by Gary Wise
In a match pitting one well known Pro Tour veteran against a not so well known one, Pro Tour Chicago 3 finalist Brian Davis, sporting a UWB deck full of 3/3 fliers faced off against local favorite Alex Witt, one of many players sporting a RUB deck in this, the Top 8 of Grand Prix Amsterdam.
Game one started with both players keeping their initial draws and stabilizing their mana, Davis casting Dream Thrush that Witt played Chromatic Sphere. The artifact was quickly sacrificed so Witt could cast a third turn Kavu Aggressor without a Mountain in play, but the Kavu died to an Agonizing Demise while Dream Thrush was turning the Dutchman's one Island into his third Swamp.
Witt helped his cause by killing the Thrush and casting a Nightscape Apprentice, but Davis, drawing his fifth land, cast Angel of Mercy to gain the upper hand. Witt responded to this with a bevy of creatures including Phyrexian Reaper and Shivan Zombie, but Davis countered with powerhouses like Stormscape Apprentice and a kicked Benalish Lancer, stabilizing the board.
In an attempt to break through Davis' defenses, Witt cast Maniacal Rage on his Reaper while Davis was tapped out, allowing him to attack with the Reaper, Zombie and his own Thrush were able to attack for 8, bringing Davis to 11. Unfortunately for Alex though, Brian then lowered the boom, casting a Tsabo's Decree (one of three in the draft) and naming Zombies. From there it was just a matter of time, and a few chump blocks later, Witt conceded.
Davis 1 - Witt 0
Again avoiding mulligan, Alex had what had to be considered a solid start, with Witt playing a first turn Nightscape Apprentice followed by a third turn Recoil of one of Davis' lands. Unfortunately, the Amsterdam native played only land for the next two turns before finally casting a Chromatic Sphere and Kavu Aggressor.
Davis, Meanwhile, despite not playing an Island in his first six turns was holding his own, casting Malice on the Aggressor before casting Angel of Mercy. While Witt had the answer in the form of a 3-point Soul Burn, Brian cast the second of his three Angels, at which point Alex played a Shivan Zombie and Faerie Squadron.
After Alex played Maniacal Rage on the Zombie and attacked for 8, Brian finally drew the missing Island. Casting Reviving Vapors, he found the third Angel, gaining him 5 life as a prelude to another three, Alex continued the assault with his Squad, Zombie et. Al, taking Brian to 8, but Brian still had one last hope. Casting Worldly Counsel, Brian kept a Galina's Knight and the third Angel entered play.
Wanting the finish the American off fast, Alex played a Vodalian Merchant in the hopes of finding the card he needed to end the duel. Drawing Maniacal Rage, the Shivan Zombie became a 6/6, attacking with a freshly cast Viashino Grappler which traded with an Angel, taking Davis to 5. Brian drew and then cast Opt, saying 'yes!' when he realized the Shoreline Raider he'd drawn would allow him an extra turn by chump blocking the Zombie.
Unfortunately for Brian, this wasn't his game to win. Casting Opt, he found another Raider to chump for another turn, and cast Agonizing Demise, killing the Squadron, he was out of chump blockers, with the Angel looking on as the Pro White Zombie dealt Davis the death blow.
Witt 1 - Davis 1
The clincher started with Davis, playing first, casting a third turn Shoreline Raider. Witt, having no other immediate answer, killed the 2/2 with his best card, Ghitu Fire, a good trade for Davis. The next turn, Davis Riptide Crab was met by Alex' Vodalian Zombie, but then Davis dropped the bomb in the form of a 4/4 flying Tek. Alex, wanting to stay on the offensive, cast Maniacal Rage on his Zombie, hitting for 4, but Davis got most of that life back with an Angel of Mercy.
Witt wasn't done yet though. With Davis holding Agonizing Demise and Reviving Vapors, Alex cast a Probe with kicker, making Brian discard. With Dream Thrush holding Tek's power at 2, it almost looked like Amsterdam's native son was coming back, but Davis top decked another Angel.
Just as Davis started trash talking, Witt had his best turn of the tourney. With Brian having no cards in hand, Witt Recoiled Tek, effectively killing it, then played a bomb of his own: Phyrexian Infiltrator. With only 2 cards in hand, Alex cast Vodalian Merchant, played a Chromatic Sphere and relinquished the turn, with just enough mana for one Infiltrator activation.
Sensing he was in trouble, Brian launched an all out assault, attacking with his 2 Angels, Riptide Crab and Dream Thrush. With Alex at 3, he tried to trick Brian with the Infiltrator, but with Brian now having two Islands, he was able to activate the Infiltrator after Alex did so, allowing one Angel to get through. Alex took one final look at the table, shrugged and extended his hand in concession.
Final Result: Davis 2 - Witt 1
Brian Davis now moves on to the semi-finals to play Chris Benafel.