Day 2 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on December 18, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast



Sunday, December 18: 10:31 a.m. - Round 10: Helmut Summersberger vs. Martin Brenner

Helmet Summersberger, left, vs. Martin Brenner

Well we're off with the first round of the morning. I was expecting to cover the match between the two winners of "blue" and "green" yesterday, Nicolas Labarre and Martin Brenner. However there was another player, Helmut Summersberger, who managed a perfect 9-0 record and he was paired against Brenner. Functionally the matchup is exactly the same as Summersberger is also playing the Threshold deck with a red splash. He might have a hard time of it as Brenner's Red-White Slide/Rift deck (do they even play Slide anymore?) munched up a similar deck yesterday.

Brenner got to go first but didn't do much in his first couple of turns except cycle a couple of Eternal Dragons. Meanwhile Summersberger opened with that popular little beater Nimble Mongoose (or Wendiger Mungo as it is known in German). A Mental Note headed Summersberger off towards Threshold and then he showed his deck was splashing for both red and white as a Meddling Mage came out and put a stop to Swords to Ploughshares.

Summersberger hit threshold with a Lightning Bolt and then attacked with Mungo to drop Brenner to 10. When he attacked again on the following turn Brenner was waiting with a Decree of Justice and the two Soldiers ganged up and took down the Mage. Mungo was still kicking though, and Summersberger had a backup Mage.

Martin Brenner

Brenner attempted to clear the board with Akroma's Vengeance, but failed to resolve it past Summersberger's Counterspell. He tried again on the following turn and was met with a Force of Will. Mungo and the Mage were free to knock of the last couple of points of damage.

Summersberger 1-0 Brenner

Over in the other Feature Match Nicolas Labarre was 1-0 down after mulliganing to 4 against Jerome Vilm. Vilm is one of the few players still alive with Landstill, a deck that has not attracted much enthusiasm from the pro's.

Mungo again put in a first turn appearance, or rather its English cousin. Brenner's draw looked a little bit juicier this time as he dropped Lightning Rift on turn two. To be honest I'm amazed how the Red-White deck can survive in a format with combo decks that can kill as early as turn one. But as those combo decks also seem to be equally as efficient at killing their owners it's probably not too surprising.

Nimble Mongoose is popular in Legacy because he's immune to most of the currently played creature removal. Before threshold he can be a little vulnerable though and Brenner managed to pick off the green critter with a cycled Slice and Dice.

Summersberger replaced the Mongoose with an upgraded version while Brenner cycled some lands and sent some shocks Summersberger's way. The life totals stood at 12 to 9 in Brenner's favor.

Helmet Summersberger

The German amateur went for Humility and run into Summersberger's Counterspell. Summersberger started to take control then as a Naturalize took down the Rift in Brenner's upkeep and he had a Counterspell waiting for Brenner's Humility. Brenner went for a third Humility and was again denied, this time by Force of Will.

Running out of options and down to only 5 life, Brenner hard cast an Eternal Dragon. Summersberger had a second Force of Will. When Brenner attempted to Swords a Werebear in Summersberger's end step the Austrian heaped on the ultimate indignity by countering the one mana instant with a lowly Daze.

After witnessing that drubbing I suspect I might have called this matchup wrong in the first paragraph.

Helmut Summersberger beats Martin Brenner 2-0

Sunday, December 18: 11:47 a.m. - Round 11: Helmut Summersberger vs. Nicolas Labarre

Helmet Summersberger, left, vs. Nicolas Labarre

Well, there are only two players left in the tournament with perfect records. The winner of this clash between Helmut Summersberger and Nicolas Labarre will finally be able to open up some clear space between them and the rest of the field.

It's a Threshold mirror matches so it's Mongooses at dawn. Sure enough both players opened with the little critters and they tore each other to pieces in the red zone in a clash that would set the animal rights people frothing.

