Pro Tour-New York 2000 Round 9 Feature Match
by Randy Buehler
Two of the top European players in the game faced off in round 10. Reigning World Champion and Player of the Year Kai Budde brought his Rebel deck to the feature match table sporting a 6-0-1 record in matchups versus other rebel decks. He has in fact only lost one duel to another Rebel deck. However, in order to make his deck that good in the mirror matchup, he had to sacrifice some power versus other decks. Luckily for Kai, he had only been paired against one non-Rebel deck so far -- a Rising Waters deck on day one -- but his round 9 opponent Sigurd Eskeland was also running a Waters deck.
Sigurd played a turn 2 Waterfront Bouncer and then Dazed Kai's turn 2 Steadfast Guard. Kai followed up with a turn 3 Ramosian Lieutenant and settled in for a long game of recruiting out more Rebels. Sigurd, however, had other plans. He played an Eye of Ramos and a Rising Waters. Kai had Disenchant in hand and paused to think about when he should go for it. Sigurd had one untapped land plus an Eye of Ramos in play so Kai knew he could cast either Counterspell or Thwart. He decided to try to wait for an opportunity to catch Sigurd without Counterspell mana. It turns out that Sigurd had Thwart ready the whole time and Kai was basically helpless. After eventually getting his Disenchant Thwarted, Kai's hand was miserable -- Voice of Truth, Ramosian Commander, and Story Circle aren't exactly good in this matchup.
Before game 2 Sigurd shuffled his entire sideboard into his deck. The Mogg Squad sideboard has a lot of different options and there are multiple ways to sideboard the deck against Rebels. Sigurd knew that Kai probably knew that and he didn't want Kai to see how many cards he was actually bringing in.
Kai kept a fairly slow draw for game 2. he had land and spells (including a Disenchant), but no early creatures. Sigurd stared at 5 land, and Eye of Ramos, and a Brainstorm, paused to think, and decided to keep it. Sigurd's deck rewarded him for his confidence. While Kai didn't cast a spell until a turn 5 Sergeant, Sigurd drew Rising Waters, Waterfront Bouncer, Drake Hatchling, and Stinging Barrier. Sigurd held off on playing his Waters until he could defend it -- it's not like Kai was applying any pressure. After playing a second Stinging barrier Sigurd couldn't help but announce "My deck is SO good!"
When Kai finally tried to blow up Rising Waters, Sigurd used a Thwart and a Counterspell to counter his two Disenchants. Sigurd still had a Misdirection left amongst his hand full of cards. After the match Kai pulled out his four Disenchants and four copies of Seal of Cleansing and moaned that "There's no way Rising Waters should stay in play." I've heard a lot of players say that. The Waters players always smile, shrug, and apologize. What really seems to be going on is that the Waters players have a bunch of permission, they understand to save it to defend Rising Waters itself at all costs, and they also 'board in Misdirections so they have even more ways to defend Rising Waters.
Eskeland - 2
Budde - 0