“Are you really going to retire from Magic?”
Patrick Chapin was stunned that Uri Peleg of Israel would consider taking a break from Magic for school. It’s easy to understand why. While Peleg has been a regular face on the Pro Tour for some time, he is currently having his best week of Magic ever, just one match away from the crown of World Champion.
Israel’s Uri Peleg and the USA’s Patrick Chapin play for all the marbles. Chapin applied the stare to Peleg as he considered mulligans, declaring that he’d been told to do so by Dave Price, a familiar face who showed up this weekend. There were no mulligans, and on the play, Patrick had Spinerock Knoll, which he followed up with a Fungal Reaches and Lotus Bloom the following turn—pretty much the perfect start.
From Peleg came a turn one Llanowar Elves, then Ohran Viper. This matchup is one that looks tough on paper for Patrick “The Innovator” Chapin, whose Dragonstorm deck has to deal with both disruption and a legitimate clock. Another Lotus Bloom and Spinerock Knoll came from Patrick, who looked concerned to see Garruk Wildspeaker the very next turn from Peleg. The planeswalker charged up by untapping two of Peleg’s lands, allowing a Birds of Paradise. Patrick was on 19, but if Peleg chose to use the Overrun ability, he could swiftly drop that to just 8.
The Ultimate ability on Garruk would be longer coming though. Chapin had his first Lotus Bloom coming off suspension the following turn, and using Garruk early could mean that Peleg missed out on getting there for the kill. Instead, Peleg played Llanowar Elves, untapped two lands, and passed after an attack for two.
The Israeli looked on nervously as Chapin’s first Lotus Bloom came in. There was no extra gas from Patrick though, who passed without incident on the turn. For his turn, Peleg used Garruk’s Ultimate ability, to which Chapin responded with Bogardan Hellkite, to kill Ohran Viper and both elves. Peleg floated mana, and played a big Profane Command to kill off the Hellkite and hit Patrick for 5, before attacking for 3 with Birds of Paradise, taking Chapin to 9.
Patrick fought back on his turn though, using the Lotus Bloom to power out a Dragonstorm for two, getting Bogardan Hellkites to kill off Birds of Paradise, and hit Peleg. This allowed a Spinerock Knoll to bring out Incinerate on Garruk Wildspeaker. With two Dragons on the table, Peleg had to find action fast.
When he didn’t, he just scooped up his cards. It was on to Game 2.
Chapin 1, Peleg 0
Uri unsurprisingly elected to play first for Game 2. Each deck is fast, and having an extra turn to get there for the kill in this race could be pivotal.
This is a head-scratcher. Peleg led out with a turn-one Birds of Paradise off a Gemstone Mine. This is the sort of play that had been allowing him turn-two copies of Doran, the Siege Tower, and Patrick was quick to put a halt to any of that nonsense with a Shock on the Birds. He couldn’t stop Doran on turn three, but had bought himself an extra turn in which to charge up a charge land, and play a Spinerock Knoll. Without a Lotus Bloom in play, Chapin would need some acceleration to fight in this one. When Loxodon Warhammer and Llanowar Elves followed from Uri, Chapin looked to be in deep trouble. While the Warhammer wouldn’t equate to more damage with Doran on the board, it would mean that Peleg was gaining life—making it tougher for Chapin to race. The trample could also prove relevant should Chapin have sided in his Empty the Warrens.
Swings with the Hammer took Chapin to 9, and launched Peleg up to 25 life. For the first time since entering the Top 8, Chapin looked a little rattled. He cast a Dodecapod and passed. Peleg activated a Treetop Village and swung with his team, threatening lethal damage. Chapin blocked the Village, and dropped to just 2, while Peleg rode high on 30 life. Surely this was more damage than the Dragonstorm deck could deal out?
Chapin didn’t have the kill, but he did have a way of buying himself some time. Rite of Flame gave Patrick just enough mana to play Shock and Grapeshot on Doran, the Siege Tower to ensure the tree’s death, and then enable a big Empty the Warrens for 8 tokens.
Peleg played Shriekmaw, killing one token. The following turn he equipped a Llanowar Elves, and swung with both the Elves and the Shriekmaw, who showed its worth by virtue of the fear ability more than anything else. In spite of his little red army, Patrick didn’t have enough blockers, and fell in the second.
Chapin 1, Peleg 1
“I thought that blue was supposed to be a good colour,” declared Chapin, who was baffled at the fact that it was the colour least represented in the finals of the World Championships.
On the play, Patrick had an impressive start, with Spinerock Knoll, and a Lotus Bloom to suspend. He drew a Fungal Reaches off the top and dropped it right into play with a smile. On the other side of the board, Llanowar Elves came down on turn one, and were joined by Riftsweeper (getting rid of that Lotus Bloom), and a Birds of Paradise.
