Live Coverage of 2004 Canada National Championship

Posted in Event Coverage on July 2, 2004

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.
Gab Tsang was at one point the best player in Canada but, like many players of his vintage, does not play much anymore. His rating remained high enough to qualify him for Nationals and he is even qualified for the upcoming World Championships. Despite his recent inactivity Gab is someone you don't want to see sitting across from you at a draft table-or constructed based on Mark Zajdner's reaction, "Sour BDM, sour. I know what he is playing and I can't win." Gab was with Affinity.

Mark--otherwise known as ScrubbyZ--is one of Canada's most popular animated characters. Despite perpetual qualification for the Pro Tour and more than a handful of money finishes, Mark is still looking for his breakout tournament. In fact, he is in danger of not being qualified for Worlds--the first time he would miss a Pro Tour in years. He needs to win an invite this weekend or he will have to rely on a strong finish at PT Seattle.

Mark was wandering about the tournament site last night watching grinder match after grinder match of control deck on control deck. There were green-white slide decks, blue-white control decks, and Tooth and Nail decks seemingly in every match. Mark resolved to play a mono-black deck with hand destruction and began brainstorming a decklist after most Nationals competitors had gone to bed. While he felt confident with Headhunters and Cabal Interrogators against most of the field he hated his chances against Affinity.

Game 1


Gab led off with Disciple while Mark showed off an unexpected Polluted Delta and made a swamp. Gab's second turn was an Ornithopter and Ravager while Mark cringed as he played his turn two Headhunter, "A rather embarrassing play in this match-up."

A one-mana Thoughtcast gave Gab the third land he needed to cast Myr Enforcer and Chromatic Sphere. Gab got in for two with his Ravager. Mark's turn was somewhat more uneventful as he cast Rotlung Reanimator.

Gab had sacrificed his Ornithopter the turn previous so he had to fight his way through the Rotlung and its reanimations for a couple of turns. Mark looked at the board, chuckled, and reached for his sideboard. "There is no way I can win this game."

Gab - 1 Mark - 0

Game 2

"I know this deck is good. I know I can't beat Affinity though. I made the deck late last night but I actually tested quite a bit with Rich Hoaen. This is the first time I am playing my sideboard against Affinity so I hope it is good."

Mark looked at his hand and shrugged, "Wow…sure. Why not?" Gab had Ornithopter and Disciple. Mark's second turn saw him imprint March of the Machines on Chrome Mox and Infest the two guys away. Gab had no turn two play and Mana Leaked Mark's Rotlung. He went for the March of the Machines on the next turn but Gab had a second Leak.

Gab played an Arcbound Worker and followed up with a Myr Enforcer around his Mana Leaks. Mark played Withered Wretch and Rotlung Reanimator on the next turn and Gab had to sit back without an attack. Mark had Oblivion Stone on the next turn and Gab had to say "Go."

Mark could sit back and nurse his Stone for fate counters--if he could find a third March of the Machines he would be in great shape. Neither player made a move for several turns until Mark played the aforementioned March and Gab scooped up his cards. Mark nodded, "Maybe this sideboard plan is not bad."

Game 3

"I should have known you had Mana Leak…you had three cards. What else could they be?"

Gab led off with Seat, Ornithopter, and Worker. His second turn saw no second land but he was still able to cast Frogmite. Mark had a Withered Wretch. Gab's second land powered out a Myr Enforcer. Mark had no play save an Unholy Grotto for turn three.

Gab Thoughtcast into black mana for the Disciple and sent in the team. Mark blocked the Worker and Echoing Decayed the Disciple. ScrubbyZ looked to his Graveborn Muse for inspiration but things were looking grim when Gab plopped down two more Disciples and attacked. "I don't think I have much of a choice here…" Mark double blocked the Enforcer--Gab killed the Wretch. Mark fell to five on the next turn when he drew a card from the Muse. He Echoing Decayed the two Disciples and attacked for three with a Rotlung back to man the gates. Gab showed him the Shrapnel Blast.

Final result: Gab Tsang concedes to Mark Zajdner

Gab found out that Mark was not currently qualified for Worlds and conceded to his friend. Gab was already qualified for the event and was not even sure if he would be attending. Mark was stunned to uncharacteristic silence by the generosity of Tsang.

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