Labarre's Quirion Dryad fell to Lightning Bolt before it could really start growing and then Summersberger dropped a Meddling Mage to bar any further Bolts from being played. This is usually cue for one of those hideously ironic events where the player goes on to draw all of their own Lightning Bolts, but a glance at Summersberger's hand revealed this wasn't the case.

Back to the game and there was a short counter-war over an Isochron Sceptre. Labarre won and the Scepter came in with Fire/Ice. Both players were down to 0 cards in hand and it looked like Labarre had the clear advantage with his stick of Fire/Ice versus Summersberger's Meddling Mage.

Then the Austrian managed to turn the game completely around as he topdecked first a Werebear and then a Pithing Needle to shut down the Scepter.

Summersberger 1-0 Labarre.

Nicolas Labarre

There were no Mongoose starts this game and it was down to Labarre to lay the first creature, a Quirion Dryad, on turn two. But would it actually live? Of course not, Summersberger cast Brainstorm at end of turn and then axed it with a Lightning Bolt in his turn.

Then it was Summersberger's turn to lay out a creature. He dropped a Meddling Mage and named Fire/Ice. Labarre took the opportunity to clear out some of the rubbish in his hand with the Brainstorm/sac land combo. He dropped a Werebear, but was a card short of threshold. I don't think Summersberger would be running his Mage into it any time soon though.

Or maybe he would. The Austrian went for Tormod's Crypt and forced it down with a Counterspell. He cast Lightning Bolt on the Werebear and then swallowed up Labarre's graveyard with the Crypt to make the Bolt lethal.

Labarre replied with sideboard tech of his own as a Red Elemental Blast took out the Mage. Summersberger continued to take the initiative as he summoned a Werebear.

There then followed a bizarre sequence of play as Summersberger won a raging counter battle over a Submerge that ended up with a Daze on a hard cast Force of Will. Labarre attempted a second Submerge for free, but then Summersberger pointed out he had no forests in play after returning his Tropical Island for the Daze. Labarre just hard cast the Submerge in his own turn.

The fun and games continued as Labarre had somehow managed to draw all four of his Submerge. The crowd got a giggle as the same Werebear ended up on the top of Summersberger's library for three turns in a row. Labarre rounded off with a virtuoso Predict that sent the Werebear to the graveyard and drew him an extra card in the process. Marvelous stuff!

Helmut Summersberger

Summersberger still maintained a slight advantage as he had a second Crypt in play waiting to swallow Labarre's graveyard the first moment threshold became relevant. A Meddling Mage on Fire/Ice increased that advantage. When Labarre went for a Predict Summersberger aimed a Red Elemental Blast at it. Labarre had to force it through with Force of Will as it meant drawing two extra cards and more importantly not drawing the useless Tropical Island sitting on top of his library.

The first Mongooses of the game showed up on either side and Labarre also found a Werebear but that Tormod's Crypt was still hanging over him, ready to wipe out threshold at any moment. Labarre forced the issue by blocking with his Mongoose and losing it once his graveyard was wiped out.

He extended his hand a turn later as the board position became irretrievable.

Helmut Summersberger beats Nicolas Labarre 2-0.

This win leaves Summersberger alone at the top of the rankings with a flawless 11-0 record.

Sunday, December 18: 12:52 p.m. - Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

Normally I like to put up the X-0 decks at the end of the first day. But after Rogier Maaten's turn one Pithing Needle naming Psychatog when going first against Jonathan Rispal in round 10 of GP Bilbao, I decided putting up the deck lists of the undefeated decks overnight puts those players at a marked disadvantage against the rest of the field. This disadvantage is even more pronounced if one of the players has access to the internet and the other one doesn't. This is just my own personal opinion rather than official policy and has nothing to with the fact I wanted to run off to the pub last night rather than type in deck lists.

But now we're heading into round 12 and the guys at the top of the rankings have already played each other so it's probably safe to stick these up now. So without much further ado I present the 9-0 decks from day one Grand Prix Lille.