The Dragonstorm deck only really has two speeds: park and street racer. Chapin was happy to sit back in park, simply saying “go” for his fourth turn. Peleg attacked in, and played out Garruk Wildspeaker, who in turn untapped two of Uri’s lands, to allow for an Overrun the following turn if necessary.
Peleg maintains hair advantage over Chapin. All that Patrick had for his turn was a Rift Bolt to suspend, seeming unperturbed by missing another land drop. In spite of the beatings he’d taken the game before, Patrick’s expression had a glassy sheen of unreadability.
Another Riftsweeper joined Peleg’s side of the board, stopping that Rift Bolt before it could ever fire off, and he attacked Chapin to 13. Each player was short on land, but between mana creatures and Garruk, the Israeli was having by far the better time of it.
Now Patrick was at crunch time. Garruk’s Overrun ability would be enough to kill him if he didn’t have a play. Patrick used Incinerate on Garruk in order to hold back that threat for a few turns. He still took 6 on swings, and now Peleg abandoned the Overrun plan in favour of making Beasts with Garruk Wildspeaker. Chapin just drew and passed. For yet another turn he was facing down a lethal attack. Peleg made another Beast, and attacked with his team, taking Chapin to just one when Incinerate took down an attacking Beast.
There was a follow-up Garruk Wildspeaker for Peleg, causing Chapin to slump a little. On his turn he looked at his hand and paused for thought before drawing a card. His eyes closed before he drew anything, and when it came, all he had as a play was a Mountain.
Chapin was facing down a dominating board position, and when Peleg attacked the following turn Patrick scooped up his cards.
Peleg 2, Chapin 1
Just one game away from the title of World Champion, Peleg appeared calm as he shuffled up. He was on the draw, and chose to keep, as did his opponent.
Patrick had “the good start” of Lotus Bloom and Spinerock Knoll, which has been dubbed by many as “the Gassy Knoll” following the devastating use it has been put to in this tournament. Fungal Reaches followed, while Peleg had a Birds of Paradise for his turn, without too much scary Doran action to follow.
Ohran Viper did come down early, but died at the first opportunity to Rift Bolt. That the Rift Bolt hadn’t been suspended didn’t mean that Peleg had no target for his Riftsweeper though – it got rid of the Lotus Bloom that could potentially accelerate Patrick all the way to a deciding game in the match.
A Caves of Koilos enabled a Doran, the Siege Tower from Peleg, while Chapin continued to craft the right hand, sitting back just playing and charging lands. Attacks took Patrick to 11, and then Peleg got in there with a Stupor. The random discard hit Bogardan Hellkite, and Patrick ditched a Fungal Reaches to it as well.
For yet another turn, Chapin drew and passed. On 11 life, he was precariously close to losing the game and the match, with 9 toughness of attackers (thanks Doran!) on the board ready to hit him.
The tone stays surprisingly light. Patrick had a Bogardan Hellkite to mess with this plan a little. The Hellkite killed off Doran, and blocked Riftsweeper, meaning that he took no damage whatsoever. Two Birds of Paradise had their little dream of attacking for one shattered.
Peleg could be called the Dream Maker though, as he had another Doran to get those birds going again. The Innovator didn’t like this idea. He attacked Uri for 5 in the air, then used Rift Bolt to get in there so that his hideaway lands could get active. Incinerate came out of one, and then shots (Grapeshots) were heard from the gassy knoll to finish off Doran, and kill off one of those Birds of Paradise.
Suddenly the race was on. Peleg played Garruk Wildspeaker, giving Chapin options on who to attack. His Bogardan Hellkite went straight for Peleg, forcing a block. Chapin passed, and Peleg thought a little before playing a big Cloudthresher. This would block Hellkite handily, and could virtually kill off Patrick in one hit even if he blocked, with help from Garruk’s Overrun ability.
Chapin had a clever Sulfurous Blast during upkeep to stop Garruk from being able to enhance Cloudthresher, but this did take the life totals to 7 apiece—enough that if Peleg had removal for the Hellkite, it would all be over. Cloudthresher traded with Hellkite thanks to Blast damage, and Peleg made another Beast token.
Peleg couldn’t attack, but he could set up some blocks, and the attack the following turn. He played Hypnotic Specter and Riftsweeper, along with making another Beast token. With a blocker for Hellkite, Peleg just had to hope that there wasn’t a burn spell to clear that blocker out of the way. Chapin flipped up the top card of his deck.
It was a Mountain.
As Patrick Chapin of the USA extended his hand, Uri Peleg of Israel became the 2007 World Champion!