guards, but Fitch stopped that with a Reverent mantra. The net result of all that trading was that Humpherys got to keep his Drake and Fitch's offense was dramatically slowed down. Humpherys also had a bouncer and soon found Rising Waters. With 13 minutes left in the round Humpherys appeared to be in control, but Fitch drew Disenchant and Humpherys couldn't stop it. That's when the game got really interesting. Fitch now had 5 land per turn to use to play multiple creatures. Humpherys had one Stinging barrier and a Bouncer to use to stall. Humpherys drew a second Stinging barrier, but his life total was dwindling as was the time remaining in the round. He used the Barrier and Bouncer on his turn so he couldn't be wrecked with Reverent Mantra and he went down to 3 life before his 2 Barriers stabilized the board. It looked like the game might then become a draw, but Humpherys drew a key sideboard card: Stronghold Zeppelin. The 3/3 flying beatstick allowed Dave to deal 20 points of damage in the air with mere seconds left on the round clock.
Humpherys - 2
Fitch - 1