Chris Pikula (USA) vs Tommi Hovi (Finland)
This feature match offers spectators a true clash of personalities as well as minds. Both are excellent players with long Pro Tour histories, Hovi is very quiet, plays a slow, methodical game. Pikula on the other hand always seems relaxed, likes to joke around and generally seems to have a lot of fun playing the game.
The two squared off at the Duelist Invitational at Rio earlier this year. With neither of them doing too well, the loser of that match was in danger of finishing in last place. Hovi offered to draw the match instead but Pikula declined with his famous "I came to play" comment. Hovi won that match and although Pikula did manage to finish respectfully by winning the next round there was bound to be at least a bit of rivalry in this matchup. Hovi has drafted a red-green deck with a lot of solid creatures backed up by some red removal. Pikula drafted a classic aggressive red-white deck.
Two Kor Chants and a Scalding Salamander proved to be too much for Hovi's deck in game one. Although the Finn had an excellent start his one-toughness creatures that remained on the board could not block the Salamander and so it dealt most of the damage, providing Pikula with the win.
Pikula had to mulligan in game two and, although he did get a decent draw second time around, it was not good enough to deal with a stampede of green creatures Hovi would summon. Backed into the corner, Pikula was forced to use up some of his best spells quickly (he cast Rolling Thunder to kill a 1/1 creature and deal 1 damage to Hovi) but it was not enough. Hovi's larger creatures defeated Pikula before he could deal enough damage with a shadow creatures.
Third game ended very quickly with Pikula drawing only one Mountain. Hovi cast a creature every turn for the first three turns and simply proceded to attack and pump his Rootwalla.
Hovi 2 - Pikula 1
Sturla Bingen (Norway) vs. Mark Justice (USA)
In a match pitting Euro Champion Sturla Bingen against former US National Champion Mark Justice, buyback spells played the major role in deciding the outcome. Wanting revenge for his quarterfinals Pro Tour-Paris loss to Justice, Sturla jumped out to an early start, playing a Welkin Hawk, Venerable Monk, Shaman en-Kor (with Conviction), Nomads en-Kor, and Armored Pegasus. Justice countered with his own small army represented by a Coiled Tinviper, Transmogrifying Licid, Hammerhead Shark, and Craven Giant.
With the stage set, Justice seemed to take control, preventing Sturla's Armored Pegasus from crossing over with Mind Games. A Justice Aftershock took out Sturla's major player (Convicted Shaman en-Kor), but the Aftershock damage brought Justice very low in life (8). That same round, Mark declared an attack phase, hoping to wipe some of Sturla's forces off the board by attacking with his Craven Giant. Sturla blocked with his Venerable Monk, then saved the Monk (while killing the Giant) with an Annoint. On Sturla's next turn, he attacked with an Armored Pegasus (with Seething Anger) to knock Justice down to four life. After the attack, Sturla cast a Sonic Burst to win game one.
This game began with a creature standoff, though Sturla was inflicting a couple of points of damage nearly every turn. Justice broke the game open on turn eight after bringing out a Cloud Giant to go with his Mirozel and Tholakos Scout. Bingen kept drawing lands, while Justice added yet another flyer (Wayward Soul) to his collection, all the while bringing Bingen down in life. On turn 11, Justice declared an attack phase. Sturla conceded the game, as Justice's troops would have killed him on the attack.
Justice, going second, began the game with a mulligan. Keeping his subsequent hand, his draws proved to be very poor over the course of the game, despite having a Merfolk Looter working overtime. Sturla, meanwhile, was working the angles, using two Shadow monsters (Soltari Priest and Soltari Foot Soldier) to bash Justice a point at a time (due to Justice's Maze of Shadows). With Sturla finding the creatures and Justice floundering (drawing lands and no creature defense), Bingen rolled to a 9th turn victory.
