by Brian David-MarshallFeature Match Round 16:Steven Hicks vs. Ben Stark
by Josh BennettFeature Match Round 15:Yuuya Watanabe vs David Williams
by Brian David-MarshallFeature Match Round 14:Steven Hicks vs. Eric Froehlich
by Josh BennettFeature Match Round 12:Osyp Lebedowicz vs David Ochoa
by Event Coverage StaffQuick Questions:Unlikeliest Card
by Brian David-MarshallSunday, 10:00 a.m.:Drafting with Conley Woods
by Josh BennettSunday, 9:45 a.m.:The Hagon Gambit
by Josh BennettFeature Match Round 11:Josh Utter-Leyton vs. Josh Ravitz
by Event Coverage StaffDay 1: Complete Coverage
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Feature Match Round 11 - Josh Utter-Leyton vs. Josh Ravitz
Josh Ravitz is best known as the inspiration for the Dementors that guard Azkaban Prison. A Pro Tour fixture, he hails from the New York area, his love of gaming carefully hidden behind an attitude of total resignation. Facing him at 9-1 is the reigning U.S. Champ, Josh Utter-Leyton, who projects a different kind of quiet - one that stems from focus and a rejection of the unimportant.
Ravitz was on the play and while Utter-Leyton dropped plains, mountain and Horizon Spellbomb, contented himself with Grand Architect. Utter-Leyton added Etched Champion to his board, and Ravitz powered out a Darksteel Juggernaut. Utter-Leyton achieved metalcraft with Lux Cannon.
Ravitz grew his Juggernaut to 3/3 with Golem Foundry and Chrome Steed and got in unblocked. The advantage was short-lived, however, for Utter-Leyton had Oxidda Scrapmelter at the ready for the Steed. Ravitz hit back for three after making his Juggernaut blue and played an unenhanced Ghalma's Warden.
Utter-Leyton bashed in with his Champion and Scrapmelter, and showed Seize the Initiative when Ravitz pushed the Warden in front of the Scrapmelter. He followed up with a Chrome Steed of his own, now firmly in the driver's seat. By contrast, Ravitz's next turn was a Memnite and an attack for four.
Now Lux Cannon was online, and Utter-Leyton was swinging for the fences. Ravitz let the team through and fell to seven. Utter-Leyton tapped two for a pair of Galvanic Blasts, but Ravitz's last card was Stoic Rebuttal. He made as if he was still in the game, so Utter-Leyton did him the courtesy of showing him a second Scrapmelter.
Utter-Leyton 1 - Ravitz 0
Utter-Leyton kicked off with Horizon Spellbomb and Liquimetal Coating. He spent his third turn searching up a second plains, then cast Golden Urn. Ravitz had to lean in to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. Utter-Leyton made an embarrassed shrug. The demands of metalcraft promote the oddest cards to maindeck.
Ravitz, meanwhile, failed to draw a third land and discarded Soliton. Utter-Leyton summoned Chrome Steed. Ravitz drew the island he needed and played Golem Foundry. Utter-Leyton hit for four and busted out Scrapmelter, sending the Foundry to the bin. He immediately shook his head at his mistake, having forgotten the Liquimetal Coating. He could have set Ravitz back to just two plains instead.
Ravitz took advantage of the error, drawing a fourth land and played Idomitable Archangel, but Utter-Leyton had Galvanic Blast to clear the way for seven damage, then played Salvage Scout. Ravitz played Prototype Portal imprinted with Memnite. He summoned one to block the steed and took four more. Utter-Leyton played a Wall of Tanglecord and passed.
Josh Utter-Leyton defeats Josh Ravitz 2-0
Sunday, 9:45 a.m. – The Hagon Gambit
Rich Hagon is best known as the ginger Costello to Brian David-Marshall's Abbot in the Pro Tour Coverage booth. This weekend, though, he's indulging in a rare treat: Actually playing competitive Magic!Rich Hagon, pontificating.
Wanting to make the most of the opportunity, he and his two friends Neil Rigby and David Sutcliffe poured all their efforts into practicing Scars of Mirrodin Sealed Deck, playing hundreds of games with dozens of sealed pools. They never actually got around to practicing draft, however, which turned out to be a serious handicap when all three made Day 2 with only a single bye between them.
