Quarterfinals: Gabriel Nassif vs. Sigurd Eskeland

Posted in Event Coverage on July 6, 2003

By Roger Dane

Everybody seemed very calm and collected in the moments before the start of this Quarterfinal match. Of course these were two very experienced players with many Pro Tour appearances and Top 8s between them.

Sigurd joked before the game and confirmed that could choose to switch which side of the table he sat at if he won the dice roll. Rune Horvik, the head judge, was standing close by and confirmed that he could.

Game 1

Eskeland won the dice roll and decided to stay on his side of the table but he thought for a long time before deciding to mulligan his opening hand. He eventually kept his opening seven and led off with Forest, Basking Rootwalla on turn one followed by a Wild Mongrel on turn two. Nassif could only gain two life from cycling a Renewed Faith. He then cycled an Undead Gladiator supposedly to get another land but in fact he was baiting an overextension from Eskeland as he already had the fourth land he needed to Wrath on the next turn.

Eskeland didn't fall for the trap and cast an Aquamoeba on the next turn after the Wrath. Nassif Duressed and took a Deep Analysis from Eskeland's hand then cast Skeletal Scrying looking for threats, with creature damage and the Scrying he was now on nine life.

Eskeland's only damage thus far was a flashbacked Deep Analysis he was Cabal Therapied for the Merfolk Looter that Nassif knew was still in his hand but when he attacked with the Aquamoeba the Frenchman cast Decree of Justice for two tokens. A second Cabal Therapy was countered with Circular Logic as Eskeland protected the Phantom centaur in his hand which he cast on the next turn. Nassif Therapied for logic but hit only land and so cast Akroma's Vengeance to clear the board.

Eskeland cast the Aquamoeba he topdecked which was killed with Chainer's Edict after Nassif had cast renewed faith for six life and then Skeletal Scrying for six cards. The card advantage proved fatal to the Norwegian as an Eternal dragon and three 4/4 Angel tokens were too much to deal with.

Game 2

Despite winning the first game Nassif thought by far the longest about his sideboarding options switching cards backwards and forwards several times before settling on a configuration that brought in Chastises and Disenchants.

Deep Analysis
Eskeland kept his opening hand but Nassif decided to keep a one Plains hand. Careful Study turn 1 from Eskeland produced a Rootwalla followed by a Wild Mongrel then a Quiet Speculation for two Deep Analysis and one Roar of the Wurm. Nassif Plainscycled for a third land, all white but could do nothing else. The lizard and dog brought the Frenchman to eleven life and Eskeland sat back with Counterspell mana open and bided his time.

Nassif finally drew a swamp as his next land gave him plenty of options. He eventually chose to Edict but that was met with Counterspell and he could only pass the turn. Eskeland flashed back a Deep Analysis and attacked, pumping the Rootwalla and took Nassif to six life again leaving one island untapped for the Circular Logic. Nassif cast another Chainer's Edict and Sigurd chose to let the Rootwalla die. All Nassif could do was pass and watch the Norwegian flash back another Deep Analysis and attack with his Mongrel discarding six cards to pump it past fatal damage.

Game 3

Both players take the chance to checkup on their friends in other matches during the break for shuffling and have a discussion about the way the tournament has gone.

Nassif kept a six land hand in Game 3. First play was Eskeland's turn two Wild Mongrel. Nassif cycled Renewed Faith during his main phase and was slow playing all his land drops but the Norwegian had caught on to his game and called him on it. A Phantom Centaur from Eskeland increased the pressure but when he attacked Nassif cycled Decree of Justice to produce two blockers. He only blocked the Centaur and Eskeland discarded Roar to the Mongrel to do three more damage which brought the Frenchman to fifteen.

A Cabal Therapy for Counterspell revealed Ray of Revelation, Roar of the Wurm, Upheaval and Circular Logic. Once again the two green creatures attacked and once again Nassif cycled Decree of Justice to produce two soldier tokens and only blocking the Centaur. At eighteen life for Eskeland against eleven for the Frenchman the Upheaval reset that followed seemed to suit the aggro deck. The Wild Mongrel came out again early but Nassif couldn't get rid of it immediately and took two more damage, which was negated when Nassif cycles Renewed Faith at the end of the turn.

The Frenchman cast Chastise next turn but that is met with a Circular Logic as Eskeland plays a tempo game bringing his opponent down to seven life. Wrath of God once again left both players with only land but the Norwegian flashed back a Roar token and attacked with it next turn. Nassif cycled his third Decree of Justice for three soldier tokens to block the big wurm. A flash backed Cabal Therapy, sacrificing a soldier token, for Counterspell missed on the next turn, merely showing two more Phantom Centaurs.

A Wrath of God cleared the table and one of the Centaurs from the Norwegian's hand entered play. A Chastise on the Centaur brought the life totals to 18-12 in Eskeland's favor and he flashed back another Roar token. A cycled Renewed Faith was followed by a Duress from Nassif which missed but Eskeland drew and played Quiet Speculation for three Deep Analysis, casting one from the graveyard straight away. An attack from the Roar token was met with Chastise but Eskeland had drawn the necessary Logic and the damage got through. 15 – 8.

The Frenchman spent a lot of time thinking during his next turn but eventually cast Skeletal Scrying for four. 15 – 4. On his next turn Eskeland cast Upheaval and Nassif scooped.

Game 4

A short pause during the shuffling period allowed bathroom breaks and the TV cameras to move from the Herzog - Wright match which had finished. Nassif played first and kept but Eskeland mulliganed to five cards. First turn Rootwalla is Edicted by Nassif but the Norwegian cast Quiet Speculation on turn two to set up his graveyard with two Deep Analysis and a Roar of the Wurm. Nassif played a land and passed the turn and Eskeland flashed back a Deep Analysis on his turn. The Frenchman cycled an Akroma's Vengeance and passed the turn and Eskeland decided that card advantage was king and flashed the other Analysis back from his graveyard and cast Merfolk Looter.

A Decree of Justice and a Renewed Faith from the Frenchman were cycled as both players looked for business cards. Chainer's Edict killed the Looter and Eskeland made a large wurm which attacked into a Chastise that was countered by Circular Logic. Nassif's Wrath was countered by Circular Logic and Eskeland attacked next turn for six. Akroma's Vengeance cleared the board yet again taking a newly cast Wonder as well. A hard cast Roar was caught by a Chainer's Edict cast from the graveyard and Eskeland decided to Upheaval next turn discarding a Rootwalla. The scores were now sixteen to the Frenchman and thirteen to Eskeland. A Wild Mongrel joined the Rootwalla and the race was on.

Five damage on the next turn was partially offset by a cycled Renewed Faith. A pumped Rootwalla and three cards discarded to the Mongrel in the next attack phase and the scores were 4 – 13. Eskeland cast Quiet Speculation to thin his deck. At the end of turn Nassif cast Skeletal Scrying for one desperate for something to help him out. 3 – 13. Eskeland untapped and both players examined each others graveyards before the Norwegian flashed a Roar token back. Nassif had the Chainer's Edict but another large wurm followed on the next turn. Wrath of God put paid to that idea. The question was could Eskeland get a creature to stick around? His next try was for a Phantom Centaur which got into play and although Nassif had the Chastise the Norwegian had Circular Logic.

Final Result: Nassif 1 – Eskeland 3

Gabriel Nassif

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Sigurd Eskeland

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