Sturla Bingen 2 Mark Justice 1
Satoshi Nakamura (APAC Champion) - Manuel Bevand (Team France)
Having won one of the most prestigious competitions in Magic - the Asian Pacific Continental championship - Satoshi Nakamura is on a roll. In this round of competition he faced Manuel Bevand of team The Legion - finalist of French nationals. Bevand has had an excellent year as well, qualifying for Worlds on Pro Tour points even if he did not make top 4 in his national championship.
Nakamura has drafted a green/white deck with a lot of weenie creatures and a few finishers like Plated Rootwalla and Exalted Dragon. Bevand is playing white-red with lots of small creatures and burn as removal.
In the first game Nakamura was able to wreck havoc on Bevand's one-toughness creatures with his Torture Chamber. Although Bevand had an excellent start in game two, Nakamura's Soul Warden gained the Japanese competitor a tremendous amount of life with both players summoning lots of small creatures and trading them in combat. Eventually Bevand had to use up a Kindle to kill Soul Warden and finally managed to deal enough damage to win the game.
Game three found the competitors in a giant stall. They were able to block most of each other's creatures and had the mana to cast Change of Heart with buyback on those creatures they could not block easily. Eventually time was called, match ending in a draw.
Bevand 1 - Nakamura 1
Gary Wise vs Paul McCabe
1997 Pro Tour player of the year Paul McCabe is not having a very good year this time around. He needs a good performance at this tournament to keep him on the map as one of Magic's top competitors. Gary Wise, team Legion advisory member, is considered one of the top drafter's out there. Since the two adversaries know each other well the atmosphere of this match was very relaxed and friendly.
McCabe has drafted a white-blue deck with a little bit of everything - shadow, flying, removal. Wise played a green/white deck with more spikes than god.
Wise got off to a good start, dropping a Mox Diamond to speed him up. He played a Youthful Knight and proceeded to place a lot of +1/+1 counters off his Spikes. McCabe's creatures had stalled the super-knight a little bit, when Wise played a surprise Mountain, tapped it and his Mox Diamond and summoned a Flowstone Wyvern! Apparently Wise splashed red off his Rampant Growth, Mox Diamond, a few Mountains and two Skyshroud Elves. McCabe was not phased by an appearence of the large flyer - he cast a Pacifism on his turn to remove that threat.
Still, a Knight which has grown to 6/5 at this point was too much for McCabe to handle. He conceded the game after chump-blocking for several turns.
Wise quickly took an offensive in game two, playing several 1/1 creatures with shadow or flying. He proceeded to cast the spikes and move counters onto the creatures McCabe was unable to block at the time. Even McCabe's Exalted Dragon wasn't much help - Wise was able to deal enough creature damage to put McCabe within range of his Sonic Burst.
Wise 2 - McCabe 0
Tom Guevin vs. Jon Finkel
In what would prove to be the luck of the cards, Tom Guevin failed to draw an adequate defense to ward off Jon Finkel's small but steady stream of creatures. During the course of the game, Guevin managed to cast only a Dauthi Jackal and and Elite Javilineers for creatures, a Coercion (taking a Flowstone Hellion, but letting Finkel keep a Soltari Foot Soldier and Pegasus Stampede), and a Slaughter (killing a Maniacal Raged Soltari Trooper). With superior cards in play, Finkel easily won against Guevin.
Throughout the course of game two, Tom managed to draw no Plains and all Swamps. Finkel was showing his stuff, playing Canyon Wildcat, Mogg Assassin, Master Decoy, and Youthful Knight by turn four. Tom managed to Slaughter two of the creatures, but he was unable to buyback the Slaughter after the second time. This proved costly as on turn five, Finkel cast a Furnace Brood and protected it from black with a Flickering Ward. In an effort to stay alive, Tom (at 8 life) cast a Brush with Death to bring him up to 10. He Canibalized Finkel's Youthful Knight, putting two counters on the Canyon Wildcat. His hope was that he could take the damage and go down to 3 life on the subsequent attack, topdecking a card that could save him during his next turn. However, Finkel cast a Maniacal Rage on his Furnace Brood, forcing Tom to scoop up his cards and wait for the next round of drafting.