What they had done is looked at all the limited archetypes in broad strokes, and considered what "average" versions of them would look like. The most interesting thing they found was that an "average" poison deck often performed better than its contemporaries. For Hagon, the message was clear: Force poison. He knew the ins and outs of the deck, knew vaguely about the pick order for it, and frankly, knew very little else about the format. It was his best hope for success at the draft tables.
With all this in mind, he opened his first pack and saw... nothing. No infect creatures, no good green or black cards. He took Turn to Slag. Next up, another step away from the plan with Galvanic Blast in another empty pack. Third, he found Contagious Nim, and following the advice of Brian Kowal steered himself towards black as the red dried up. Infect creatures need a clear path, and the double-dose of removal red-black offers is just the ticket. He found a late Cystbearer in pack 1, but his cards were otherwise mostly black with some red.
He cracked pack two and looked at another dud. It did have a second Turn to Slag for him, so it looked like he might have to resign himself to this suspect Plan B. The next pack offered him a guilt-free Cystbearer, and then another joined it and he was right where he wanted to be. Naturally the green flowed freely, having passed none in pack 1, and he was well on his way to his desired deck.
He opened pack 3 and his resolve wavered. Staring back at him was Koth of the Hammer. He succumbed to a three-part calculus:
1) He had a handful of quality red cards, and could wind up playing Koth.
2) He didn't want to play against Koth.
3) He wanted to own this particular Koth.
He snatched up the Koth. However, he was not so committed that he would ignore the signals coming his way. Two picks later he had shelved the temporary Koth fancy and was back on track to Poison Town. Here's what he ended up with:
He points out that he misbuilt his deck, and that it wasn't until the trio of Japanese Pro Tour masters—Kazuya Mitamura, Shuhei Nakamura and Yuuya Watanabe—told him in no uncertain terms the gravity of his error. After Game 1 the Tainted Strike and Grafted Exoskeleton go out, and Withstand Death and Bellowing Tanglewurm come in.
Now he's focused on the next draft and plans to use exactly the same strategy. Asked about back-up plans if the poison deck fails to materialize, he says that given reasonable alternatives, he will always favor black over green early. The idea being that black's removal pairs well with other colors' plans, but green infect creatures don't really go with anything. Mostly, though, he just wants the perfect deck again so he can cruise to a Top 8.
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – Drafting with Conley Woods
"Great deck or greatest deck?" asked Conley after he had selected his 42nd card and wandered over to register the the first of what he hoped would be three drafts on Day Two of Grand Prix Toronto. But that is getting ahead of ourselves. Let's back up 30 minutes and walk through the some of the picks that he made and you can decide for yourself the answer to Conley's question.
"I made it to the draft on time," joked Conley as the players sat down to draft in Pod 1. He was referring to his near game loss in Amsterdam at the start of Day Two when he and Thomas Ma almost missed the draft after he had run the table on Day One. He fell short of perfecting all the rounds of Day One at this event when he lost to Jonathan Smithers in Round 10 -- which was technically part of Day Two so you make the call. Regardless he was sitting at the top pod with these other gamers:
1 Jonathan Smithers 10-0
2 Jeffrey Szlezki 9-1
3 Conley Woods 9-1
4 Nick Henning 10-0
5 Steven Hicks 10-0
6 Kyle Boggemes 9-1
7 Vincent Paul Vergel 9-1
8 Eric Froelich 9-1
Conley opened his first pack and flipped right to Koth of the Hammer. To his credit he did not just slam it down without giving thought to some other cards. He briefly considered whether or not he should pick Embersmith and even more briefly contemplated Arrest but ultimately went with the Planeswalker. The cards passed to him by Szlezki included Carapace Forger, Tel-Jilad Forger, Trigon of Rage, and Turn to Slag. He took the red card.
"I just took the objectively more powerful card even though Embersmith is a pretty sicko card," he explained later of his first picks. "There are other cards that do what Embersmith does but Koth is not replaceable. He is not the best Planeswalker by any means -- I would much rather have an Elspeth -- but he is pretty sick. The next pack I took Turn to Slag over some mediocre cards. I wanted to cut red and it was the only red card so I took it."
