by Randy Buehler
Andrew Cuneo and Aaron Forsythe were teammates at the last Pro Tour and - along with Andrew Johnson - the "Car Acrobatic Team" wound up in second place. Since then they've spent a lot of time practicing together for Pro Tour Chicago but in the very first round they found themselves on opposites sides of a feature match table. Forsythe is running a Rebel deck that splashes green for Wax/Wane and Noble Panther while Cuneo has a very "old school" blue/white control deck. His permission, card drawing, and big fliers look like they could have been played in 1996. His use of Beta Wraths, basic lands, Counterspells, and Air Elementals accentuate the look. Cuneo has been having a good weekend so far - he won the 110-person, single-elimination Masters Gateway on Thursday, earning $2,000 for his time and energy. Forsythe, of course, has also been hot lately - he was a member of Worlds Team championship squad from the U.S.A. The two players from Pittsburgh were very unhappy about having to play each other.
Forsythe rolled an 18 when they were tying to determine who would play first in game 1 and Cuneo just shook his head and rolled a 4 - he knew that was important. Forsythe led with Steadfast Guard and Longbow Archers. Cuneo played a turn 5 Blinding Angel, but it was too slow. Forsythe dropped Crusade and Defiant Falcon while Cuneo was tapped out and dealt so much damage that one chump block from Defiant Falcon plus one Wax to get through the last two points of damage was enough to win him the game.
Forsythe's turn 1 Ramosian Sergeant met with an untimely demise thanks to Last Breath early in game 2. Forsythe had another one, but Cuneo was able to build up enough land to cast Wrath of God despite Forsythe's Rishadan Port one turn before Forsythe could finish him off. (Interestingly, Cuneo decided not to use Tsabo's Web even though Rishadan Ports are quite good against him - he feels the Webs are simply not worth tapping mana for on his own turn.) While Cuneo was tapped out from the Wrath, Forsythe was able to get Lin Sivvi into play, but Cuneo Wrathed that away too. Next Cuneo Counterspelled a Defiant Falcon, but was once again out of untapped lands so Forsythe got Lin Sivvi #2 into play. Cuneo untapped and remove it from the game with Last Breath #2. When Cuneo dropped Mageta, the Lion on his next turn one could not help but wonder at how effective his sideboard was in this matchup. Once Cuneo Absorbed an Armageddon, Disenchanted a Parallax Wave, and cast Accumulated Knowledge for 3 cards; Forsythe knew he was beat.
Game 3 was very similar to Game 2. Cuneo swept the board with Wrath of God and then again with Rout (more anti-Rebels sideboard technology). He used Last Breath to remove annoying recruiters until he could build up enough land to play Mageta and defend it. Mageta then went all the way. Before the match, the players commented that they thought the matchup was pretty close, but they hadn't tested it after sideboarding. It seemed pretty clear to me that Cuneo's sideboard was much better prepared for this matchup and he could do a lot worse than to face Rebel decks all day long.