Quarterfinal Feature Match: Mark Ziegner vs. Michael Neumaier

Posted in Event Coverage on September 2, 2015

By by Kim Eikefet

In the quarterfinals, two speed decks were pitted against each other when Michael Neumaier from Bayern faced Mark Ziegner from Mainz. Michael was with the deck that made up 30 percent of the Standard field of the German Nationals, Fires. Mark, on the other hand, had in the need of a deck ended up with a David Price creation. Needless to say, the deck involved red, small creatures, and burn.

Game 1

The two players shuffled up and shook hands before starting the first game. Michael won the die roll and chose to play. Unfortunately, he opening hand was pretty weak, and so he had to mulligan down to six. The second hand wasn't any better. "Double mulligan," Michael sighed and started shuffling again. Still, he failed to get a decent hand. With only one Lair land, Michael mulliganed yet again.

Michael kept a hand with a Rishadan Port, a Birds of Paradise, a Kavu Titan and a Thunderscape Battlemage. He played the Port, and then he drew a Darigaaz's Caldera that he played so that he could get out the Birds of Paradise. Mark opened with mountain, Kris Mage and then a Shock for the Birds, but he stalled on one land that Michael started tapping down when the Port came back into play.

Getting a third land, Michael played a Thunderscape Battlemage, but Mark had a Seal of Fire and killed it. Another Battlemage came into play. Another Seal of Fire killed it, and the Kris Mage continued its steady attack.

With four lands in play, Michael played a Kavu Titan without the kicker, and the he tapped down Mark's one land. In response, Mark drew mana from his land, drew a card and then he Shocked the Kavu Titan. Michael played another Thunderscape Battlemage, this time with the black kicker. Mark chose to discard a Flametongue Kavu and a Ghitu Fire. Then he played another Kris Mage, still failing to draw lands.

Michael drew enough of them although he would have preferred to draw creatures. All he could do was to tap down Mark's mountain during the upkeep, but again, Mark drew mana from his land, drew and this time he Shocked the Battlemage so that he could attack with his two Kris Mages.

Michael failed to do anything during the following turn. The Kris Mages knocked Michael down to eight, and then finally Mark played another land. Eventually, Michael drew a creature as well, and he could play a Llanowar Elves. But Mark used the land that was tapped down during his upkeep to discard a Chimeric Idol to kill the Elves before attacking for one. He also played a third land and a Firebrand Ranger.

Eventually, Michael drew a Flametongue Kavu, and it killed the Firebrand Ranger. Mark didn't stop though. He Urza's Raged Michael to bring him to four, then attacked with his two Kris Mages to get through one damage, and then, after Michael had played a Birds of Paradise, he used another Rage to finish his opponent off.

Ziegner 1 - Neumaier 0

Game 2

After the weird first game where Michael drew eight spells and eight lands, he boarded out three Duress for three Artifact Mutations. Mark shuffled his sideboard into his library and then pulled out the cards he didn't want in there, one by one.

Michael chose to play first yet again. His opening hand was sub-optimal, he had three lands, two Artifact Mutations, a Ghitu Fire and a Seal of Fire. Still, he chose to keep. But this time, it was Mark's time to mulligan. He didn't have to mulligan more than once though.

Michael went Karplusan Forest, Seal of Fire, and then he killed Mark's first turn Kris Mage. He then played a Port, and again he started tapping down Mark's lands. Mark drew a second mountain though, and got out a Seal of Fire of his own.

The first few turns were very short on creatures. Michael didn't draw any at all, while Mark held a Skizzik in his hand. So Michael chose to play another Seal of Fire, while Mark got into tap down mode using his own Port. Finally, Michael drew a creature - but it was a Birds of Paradise. The Birds died pretty soon as well, Mark Shocked it during Michael's end of turn step.

With four mana in play, Mark chose to play a Rage Weaver, but of course, it was killed by Michael's Seal. Then, Michael got out a Thunderscape Battlemage. Mark drew his fifth land. Then, he played the Skizzik with kicker, attacking for five. Michael chose not to block. Instead, he attacked with the Battlemage and played a Blastoderm.

Mark had yet another Skizzik though, played it with kicker and sent both over. One of them bumped into a Blastoderm, but the other one got, putting Michael at four. A Shock and the Seal of Fire on the table finished Michael off.

