Finals: Illuminati vs. Prodigy

Posted in Event Coverage on June 1, 2003

By John Stephens

As the competitors were warming up for this final match our illustrious Head Judge, Nat Fairbanks, comes by the table to quickly cover the rules. He reminded the players that this is the final match, best two out of three, untimed.

"We'll have a nice four course meal, then come back and start this," Alex commented before the match started.

"I will play first, son," Manny says after Alex rolls a three on the twenty-sided dice. After Manny rolls eleven that becomes official.

Game 1

The two competitors are talkative as the game begins, and Alex plays the first of the creatures, a Shepherd of Rot. Manny responds to that with a White Knight, making the Shepherd a little ineffective here in the early going. Alex then adds an Embalmed Brawler to the table, using the amplify ability once.

Manny swings with his Knight. "What else you got," Alex responds. Manny answers the question with a morph creature.

The Brawler swings from Alex's side, and both players are at 15 life.

"Oh, so mean," Alex intones as Manny casts Pacifism on his Raptor, making the red blocker useless and making it easier for his White Knight to come to the red zone again.

The pace of the match slows considerably here, as Alex plays a morph and swings with his Shepherd. With the talking at the table dying to a minimum the noise of the side events begins to creep toward the finalists.

"End of your turn I'll cycle Gempalm Polluter," Alex says as Manny passes the turn back. He draws for the cycle and then for his turn. "Oo, drawing cards is so good," he finishes.

After Alex swings with his creatures a debate takes place. "Maybe I'm wrong," Manny finally concedes when the judge sides with Alex. A minor debate over life totals ends up in Alex's favor. Manny's life total is down to six.

"That was beautiful," Manny says. He was being sarcastic. He had just played Cruel Revival targeting a morph on Alex's side of the table. The morph turned out to be a zombie, Skinthinner to be exact. Skinthinner kills the morph on Manny's side and it's all over.

The following turn Manny is able to do nothing as Alex runs his men into the red zone and onward to victory.

Alex – 1 Manny – 0

Game 2

The chatter turns to things outside of the match. Alex chats with the people around the table and Manny is relatively silent between games.

"I'll play first," Manny says as he shuffles up for Game 2. Those are about the only words he says as he shuffles up and there is some mumbling behind me from spectators. They feel like he has the vastly superior deck, but is cracking under pressure. Manny is playing in his first ever finals at a major event, and his team has only been together since yesterday morning. All that considered, he has a reason to be a little nervous.

Alex, on the other hand, is as cool as the other side of the pillow. Despite having what most people have considered an inferior card pool he took Game 1, and his confidence is screaming through everything he does.

"I sense plains in my future," Alex comments after Manny keeps his hand. Alex is wrong, Manny plays a Swamp instead.

The sense of levity seems to be gone from this match now. Alex is almost completely silent as he professionally goes about his business. A morph joins his turn two Shepherd of Rot to which Manny responds with a morph of his own. When Manny swings with his morph Alex agrees to the trade. No trade happens though, as Wingbeat Warrior turns face up and gets in some first strike damage.

Ridgetop Raptor joins the table, but Manny has answers. White Knight and a morphed creature both come to the table. "Your turn," Manny says.

Alex spends some time in deep contemplation before swinging with the Raptor. Manny agrees he'll take his damage like a man. In this case, that's four points of pain to the dome. Alex follows combat with a fifth land and a Clutch of Undead on his rotted Shepherd.

"That's good," Manny comments. He untaps for his turn, plays a morph and passes things back to Alex.

Alex draws his card and spends a moment contemplating the board. "Infest," he declares, setting the powerful spell on the table. If Manny doesn't have a solid response then this game is over. He morphs a creature in response, turning over Gravel Slinger to keep him alive. This partially prevents the disaster, but not enough. Alex loses one of his creatures and his Infest, Manny loses an army, five creatures.

On the following turn he plays Windborn Muse, which might slow down the one attacker Alex has the table.

"So, I have to tap two mana to attack now, is that how that works," Alex asks. It seems almost playful as we're sure Alex already knew that. Instead of tapping only two lands Alex decides to tap five of them, casting Cruel Revival on the Muse.

Manny adds a Noble Templar and a Stoic Champion to the table, than gives them a clay spider for company. All of those creatures might help Alex out though, he's holding Scattershot. The Storm ability on that card means dead morph and Alex appears to be in control.

"You're at five," Alex asks. "Erratic Explosion," he finishes. Prowling Pangolin comes off the top of the deck.

Final Result: Alex is the first one finished with his game, and when Zvi gets the news, he roars. "Shvartsman won! He wasn't supposed to do that!"

Twenty minutes or so later it's all over. Zvi defeats Charlie Gindy and Illuminati are the champions of Grand Prix Pittsburgh.

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