Last Chance Qualifier - Round 3 - Andy Stokinger (Academy Games) vs. Eugene “Z” Zolotuskiy (Kings Games)

Posted in Event Coverage on July 18, 2003

By Alex Shvartsman

A recent winner of M’s Invitational right here in MA area, Stokinger has recently quit the card-selling business, but he is definitely still ready to compete. Just last weekend, Stokinger traveled to Grand Prix: Amsterdam, teaming up with Mike Pustilnik and Ed Fear as team “Free Pat Chapin”. The trio made day 2 and played it to a 2-1 finish, ending up just out of the money.

Stokinger’s opponent, known to friends and foes as simply “Z” did win money in his last tournament. As part of team “Zero Byes” he won amateur money at the very first Grand Prix he attended – two weeks ago in Pittsburgh. He traveled with two of New York’s qualifier players and I simply to spectate at the event, but would not pass up the chance to qualify via the Last Chance event.

Game 1

“I don’t know how to play this deck,” lamented Stokinger as the two players were shuffling their cards.

“Well, you are in luck!” proclaimed Z. “I don’t know how to play, period.”

The two went on to argue about which one would own his opponent in a game of Yu-Gi-Oh. “I will win,” Stokinger decided in the end, “I just have to read the rule book first.”

At 1-1 record, these players are with their back against the wall as a loss in this round will almost certainly eliminate one of them from top 8 contention. Stokinger’s mystery deck that he claims to not know how to play is Psychatog. Z is running mono-black control, the version Felix Dykhne would be running tomorrow.

Z started off with a mulligan and promptly lost Smother and Skeletal Scrying to a pair of Duresses. While MBC wants to hoard its Duresses in the matchup, Stokinger made the correct play of using his own Duresses aggressively, and then sitting behind countermagic once he had the mana for it. Stokinger was unable to punish his opponent’s poor draw however. After the initial pair of Duresses, nothing happened for a long while. Stokinger used a Circular Logic to eventually counter Diabolic Tutor, and then drew Future Sight off the top.

“Hey, I heard this card is good somewhere” he announced and went on to gain insane card economy from the enchantment MBC could not remove or keep up with. Z used Mind Sludge to eliminate Stokinger’s hand, but that wasn’t very relevant as the only cards Stokinger was holding were creature kill spells, irrelevant in the matchup. Z proceeded to Chainer’s Edict the ‘Tog. Stokinger pumped it up, removing countermagic from the game to make himself less vulnerable to Haunting Echoes.

A second Psychatog entered play. Z was ready with a Smother, which Stokinger countered. He chose to let a second Smother resolve rather than use the last counter magic card in his hand, realizing that the tremendous advantage Future Sight would provide him will eventually win him the long game. He used the Circular Logic he was holding on very next turn, to counter yet another Tutor. Z top-decked like a pro however. He peeled Haunting Echoes off the top and cast it. Stokinger’s Psychatog was in the bin and there was no counter in his hand. “Good game, sir” he said scooping up the cards in response to this devastating sorcery.

Sideboard

Z: -3 Mutilate, -2 Chainer’s Edict, -1 Ensnaring Bridge, +3 Cabal Therapy, +3 Persecute
Stokinger: +2 Deep Analysis, +1 Duress, +1 Zombie Infestation, +2 Persecute, -2 Force Spike, -4 Smother

Game 2

Z started off the second game with a mistake. He cast Cabal Therapy. In his creatureless deck, he should have waited to draw Duress to maximize on the Therapy. Even if you do select to cast it on the first turn, you should not name Upheaval – a card that would not become relevant till much later in the game.

Stokinger was not holding an Upheaval. Both players took turns playing lands until Stokinger cast Persecute for four on his fourth turn, knocking out Z’s entire hand. Z followed it up with yet another mistake. He cast a second Cabal Therapy after Stokinger played Future Sight – and after Z cast a Duress – naming a card that was currently on top of Stokinger’s deck! The game did not last very much longer at that point. Stokinger cast some Deep Analysis and Concentrate to fill up his hand and graveyard and attacked with Psychatog while his opponent had nothing but a few Swamps and Cabal Coffers in play and zero cards in hand.

Game 3

It was Stokinger’s turn to mulligan this time. Although he had several lands, there was no hand destruction and no early plays available, so he decided to send the hand back for a refund. Unfortunately for Andy, the new hand featured only a single land. He Parised again, drawing five cards – and keeping a hand of four lands and a Future Sight.

Z started out with Cabal Therapy again – naming Counterspell this time and missing. It was Z’s turn to cast a devastating Persecute – he got Psychatog, Deep Analysis, Concentrate and Future Sight. Stokinger did the best he could with the bad situation – he flashed back Deep Analysis to replenish his hand. Z evened out the card economy some more by missing with Cabal Therapy yet again.

Z summoned an Undead Gladiator. Stokinger cast Circular Logic on it, but Z had enough mana to pay. He then sacrificed it to recast Cabal Therapy and finally got his wish – he took a Counterspell out of his opponent’s hand. On his next turn Z used a Duress to take out Force Spike and finally got to resolve the spell he was working toward all along – Haunting Echoes. Stokinger’s Psychatogs were now gone. He had only one win condition remaining in his deck – a Zombie Infestation. Stokinger would need to pull it off with Upheaval against all of Z’s hand removal in order to win this game.

Z used a Persecute to make Stokinger play a Counterspell he was holding, then summoned an Undead Gladiator. Now on the clock, Stokinger used Duress to take out Z’s Corrupt, then used Deep Analysis to draw more cards and Chainer’s Edict to take out the Gladiator. Z tapped all his Cabal Coffers mana during upkeep to dig deeper into his library, cycling through it in search of more hand destruction. It was now a race to see whether Stokinger would draw his Infestation before Z could discard Upheaval from his hand.

Cycling through several cards per turn, Z was able to finally yank Upheaval from Stokinger’s hand. He would now need to draw both pieces of the combo to win. Z kept counting his lands. It looked as though he was setting up for a Corrupt. Z draw some more cards with Skeletal Scrying and cycled more during his upkeep, passing the turn. Stokinger drew a Duress, which saved him from dying on the following turn. He took out Skeletal Scrying, leaving Z with a hand of Swamp, Diabolic Tutor, Corrupt, Mirari and Undead Gladiator. He then took his only out – cast the last Upheaval! Although it would make it incredibly difficult for Stokinger to win at that point, it also was the only play that prevented him from dying on the following turn.

A few turns later as both players were rebuilding their mana base, Stokinger finally drew Infestation and played it with six cards in hand. He made two tokens at the end of Z’s turn and attacked, bringing his opponent down to twelve. He added on a third token after Z played a fourth Swamp but did nothing, passing the turn back to Stokinger.

Down to six life, Z played Cabal Coffers giving him access to six mana. After much deliberation he cast Diabolic Tutor but there was no card that would let him out of this predicament. He had no options left and simply shook Stokinger’s hand, conceding. A stunning comeback for Stokinger, who must’ve written this game off almost fifteen minutes ago. A number of serious misplays by his opponent compounded with some good plays of his own allowed him to win the impossible game.

Stokinger 2 – Zolotuskiy 1

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