With giant eight-inch tall decks, the two finalists faced each other in the last of five matches to see who is the Invitational champion. After almost seven hours of play against each other following the final three rounds of the Invitational, everyone was extremely weary. But on the plus side, with the finish of the final round of Grand Prix Cape Town, a crowd gathered to watch, at least when they weren't distracted trying to get Jon Finkel to autograph their various paraphernalia.
They cut for ante and Dan put up a $3.50 Serenity against Kai's $6.00 Misdirection.
The action started fast with a Soltari Trooper from Dan getting Mana Drained off a Chromatic Sphere. Kai followed with a Fact or Fiction taking Island, Merchant Scroll, Pyroblast and Volcanic Island over Wrath and then Strip Mined Dan's Swamp. Dan calmly played a second land again and a Dauthi Horror at which point Kai turned to the crowd and said "ten turns". Apparently Kai's deck has problems dealing with small creatures.
Kai used a Merchant Scroll to search for Ancestral Recall and three members of the audience rushed forward to help search the deck for it with Brian Kibler hitting gold. The Ancestral didn't help much against Rancor on the Horror and suddenly Kai's ten-turn clock was cut in half. A Jackal pup cut it down even further and Dan then rebuilt his hand with a Contract from Below putting an additional Strip Mine ($2.00) into the ante.
With Dan almost tapped out from drawing all those extra cards, Kai decided to Time Warp and Mystical Tutor for Balance. In his free turn, he emptied his hand down to one card by playing a variety of artifacts and followed it up with Balance to clear away all the creatures and reduce both players to four land and one card. Dan's Rancor then returned to his hand.
Dan followed the balance with Dauthi Slayer and the Rancor but Kai drew Fire/Ice and removed it while also playing Fact or Fiction for four land and a Brainstorm. Kai took the Brainstorm and two land over the Thawing Glacier and land and continued to manipulate his deck before using Duress to force Dan to discard the Rancor.
Approximately twenty spells later, 90% of which were cantrips, Kai began gaining massive card advantage with Allied Strategies and such. Each time he drew the crowd and Kai would gasp in surprise or laughter as he drew into yet another card drawing mechanism. With twelve permanents to Dan's six and seven cards to Dan's two, Kai was looking to be in good shape. With fifty or more cards in his graveyard Kai played Yawgmoth's Agenda and Dan conceded once Kai explained how he would win the game through multiple tutors and cantrips leading into Mind Over Matter and Stroke of Genius.
Budde - 1
Clegg - 0
Ante for the second game was Dan's Plateau ($12.00) against Kai's Underground River ($6.00). Dan was already down $5.50 in ante.
With both players anteing a land, they were forced to roll a die to determine who went first. Kai won the roll but had no first turn plays other than Bad River. Dan, on the other hand, played a first-turn Dauthi Slayer off a Mox Diamond and followed it up with a turn two Dauthi Horror and Carnophage. Kai Brainstormed into Ancestral Recall to gain massive card advantage, but it doesn't help if you don't have board advantage as well. Lucky for Kai, a Fire/Ice on the Slayer helped him in that regards as well.
Dan revealed that his deck wasn't entirely made of cheap beatdown creatures when he Intuitioned for three Contract from Below once Kai was tapped out. Kai pretended to think about countering it with Force of Will and Dan figured he was faking as he then attempted the Contract only to have it actually countered.
With Dan holding no cards and one lonely Carnophage, Kai's hand of many cards looked pretty menacing if not particularly effective. But Kai's timely draw of Wall of Blossoms made things much easier, though it was to be of no use against Dan's following turn Frenetic Efreet. A quick Time Warp followed by Restock for Force of Will and Ancestral Recall ensured that Kai would have a pretty good chance of finding an answer. The Force of Will was required immediately to stop a Phyrexian Scuta but an Allied Strategies later and Kai's hand was still looking pretty full.
A second Scuta the following turn was Mana Drained and with the extra four mana Kai played another Allied Strategies for five more cards. Declaring that the extra five cards "didn't actually help", Kai seemed strangely unable to deal with a 2/1 flier, despite drawing over a dozen cards in the past two turns. The wonders of Five-Color!
Using the Jewelled Bird to exchange ante, Kai decided to concede the game over playing Contract from Below and risking an additional ante card. With the Jewelled Bird only worth $2.00 versus the $5.50 he had already won in ante, Kai figured it was more worth it to try and play a Jewelled Bird in game three and win automatically on ante value than to risk not drawing what he needs in the seven cards from the Contract.
Budde - 1
Clegg - 1
It's interesting to see non-game considerations forcing a player to choose to concede instead of going for victory. While players may concede to avoid revealing cards in their deck, it's rare that the scoring method forces a strategy of concession for advantage.
Ante for the third game was Dan's Library of Alexandria ($80.00) against Kai's Time Warp ($6.00). All Kai has to do to win is switch his Time Warp for a Jewelled Bird ($2.00) for a total loss of $4.00 versus the $5.50 that he has already won.
With catcalls and heckling from Invitational members in the audience over his ability to always win, Kai chose to take a one land mulligan and Dan matched his mulligan with a free one of his own. Kai kept his second hand and Dan followed suit again.
First turn, Dan played a Land Grant for Bayou revealing Intuition, Soltari Trooper, Dauthi Slayer, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual . . . and Hatred.
Dan played out a second turn Soltari Trooper and Kai knew he was doomed if he didn't find an answer really, really quickly. With a Force of Will in hand but no blue cards, Kai was desperate to draw something blue.
And boy did he draw something! Plucking Tinker off the top, he sacrificed his Fellwar Stone to Tinker to fetch Jewelled Bird that he then traded for the Ante for the win. Even if Dan won the game, he couldn't win more value in Ante than Kai had already won. Therefore, according to the rules of Five-Color used at the Invitational, Kai could not lose the match, even if he lost the third game.
After more than seven gruelling hours of playing Magic against each other, Kai Budde is the Magic the Gathering Invitational Champion!
Final Result: Budde 2 - Clegg 1