Rafael Levy vs. Jon Finkel
In a rematch of the tournament frontrunners, Jon Finkel was looking for revenge against Rafael Levy, the player who ended his undefeated streak in yesterday's 12th round. Both players were playing the most popular deck of the tournament-Living Death/Survival of the Fittest.
Levy began the match by playing a Rampant Growth on turn two, and a Spike Weaver on three. On the other side of the board, Finkel was searching for a fourth mana after having to mulligan on his initial draw. During the course of the game, Finkel cast a Spike Feeder and Thrull Surgeon to Levy's Spike Weaver, Wood Elves, and Coffin Queen. Using the Coffin Queen, Rafael was able to bring into play his own Verdant Force. If that wasn't bad enough for Jon, Levy used the Force tokens, Survival of the Fittest, and Recurring Nightmare to bring out any creature he wanted. Seeing that the game was a loss, Finkel conceded on turn eight.
Opposite of his first game hand, Finkel started off by laying six lands in a row before he was able to summon a creature on turn seven. By that time, Rafael had a force consisting of Spike Weaver, Wall of Blossoms, and Tradewind. Levy maintained board control with a Survival of the Fittest, Volrath's Stronghold, and Tradewind bounce. For three turns in a row, Rafael was able to regrow a Thrull Surgeon (Volrath's Stronghold) in order to cast and sack it on the same turn to remove cards from Finkel's hand. Eventually, Rafael actually tapped the mana to cast a Verdant Force and another Tradewind Rider. Finkel's only hope was to topdeck a Living Death, which he failed to do. With a horde of creatures (10 Force tokens) and two Tradewinds bouncing all but two of Finkel's blockers, Levy attack. As Jon was at 7 life with two blockers to go up against 10 attackers, Finkel died.
Levy 2 Finkel 0
Gary Wise (Canada) vs Ivan Stanoev (Team Czech Republic)
One of the top Canadian players is facing tough opposition this round. Ivan Stanoev is the finalist of Pro Tour-New York and the first player from Eastern Europe to make top 8 of a professional tournament.
Stanoev is playing a fairly straightforward mono-blue deck. Tradewind Riders and other defensive creatures are backed up by a lot of counter magic and four Legacy Allure. Gary Wise chose to play a very confusing green-black deck designed by Team CMU.
Stanoev got stuck at two lands in game one and did not cast very many spells, watching a variety of very unexpected cards enter play on Wise's side instead. Wise cast a Mindless Automaton, Earthcraft, Workhorse, Overgrowth and several Spikes including a Spike Breeder. His strategy was not apparent as he was able to simply win by attacking with 1/1 Spike Breeder tokens and several other creatures.
Wise's "tech" was revealed in game two. He would cast Workhorse and remove three counters from it to add three mana to his mana pool. He would than tap Workhorse with Earthcraft to untap a Swamp enchanted with Overgrowth to produce three more mana. He would use three mana to cast a Recurring Nightmare and switch a 1/1 tapped Workhorse with a 4/4 Workhorse from his graveyard. Repeat this process as many times as you like for net gain of three mana each time. At that point the deck can win by infinitely recurisng a Mogg Fanatic - recurse Walls of Blossoms until you draw one. Wise was able to set up the combo and quickly win the game two.
Wise 2 - Stanoev 0
Sean Fleischman vs John Yoo
Fleischman has been on the Pro Tour since day one - consistantly doing well. Sporting a stylish hat that makes him highly noticable, Fleischman was ready to take on John Yoo. Yoo is best known for being one of the top booster draft players around, but he proved that he can play constructed as well by going undefeated through the type two portion of the tournament.
Fleishman is playing a blue-black deck with four Bottomless Pit and four Ensnaring Bridge. The deck tries to put an opponent in Tradewind lock, bouncing opponent's permanents and forcing him to lose those cards to a Bottomless Pit. Yoo is playing a white-blue Humility/Orim's Prayer deck with a touch of green for Reclaims. The deck locks down creature strategies and wins by decking the opponent with Grindstones.
