Both players are seated when I arrive, and I have to oust a random onlooker from my chair. Who would have thought that leaving your bag on the chair means nothing these days? I sit down and to get myself in the mood, I meaningfully write down the players names. It kinda feels like I'm 8 and I'm writing my first book report all over again. The table judge comes over and tries to oust me from my chair, telling me to go write my book report elsewhere, but I soon persuade him to let me stay on the pretext that I can't write much about the match from twenty yards away.
Jake rolls a 14, and Andrew decides to take it easy on him with a 13. They present decks and sit back while the table judge checks them for sufficient randomization. While we wait, I ask each player what the most important card in each other's deck is.
Jake: "Those 2/3 first strike flying guys."
Andrew: "I can't remember, I'd have to say none of them."
Once they get the decks back, Jake riffle shuffles so Andrew can see the bottom cards of his deck. Andrew just stares back into Jake's eyes and then executes a complicated pile shuffle on Jake's deck. Jake chooses to play, and then checks out his opening hand.
"Wow, that shuffle works a treat!" Jake says, giving his hand a wounded stare, as if willing it to change into something better.
"You need to cut it at a special spot" Andrew replies, as Jake throws the hand back for another. Andrew performs the pile shuffle again, but slightly different this time.
"It's changed!" Jake points out.
"I did it wrong last time" replies Andrew.
"Then it's lost it's power" says Jake hopefully, calling for 3 lands and 3 spells as he picks up the new hand. He finally keeps, and so does Andrew.
Jake comes out of the gates with a Mountain and a Pyrite Spellbomb, while Andrew replies with a Plains and an Auriok Transfixer. Trying to dig out of his mulligan, Jake plays an AEther Spellbomb and cracks it for a card. Andrew sends in the Transfixer who is then joined by a Mountain and a Silver Myr. Jake plays an Island and ends his turn with 3 mana and his Pyrite Spellbomb open.
"This sucks, I'm outta gas" Andrew muses, as he draws his third card. He plays a Lionin Scimitar and plays dress-ups with the Transfixer.
"I really wanted a 3 cost spell there" Andrew quips before he sends in the Transfixer and the Myr. Jake throws his Spellbomb at the Transfixer and drops to 18. Andrew then equips the Myr and passes it over to Jake, ignoring any protests the Myr may have regarding "second-hand goods".
Jake plays another Island and passes it back. Struggling to keep up with my notes, I tell Jake that I like his turns best.
"I just keep it simple" he tells me, and barely bats an eyelid as Andrew taps his Myr to bring out a turn 4 Ogre Leadfoot. It seems that Jake has one of his own on his fifth turn however, but Andrew is quick to point out that his is bigger.
"Cards?" Andrew asks.
"Wow, I got four!"
"Woah! It's like I mulliganed, or something" Jake fires back.
Andrew finds the Scimitar a newer, more Leadfootery owner and sends his 4/4 in to meet Jake, who falls to 14. Andrew then plays out a Goblin Striker. Jake swings back with his 3/3 Ogre, plays a 6th land and casts a Grid Monitor. Andrew plays a Raise the Alarm, untaps, thinks for about 2 seconds, and throws a Shatter at the Monitor.
"I have a response" says Jake, and sacrifices the Grid Monitor to help pay the additional cost for a Shrapnel Blast, targeting Andrews Leadfoot Ogre. Andrew shrugs it off, equips the Goblin Striker and sends him over with the Myr and the two soldiers for company. Jake falls to 9 and then plays a Mind's Eye. Andrew untaps and plays a Taj-Nar Swordsmith, paying 1 to recruit a Bonesplitter. After trying to put it in his hand, both Jake and the table judge tell him it's put into play.
"Wow, that's sick!" Andrew says in wonder, "I would have played him last turn if I'd known that". The Goblin picks up the Splitter and together with the soldiers, they drop Jake to 3. Jake draws and packs up his cards.
Andrew Grain: 1 - Jake Hart: 0
"I like that shuffle" Andrew says.
"It's alright" replies Jake, somewhat less than cheerfully.
"It's pretty good!" Andrew throws back with a grin. "I didn't watch what you drafted though".
"Me neither" admits Jake, "I was watching Lenny (Collins)".
Jake pile shuffles his deck in 4 piles, and then Andrew works it over again with his special pile shuffle. Jake chooses to play again, but is obviously displeased with his hand.
"I mulligan every time I start" Jake complains, "I wanna draw but… your deck is too fast" he says, shaking his head. "Keep" he decides, to which Andrew agrees.
"Wow, pretty suboptimal draw" Jake bemoans, showing me a Rustmouth Ogre. "So you can write it down for the report" he says, flashing it to Andrew as well. Jake ends yet again, still without a third land.
Andrew plays a Mountain and the equipment-friendly Auriok Steelshaper. He then drops a Bonesplitter and slides it under the Steelshaper for the measly cost of zero mana. Jake is somewhat shocked to hear that this makes the soldier tokens into 2/2s and takes them on the chin before scooping up his cards a second time.
10 seconds later, the photographer shows up and is disheartened to see that there is nothing to photograph. Jake takes the opportunity to drop his Rustmouth Ogre into play and searches his deck for more good cards to put out along side the 5/4 artifact-muncher.
"My board's lookin' real good!" Jake exclaims. But unfortunately it's too little, too late, and not entirely within the rules of the game.
"I'm not happy about being eliminated in the first round of the top 8 two years in a row" Jake says to Andrew, slumping back in his chair.
"I'm a pro!" Andrew tells Jake, "I came 32nd at GP Melbourne!"
"I came 32nd in the first Australian GP, when you were still in diapers" Jake shoots with a grin.
Andrew Grain now goes on to face Itaru Ishida.