Conley seemed like he was thinking about jumping into green as he shuffled Bellowing Tanglewurm to the front of a pack with Tumble Magnet and Barbed Battlegear but ultimately he took the tapping artifact. He made the first move toward green with the next pack when he quickly took Acid Web Spider -- a card he thinks is really strong in this draft format.
Blue cards were flowing by him and the color was clearly open from his right. He took Tel-Jilad Defiance but lingered over Neurok Invisiomancer and Bonds of Quicksilver. A seventh pick Neurok Replica followed by another with his ninth pick left the possibility of blue open. When he saw Darkslick Drake and Lumengrid Drake the second time around the table he happily took the 2/4 flier.
"I took the Neurok Replicas not expecting to be blue," he said of the picks. "I had only red cards and some artifacts at that point and they were just 1/4's -- you know, they're fine. Then I tabled Darkslick Drake which was actually a card I considered the first time but I know how bad blue typically is. There is no way that was not a signal it is one of the top 4 cards in that pack and it tabled."
At the end of the first pack the deck looked like it was threatening to go off the rails with a handful of green cards, blue cards, and red cards and no real indication of which way the deck was going to end up. Conley explained that he was hoping to avoid green pointing out his 11th pick Saberclaw Golem over Carapace Forger with the 12th pick of the pack.
"I took the Golem specifically because I knew that blue was open -- green was also open but Carapace Forger is not even awesome because he is not an artifact himself. If I am in red, which I wanted to be since I already had Turn to Slag and Koth, I am going to take the Golem because he is even playable if you are not red. "
Conley was thrilled to see Sword of Body and Mind waiting for him in the second set of packs and there were not other cards that even vied for his attention. His sense that blue was being underdrafted was confirmed when he saw Volition Reins waiting for him to take it as his second pick. Koth looked like he might be riding the bench while the blue and green cards made the first team as Conley took a third pick Sylvok Replica. Silver Myr and Snapsail Glider made their way into his pile with little deliberation.
"Why not open a Sword?" shrugged Conley as he discussed his second set of packs. "Then I get shipped Volition Reins? I took the Replica because I can splash it and it is still a 1/3."
Conley had to think for awhile when he was passed a 5th pick Riddlesmith along with Golem Artisan and Silver Myr. He flipped through the three cards before ultimately taking the card selection engine. He was visibly stunned when he got two more Riddlesmiths with his next picks. He rounded out the pack with Flight Spellbomb, Vedlaken Certarch, and Liquimetal Coating.
"Then I get three Riddlesmiths in a row?" marveled Conley. "Insane! The card is not the best 'Smith but you should not be getting it seventh!"
After having opening bomb mythic rares with his first two packs Conley was due for a letdown and the third pack was not super exciting. There was an assortment of artifacts to choose from and he settled on Darksteel Juggernaut.
"The pack was kind of weak," admitted Conley. "That was not the card I was looking for but he is good and I am going to take him."
Conley was not quite ready to give up on his Koth yet and took Turn to Slag with his second pick. His next two picks were both Volition Reins. He wanted to take Copper Myr in the pack with the second one but could not bring himself to do so. He sent the Myr downstream with a kiss. Chrome Steed was followed by Vedalken Certarch before he was pleasantly surprised by a 7th pick Iron Myr.
"There was a Myr in the pack with the second Volition Reins and I really wanted to take it. I only had one Silver Myr at that point and I knew my deck was kind of top heavy. I was so sad and then I got a seventh pick Iron Myr and it totally made my deck. I had to have a second Myr for my deck. The Riddlesmiths are awesome but I knew I needed artifacts."
A couple of other blue cards and artifacts rounded out the pack before the players left the round tables for the long ones. "Great deck or greatest deck?" asked Conley after he had selected his 42nd card and wandered over to register the the first of what he hoped would be three drafts on Day Two of Grand Prix Toronto.
"It is pretty sick," said Conley as he laid out his cards. "Yes, pack one was a little bit of a mess but the good thing was signals -- huge signals! I am definitely playing 17 lands even though I have two Myr with three Volition Reins. The good thing about Volition Reins is that it is essentially an artifact so I have like 15 artifacts in the deck.
