Round 1 Feature Match: Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz vs. Scott McCord

Posted in Event Coverage

By Wizards of the Coast

by Mason Peatross

Some people say that Magic is purely a game of skill. Sure, the cards can come up more for one player over another - and that could be attributed for luck, but most players would hope that superior play skill would generally win out over good luck. But sometimes, it's easy to imagine that karma and serendipity hold sway over the game too. In the case of Steve O'Mahoney Schwartz versus Scott McCord, it definitely seems that way.

Scott is a veteran of several Grand Prix Top 8s and Pro Tour Top 32s. Steve O'Mahoney Schwartz is one of the stars of the Pro Tour, winning Pro Tour Los Angeles '99 and coming in second at Pro Tour Mainz. This makes him arguably the best Rochester drafter on the planet. In the course of the draft, McCord and OMS butted heads over colors - and as they were sitting next to each other, this wasn't the wisest plan of attack for either of them. McCord's deck isn't what anyone would consider stellar - he's playing three colors, with many spells with double colored mana requirements for several of his best spells. He doesn't have many bombs - but he does have potent threats like Zanam Djinn and Armadillo Cloak. Steve' deck isn't much better - at least against a non-black playing opponent. The stars of his deck are twin Crusading Knights. He also has a Charging Troll, and the poor man's Armadillo Cloak - Strength of Unity. Steve really got squeezed in the draft, as Scott seemed to have abandoned his first few picks, drifting into the colors Steve was playing. This cost Steve some great cards for his deck, and he was noticeably frustrated, which is a lot to say for the very friendly, temperate Pro Tour veteran.

McCord won the die roll, and kept his hand. Steve surveyed his hand, and kept after some deliberation. His only land in hand were two Mountains, which considering the heavy green and white base of his deck, must have given him some pause. But sometimes you have to count on your deck - or serendipity - to solve your problems for you. He opened with those two Mountains, and luckily drew into an Elfhame Palace and Plains to give him the rest of his colors. By the time he could play anything in his hand, McCord had already played a Nomadic Elf, Pincer Spider, and a pair of Metathran Transports. Steve needed defense, and fast.

OMS played out a Spider of his own, and a Razorfoot Griffin (one of 3 in his deck). He Walloped a Transport out of the sky, and by the time he played a Benalish Lancer with kicker, he had stabilized the board. Almost. The second Transport was still pecking away at his life total, and Steve needed to kill it before it killed him. He drew a Tribal Flames, one of the few scraps of removal available in his deck, but it wasn't enough. He still hadn't drawn a Forest, and so the Flames would only deal 2 damage, not enough to send the Transport to the graveyard. He decided that by being passive, the little blue ship was going to peck him to death, so he needed to start sending his cards into the Red Zone if he was going to win the game. On his first foray on the attack, he sent out the kicked Lancer. It found itself pinned underneath some heavy Shackles. Playing the Shackles left McCord tapped out of white, so Steve could get rid of the pesky enchantment if he had some answer in his hand. Serendipity again, perhaps?

Steve had laid a few more creatures, including a Might Weaver and both of his Crusading Knights (less than amazing against a white/blue/green opponent). He brought all of his creatures into the Red Zone. McCord made the best block possible, taking out the Might Weaver with his Transport, and blocking one of the Knights with his Spider. After the attack, Steve thought for a very long time about his next play. He decided to deal with the Shackles first. OMS used Wane to destroy the enchantment - and McCord was powerless to stop him, as he had no white mana available. Next, Steve cast Tribal Flames on the Pincer Spider. McCord had anticipated a second trick up Steve's sleeve, and used Deliver to bring the Spider back to his hand. Scott replayed the Pincer Spider (with kicker this time) but he just didn't have enough gas left in his tank to finish Steve off. After getting him to 7, he never did another point of damage. Steve came into the Red Zone one final time, and Scott dropped his hand to the table, displaying the two lands left in his hand. Scott had drawn 10 lands, and 9 spells - with one of those spells being an Opt, and one being a Fertile Ground. Not the best.

Game 1 to Steve O and serendipity.

Scott McCord decided to play first again, and had to mulligan. He kept his next hand, though he didn't seem overly happy about it. Steve kept his hand as well, happy that it included the elusive Forest cards that had been missing in the first game. His next play was a Quirion Sentinel that brought him a point of mana burn, and Scott matched that with a third turn Metathran Aerostat. He also kicked up a Ardent Soldier, but then threw it away by running it into Steve's Pincher Spider and Sentinel. It appeared he was bluffing an Explosive Growth, but Steve didn't seem to buy it. McCord played a Treefolk Healer, but it was only going to slow Steve down, not stop him. OMS dropped creature after creature - Razorfoot Griffin, Llanowar Knight, Capashen Unicorn, and a second Griffin. He also put Strength of Unity on the first Griffin before sending it out for blood. McCord's Healer only got to save a few points of damage before it found itself on fire and in the graveyard from an OMS Tribal Flames. McCord wasn't done yet, though.

Over the next few turns, Scott tried to put up a defense with a newly cast Nomadic Elf that traded with the Llanowar Knight, and a Glimmering Angel. The problem facing Scott was that the Griffin's First Strike ability was shutting down any chance he had to trade the Griffin for the Aerostat or Angel. Scott drew one of his best cards - Armadillo Cloak, and thought for a long time about where to cast it, finally deciding on the Aerostat, which he served with. On the next turn, the Steve's Unicorn did it's duty, and sacrificed itself for the good of the team, taking the Armadillo Cloak to the graveyard. Without the cloak, Steve's army of first striking flyers was just too much for Scott to handle.

Game 2 to Steve O and karma.

Final Result: Match to Steven O'Mahoney Schwartz, 2-0.

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