by Josh Bennett
Pro Tour veteran Gab Tsang is cursed. Despite being a legendary money-drafter, "The Juggernaut" finds himself unable to win at The Boat, the premiere Limited Pro Tour stop. His opponent, Mike Bregoli, is not cursed, giving him an edge in this matchup. It helps that he's no slouch himself, finishing in the Top Eight of the Chicago Masters. He has drafted an aggressive R/B/u deck that features many powerful three-drops and a stack of targeted removal. Gab's deck is slower, but features a number of Stormscape Apprentices and good ground stall creatures.
In game one, Bregoli came out fast with Nightscape Apprentice and Kavu Scout. Tsang cast a Shoreline Raider, which made Bregoli's next play of Kavu Aggressor less threatening. Still, he knew about Bregoli's removal, and so tapped out for Glimmering Angel to add to his defenses.
This play was justified when Bregoli Demised the Raider and attacked with his pair of Kavu. He had no mana up to use the Apprentice's ability, so Tsang traded his Angel with the Aggressor. On his next turn, he locked the ground with a kicked Benalish Lancer. Bregoli made a Phyrexian Slayer to fight on the aerial front.
Tsang swung with his Lancer and cast a Wayfaring Giant. The calculated risk did not pay off. Bregoli had a sixth mana and a Plague Spores, removing the opposition and smashing Gab for eight, leaving him at five. Gab Shackled the flier and kept the Lancer back, but Mike had a Malice for the win.
Bregoli mulliganed to start game two, but came back strong with a Scout and Slayer. Tsang's defenses were solid, consisting of Dream Thrush, Shoreline Raider and Angelic Shield. Bregoli bought another Scout and sent in the air.
Gab cast a very large Wayfaring Giant on turn six and Mike had no answer. He cast his Pouncing Kavu after combat, knowing it wouldn't be attacking into the monster defender.
Tsang tapped out for an even larger Distorting Wake, unsummoning Bregoli's army and attacking for seven. Mike went through the motions of rebuilding, chumping Tsang's next Giant attack with Rogue Kavu. Gab cast a Stormscape Apprentice and was in good shape.
Bregoli Demised the Giant next turn, and Gab saved it with his Angelic Shield. Mike played a land and Zapped the tapper. Gab sent his Raider running into Bregoli's Slayer, then cast his Giant and a Tidal Visionary. Bregoli made a Pouncing Kavu, but it seemed like too little, too late, as Gab had another Apprentice in hand and the Dream Thrush serving in the air. He cruised to victory.
Game three was Gab's turn to mulligan. He looked at his opening hand with one-land and just put it down, saying "Gary Krakower would have kept that hand." Looking at his next five cards he added ". . . and he would have won." His six-card hand wasn't worth writing home about either: Three Islands, Swamp, Angelic Shield and Samite Ministration. He though long and hard before deciding to keep. The Probe he drew on third turn was cast without kicker, looking for ways to stop Mike's Rogue Kavu. It yielded two plains and another Shield.
Tsang's defenses were meager. His Tidal Visionary was Zapped, and his Shoreline Raider gave Bregoli an opportunity to Plague Spores away his only Swamp, one of the Shields saving the creature. He used the other to spare himself three damage, but without any creatures to throw in the way of Bregoli's attackers he had to sit and take it. The Ministration saved him from dying at the hands of Soul Burn, but Mike drew a second.
Final Result: Bregoli defeated Tsang 2-1