Gateway Round 1 Feature Match: Matt Linde vs. Eivind Nitter

Posted in Event Coverage

By Josh Bennett

Former US National Champion Matt Linde is a quiet player. This, combined with his hunched playing stance and downturned gaze, gives him an air of complete focus. As his eyes flick up to gauge his opponent, they are as twin lasers identifying a target.

Today they center on Eivind Nitter. The Norwegian seems like Linde's polar opposite. With a strong voice and an expressive face he's every bit as animated as his opponent is stoic. What's more, he keeps his shoulders square as he leans forward, which makes him seem to dominate the table.

Game 1

In Game One, Nitter mulliganed into a hand with Shivan Oasis and Darigaaz's Caldera. Calling it "The Combo Draw", he was kept off pace, producing only an unkicked Kavu Titan in the first three turns.

Linde stripped Nitter's hand further with Ravenous Rats and Blazing Specter by his fourth turn. Nitter topdecked a Forest to blast the flier before it could take away all his offence. Linde spilled Shivan Zombie and Nightscape Familiar onto the table.

Nitter's Zap caught Linde tapped out, taking out the Familiar and yielding his fourth land. Linde kept the pressure up with a kicked Skizzik, forcing an Urza's Rage from Nitter's hand. His last card was a Raging Kavu, rendered ineffective by Linde's Rats.

Linde summoned more dudes to beat Nitter down. Another Urza's Rage removed one, the other traded with the Kavu. Nitter knocked his deck, then slammed the Skizzik he drew onto the table, causing his lands to scatter. Linde's only response was "Nice.", sounding like he wasn't even paying attention.

He had the Ghitu Fire in hand to take it out. He also had a Shivan Zombie to bring the beats. When Nitter let his next attack through, Linde revealed a second Fire to take the game.

Nitter boarded up to a full complement of Flametongue Kavus, as well as a pair of very dangerous Shivan Wurms. Linde augmented his already impressive array of kill with three Slays and his fourth Flametongue, taking out the mediocre Thunderscape Battlemages and a Void.

Game 2

Linde mulliganed his first draw of three Mountains and black cards, keeping his six-card hand. Nitter came out of the gates with a Thornscape Familiar. Linde wasted no time in removing it with Ghitu Fire. When faced with a second one, however, he chose to play out a Shivan Zombie instead of using his second Fire.

Nitter capitalized with Thornscape Battlemage. Linde caved and blew away the Familiar. He took a swing from the Battlemage and picked up his Zombie with a Crypt Angel. Nitter was ready, this time with Flametongue Kavu.

Linde played out his hapless Zombie, only to watch Nitter pick up his Kavu with a Shivan Wurm. His only answer was a second Zombie. What followed was a carnival of carnage: Another Battlemage came down swinging for Nitter, taking out a Zombie, both of their doubles dying in combat with one another. Lucky for Linde he had Terminate ready for the 7/7 trampler.

Linde played a second Crypt Angel, recovering a Zombie, only to drop it to Nitter's Flametongue. His composure fell for the first time in the match when Nitter played another Shivan Wurm. He couldn't scoop his cards fast enough.

Game 3

Game 3 began slowly. Linde's Shivan Zombie stared at Nitter's Thornscape Familiar, the latter unwilling to attack because of the two Skizziks in Nitter's hand, demanding to be kicked early. Linde tapped out fourth turn for Blazing Specter, catching a land from Nitter.

Down came the first Skizzik. Linde fell to 15. He untapped and burned it away with Ghitu Fire, attacking with both his creatures and taking another land.

The second Skizzik brawled in, joined by the Familiar, taking Linde to 8. Linde used his second Fire to stay above water. Nitter upped the ante with Shivan Wurm.

Unfortunately, Linde's hand held no kill. He made another Blazing Specter and attacked, taking two Thornscape Familiars. He thought hard when faced with the attacking Wurm. Soaking two damage didn't seem to change the race any, so he let it through. Nitter added insult to injury by finishing the game with Zap.

Linde was disappointed with his loss, not having seen Slay or Flametongue Kavu after boarding. He felt these cards would have made all the difference in this matchup.

Final Result: Eivind Nitter defeats Matt Linde 2-1

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