Nicolas Labarre

Download Arena Decklist
Creature (10)
4 Nimble Mongoose 4 Werebear 2 Quirion Dryad
Sorcery (4)
4 Serum Visions
Artifact (2)
2 Isochron Scepter
Other (4)
4 Fire/Ice
60 Cards

Helmut Summersberger

Download Arena Decklist

Martin Brenner

Download Arena Decklist

For those that are interested Helmut Summerberger beat Martin Brenner 2-0 and then went on to beat Nicolas Labarre 2-0.

Sunday, December 18: 2:29 p.m. - Round 12 - Marijn Lybaert vs. Arnost Zidek

Game 1

Swords to Plowshares

Marijn got to play first but he had to mulligan and couldn't play anything on the first two turns. He cycled Gempalm Incinerator and played Goblin Matron, which was answered by Arnost with Predict to draw a card, and then Daze. Meddling Mage came down on the next turn to make sure Ringleader wouldn't hit play. Marijn did have Goblin Warchief and Piledriver, but Arnost had Swords to Plowshares for the Chief. He also played a Nimble Mongoose and Marijn had another Warchief. Brainstorm couldn't find him a Force of Will, and Marijn chose not to sacrifice his Wasteland, indicating that he had some big spells in hand. Arnost improved his hand with Predict (for two this time), and Serum Visions. He still did not have a counterspell for Marijn's Siege-Gang Commander which now accompanied Warchief and Piledriver against Mongoose and Meddling Mage. Brainstorm found Swords for the Siege-Gang, and Marijn played his last two cards: Lackey and Sharpshooter. The last one got countered and Marijn kept his team on defence again. Arnost brought in some flying force with Mystic Enforcer, but Marijn's deck took care of it with Gempalm Incinerator. Arnost was tapped out, so now the danger of Swords to Plowshares was gone and Marijn sent in his team. Piledriver and Mongoose traded, Meddling Mage blocked Lackey and Arnost took 5. Arnost drew some cards with multiple Serum Visions and eventually found Nimble Mongoose. Marijn didn't need all of those deck manipulation cards though, his deck gave him another Siege-Gang Commander, and het sent in all of his guys except for the Commander to put Arnost at four. Swords took care of the problem, but only for a turn as Marijn's next attack put Arnost at one and the freshly-drawn Mogg Fanatic sealed the deal.

Marijn's deck 1 - Arnost Zidek 0

Game 2
Arnost played first and stumbled on lands early when he missed his second land drop after Serum Visions and Brainstorm. Marijn did not have any land destruction, he had Mogg Fanatic, Piledriver and two Goblin Matron, all but the Mogg Fanatic got countered by Dazes and Hydroblasts. Gempalm came down but got Swordsed, and Tormod's Crypt drew a Force of Will, all of this while Arnost was still at one land. A Ringleader was Force of Willed, allowing Arnost to slip in Pithing Needle through Marijn's Rishadan Port, naming the land. Marijn played another Ringleader but it must have been the worst Ringleader ever: he revealed zero Goblins and forgot to attack with it. Arnost didn't have any counterspells left so he layed out a Mongoose and Werebear, while Marijn had a Siege-Gang. It got Swordsed but Marijn had another and spent the next two minutes thinking about his attacks. "This deck is too hard to play", he said, and Arnost asked me to write it down, and I couldn't deny a dying man's last request. He sent in everyone but the Commander and put Arnost down to six. Again the Commander got Swordsed, but Tormod's Crypt on the next turn forced two Nimble Mongoose and Werebear to trade for three Goblin tokens, putting Arnost down to three in the process. He had nothing left but three lands on the board and a fourth in his hand, and another land drawn couldn't help him out.

