The table has been set, the silverware laid out and the decks have been shuffled. When 1,394 other players have been eliminated only two remain to play for the title at Grand Prix Prague. 25-year old German Marcel Kachapow takes on Croatian Vjeran Horvat, two years his senior. When it comes to Magic though, age is actually nothing but a number.
Horvat deck has been notorious for defeating Jund and Junk strategies all weekend, but it remains unclear how his Blue/White/Red deck matches up against Kachapow's tempo based Splinter Twin deck. Surely creatures with Flash would prove crucial in the matchup, allowing both players to get pressure on the board while being able to keep mana up for countermagic and removal.
Lightning Helix took out Kachapow's Grim Lavamancer, that was the first thing on the board. Being stuck on two lands however it looked like Horvat might be in trouble. Remanding a Pestermite allowed him to draw an extra card, finding the crucial third land, while the Pestermite came back on the battlefield. A fourth land from the cap wearing Croatian enabled a Vendilion Clique at the end of Kachapow's turn.
Kachapow responded with a Clique of his own, seeing a Thundermaw Hellkite in Horvat's hand, which could be devastating if he found the fifth land to cast it.
"Not the mana to cast it, eh?," exclaimed Kachapow.
"Waiting at the top of my deck," responded Horvat, earning a smile from the German.
Kachapow elected to let him keep the Thundermaw in hand, and the fifth land was, indeed, waiting on top getting Horvat his second red source to cast the Thundermaw Hellkite, killing both of Kachapow's fliers, and attack for 8.
"I forgot that it deals one damage to my guys, that wasn't so smart," said Kachapow and packed up for game two.
"Almost your entire sideboard seems to be for this matchup," established Horvat between games, while deciding to bring in some goodies of his own in the form of Counterflux, Damping Matrix, Wear//Tear and a Batterskull, replacing 2 Lightning Helix and 2 Geist of Saint Traft.
Frustration began to show on Kachapow when he saw his opponents hand of 3 Path to Exile and 2 Cryptic Command when he got a peek at it with a Vendilion Clique. Mana denial became his plan instead. A Molten Rain took out a land, recurring it with Snapcaster took out another. Tectonic Edge kept Horvat even further from mana to cast Cryptic Command.
A few turns later Kachapow's his board was reduced to a single Snapcaster and no cards in hand, but with Horvat at dangerously low 2 life. Horvat tapped out on his turn to cast a Vendilion Clique, and a Molten Rain from the top of Kachapow's deck dealt the last 2 points.
The third game started with a lesson in one of the hardest decisions in Magic, a veeery tough mulligan decision for Vjeran Horvat. After already going to six cards on the play he stared down on Glacial Fortress, Tectonic Edge, Snapcaster Mage, Restoration Angel, Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix. Would you have kept? He took a long time before deciding to, and was instantly rewarded by drawing an Arid Mesa in his first draw step.
His flow of lands allowed him to answer Kachapow's Vendilion Clique with a Restoration Angel, before two Tectonic Edges took out two os his lands. But once again an Arid Mesa came to the rescue from the top of his library. It allowed Horvat to find a Mountain to Lightning Bolt the Vendilion Clique, and 5 attacks later with his Angel he could finish off Kachapow with a Snapcaster and a Lightning Bolt.
Vjeran Horvat defeats Marcel Kachapow 2-1