"I am pretty happy with the deck. I don't have removal in the usual sense but I do have two Turn to Slag and three Volition Reins," said Conley as he explained that his plan was to win with Koth's ultimate ability while stalemating the board until that point. "Neurok Replica and Tumble Magnet will buy me time and I am fine throwing Riddlesmiths in front of stuff -- that's the nice thing about having three of them. This is one of those decks I did not expect to come together -- blue-red bombs."
Quick Questions - What is the unlikeliest card you have first-picked out of a Scars of Mirrodin booster pack?
"Pack three of this draft I took Origin Spellbomb over Carnifex Demon and Skinrender . I wasn't black and I needed some metalcraft stuff. I have only done 40 drafts so check back in Nashville and I will have a better answer."Osyp Lebedowicz
" Origin Spellbomb . It was pack three and I was red-white -- I always draft white metalcraft -- and I took it over a Shatter . Your deck is awesome if you have metalcraft and if you don't it stinks. Even though it might seem silly to draft a 1/1 spellbomb you need to make sure you have 15 or 16 artifacts in your deck."Adam Yurchick
"Darksteel Sentinel . It was my first draft and I thought it was a bomb but it turns out is just okay. That's my story."Michael Jacob
" Tel-Jilad Fallen . I know it has infect but if you are taking that guy first but when I open a pack that is not the guy I want to take first." AJ Sacher
"Probably Carrion Call -- the instant infect card. The rest of the pack was super red heavy and I took it first pack/first pack over Turn to Slag and Cerebral Eruption . I just took the infect card and tabled Vector Asp ."
Feature Match - Round 12: Osyp Lebedowicz vs David Ochoa
Some call Osyp Lebedowicz an irrepressible prankster. Others call him Pro Tour Venice Champion. Still others insist on calling him Peppermint von Corduroy. By any name, however, he is an accomplished mage who brings an energy and animation to the game. Contrast him with David Ochoa, Team ChannelFireball's stonefaced warrior. In addition to authoring a popular limited column, Ochoa can often be found near the top of the standings of whatever tournament is going.
Lebedowicz, on draw, had to go down to six. He matched an Iron Myr from Ochoa, and accepted the trade when it was offered. Ochoa replaced it with Vulshok Replica. Lebedowicz played Kemba's Skyguard and passed. Ochoa swung in again, and again Lebedowicz was happy to trade. Ochoa tapped out for Leaden Myr and Trigon of Rage.
All Lebedowicz had was a Snapsail Glider. He let the Myr through when it attack and took four, thanks to help from the Trigon. Ochoa added Abuna Acolyte to his squad. Lebedowicz hit back for two, then played out Auriok Replica and an Auriok Sunchaser, one artifact shy of Metalcraft. Ochoa hit for four again with his Myr but added nothing to his board.
Down came Bladed Pinions for Lebedowicz, turning things around nicely. He suited up his Replica and swung in with his three sudden fliers. Ochoa prevented one and fell to twelve. Ochoa turned both his 1/1's sideways and boosted them with the Trigon, but still had nothing else to do. Lebedowicz flew over again and Arrested the Acolyte for good measure, and Ochoa packed up his cards.
Lebedowicz 1 - Ochoa 0
Ochoa put Lebedowicz on the play. Lebedowicz came off the blocks with Auriok Edgewright, and after Ochoa played Copper Myr, an Auriok Replica. Ochoa dropped Vulshok Replica, and watched as Lebedowicz hit metalcraft with Iron Myr and Glint Hawk Idol, attacking for four.David Ochoa
Ochoa tapped five on his turn and put down Kuldotha Phoenix. Lebedowicz swung into it with the Edgewright and Ochoa happily traded his Phoenix for it. Lebedowicz summoned Auriok Sunchaser and passed. Ochoa made a Saberclaw Golem with red mana open, but Lebedowicz had the Revoke Existence and charged in with all his creatures. Ochoa pushed his Replica in the way of the Myr, seeing that Lebedowicz had all plains and hoping to keep him off red mana. He fell to seven. Ochoa played Bloodshot Trainee and hoped.