End result: Marijn Lybaert beat Arnost Zidek 2-0

Sunday, December 18: 3:18 p.m. - Round 13: Antoine Ruel vs. Maximilian Bracht

Antoine Ruel, left, vs. Maximilian Bracht

Well I've been waiting for the pro's to finally kick into action and give me some decent feature matches and finally I get one. Regular readers should probably know who Antoine Ruel is. He won Pro Tour Los Angeles a couple of months ago and is one of the top players in the world at the moment. His opponent, Maximilian Bracht, might be less familiar. German Magic is going through some fairly lean times at the moment. So much so that Antoine pointed out Bracht is one of only two German players actually on the train at the moment. Bracht is a lively player to watch and probably a name to keep an eye on for the future.

Ruel led off with a couple of Exploration but quickly ran out of land to play after the third. Bracht led off with two Duress and picked off Intuition and then Force of Will.
I know Ruel is playing the same Solitary Confinement deck as Nassif (I came very close to sending Julien over to cover this one for that reason) but I have no idea what Bracht is playing.

The German player managed to keep everyone in the dark as he fetched out forest and plains with his sac lands before finally giving the game away on turn four when he attempted to summon Gamekeeper. Unfortunately for him Ruel had found a Forbid and the Gamekeeper never arrived.

The game then went into a period of draw-go. Ruel was looking for a Life from the Loam while Bracht was trying to find anything. His hand contained multiple Dark Ritual as he continued the trend of combo decks misfiring on Feature Match tables.

A Night's Whisper found a bit more of interest. Bracht sniffed if the way was clear as he went fishing with Cabal Therapy. There were no Counterspell waiting in Ruel's hand but he did have Swords to Ploughshares. I'm not exactly sure what Bracht fetches with the Gamekeeper so I don't know how much an inconvenience the Swords are.

Antoine Ruel

I got to see on the next turn as Bracht summoned Gamekeeper and then flashed back Cabal Therapy. The Gamekeeper triggered first. It fetched Auriok Salvagers, which immediately died to Swords to Ploughshares. The flashed back Therapy resolved and took out the remaining Swords. So yes, Swords to Ploughshares is in fact a real inconvenience.

Fearing the worst Ruel dropped Solitary Confinement to try and get some protection. Bracht took this opportunity to try and go off. Would I finally actually get to see a combo deck successfully go off and kill an opponent?

Bracht cast Living Wish and responded by sacrificing a Lions Eye Diamond to give him enough mana to cast the Auriok Salvagers and also fetch back the Diamond. At this point Bracht could generate infinite mana as the Diamond generated three mana and could be fetched back from the graveyard for just two. With the infinite mana Bracht could also draw his entire deck as he also had a Chromatic Sphere. He had to get past the Confinement, but that was easy as all he had to do was wish for a Viridian Zealot from his sideboard. With the enchantment out of the way Bracht then drew until he found a Pyrite Spellbomb and then continually recurred that with the Salvagers until Ruel was toast.

Yay, a combo deck finally goes off in the feature match area. I have to admit to not being the most impressed with a combo deck that can be disrupted by Swords to Ploughshares but I'm a dinosaur who still remembers playing with Necropotence and Enduring Renewal. Those were good times.

Bracht 1-0 Ruel

Oh well enough reminiscing about the old days when combo decks were actually good. It's time to get back to the match. Bracht led off with a Duress, netting Counterspell and then a Tainted Pact found him Tsunami.

A few turns and one Tsunami later and Bracht was shaping up to go off. A Cabal Therapy stripped a Counterspell from Ruel's hand and revealed a Force of Will, but crucially no other blue card. Bracht went to cast Salvagers. Ruel was in real problems here and could be dead if the Salvagers hit play and the German had a Lion's Eye Diamond in hand. Ruel needed a blue card. He cycled a Lonely Sandbar. No blue card. He sac'ed a Delta to fetch a Tropical Island and cycled another Sandbar. Still no blue card. The Salvagers entered play and…

…Bracht passed the turn. He didn't have the Diamond. The match was now really tense. Exploration and Life from the Loam allowed Ruel to recover from the Tsunami. He now needed to cycle cards like a maniac to try and kill the Salvagers before Bracht found Lions Eye Diamond. In his turn Bracht was frantically recurring Chromatic Sphere in order to dig for the missing pieces of his combo. A Night's Whisper found a Tainted Pact and that gave plenty of search potential. It was interesting as the fourth card turned over was Pyrite Spellbomb. I'm guessing it was the only one.