Fleischman drew very poorly in game one, forcing him to take a triple mulligan. Realizing he was not going to be able to win that game, Fleischman played just long enough to see his opponents strategy. Fleischman only played a single Island. As soon as Yoo played a Humility, Fleischman conceded the game as he now knew exactly what his opponent was doing.
Yoo was able to set up his combo very quickly in game two, leaving Fleischman helpless. Yoo made sure to play multiple Humilities so that he would be invulnerable to Capsize and than was able to discard both of Fleischman's Capsizes with his Grindstone. After playing the second Grindstone, Yoo was able to quickly remove Fleischman's library and win the match.
Yoo 2 - Fleischman 0
Svend Sparre Geertsen vs. Janosch Kuhn
Semi-finalists from last year's World Championship, Germany's Janosch Kuhn threw his Hatred deck against the power of Svend Geertsen's Orim's Prayer/Humility concoction. In blazing fashion, Janosch summoned a first turn Dauthi Horror and Carnophage. Though his second turn Thrull Surgeon was Counterspelled, Kuhn played a third turn Dauthi Horror and dropped Svend down to 6 life by turn five. But Svend (who had played an Orim's Prayer on turn four) cast Intuition for a Humility, tapping out to lay the combo by turn 6. Kuhn could not draw a Hatred to kill Geertsen and on turn 11 Svend cast a Grindstone and forcing Janosch to resign.
In the second, Janosch began as quickly as he had in game one. His cause was aided as Geertsen couldn't draw a fourth land to cast the Light of Day that had been sitting in his hand since the opening draw. By turn six, Svend was dead.
In this, the rubber match, Kuhn had two Carnophage and a Dauthi Horror by turn three. The subsequent beating took all of six turns. Failing to draw any of his combo, Svend attempted to deck Janosch the turn before the deathblow by using his first turn Grindstone. It was a valiant effort (Janosch had over 45 cards in his deck), all for naught.
Kuhn 2 Geertsen 0
Sigurd Eskeland (Norway) vs Manuel Bevand (Team France)
This matchup is particularly interesting because the players involved are teammates and well aware of what each other is playing. Eskeland, who is playing a green-blue Awakening deck originally designed by Zvi Mowshowitz, has an advantage over Bevand playing the Legion version of black-green Living Death/Survival of the Fittest - a strategy very popular in this format.
With Sigurd only drawing two lands, Manuel Bevand was able to mount an offense quickly and win the first game. In the second game, Eskeland had a good draw and attempted to lock the game by casting Portcullis with two Wall of Blossom in play. Bevand cast Reckless Spite during Eskeland's discard phase and discarded a creature to Survival of the Fittest in order to get Scragnoth. Even so, Eskeland was able to come back and win that game after Bevand was forced to sacrifice his Scragnoth to Recurring Nightmare in order to bring Cloudchaser Eagle into play and remove an Awakening.
Game three lasted a very long time. Even with both players trying to take their turns as quickly as possible, the amount of library manipulation present in both decks made the game last. Eskeland was at an advantage when time was called. He had two Awakenings in play and was drawing 3-4 cards per turn with Whispers of the Muse. The judge has awarded players three extra turns as he felt they were playing relatively slow early in the match. This was time enough for Eskeland to win the match and, realizing so, Bevand conceded.
Eskeland 2 - Bevand 1
Tony Tsai (USA) vs Olle Rade (Team Sweden)
Member of team Deadguy, Tony Tsai is playing an extremely aggressive black weenie deck that teams favors for this format. He is facing the 1996 Pro Tour player of the year Olle Rade who is using an original green-black deck with both Oath of Ghouls and Oath of Druids.
Tsai had a turbo-draw in game one, ritualing out a Dauthi Marauder and following it up with a shadow creature every turn. Even with two Oath of Druids and one Oath of Ghouls in play, Rade was unable to come back from taking over ten damage per turn. The game lasted approximately eight turns.
