Quarterfinal Roundup

Posted in Event Coverage on August 15, 2011

While the quintessential match-up of this Nationals got the in-depth treatment (Mono-Red vs. U/B Control), I had the other three to watch.

Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

Starting with Müller vs. Dreger, Gixatian Probe showed Dreger Müller's mighty hand of Mana Leak, Into the Roil, Liliana Vess, Jace Blereren, Tectonic Edge, Despise and Stoic Rebuttal. Müller drew an Island off the top and Dreger had to spend a Mana Leak to stop Müller's Jace Beleren. Dreger had Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield, but things were looking good for Müller.

A couple of minutes later, Dreger had two Pyromancer Ascension with two counters and as I walked over, he pointed Lightning Bolt and Red Sun's Zenith at Brendemühl, who shrugged and picked up his cards.

Helge Nelson (Mono-Red) vs. Michael Diezel (Mono-Red)

Meanwhile, Nelson and Diezel had already finished game one in their match. Both players had slung burn and creatures at each other, but Diezel had a not-so-subtle surprise for Nelson: Two Goblin Grenades. Boom.

Bernd Brendemühl (Mono-Red) vs. Fabian Görzgen (Valakut)

Bernd Brendemühl

On the table to their right, Görzgen threw the first game away on a technicality. With exactly seven mana available including Overgrown Battlements, he moved to cast Primeval Titan and realized that he had not intended to use the Overgrown Battlement. Since he had announced the spell already, he had to play it that way. With the Titan on the stack, Görzgen was tapped out and thus without any chance of Nature's Claim to gain critical life. Brendemühl could incinerate Görzgen for the last three points of damage. Görzgen did not have Nature's Claim in hand, but that didn't matter in the least, because his misplay removed any uncertainty on Brendemühl's part that he could win game one right there.

Helge Nelson (Mono-Red) vs. Michael Diezel (Mono-Red)

Helge Nelson

While Brendemühl and Görzgen shored up game one, the two accomplished burn mages Nelson and Diezel had already finished game two, this one going to Nelson as Diezel had missed a land to enable landfall on Searing Blaze, playing the entire game on two lands. Nelson fared better to pull away with damage and the win.

Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

Over in the match where a lot was going on without a lot happening, Müller held a good grip of Inquisition of Kozilek, Flashfreeze, Preordain, Karn Liberated and Jace Beleren. However, Dreger kept harassing him with Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe, proving that the information advantage was as important as the extra cards he drew off Probes. Foresee showed Dreger that he had land, See Beyond, Pyromancer Ascension and Ponder on top of his library. "Those all stay on top", he announced, cleary pleased with that selection.

Müller played Jace Beleren. Dreger baited Mana Leak with Pyromancer Ascension and followed it up immediately with a second one that Müller couldn't stop, as laughter from the mono-red match drew my attention away: Helge Nelson had just pulled ahead a game in this best-of-five match.

The match between Müller and Dreger not only was entertaining to watch for the player's easygoing banter, but also for the game itself. Where Müller had added Liliana Vess to his board, Dreger again had Pyromancer Ascension going with two counters. A replacement Jace Beleren, Karn Liberated and Wurmcoil Enginge were still waiting in Müller's hand. But Dreger Pondered without end. Red Sun's Zenith was in sight on top of his library, Lightning Bolt was in his hand and he held two Mana Leaks to protect all that.

Müller used Liliana to find what he needed. But Dreger's deck was running smoothly, and he shaped his hand to deal with whatever Müller could throw at him, like Volition Reins. Müller was still on 20 life so Dreger would need the full force of Pyromancer Ascension to deal enough damage.

Helge Nelson (Mono-Red) vs. Michael Diezel (Mono-Red)

Michael Diezel

Enough damage was not a problem for Helge Nelson, though, who had secured a third win in his match and was the first player to advance to the semifinals of the German Nationals 2011! In the fourth game of the mono-red mirror, he had managed to equip Sword of War and Peace, "which should never happen", according to Diezel. Goblin Guide had come from the top of his library to pick up the beatstick, and Diezel never recovered from that.

Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

Back to the more interesting match, Dreger had almost come in danger of drawing his entire library. He started the shooting with Burst Lightning and Lightning Bolt to get Müller to 13 life and kill Liliana Vess, as Müller was unable to cast either one of his two Flashfreezes to stop any of that. Dreger was on a mere 8 life, though, and Müller contemplated if his two Creeping Tar Pits could kill Dreger safely without dying from a burn spell.

Bernd Brendemühl (Mono-Red) vs. Fabian Görzgen (Valakut)

Fabian Görzgen

While all of this was happening, Brendemühl and Görzgen were plodding away in their quarterfinal, which turned out to be a one-sided affair. In game two of the match, Brendemühl had kicked off with Goblin Guide and Teetering Peaks, dealing a hefty amount of damage before Görzgen could establish his wall defense. But Görzgen found nothing else to stop the attacks – Primeval Titan especially eluded him. When Görzgen was on 8 life, Brendemühl drew Ember Hauler, Lightning Bolt and Incinerate, in that order, and fried Görzgen thorougly.

Game three was essentially a blowout after both players mulliganed. Görzgen played a turn five Avenger of Zendikar, but couldn't grow his plants for lack of mana. Brendemühl seized the opportunity to kill the Avenger and found Kargan Dragonlord. It took just one turn to get the Dragonlord to eight counters, and Brendemühl rode that to victory and into the semifinals!

Michael Müller (U/B Control) vs. Tobias Dreger (Pyromancer Ascension)

Back in game two of the combo-control duel, Dreger had not managed to get an Ascension back up yet. At 3 life, he was in severe danger of dying to Creeping Tar Pit next turn, but with an end-of-turn Burst Lightning, Dreger took Brendemühl from 7 to 5, giving his Pyromancer Ascension a second counter. Dreger untapped, attacked with his Consecrated Sphinx (Müller to 1 life) and took a close game two with a final burn spell.

Game three was once more a prolonged affair. The cheerfulness had largely dried out from these players, as they were playing mentally exhausting Magic, each waiting for a Mental Misstep from the other. Müller picked up a warning as he failed to discard down to 7 cards at the end of one of his turns. Roughly fifteen minutes into the game the board position consisted of lands only and Dreger had just two cards left in his library. Müller had sucessfully prevented any and all Pyromancer Ascension shenanigans, and this time, Dreger had not found a chink in the blue-black armor.

Tobias Dreger (left) and Michael Müller (right)

At two games to Dreger and one to Müller, the players shuffled up for the fourth game. This time, Dreger fared much better, setting up with Pyromancer Ascension with two counters AND a Consecrated Sphinx about ten turns into the game. Müller had Liliana Vess to help him out, though the planeswalker did little to afffect the board.

Gitaxian Probe showed Dreger Flashfreeze, Karn Liberated, Surgical Extraction, Consecrated Sphinx, Jace Beleren and Inquisition of Kozilek in Müller's hand, but Müller was tapped out anyway and could do nothing as Dreger pushed a second Pyromancer Ascension to two counters. "Drawing cards is good", sighed Müller as his opponent drew and drew and drew through his deck. That Müller was stuck on five lands barely helped. Two times he tried Inquisition of Kozilek, but with the Sphinx providing twice the cards Müller had, Dreger had a counter for each of them.

Müller then tried Surgical Extraction, on Mana Leak. Dreger responded with Burst Lightning with Kicker, copied twice – enough to kill Müller on the spot. "No, you cannot see my hand!" said Dreger and took the fourth game and the match.

Final Results

Bernd Brendemühl 3 – 0 Fabian Görzgen

Helge Nelson 3 – 1 Michael Diezel

Michael Müller 1 – 3 Tobias Dreger

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