Maximilian Bracht

Could Bracht actually kill his opponent with out the Spellbomb? Well, lets find out as he went past and finally found the Diamond. Ruel wanted to hurry him along. Despite drawing about 12 cards the Frenchman had still found stone cold nothing. It was incredible. He hadn't even managed to find a blue card to go with the Force of Will in hand. A Duress revealed the weakness of Ruel's hand and left the way clear for Bracht to "go off". I still wasn't sure how he'd kill without the Spellbomb but that was soon made clear as Bracht cast Living Wish and searched his sideboard for … Maga!

Ruel was really unhappy with his draws in both games. His deck had failed to cough up anything. He flipped any number of cards that would have just destroyed Bracht had they resolved. Null Rod, Meddling Mage, Chalice of the Void… But no, his deck had just not obliged.

Maximilian Bracht beats Antoine Ruel 2-0.

Sunday, December 18: 3:47 p.m. - Day 2 Breakdown

Threshold 36
of which:  
Threshold w/Red 19
Threshold w/White 14
Threshold w/Red & White 3
Goblins 32
Affinity 7
BW Pikula 6
RW Rift 5
Zoo 5
Boros Deck Wins 3
Landstill 3
Flame Vault 2
Salvagers Combo 2
High Tide 2
2 land Charbelcher 2
Solitary Confinement 2
Aluren 2
Rock 2
Burning Tog 1
Illusions/Donate 1
UW Control 1
Enchantress 1
UG Control 1
Survival 1
Life 1
White Weenie 1
Dumptruck 1
Total 128

While I couldn't a full breakdown of day one (Be reasonable, there were nearly a thousand decklists!) I did manage to do a breakdown for the decks in day two (With some help from Julien Nuijten) and here are the results

The legacy format here seems to be dominated by Goblins and Threshold. There are a number of other deck types floating around but nothing that comes close to the two types. This could be because both Threshold and Goblins are reasonably cheap and easy to put together (as opposed to having to find 4 Time Vault or Reset). The combination of counterspells, cantrips and very efficient creatures and removal does seem to make the Threshold deck a very useful package.

It would be interesting to see how the Legacy format developed across a longer period of time. Would players find answers to the two dominant decks or would it further entrench into a battle between Goblin Lackeys and Nimble Mongoose.

Sunday, December 18: 4:09 p.m. - Giving Information to the players

So now you know.

So now you know.

Now all I need is for scorekeeper Jason Howlett to knock me up a sign that says:

"I am not a Judge, please do not ask me rules questions, I don't care if you want to drop, please go and see one of the nice folk over there."

It would have certainly avoided that whole messy incident with the Arena league pen. I do hope they manage to remove it from his nose without any permanent scarring…

Don't disturb the sideboard writer. He might be a little unhinged.