Jon Finkel 2 Tom Guevin 0
Olle Rade (Team Sweden) vs Peter Gysemans (Team Belgium)
This is yet another matchup involving a Pro Tour player of the year. This time it is Olle Rade who took the 1996 pro tours by storm facing Peter Gysemans of team Belgium.
Gysemans drafted a very fast black-white deck full of small creatures, fliers and shadow - but with no large creatures to speak of. Rade was playing a standard white-red deck.
Although Gysemans had an excellent start playing a first turn Carnophage followed by several other fast creatures, Rade took some damage but than cast several creatures of his own, building up a solid defense. He than cast Soltari Champion and finished Gysemans off in several attacks.
Gysemans got color-hosed in the second round, drawing no Swamps. He was able to put up a fight with several white creatures he drew but it was no match for a growing horde of Rade’s attackers. The match was over less than half an hour into the round, extensive shuffling and all.
Rade 2 - Gysemans 0
Itaru Ishida vs. Svend Sparre Geertsen
In a fast and furious paced game, both players spent little time playing spells and laying land throughout the course of the match. Through the first seven turns, neither player had a decided advantage, though in the eighth, Itaru began an assault with a Lowland Basilisk that would last throughout the rest of the game. Svend, drawing nothing but small creatures or large creatures that were easily dealt with, was fighting a losing battle after the appearance of the Basilisk, finally falling to the onslaught after his Rabid Wolverines were dealt a fatal blow (Sonic Burst).
Having to mulligan on his opening hand, Svend looked as though he might draw out of it after laying a second turn Fire Slinger and third turn Duct Crawler. Ishida, though, began slow but came on strong, laying third turn Keeper of the Beasts, fourth turn Lowland Giant, and fifth turn Spike Soldier. Across the table, Svend failed to lay out creatures until after he had began the long decent into life loss. Though he managed to lay two Lightning Elementals, Itaru countered with an Onslaught and creatures to tap the Elementals and attack for major damage. Before the final attack, Svend conceded the game.
Itaru Ishida 2 Svend Sparre Geertsen 0
Sturla Bingen vs. Sigurd Eskeland
In a match-up of Norweigian players, European Champion Sturla Bingen and Pro Tour regular Sigurd Eskeland held one of the more amiable contests witnessed at Worlds so far.
Sturla came out quickly with a second turn Cinder Crawler, throwing a Giant Strength on it turn three. Sigurd summoned a Lowland Giant on turn three, thanks to some help from a second turn Skyshroud Elf. On turn four, Sturla attacked with his Crawler and Sigurd blocked with his Giant in an attempt at tradeoff. Sturla cast Bandage to save the Crawler, at which point Eskeland thought the game was about to turn very poorly for him. However, Bingen began a succession of land drawing, while Sigurd started to top deck some very large creatures. Bingen, with only two Convulsing Licids and the Giant Strengthed Cinder Crawler to block Sigurd's army of Trained Armadon, Heartwood Dryad, Spind Wurm, and Spike Colony, saw his hopes dashed as Eskeland cast a Flowstone Blade and ran mana through his Skyshroud Elf to kill the Crawler. On the attack, Sturla conceded after seeing that his life total wouldn't be on the plus side after damage was dealt.
Bingen brought out his Cinder Crawler quickly once again by turn two, and a Convulsing Licid by turn three. Eskeland countered with a third turn Reckless Ogre (thanks to a Mox Diamond), fourth turn Spike Feeder, fifth turn Spinded Wurm and a sixth turn Trained Armadon to which he proclaimed, "In America, they call this a beating!" Not only did he managed a multitude of creatures, but he cast Elven Rite to give his Spike Feeder two more counters. These counters came in handy as Sturla Seething Angered his Convulsing Licid twice and after the attack damage had been dealt, cast Fling on the Licid to bring Sturla to -4 life. In response, Eskeland removed three counters to keep him at two life, at which point Bingen conceded.
