Gateway Semifinals: Victor van den Broek vs. Ben Rubin

Posted in Event Coverage on November 8, 2002

By Josh Bennett

Ben Rubin is most famous for his repeat victories on the Masters Series. Unfortunately, an unsuccessful year on the Tour has forced him to run the Gateway to get back to the promised land. Blocking the path to his most successful arena of competition is Dutch Wunderkind Victor van den Broek. Fresh-faced and understated, he brings to the table the skills that helped his team come within a match of Top 4 at Pro Tour - Boston.

Rubin started things right with an opening of Goblin Taskmaster, Sparksmith. Elvish Warrior hit the table and Rubin frowned like he didn't have a third goblin. Sure enough, another Taksmaster powered up the Sparksmith to take the Warrior down. Van den Broek played a swamp and said go.

Rubin agonized over his next play, flaunting his trademark frown. Holding Erratic Explosion, Goblin Embermage and an uncastable Severed Legion, he swung in with all his creatures. Van den Broek didn't even smile as he tapped one for Vitality Charm, an Ant Ambush to destroy the Sparksmith.

It looked like a huge swing. Embermage Goblin was no replacement. Van den Broek followed up with Wirewood Savage and it looked like things might get away from Rubin. He hit for more damage and laid his Legion. Van den Broek's only reply was a Crown of Suspicion on the Embermage Goblin. This time he traded the Savage for one of the Taskmasters.

Another attack, and still he had nothing. Jelger Wiegersma, sporting beach bum styles, walked past just as van den Broek scooped.

Rubin 1 - van den Broek 0

Rubin mulliganed a hand of five land, Sledder and Haunted Cadaver playing second. He was hooked up with an average six. A topdecked Sparksmith made it much better. Still, it came down on turn three, and Rubin was stalled at two mana. Van den Broek had the run of the table.

Birchlore Rangers
His plays were unexciting: A Wirewood Herald and a face-down creature, then nothing on his turn four. The Sparksmith came online, and Rubin waited. Van den Broek morphed his creature, Birchlore Rangers, at end of turn. Rubin was puzzled. He looked at the card, and then again, and shot it before van den Broek could untap. His eyebrow raised further when van den Broek made no play on six mana, despite having all three colors.

Still, Rubin didn't want to punch through the Herald with his mediocre force. He added Nantuko Husk and passed it back. Van den Broek made Undorak, but didn't have excess green to boost it. Another Sparksmith for Rubin showed up just in time. The Undorak fell, the Herald chumped the Husk, and things were looking up. van der Broek dug out Elvish Warrior.

He had something better waiting for him. His eighth land served up Towering Baloth. Between the early hits and Sparksmith damage, Rubin was already at nine. He swung in with Husk and Taskmaster, and unsurprisingly van den Broek chose to fall to seventeen. A face-up Haunted Cadaver defended against possible Dirge of Dread action. It chumped without question. Van den Broek could only manage the Warrior.

Rubin ripped his fifth land and wasted no time dropping Cruel Revival on the Fatty. Sparksmith cleaned up the last blocker and he charged in. Van den Broek played Wretched Anurid. The Husk came in again. Van den Broek blocked. Rubin sacrificed a creature to pump. Van den Broek played Vitality Charm. Rubin naturally sacrificed another creature.

Van den Broek shrugged and tapped his Anurid. Apparently, Rubin misheard him announce the mode of the spell. Rubin frowned, but returned the shrug. The Anurid fell to the pingers. It was replaced by a morphed creature. This time it was Grinning Demon, costing Rubin more life as well as his Husk and another creature. Anurid Murkdiver forced Rubin to go to two from his Sparksmith.

Erratic Explosion
For all that trouble, the top of van den Broek's deck wouldn't stop serving up guys. Treespring Lorian fell to an Erratic Explosion, and then Wirewood Savage traded with the Sparksmith thanks to intervention from Embermage Goblin. Rubin needed van den Broek to stop that, as well as a little action of his own.

Severed Legion fit the bill nicely. Van den Broek came back with another Wirewood Savage. Rubin swung in regardless, planning to kill the Savage with help from Shade's Breath. A cycled Death Pulse forced it out early, and with just three black mana on Rubin's side he could only trade. That was fine with van den Broek.

The Legion hit, and van den Broek had no play. Rubin drew Solar Blast, meaning that he needed just one more hit with the Legion for the game. Van den Broek played a face-down guy. Rubin swung in, and van den Broek let it through. Rubin turned over Solar Blast and readied the handshake.

Final Result: Ben Rubin defeats Victor van den Broek 2-0

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