Sunday, December 18: 4:27 p.m. - Round 14: Raphael Levy vs. Wessel Oomens

Game 1

Wessel Oomens

The first thing Wessel did when he arrived at the feature match area was change into his outfit to get ready for battle against Raph Levy, both players played the UGw Threshold deck. Wessel won the die roll but it was Raphael who came out faster with a pair of Nimble Mongoose. Wessel played his own copy on turn three, announcing it as "Goos-Goos, I am ze Frenchiest perzonne", but Raph ended the fun with a Force of Will. He also added Werebear to the squad, adding some more pressure, but he didn't have threshold yet so he could only knock Wessel to 17. Raph wanted to Predict to refill his hand and get threshold, but Wessel had a Force of Will and Raph sent his man in. He had only 5 cards in his graveyard, so Wessel blocked the Mongoose, put damage on the stack and then used a fetch land and Swords to Plowshares to get rid of the Werebear and get threshold to save his Mongoose. Raph simply replaced the Goose with another, and some more cantrips resolved, and Wes played a Meddling Mage; Raph checked if he could respond to the Meddling Mage's ability, but he couldn't and the Mage just resolved. Wessel, determined not to allow Raph to reach threshold, named Mental Note, and the Mage was promptly Swordsed. Raph tried Brainstorm, Wes tapped out for Force of Will, and Raph had the Daze returning an Island. He found Mystic Enforcer and a fetch land, and Wes threw his pair of Predicts on the table... "I KNEW YOU'D PUT THE ISLAND THERE.... stupid fetch lands", Wes joked, and he tried the Predicts but missed, and couldn't find a solution to Raph's Mystic Enforcer.

Game 2

Wes played first and shipped it to six. Both players cracked some lands and played some cantrips, and Raph made the first real play on turn two with a Werebear. Wessel tried Daze but Raph had a copy of his own to resolve it. Wes just shrugged and played Swrods to Plowshares. Some more cantrips resolved and next up was a techy Serendib Efreet from Raph. Wessel's Daze traded for Force of Will and the Efreet was in. Raph tapped out for another Efreet and Wessel took the opportunity to resolve Worship. At this point he was continuously calling for a Goos-Goos, and his deck coughed up the little monster. Raph didn't have a counterspell and was now under a clock created by his own Serendib Efreets. A few turns passed by, with both players playing some cantrips and Raph Swordsing one of his own Efreets to have some more time to find a solution to Wessel's combo. He found another Swords instead and removed his own Efreet again. Wessel kept adding guys to his board and swung in a couple times to finish Raph off.

Wessel Oomens, left, vs. Raphael Levy

Game 3

Raph played first and took a mulligan. The first few turns consisted of cracking lands and drawing some cards again, the first creature was Raph's Mongoose which resolved. Wes drew an extra card with Predict and discarded a land at end of turn. A Nimble Mongoose resolved for Wes as well, but Raph had Tormod's Crypt to deny Wessel threshold and swung in quckly. At this point there were only two minutes left in the round, so both players were playing quickly and aggressively. Serendib Efreet got Swordses by Wessel, and he also snuck in Worship. Time was called and neither player could finish their opponent off. Raph did have outs for the Worship/Mongoose combo, so they asked the judges for standings to see if they could still top 8 without this draw. They figured that Wes had a better chance because of his tiebreakers, and his board position was a bit better as well, so Raph decided to give Wessel the win.

Sunday, December 18: 6:41 p.m. - Round 15: Gabriel Nassif vs. Helmut Summersberger

Game 1

Gabriel Nassif

Helmut played first and both players kept their seven. Helmut had Serum Visions and Meddling Mage on Swords to Plowshares while Gabe played Exploration and some extra lands. Gabe's first Life from the Loam on two fetch lands got Dazed, and Helmut could just play a land and say go. Gabe dredged back his Life from the Loam, getting a Wasteland in the bin, and Counterspelled Helmut's Counterspell on the sorcery. Gabe got back some lands and started to destroy Helmut's lands. A second Exploration came down, and things were looking good for the Frenchie if he had some business spells in his hand; he had his engine running. Helmut's Meddling Mage got Nassif down to twelve, and he added a Werebear with five cards in the graveyard. Gabe got back his Life from the Loam again, and played Intuition for three cycling lands. A Serum Visions and Lightning Bolt made sure that the Werebear was 4/4, and Gabe fell to three in the attack step. He now had about twelve mana and one turn to find a solution and he did: Solitary Confinement. Helmut did not have a Force of Will and the players were on to game 2.