Lebedowicz no longer had metalcraft active, and failed to draw an artifact to get it going again. He activated his Idol and dropped Ochoa to five. Ochoa fired out Myr Galvanizer and Leaden Myr, still dead to any artifact draw. Lebedowicz slowly drew his card then looked at Ochoa. "You survive." Glint Hawk Idol put Ochoa to three.
All the Myr meant that Ochoa had metalcraft, and so on his upkeep he brought back his Phoenix to lock up the air. He swung in with two Myr. Lebedowicz took it to fifteen. Lebedowicz drew, played a land and passed. Ochoa continued to serve up goodies, this time Trigon of Rage to set up his Trainee. He swung with the Phoenix and passed.
Meanwhile, Lebedowicz had been waiting for the opportunity, even if it wasn't quite what he envisioned. Gold Myr and Liquimetal Coating gave him Metalcraft with insurance, and he got in with his two fliers. The Trainee shot down the Sunchaser and Ochoa was down to just one life.
Ochoa took on a redoubled intensity while he planned his next, crucial turn. He tapped and untapped his lands, shifted cards around on the board as he did the calculations for various lines of play. Eventually, he floated a black mana and Galvanized his Myr, then tapped five more for Flameborn Hellion and sent it in alone. Lebedowicz took it, falling to six.
Lebedowicz had no play. Ochoa shot down his replica at end of turn, then attacked with two Myr, the Phoenix and the Hellion. He shot the Idol after Lebedowicz activated it, and they were on to game three.
Lebedowicz 1 - Ochoa 1
Lebedowicz chose to stay on the play for the decider. He opened with Glint Hawk Idol and Auriok Replica, attacking for two while Ochoa amassed Origin Spellbomb, Abuna Acolyte and Iron Myr. Lebedowicz was short on the follow-up, however. He played Gold Myr and swung for one thanks to the Acolyte.Osyp Lebedowicz
Ochoa played a Vulshok Replica and Lebedowicz dispatched the Acolyte with Galvanic Blast. He flew over for another two and played out a Sunchaser, boosted with metalcraft. Ochoa cycled his Spellbomb for a Myr, then untapped, swung for three with his Replica, and dropped the Hammer with Oxidda Scrapmelter on Glint Hawk Idol. He played Copper Myr as an afterthought.
Lebedowicz drew and scowled in frustration. He had nothing further to contribute to the board and his creatures were outclassed. Ochoa made a Tower of Calamities and after another draw step, Lebedowicz had had enough.
David Ochoa defeat Osyp Lebedowicz 2-1
Feature Match - Round 14: Steven Hicks vs. Eric Froehlich
Eric Froehlich is a long time Pro who has gotten back onto the Pro Tour through a combination of invites based on his poker celebrity status -- he won two World Series of Poker bracelets -- and some strong finishes on the Pro Tour to remain qualified . His best Pro Tour finish was a Top 8 in San Diego in 2002 and he recently made the Top 8 of US Nationals.
Twice previously in this tournament he has faced off with Steven Hicks who hails from Rockland County just north of New York City. Hicks is PTQ regular who just won the New Jersey States Championships. He was not relishing another showdown with Froehlich who had beaten him the last time they played after beating during the Sealed Deck portion.
"I punted pretty badly," admitted Hicks who turned his attention to the just arrived Efro. "So long since I have last seen you. This is our rubber match."
"We could have a fourth one," said Eric. They were both sitting on a single loss and another loss would not eliminate either player from Top 8 contention -- but it would make it just that much harder.
"Here's hoping," said Hicks.
"I will play," said Hicks after winning the roll. He went back to the well for six new cards. Eric stuck with his opening seven. Hicks led off with Origin Spellbomb. Perilous Myr came down the next turn while Eric played Glint Hawk Idol.
Hicks attacked with his Perilous Myr and 'cycled' the Spellbomb in a frutless search for a third land. Eric played Copper Myr to turn on his Idol and attacked for two. There was still no land for Hicks but he did find Gold Myr. It was three Plains for Efro but he played a pair of Myr on the next turn and could suddenly make blue, green or black mana. Arc Trail from Hicks took out the sources of blue and black.Steven Hicks
Sylvok Lifestaff allowed Eric to attack for the 3 with Idol and he played another Idol to double his airforce for next turn. Hicks was making the most out of his two lands and played Myr Galvanizer to attack for four. Eric played Darksteel Juggernaut and glided in for four with Idols.