Ziegner 2 - Neumaier 0

Game 3

Michael chose to play first in the third game as well, and he kept his hand, this time getting out a turn one forest, Birds of Paradise. Not surprisingly, the Bird died to a Shock. A Kavu Titan replaced it, and this time Mark didn't have any immediate responses. His hand contained two mountains, a Rishadan Port, two Kris Mages, a Firebrand Ranger and an Urza's Rage, and he chose to play the Firebrand Ranger. So the Kavu Titan got to attack, and then it was joined by a Thunderscape Battlemage.

Mark still sent his Firebrand Ranger, and it got through. Mark then played a Kris Mage and used his Port to tap down Port Michael's Port. Michael attacked, played another Port, and then he Ported Mark's Port. The two players were in Port and attack mode, and Mark sent his two creatures over and played another Kris Mage before taking four damage from Michael's attack. He then attacked for four himself, and the two players were both at 10 life.

Michael continued to play lands, holding an Urza's Rage and a Ghitu Fire in his hand. He then played a Llanowar Elves, preparing for an end of turn Urza's Rage and then a Fire-you-out. Mark hoped to do the same. He Raged Michael during his end of turn step, but the Llanowar Elves messed up his plans. If it blocked, then he would be one damage away from taking the match.

Mark thought for a long while. Then he thought some more before simply attacking with his Firebrand Ranger. Michael blocked. Then, Mark played a Flametongue Kavu, killing the Kavu Titan. It didn't matter a lot though. Michael used his Port to tap down Mark's last mana, then the Urza's Rage and the Ghitu Fire finished Mark off.

Ziegner 2 - Neumaier 1

Game 4

Finally, Mark got to play first. His opening hand contained one mountain, two Shocks, two Seal of Fires, a Kris Mage and a Tahngarth, Talruum Hero. He didn't feel that he could keep it though, and so he chose to take a mulligan. His second hand held one land as well, but this time, his spells were more expensive: A Firebrand Ranger, a Skizzik, a Flametongue Kavu and a Blood Oath. Still, he opted to keep his hand.

Mark went mountain, Seal of Fire. Michael played a mountain, tapped it and tried to play a Birds of Paradise, then realizing that he had played the wrong land. He ended up taking one mana burn. Michael then went for the Port-your-land strategy while Mark failed to draw any more lands. A Seal of Fire came into play on the other side of the table, and then Michael played a Blastoderm. "Scoop," Mark answered and started to shuffle up for the last game.

Ziegner 2 - Neumaier 2

Game 5

So the quarterfinals match went to five full games. Mark got to play first in the deciding game. This time, Mark's hand was better. He had three mountains, a Kris Mage, a Seal of Fire, a Flametongue Kavu and an Avatar of Fury. He started by playing mountain, Kris Mage.

Michael got the forest, Birds of Paradise start, then the Bird died to a Shock. A Kavu Titan died to an Urza's Rage, and then a Thunderscape Battlemage hit the table. It died, too, to a Flametongue Kavu. And the little Kris Mage continued to attack.

During Michael's fourth turn, a Blastoderm came into play. Mark chose to hold his creatures back. And build up an army by playing a Rage Weaver and a Firebrand Ranger. When the Blastoderm attacked, he double-blocked with his Kris Mage and the Flametongue Kavu. Then, Michael summoned Kavu Titan with kicker.

Mark cast another Kris Mage. Michael, who held a Thunderscape Battlemage and a Seal, chose to play the Seal. He then attacked with his Titan, knowing that Mark wouldn't block as he then would lose all his creatures without killing the Titan. Instead, Mark chose to attack back, and after the Rage Weaver had died, Michael went down to 12 life. The Kavu Titan attacked again, and Mark went down to ten life. Michael then played a seventh land and the Thunderscape Battlemage - and suddenly, he faced an Avatar of Fury.

Michael was far from pleased when seeing the huge flyer on the other side of the table. He drew a card and passed priority. Then he tapped down two lands during Mark's upkeep, but Mark used the mana to pump the Avatar. He attacked, pumped the Avatar to 10/6, and then he showed Michael both a Shock and a Seal of Fire to take the victory. "I thought the Avatar was in the sideboard," Michael admitted after the match.

Final Result: Ziegner 3 - Neumaier 2

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