Eskeland 2 Bingen 0
Brian Weissman (USA) vs Erik Lauer (USA)
Two men matched up in this round are both excellent players with many Pro-level events behind them, but they are best known for their deckbuilding skills than tournament performance. Weissman is most reknowned for creating "The Deck" and setting the pace for the type 1 format for several years. Weissman has been affiliated with such teams as "Amnesia", "The Team" and most currently The Legion. Erik Lauer is often called the "mad genius" and is among the very best deckbuilders active today. Lauer is a member of Team CMU.
Weissman drafted a fast red-white deck with weenie creatures, power enhancing enchantments such as Conviction, and Goblin Bombardment. Erik Lauer drafted a red-blue deck. Since he had several powerful sorceries such as Flame Wave, Lauer drafted two Anarchists to get them back.
Even though Weissman had to mulligan in game one, it did not prevent him from taking an offensive with several goblins, including a Mogg Maniac with Conviction on it. During game one Lauer cast Sift, got it back with an Anarchist, cast it again and got it back with another Anarchist.
Luck did not smile upon Lauer in the second game either. He drew a lot of Islands and no Mountains while holding a bunch of red cards in his hand. Lauer watched helplessly as a hoard of 2/2 creatures administered the kill. Brian Weissman wins this round in the battle of the deckbuilders but the two are likely to meet again in future events, if not later in this tournament.
Weissman 2 - Lauer 0
Mike Long vs. Svend Sparre Geertsen
Svend Geertsen seems to enjoy his matches against Mike Long. After Geertsen played a second turn Pygmy Troll and third turn Goblin Bombardment, Long was visibly annoyed, as the only creatures he had managed to play were a Seeker of Skybreak and Spike Drone. To make matters worse, Long could not draw an Island until turn seven, long after his Skyshroud Elf and Seeker of Skybreak had been dealt with via Svend's Searing Touch with Buyback.
On turn nine, after he had cleared the board of any possible Long blockers by sacking creatures to the Bombardment, Svend attacked with his Spike Soldier, using his counters to make it a 6/6 until end of turn. After combat, he cast Fling on the Soldier to deal an additional 6 points of damage to Long. With Mike at 1 life, Geertsen summoned a creature and sacrificed it to the Bombardment to kill Long.
In an attempt to exact revenge for his first game beating, Long summoned early fat (Spined Wurm and Jackalope Herd) and dropped Svend to 9 life. However, Svend made a comeback, stalling the game with a Pygmy Troll, Flowstone Giant, and Rootwater Alligator. To go along with his creature horde, Geertsen brought out a Goblin Bombardment to keep potential small creatures at bay and an Onslaught to tap potential blockers. Through proper Bombardment and Onslaught tech usage, Svend was able to clear the board of blockers and attack for the kill.
Geertsen 2 Long 0
Peter Leiher (Team USA) vs Jakub Slemr (Czech Republic)
Peter Leiher, a veteran American player and member of team Tongo Nation qualified for the World Championship with an excellent track record in draft. He is facing an equally tough opponent - Jakub Slemr of Team Legion, the reigning world champion.
Slemr drafted a red-white aggressive deck similar to those mentioned previously in this coverage. Leiher’s green deck plays on a Sligh mana curve and should be able to cast a creature every turn. A lot of small creatures are backed up by several large ones and an all-powerful Cursed Scroll. There is also a touch of white for Kor Chant or two.
Leiher drew no white mana in game one, but that was OK as he only drew green cards throughout the game. Slemr’s Armor Sliver enchanted with Giant Strength and his Spirit en-Kor raced a horde of small green creatures. The situation looked grim for Slemr as Leiher cast a Cursed Scroll - but he was able to deal enough damage quickly by casting Fling and sacrificing the Armor Sliver for four points of damage.
