The French Mad Genius of Limited arrived with his twelve stuffed animals much to the delight of the gathering crowd and his Spanish opponent. The huge laughing cow especially ticked everyone's fancy.
Twenty-eight year Lucio came from Madrid and he breezed his way through the drafts in the second day so he probably knows his way around a Rochester table as well, even if his strategy sometimes looks very unorthodox.
Lucio guessed in which hand Olivier was squeezing the poor frog so he got to play first. He mulliganed his first hand and kept a second one that looked a lot better and came out with a second turn Werebear.
A Firebolt took care of that bear before it could do any damage and Moratinos used a Rites of Spring to thin three lands out of his deck. His next creature, a Krosan Archer, actually stuck around longer and stopped a Halberdier from doing any initial damage.
Lucio decided to sent the Archer in and with a puzzled look Olivier cast the expected Elephant Ambush (the Spanish should have, at least, account for it after the Rochester draft. Discarding to save the Archer gave Moratinos Threshold so his subsequent Werebear came into play as great 4/4 for two and was quickly followed by a Rabid Elephant.
The Elephant and the Archer tried to gang block the Halberdier but a Rites of Initiation for two and a Flame Burst took care of them before they could damage the first striker.
Out of monsters Lucio dropped a Millikin (who promptly received a Flame Burst) and a Chatter of Squirrels token while swinging with the Werebear. A Moment's Peace gave him some extra time in the damage race but Ruel now had two Halberdier and the token and was on the verge (missing only one land) of flashbacking the Elephant Ambush if push came to shove.
He tried as hard as he could to stop the flood but Ruel had another Rites of Initiation to finish the first game in an instant.
Olivier 1-0 Lucio
They both came out with Werebears to start the game but then Moratinos got a Springing Tiger and a Still Life while Olivier played a Nantuko Disciple. A Firebolt took down the Werebear to keep the Spanish from having two green mana to activate the enchantment and a Nantuko Elder gave Olivier even more mana.
Still Moratinos wasn't about to take this laying down so he dropped a second Forest and dropped Olivier to ten. The French played a Chainflinger and pecked with the Werebear keeping mana open to use Disciple to pump the Chainflinger.
Lucio played a Last Rites discarding Sadistic Hypnotist and Krosan Archer and got lucky has Olivier was only holding two spells, Muscle Burst and Rites of Initiation, along with lands.
Still Olivier had the ground almost locked and cast a Pardic Firecat to bring Lucio to fourteen. At the end of turn the Spanish was more than eager to Ghastly Demise the Disciple and use a Rites of Spring to reach Threshold. His Tiger was now huge and Olivier had to take the damage down to five life points. Lucio only had two permanents but they were giving the French a world of trouble.
On the next swing the Werebear, Pardic Firecat and the Elder trio tried to gang block the Tiger but Lucio used a second Ghastly Demise to get rid of the Firecat. The Chainflinger now had Threshold but was hard pressed to make up the life difference without any chump blocking partners.
He jumped in front of the Tiger and shot it down before damage with the help of a Flame Burst (with a Firecat in the graveyard). Now at one Olivier faced yet another monster: Rabid Elephant. This time he couldn't find an answer and the Spanish crowd erupted in applause as Olivier had a stern talking to his Shower of Coals that had refused to show up.
Olivier (to the questioning look on his brother's face): "Yes, yes, don't worry. Don't worry."
Olivier 1-1 Lucio
The stuffed animals looked worried too, while most of the crowd was giving thumbs up to Lucio Moratinos. Olivier cursed his hand but kept it, while Lucio seemed happy with his (he might as well since he kissed the deck before starting).
Ruel got stuck with two lands and was forced to discard while Lucio had color problems (missing the green) but could still pump out a Sadistic Hypnotist.
Olivier: "I have twenty-two lands, not twelve! Where are they?"
Finally the third land show up and Ruel played a Nantuko Elder, knowing how important that was Lucio promptly used a Ghastly Demise before top-decking his much needed Forest.
Olivier: "I won't lose like this!"
The Spanish had a Werebear and a Chatter of Squirrels and Ruel said he had to no problem discarding two cards so the Moratinos repeated it. Ruel lost Halberdier, Vampiric Dragon, Elephant Ambush and Firebolt before burning the Hypnotist with a Flame Burst.
Olivier: "I'm getting a little nervous..."
He ironically found a Rites of Springs and used it to thin out a land reaching five while Lucio pumped out spells to reach Threshold. Olivier was able to avoid getting into extra trouble by casting Shower of Coals killing both creatures - and hitting Lucio - and flashbacking the Firebolt a turn later to kill a Painbringer.
At a mere eight he was almost in control of the match. Lucio played a Crypt Creeper but decided not to remove the Elephant Ambush and swing after removing two blockers with his two remaining Ghastly Demises. The Spanish would not be denied, he had done the best he could, he had outdrawn Olivier, he wanted the win and the crowd was literally falling of the surrounding tables trying to see the game from up close.
The pace of the game was lighting fast and as an exhausted Moratinos dropped his last creature he flopped in his chair, he was out of ammunition and he just hoped Ruel couldn't sneak away from that as well. Olivier drew his card and was forced to concede amongst a deafening sound from the Spanish crowd.
Final result: Moratinos 2 - Ruel 1
Lucio Moratinos advances to the semi-finals against Nicolas Labarre who finished his match a while ago and came by to get a high five from Olivier and wish him luck.