Still no lands for Hicks but he played a Lifestaff of his own and equipped it to his Perilous Myr. He attacked with it and a token Myr. The latter ran into the Juggernaut. Hicks was sitting on one mana and his Galvanizer which meant he could untap the Perilous and make combat uncomfortable for Efro who was obligated to attack with the Juggernaut. Hicks could gain three and deal two but Efro cleared the path with Revoke Existence on the Perilous Myr.
Hicks scooped up his cards one draw step later.
Hicks was on the play again and led off the action with Copper Myr while Eric had the inevitable Glint Hawk Idol. Hicks played Glimmerpoint Stag and merely reset his Myr to get a turn three creature fattie into play. Myr and Lifestaff for Eric.
Hicks announced "I will gain two life" as he played a turn four Elspeth and ticked the loyalty up to 6. Eric animated his Idol and attacked Elspeth. He then played Kemba Skygaurd and equipped it with Lifestaff. Hicks aimed Arc Trail at the Skyguard and Myr and gained some more life.
Myr Galvanizer turned on the Idol and Eric whittled away at Elspeth again. He played a post-combat Accorder's Shield. Hicks just made three more tokens and had Dispense Justice for when Eric attacked. He gained some more life trying to get out of the reach of the talons of the Hawk. Hicks gained more life and further ensconced himself from attack with Wall of Tanglecord.
Silver Myr came down for Eric and he equipped Accorder's Shield to his Glavanizer. Hicks attacked with three tokens and Eric only blocked one with Galvanizer -- wary of a removal spell -- and Hicks just made three more post combat.
Eric moved the Shield over to his Silver Myr and could only say go. Hicks went up to 32 and settled into play a long game but Efro calmly untapped and played Volition Reins to take the Planeswalker and make three tokens. Efro ate one of Hicks' tokens when he sent everything after Elspeth and was content to let the Planeswalker die.Eric Froehlich
Both players had Myrsmith but this late in the game they were out of fuel to keep the assembly line moving along. Efro was hiding behind a Harnessed Galvanizer, a shielded Silver Myr and a lifestaffed Myrsmith. Hicks played Myr Galvanizer. Eric found a Kemba Skyguard atop his deck and double equipped to attack for a hasty 4 -- Hicks went to 28. He untapped and played Mimic Vat and Flameborn Hellion. There were no blocks for Efro when the red creature attacked. he had Revoke Existence for the Vat. Eric had another Skyguard. Eric attacked with it for three and then moved all his equipment to the Silver Myr to arm it for the coming tussle with the Flameborn Hellion.
Hicks attacked with everything -- three tokens, Galvanizer. Hellion, Gold Myr and Shikari. When the dust settled two of the tokens were dead as was the Hellion with zero losses on Efro's side. Eric was able to go to work with his fliers while Hicks was scuffling for a way to deal with those fliers.
Final result: Eric Froehlich - 2 Steven Hicks - 0
Feature Match - Round 15: Yuuya Watanabe vs. David Williams
With two rounds to go, these two players would need to rattle off a pair of wins to make the Top 8. On one side of the table, David Williams, the gamer's gamer. On the other, the reigning Player of the Year, Yuuya Watanabe.
Both players went down to six cards, and Williams led off with Culling Dais and Auriok Replica. Watanabe tried to undo some of the mulligan damage with Trinket Mage but after flipping through his deck he shuffled it and offered it for a cut with a sigh. "Just drew," he said, shaking his head.
Williams meanwhile, could only add a Salvage Scout to the board. Watanabe untapped and showed the Accorder's Shield that had been in his hand, equipped it and hit for two. Williams drew and passed the turn. Next came Livewire Lash from Watanabe. Finally Williams hit a mountain and played out Chrome Steed.David Williams
Watanabe continued his air assault with Sky-Eel School. He drew a card and discarded island. He attacked and passed the turn. Williams dropped Silver Myr and Revoked the Lash's Existence. Watanabe pondered his next move. He played Vulshok Heartstoker to juice up his Eels and hit for five.