Game 2

Helmut played first again and both players kept their openers. Helmut started off with Serum Visions, Nimble Mongoose and Wasteland on Gabe's Tundra, while Gabe Brainstormed. Helmut played some cantrips to get threshold, and Gabe had Exploration and dug for some better spells with three cycled lands. He found Wasteland and Meddling Mage, the last got countered by Blue Elemental Blast, and Gabe went down to four from Force of Will; he had to counter another Mongoose. The other Mongoose got in and put Gabe down to one, and his last hope, Intuition, got countered and Helmut showed a hand with four more counters.

Helmut Summersberger

Game 3

Both players kept and Gabe's first two lands got Wastelanded. His third and fourth stuck around and Vinelasher Kudzu got Force of Willed. Helmut resolved Meddling Mage on Life from the Loam, and Gabe got stuck on two lands for a few turns while Helmut played some cantrips. Gabe found Swords for the Meddling Mage, Helmut tried a Counterspell but Gabe had the Force of Will. Tormod's Crypt did resolve and when Gabe tried Life from the Loam, Helmut played Daze and removed Gabe's graveyard from the game. A Nimble Mongoose got in and Gabe was on a short clock. It was also time in the round, and there was no real way Gabe could win in the extra turns. He dealt with the Mongoose with double Massacre, but the turns were up and the game ended in a draw.

End result: Gabriel Nassif and Helmut Summersberger drew 1-1-1

Sunday, December 18: 7:02 p.m. - The Last Round

Alex Mack, left, vs. Luca Verdiani

Well, now we're entering the last round and the top 8 places are starting to lock up. Table 1, Nicolas Labarre vs. Loïc Le Briand, and table 3, Martin Brenner vs. Maximilian Bracht, both ID'ed to book their places into the top 8. On table 2 Helmut Summersberger is in win, lose or draw, but he does have an opportunity here to shut the door on Gabriel Nassif. Nassif needs a win to put himself and his innovative Solitary Confinement/Life from the Loam deck into the top 8. That match is being covered separately by Julien Nuijten.

On table 4 a former GP winner, Alex Mack was paired against Luca Verdiani of Italy. Verdiani is the only player with Survival of the Fittest and Mack's Threshold deck fell to that enchantment backed up with Ravenous Baloth and two Eternal Witness in Game 1. In Game 2 Mack had Pithing Needle to shut down Survival but he didn't have a lot else. Verdiani was able to block the path with Wall of Roots and then cleaned up Mack's Mongoose and the Needle with Pernicious Deed. A Swords took care of Mack's Enforcer and then a Witness and Loxodon Hierarch were good enough to book the Italian player a place in the top 8.

Daniel Krutil, left, vs. Arnost Zidek

On table 5 we had an all-Czech clash. Arnost Zidek has been quietly racking up some solid finishes of late but still only has the one GP top 8 from Paris last year to his name. For this round he was paired against fellow countrymen Daniel Krutil on the Feature match table. It was another Threshold mirror match. Krutil forced a Mystic Enforcer down and although Zidek managed to Swords it he didn't draw as many monsters as Krutil. In Game 2 it looked like Krutil might have the advantage with Worship in play. However Zidek managed to take out all of his land with an Armageddon. From then on it was just a matter of waiting until Zidek drew his Naturalize. With the match tied they went into the decider with just two minutes left on the clock. As both are team-mates there was no chance the match was going to end in a draw. At the end of the game Zidek was facing down two Nimble Mongoose and scooped to his team-mate on the strength of his stronger board position.

Table 6 features two players with an outside chance of making the top 8. Emanuel Sutor was paired against Nicolas Francois. Sutor was running Threshold while Francois I think has a blue-white control deck. Sutor had 34 points while Francois had the highest tie-breakers out of the 33 pointers. Both of their Top 8 fortunes hinged on the Nassif match. If Nassif failed to win then the winner of this match would go through. If Nassif won then both would be shut out. Francois managed to force through a Fire to take the second game and match after Sutor mulliganed to five. As Nassif's match ended in a draw then this was enough to allow the Frenchman Francois to sneak through.

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