Leiher had a clear advantage early on in game two. His Muscle Sliver and Spike Feeder received a healthy boost from an Elven Rite. The overgrown creatures were backed up by Broken Fall. Slemr cast a Cloudchaser Eagle to destroy the Broken Fall and eventually Flung it at the Muscle Sliver at exactly the right time. With no creatures left on the table Leiher cast Crashing Boars but Slemr promptly drew a Lightning Blast to remove it.
Although Slemr was down to six life he achieved control of the game and was quickly depleting his opponent’s life total. Leiher drew his Cursed Scroll but it was too late. Slemr won the game dealing a sufficient amount of damage with several mid-sized creatures.
Slemr 2 - Leiher 0
Kim Eikefet (Team Norway) - Sigurd Eskeland (Norway)
Kim Eikefet is the first female player (along with another competitor from Phillipines) to play in the Magic world championship - and her initial result is nothing to sneeze at! Eikefet is going into the round with a 6-0 record and the winner of the match will decide who is to appear as number one in the standings after day one. Her opponent is team Legion’s Sigurd Eskeland - a fellow Norwegian.
Eikefet was the only player at her table drafting blue and so she has an excellent blue-white deck filled up with flyers with white for some removal (Pacifism, Kor Chant). Eskeland drafted a red-green deck with a lot of excellent creatures but virtually no removal.
Kim won the die roll and played a first turn Spindrift Drake. An excellent play normally - but not against Sigurd. Eskeland played a first turn Skyshroud Archer - a 1/1 green creature that taps to give -1/-1 to a creature with flying. This otherwise average card is very powerful against Eikefet’s deck full of creatures with flying.
Faced with a horde of larger green creature and under a constant threat of a -1/-1 bonus, Kim was unable to mount up enough of a defense even after removing a Lowland Giant via Kor Chant. Crashing Boars went all the way to ensure victory for Eskeland.
Eskeland drew his Skyshroud Archer in the opening hand once more in the second game, but Eikefet drew some non-flying creatures and was able to put up more of a fight. Especially of note is the Fade Away that removed three creatures and a land. Still, Eskeland’s draw was excellent - he drew literally every removal spell in his deck as well as good creatures and the mana to cast it. On top of that, Eikefet never drew a fifth land and was unable to play her cards at the desired pace. Sigurd Eskeland emerges victorious after grueling seven rounds (and 14 hours) of draft. The only other player with 7-0 record is Jon Finkel who defeated John Chinnock in the seventh round.
Eskeland 2 - Eikefet 0
Randy Buehler vs. David Price
In a meeting of Pro Tour winners David Price and Randy Buehler, Buehler got the early start with first turn Carnophage, third turn Coercion (taking a Rootwater Hunter), fourth turn Dungeon Shade, and fifth turn Mindwhip Sliver. Meanwhile, on the other side of the boarder, David was struggling with basic land distribution . Once Price could manage a defense, it was too late. All his blockers fell, while a timely Death's Duet alloweed Buehler to retrieve his fallen comrades and bring them back to the fray. On turn ten and at one life, Price conceded the game after drawing nothing which would prevent his eminent demise at the hands of Randy's forces.
Coming out with mana and creatures in the second game, David made a better showing. His Spindthrift Drake dealt a total a total of 12 points during the course of the game while his ground forces maintained the stall. Using two Mind Games, David was able to mass attack to kill Randy on turn eight.
Buehler started this game with a mulligan, then proceded to draw lands but no adequate defense. Forced to Lightning Blast David's Merfolk Looter (or suffer the wrath of Dave's card advantage), Randy was behind the entire match, especially when Dave started Seething Angering his unblockable flyers. After Randy brought out a Silver Wyvern to block with, Dave cast Mind Games to block it and march his Seething Angered Wayward Soul for the victory.
David Price 2 Randy Buehler 1
- Alex Shvartsman and Jack Stanton