Quarterfinals Stage 1: Martin Jůza (Jund Energy Aggro) vs. Eduardo Sajgalik (Mardu Vehicles)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 5, 2017

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

The players in this first stage of the quarterfinals have both been long-time spellslingers at the Pro Tour, and their Top 8s this weekend both carry with them a good deal of weight.

For Martin Jůza, A Sunday appearance meant his third lifetime Pro Tour Top 8. The difference between two and three in this case is a game changer for the conversations that develop around a player's reputation, especially when talking about the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Jůza has long been part of those conversations as one of the most consistent players in the game for years, a regular sight at events all over the world. His appearance on the stage today is likely to ignite those discussions in the coming months.

For Sajgalik, he had earned his second Pro Tour Top 8 in seventeen attempts, an impressive stat given the difficulty of this tournament. That said, the finishes were so staggered over the years—with his last Pro Tour Top 8 during Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in 2012—that the Canadian had never actually hit Gold status in the Pro Tour Players Club to ensure an easy string of invitations. Nonetheless, he had still been a regular sight at the Pro Tours, always with relatively solid finishes, waiting for a major breakout. He will achieve that this season, as he's on target to hit Gold before the end of the season regardless of whatever else happens, and that may extend to something far greater if the day goes well for him.

Both Sajgalik and Jůza bantered for a few minutes about their team's preparation for the Pro Tour as the first quarterfinals match got underway. The two Pro Tour veterans shared memories from the past decade, primarily tied to tournament experiences, before the topic moved to something far more important: The desire to get some more sleep. As the other quarterfinal match in progress—featuring Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Jan Ksandr—the two got ready as the cameras began to circle around them.

Both Martin Jůza and Eduardo Sajgalik were no strangers to the Pro Tour, or the tournament's Sunday rounds for that matter.

"Our goal for the day is no Mardu mirrors in the finals," Jůza said.

"That's not my goal," replied Sajgalik with a smile.

The Games

Sajgalik's Toolcraft Exemplar was met with Longtusk Cub from Jůza, and the Dwarf got in for 3 damage after Sajgalik deployed the Heart of Kiran. The Cub swung in for 2, giving Jůza two energy, before the Czech pro added Scrapheap Scrounger to the battlefield.

A Scrounger of Sajgalik's own crewed the Heart of Kiran, and an attack with his two creatures dropped Jůza quickly down to 10, who had few plays or options than to attack with his creatures. After deliberating, Jůza chose not to pump his Longtusk Cub with the two energy in his reserves, dropping Sajgalik to 13. Sajgalik revealed Fatal Push and Unlicensed Disintegration, clearing the path for a lethal swing.

Sajgalik's deck packed some brutally efficient spells, including the powerful new Fatal Push.

"That was not a bad hand," Sajgalik admitted, as the two players moved to the second game.

After a brief two-minute intermission—or rather, how long Game 2 took on the other quarterfinal match going on—cameras quickly circled back around. Aver evaluating opening hands for a few minutes, both chose to keep. While Jůza got started with Attune to Aether to fix his mana, Sajgalik once again opened with Toolcraft Exemplar, which fueled an early lead after being followed up by two Thraben Inspectors to enable the Exemplar's artifact requirement.

Veteran Motorist kicked off Sajgalik's third turn, and the scry 2 had him deliberating long over what to do before shoving both cards to the bottom. Both Thraben Inspectors and the Toolcraft Exemplar came in for 5, dropping Jůza to 12. Greenbelt Rampager drained Jůza of two energy, crewing Heart of Kiran to fuel an attack with both it and the Tireless Tracker. Veteran Motorist traded blows with the Tracker, as Sajgalik fell to 12. Jůza added a post-combat Longtusk Cub before shipping action back.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar fueled an emblem, pumping his team and allowing a hefty attack that dropped Jůza to 4.

Jůza's unique deck sported many of the energy synergies found in the last two sets, and helped earn him his third Pro Tour Top 8.

On Jůza's next turn, Voltaic Brawler enabled a crewed Heart of Kiran and an attack for 4. Jůza, clearly on the defensive, passed back with the Greenbelt Rampager and Longtusk Cub untapped, along with an Aether Hub at the ready. The board presented a number of options for Sajgalik to consider, with a variety of ways Jůza could possibly react. Playing it safe, Sajgalik only sent in his Toolcraft Exemplar, attacking as a 4/3 with the Gideon emblem and forcing Jůza's hand with the one lethal Dwarf. He elected to trade two energy and the Longtusk Cub in a block to dispose of the creature. Sajgalik, without much else in his hand, played Veteran Motorist to scry, and passed with mana up to crack open some clues.

When Jůza went to attack, Fatal Push shut down any momentum Jůza would have hoped to have. Unlicensed Disintegration and attacks from Sajgalik moved the match to Game 3, following some sideboard action.

In what would ultimately be the final game, Sajgalik's opener was not nearly as blistering, as players traded removal spells to stop the efficient threats that both were deploying. However, while Jůza's Greenbelt Rampager did some work in the early game, a series of lands was not enough to match up against Sajgalik's Heart of Kiran and Cultivator's Caravan.

Multiple Unlicensed Disintegrations without any bonus damage from Jůza was all he could do to stay in the game, but when lands kept rolling off the top of Jůza's deck, and as Sajgalik's creatures kept attacking, the Czech pro quickly offered the handshake.

Eduardo Sajgalik defeats Martin Jůza 3-0 and advances to the second stage of the quarterfinals!

Juza, Martin - Jund Energy Aggro

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Sajgalik, Eduardo - Mardu Vehicles

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