Watanabe 1 - Williams 0
Williams was quick to keep his opener. Watanabe had to give it some more thought, but eventually stayed on seven. Williams led with Silver Myr. Watanabe played Riddlesmith. Williams plucked hopefully for his third turn but couldn't find a land. He played Glint Hawk and replayed his Myr. Meanwhile Watanabe looted with Perilous Myr, discarding land.
Williams finally hit a mountain for Chrome steed. He let the Riddlesmith past, and Watanabe summoned Darkslick Drake. Williams made a Darksteel Juggernaut but held back, preserving his life total. Watanabe sent the drake overhead, then tapped five post-combat for Sky-Eel School.
Now Williams was ready to bust out. He tapped four, summoning the combo of Culling Dais and Perilous Myr, and attacking with his Steed and 5/5 Juggernaut. Watanabe confirmed he had two cards in hand, then put his own Perilous Myr in front of the Juggernaut and took four. He aimed the Perilous blast at Silver Myr and Williams almost forgot to activate his Culling Dais.
Watanabe returned fire for five in the air, knocking Williams to nine. He played a second School and agonized over what to discard. Eventually, he chose Golem Artisan, hinting at a hand full of goodies. Now it was Williams's turn to think. He counted and recounted his options on four mana, and eventually hit with both Juggeraut and Chrome Steed. Watanabe took eight down to six. Williams summoned Auriok Edgewright and passed it back.
Watanabe played Accorder's Shield, looting away a Bloodshot Trainee, then suited up one of his Schools and attacked with both. Williams put Glint Hawk in the way. At end of turn he put his Perilous Myr on the Dais to finish the School off.
Williams untapped, drew, then tapped four, holding out Glimmerpoint Stag. Watanabe frowned and looked to his cards. Williams put it on the table and waited. After a few seconds, Watanabe allowed it, and Williams blinked out the Darkslick Drake. The way was suddenly clear for a big attack. Williams smashed in with Edgewright, Chrome Steed and Darksteel Juggernaut.Yuuya Watanabe
The trap was set, and sprung. Watanabe levelled Shatter at the Culling Dais, Williams having tapped out for the Glimmerpoint Stag. That turned off metalcraft, allowing Watanabe to devour the Chrome Steed and trade his Riddlesmith for the Edgewright. Williams could only shake his head as he played a post-combat plains.
Yuuya Watanabe defeats David Williams 2-0
Afterwards Williams asked if Watanabe had anything else in hand. Watanabe flashed him the Stoic Rebuttal.
"So sick," said Williams appreciatively. "So sick him not countering there. I had held back the plains to keep him from thinking I could activate the Dais. I guess with him having the counter it didn't matter, he had me. Still. That's the kind of game I don't mind losing."
Feature Match - Round 16: Steven Hicks vs. Ben Stark
As the standings were posted prior to the pairings for the final round there was a sudden glimmer of hope for a handful of players with three losses. There were five players with 39 points and two players with 40. That left one player with 37 and a whole passel of players with 36 points. Assuming the player with 37 points got paired up against one of the 39 pointers it would mean they could not draw -- which the other matches above them would almost assuredly do. That meant that one player to emerge victorious from either the Hicks/Stark match or the Burnett/Boggemes could sneak into the Top 8 if their tiebreakers were strong enough -- and those four players had the best breakers of players with their point total.
Ben Stark had thought he was playing for ninth place when the pairings went up but upon learning that Hicks thought he could squeeze himself into the Top 8 he realized that meant he could make it to. There was a reason they were in the Feature Match area after all.
"I am going to play first," announced Hicks, who was 12-0 at one point in the tournament.
"I am thinking about always giving my opponent choice," said Stark.
"Why, because you just wanna draw?"
"I actually don't know what I wanna do," admitted Stark. "I just don't want to give anything away."
Hicks led off with Copper Myr while Stark played Panic Spellbomb and Copper Myr. Hicks played a turn three Glimmerpoint Stag blinking out his Myr. Accorder's Shield and Chrome Steed gave Stark metalcraft but it was shortlived as Revoke Existence took out the Steed. Hicks followed up with Origin Spellbomb and attacked for three.