Game two was so short it is worth doing a play-by-play. Rade laid a land on his turn and Tsai ritualed out a Dauthi Marauder. On the second turn, Rade layed another Forest and Tsai cast a Dauthi Slayer. On turn three Rade played a land and cast a Spike Feeder. On his turn, Tsai cast Dark Ritual and played a Portcullis, preventing anymore creatures from coming into play. Unable to deal with this card, Rade conceded the game.
Tsai 2 - Rade 0
Kim Eikefet vs. Kyle Rose
In a match pairing Kim Eikefet against two-time Pro Tour Top Eight placer Kyle Rose, Kim showed her Hatred to Kyle who was playing Recurring Nightmare/Living Death. On turn one, Eikefet used a Dark Ritual to summon a Dauthi Horror and Carnophage. After taking 8 points of early damage, Rose stopped the bleeding with a Spike Weaver on turn four and cast out two Spike Feeders to keep him life happy. By turn eight, Kyle had established the Recurring Nightmare/Spike Feeder combo along with total board control. Kim conceded.
With both players mulliganing their opening draws, Kim came out the better, using an Oath of Druids brought out by Kyle to great advantage (Dauthi Slayer, Dauthi Horror). When Rose brought out a Spike Weaver, Kim Dark Banished it. When Rose used Recurring Nightmare to get the Weaver back in play and cast a Spike Feeder, Kim used Reckless Spite to destroy them and march to victory.
With a blazing Dark Ritual, Dauthi Horror-Carnophage first turn, Kim was looking to cause some quick damage, which she did on a consistent basis over the course of six turns. With three Dauthi Horrors for Kim in play and Rose (6 life) with two Spike Feeders on the board, Eikefet attacked and used her just topdecked Dark Ritual to cast a 14 point Hatred on one of her Dauthi Horrors. This was enough to end the match as Kyle was at a negative life total.
Eikefet 2 Rose 1
Chris Pikula vs. Randy Buehler
In a grudge match pitting the Deadguy’s Chris Pikula against CMU’s Randy Buehler, both players attempted to play the Living Death gambit. In game one, Pikula got his Recurring Nightmare and Hermit Druid tech going strong. Drawing lots of lands, Buehler failed to draw beef or Living Death to save him from Chris’ mounting army. With a Verdant Force, Stronghold Assassin, and Cloudchaser Eagle attacking him on turn nine, Buehler conceded the lost cause.
In another poor showing of drawing skills, Randy was constantly behind and Pikula’s Lobotomy of all Buehler’s Corpse Dances was a sign of things to come. Once again, Chris had the Hermit Druid throwing cards into his graveyard and his 6th turn Living Death almost forced a scoop from Buehler. Coming into play for Pikula: 1 Stronghold Assassin, 2 Wall of Blossoms, 1 Hermit Druid, 1 Spike Feeder, 1 Coffin Queen, and 3 Tradewind Riders. For Buehler, out came a Stronghold Assassin and a Mindless Automaton. Buehler gamely played on for two more rounds, but Chris’ 8th turn Lobotomy (taking Recurring Nightmare) forced Randy into concession.
Pikula 2 Buehler 0
Brian Hacker vs. Gary Krakower
Fighting for the potential to draw into the Top Eight, former Canadian National Champion Gary Krakower matched up against the Hitmen’s Brian Hacker. In a battle of control decks, Hacker got off to the early start with a turn one Grindstone. In what amounted to a Draw/Go/Grind game after the third round, Krakower’s only chance was to Intuition for a Disenchant. Upon looking through his deck, he found two Disenchants and a Capsize. Brian let Gary keep the Capsize. After another six rounds of doing nothing, Krakower conceded the game after realizing he was locked.
In a reversal from game two, it was Krakower’s turn to apply the Grindstone to Hacker after a counterspell war over a Krakower Lobotomy. On his next turn, Gary Intuitioned for a Grindstone, cast the Grindstone, and still had enough mana if Hacker attempted the Disenchant. After a failed Disenchant attempt, Hacker conceded.