Stark 'cycled' his Panic Spellbomb but did not find a fourth land much less a non-Mountain. He played Vulshok Replica and Hicks cashed in his Origin Spellbomb at the end of the turn. He untapped into a Flameborn Hellion and sent everyone into the red zone. Ben traded his Vulshok with the Stag and when the dust settled the score was 11 to 19 in Hicks' favor. Perilous Myr and Glint Hawk Idol came down for Stark but he was still without a Forest -- although he did have that Copper Myr.
Hicks attacked with Hellion and it was chumped with Perilous Myr which killed Hicks' Copper Myr. He played his own Perilous Myr after combat. Stark played Sylvok Replica and attacked with Idol. Once again Hicks attacked with everything. Replica ate the Myr token and Stark fell to 5. Hicks finished it and Copper Myr off with Arc Trail and Ben used the mana to sacrifice the Replica to force Hicks' hand on the Perilous Myr. Stark took two and dropped to three.Steven Hicks
Darksteel Sentinel ambushed the Flameborn Hellion -- it didn't kill it or anything, just startled it. It was joined by Auriok Edgewright. Stark finally had two sources of green mana and played Bellowing Tanglewurm. Hicks had another Arc Trail a turn later and used it to finish off the Wurm after it blocked the Edgewright. The Flameborn Hellion just continued to flail uselessly against the Sentinel.
Ben was hesitant to attack with his Sentinel out of fear of Dispense Justice. He decided to wait a turn and played an Iron Myr. Mimic Vat hit the table for Hicks. Ben attacked with both his creatures and Hicks did indeed have Dispense Justice. Stark sacrificed his Myr and when Hicks went to imprint it on the Vat Stark tapped mana for Slice in Twain.
"It's okay I am killing it," said Stark before untapping to play Myr Battlesphere. Hicks had no play and passed the turn back to Stark was worried about another trick. "If you have nothing you are dead anyway. You can make me go through with it though."
He wanted to be able to attack with one token even if it meant he would come up one short if Hicks had another Justice. He did have it and Ben was happy with his reads but had to sweat the top of Hicks' deck.
"You are at one. Don't draw the burn spell."
"I am not doing well in these Feature Matches," sighed Hicks who was without a way to punch through that final blow.
"Well you tend to face tougher opponents in them.," said Ben. He realized that may have sounded brash. "I am not talking about myself but I know you played Efro earlier today."
Hicks was on the play again and kept a hand with Elspeth, four land, and two equipment. Stark opened quickly with Panic Spellbomb, Glint Hawk Idol, and Chrome Steed on turn four. Strider Harness, Sylvok Lifestaff, and Mimic Vat were Hicks' opening plays before drawing a Myr Galvanizer that immediately picked up the Lifestaff.
Stark began to play more aggressively and Perilous Myr let his Idol attack for two. Hicks used Arc Trail to force him to use the Myr and lose metalcraft to also kill the Steed. Stark threw the Myr at the Galvanizer. Hicks imprinted the Steed and gained three. Acid Web Spider came into play and ate the Harness.Ben Stark
"Time to get down to business," announced Ben as he cracked his neck, played Myr Battlesphere and attack for two in the air. Hicks was out of gas. Ben played another Acid Web Spider took away the Lifestaff and Ben sent everyone into combat -- Battlesphere, Spider, four tokens, and Sentinel. Hicks used the Vat to make a Steed and double block the Battlesphere and threw some tokens in the way of tokens. Stark could not Shatter the Mimic Vat fast enough -- shutting off metalcraft and decimating Hicks' team.
"I would not have sent the Battlesphere in there if i did not have the Shatter," explained Stark as Hicks scooped up his cards and filled out the match result slip. "It was one of those annoying situations where I knew you could not win but you didn't know you couldn't win. I was not sure if i was just supposed to show you the Shatter there.
"I knew I couldn't win," sighed Hicks.
"Now the praying begins," sighed Stark. "I have never -- ever -- Top 8ed anything on breakers."
Final result: Ben Stark defeated Steven Hicks two games to zero and managed to squeak into the Top 8 with the best tiebreakers among his points peers.