In a show of blinding speed, Hacker summoned three Grindstones by turn seven. Getting the mana for double Grinding action was the key play for Brian, as he forced the match concession on turn 15 after all of Gary’s Grindstone threats were eliminated.
Hacker 2 Krakower 1
Sean Fleischman (USA) vs Jakub Slemr (Czech Republic)
One of the top players from U.S. east coast is facing the reigning world champion in this white weenie vs Bottomless Pit/Ensnaring Bridge/Tradewind deck.
Slemr mounted an early offence with low casting cost weenie creatures, but Fleischman was ready, casting several creatures and a Tradewind Rider. Fleischman had achieved control of the game and proceeded to bounce Slemr's third Plane to prevent him from being able to cast Cataclysm. Eventually Slemr, completely locked down, conceded the game.
Torture Chamber was Fleischman's downfall in games two and three. His deck full of Merfolk Looters and Dominating Licids, Fleischman was helpless and eventually fell to the growing army of weenie shadow creatures.
Slemr 2 - Fleischman 1
Jakub Slemr (Czech Republic) vs Ben Rubin (USA)
Reigning world champion Jakub Slemr needed to win this match in order to become the first World champion ever to make a top 8 at another Worlds event. It would not be an easy win - Ben Rubin has proven his knowledge of the Rath cycle format by finishing in the top 8 of Pro Tour: LA earlier this year.
Rubin is playing a blue/green control deck while Slemr is using a mono-white weenie strategy. Propaganda completely wrecked Slemr game one as he was stuck at two lands only. Rubin used a Tradewind Rider and Capsize to return all land to Slemr's hand and he conceded. Slemr quickly won game two after getting a Cataclysm through with a shadow creature in play.
Slemr had a good start in game three, removing some of Rubin's lands with two Wasteland. However, Torture Chamber gave Ben Rubin the win. He was able to slow Slemr down just long enough to kill off his shadow creatures with the Chamber and eventually win with a Silver Wyvern enhanced by two +1/+1 spike counters.
Rubin 2 - Slemr 1
Tomi Walamies vs. Brian Selden
In a match that was to decided who lived (Top Eight Appearance) and who died (wait till next year), Finland’s Tomi Walamies (Sligh) took on San Diego’s Brian Selden (Tradewind/Capsize/Awakening). In game one, Tomi dropped 2 Jackal Pups, 1 Mogg Conscripts, and a Raging Goblin by turn three. About all Selden managed to do was lay out a Spike Weaver in an effort to stop the bleeding. But it was too little too late. The massive load of creatures were just too much for Selden and he resigned the game on turn 10.
After sideboarding, Walamies brought out his secret Jinxed Idol tech, hoping to out creature Selden and kill him with artifact damage. Tomi’s attack was slower than the game before, allowing Brian to set up a Spike Weaver and Spike Feeder. In a race to see who would die first, Walamies made a slight mistake in judgement, attacking with his double Maniacal Raged Jackal Pup (at 3 life). In response to the attack, Brian sacked his Legacy’s Allure (4 counters) in an attempt to steal Tomi’s only other creature, a Fireslinger. Walamies used the Fireslinger in response, taking himself down to 2 life and Selden to 4. Then, Tomi sacked the Fireslinger to the Jinxed Idol. This allowed Brian to block the Pup with his Spike Weaver in order to deal the last two points of damage to Tomi.
In the fastest game of the match, Tomi once again brought out a Jinxed Idol which was to be his downfall once again. After exchanging several creatures for the Idol, Walamies found himself in possession of the offending artifact and no creatures in hand to play. With a Chill and Awakening on the table, Brian was able to Capsize with buyback all of Tomi’s lands. Tomi couldn’t cast spells due to the lack of mana (and Chill), but stuck it out till the very end. In all, the Jinxed Idol dealt all 20 points of damage to Walamies and Selden found himself in Sunday’s Top Eight finals.
Selden 2 Walamies 1